Eight leaders from Isaiah’s Table traveled to Boston, MA in April to visit the Common Cathedral.
common cathedral (Ecclesia Ministries, Inc.) is an outdoor congregation, housed and un-housed, sharing God’s love through community, pastoral care, creative expression, and worship on Boston Common. We are non-proselytizing and ecumenical. We welcome and support all people.
We got on the road before sunrise on Sunday, April 2nd and arrived on the Boston Common early enough to stretch our legs and get a short walk in the Boston Public Garden before being greeted by the vivacious Rev. Mary (UCC) who gave us a great orientation to their ministry.
Soon more and more people began to gather around the Brewer Fountain in the Common. It was a sunny, but cool day. When the breeze wasn’t blowing it was very comfortable. Everyone was in a great mood because the weather was really great compared to the storm of the preceding two days.
Lunch began at 12:30 with announcements and a blessing. A church from Portsmouth, NH handed out 150 sandwiches they brought, as people kept gathering and enjoying hot coffee and hot chocolate. At one o’clock worship began. There were many opportunities to participate in the worship service, including sharing prayer concerns and thoughts about the scripture of the day. There was also a special time for remembering a beloved former community member and leader who passed away earlier in the week.
Another special thing that happened was that Amanda Grant-Rose, their executive director and Presbyterian Ruling Elder, was commissioned to be able to serve communion in the Boston Presbytery. I was even part of her commission! It was wonderful to be present for this special occasion to demonstrate our connectionalism as Presbyterians. Her congregation presented her with a handmade stole, which we all signed, a gift made by an artist that participates in their weekly art ministry, Common Art.
We celebrated communion and the joyful worship service ended (after 2 hours) with us all holding hands and signing “We Shall Overcome”. We took some photos, laid hands on Amanda, then quickly debriefed with Rev. Mary. We were pretty exhausted at this point and all were looking forward to a nap at the Hampton Inn!
After a break, we headed back to the city for a fun dinner at the country’s oldest restaurant. Then back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. We managed riding the T just fine.
On Monday morning we headed back to the Common, parked and walked to Emmanuel Episcopal Church on Newbury Street that provides space to Common Cathedral. We volunteered at BostonWarm, a day center which is open on Mondays and Fridays from 8-1. We met with Amanda and Rev. Mary, then with David, a BostonWarm staff member. We then had conversations with some of the 40-50 people who came in to sit, relax, have a cup of coffee, or just sleep. Some community members were busy in the kitchen creating a delicious lunch, which we helped serve at 11:30. We stayed through clean up. We said our thanks and goodbyes, and walked around Boston Public Garden for the obligatory “duck statue picture” before heading back to Syracuse.
It felt great to see a program that has a similar heart for hospitality as Isaiah’s Table and to talk to leaders who “get us” and have the same kind of joys and challenges as we do. We will all be debriefing over the next weeks and it will be exciting to see what “bubbles up” from our field trip. Right now I am profoundly grateful for the hospitality of Common Cathedral. They were wonderful to us, but most importantly, they demonstrate the extravagant hospitality of Jesus in everything they do in Boston. The Kingdom of God is apparent at Common Cathedral. Thanks be to God!
Nancy Wind, Ministry Coordinator at Isaiah’s Table