uncommon month at common cathedral

Each month we send an electronic newsletter. Below is one of the articles from our newsletter. To read the full newsletter click here.




It has been a full and beautiful three weeks as the new Executive Director of common cathedral. I had the privilege of my first day being on a Wednesday at common art, allowing me to be surrounded by creative, smart and welcoming people.  


When I arrived on my first day I was greeted by the community leadership team. We quickly set up tables, art supplies, and started the coffee. Within an hour Emmanuel Church was filled with un-housed and housed all sitting in front of their canvasses, milling around to look at each other's art for inspiration, or talking with the staff about the week's challenges and successes.


I was not an outsider for long. Within minutes my hand was taken and I was swept up in the excitement of the upcoming art shows, heard personal stories from the artists on why they were there, and asked to pray with those needing support. The day flew by and between trying to remember names, serving lunch and trying a little art myself -- the day quickly came to an end.


Since that first day the common art community has blessed me and provided me with an Ecclesia cross which I now wear proudly. Each Sunday the common cathedral community on the Boston Common greets me just as warmly -- as do members of the larger community, many of whom have supported the ministry over the past 20 years.


As I am sure many of you know, being a member of the common cathedral community brings much more to you than you can ever give in return. It will take me years to give back just a touch of what I have been given -- in only three weeks. 

Amanda Grant-Rose, Executive Director, common cathedral

Why common art?

As the Artist-in-Residence for common art, I am often asked how art changes lives, especially for those who battle daily with the most basic needs of survival. Isn't art for those who have the time and means?

Why have so many individuals impacted by the lack of housing, job security, by mental illness, addiction, and other challenges chosen to create something in response to their difficult circumstances? Can it be that art is not just a frill? Can it be that art actually helps us to make sense of the realities of this world? Can it be that finding meaning through the creation of art helps mend the human soul?

Those who experience our program can see how, carried out in the company of others, it heals. It is because of this community that those seeking to build a sustainable living through the production of art can thrive. This is a community where everyone is welcome to create, connect, share hope, share a meal, provide mutual support, and be known and respected in a safe place.

A good example of how our community empowers one another is through our preparations for a large annual show called City HeArt.

City HeArt, which was held this year at the Prudential Center, is the largest art show for homeless and disabled artists in the Boston region. Over 70 artists - about 25 of whom were common artists - presented their work.

More than any other, this show requires extensive preparation. For weeks before City HeArt, our artists work feverishly, trying to create pieces that will mean as much to others as they do to them. Artists work cooperatively to discern the best presentation - and the appropriate asking prices - for their items. Finally, works are signed, matted or framed, and tagged for sale.

This year's show was successful in many ways - generating income for some; engendering cooperation and support for all; and perhaps most importantly, offering our new artists the encouragement - born of the cooperation of the community, the admiration of their work by strangers, and the sale of their work - to continue their regular participation as members of the common art community.

City HeArt is not the only opportunity to see us in action. Our artists sponsor an art sale each week at common art; organize two open houses per year at their program home (Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 15 Newbury Street, Boston); and attend art shows and fairs throughout greater Boston all year round.

How can you help? Donations of art supplies and other in-kind donations are always welcome, as are financial contributions (see below).

But more importantly, we seek your relationship!

Visitors and program volunteers are always welcome. We meet every Wednesday, 10am to 2pm, at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Boston. In addition, congregations are welcome to host a common art show. Our ministers and artists are eager to meet your group and to share with you their passion for art and community.


If you would like to help, to visit, or to sponsor an art show, please let me know.


Heidi H. J. Lee, Artist-In-Residence, common art



Hope In Action At City Reach

Dear Friends of Ecclesia Ministries common cathedral,

On April 12, I had the privilege of being present with housed congregation volunteers and members of the common cathedral community for a portion of City Reach.  City Reach is a wonderful program which provides leadership experience for community members, hands-on experience for volunteers from housed congregations and student groups, and material assistance to homeless men and women. 

I have long known about the program, but first hand experience left a powerful impression on me.  I heard so many words of gratitude for what City Reach offers on up to 8 weekends each year.  Some are grateful for the fellowship in a safe, warm space.  Some are grateful for the clothing and other donations which allow homeless men and women to "shop" for clothing of their choosing.  Some are grateful to God whom they proclaim the source of Hope. 

One particular image which struck me was a homeless man who walked with enormous reverence down the aisle of St. Paul's Cathedral Church (across Tremont Street from the regular Sunday worship site on Boston Common).  Upon reaching the choir steps, he stopped, bowed his head, and after a time of silent reflection, made the sign of the cross and then sat in a pew to await his turn to select clothing.

I wonder if I would be so reverent in the face of the hour by hour challenges which are that man's daily lot. 

I do not know what he prayed for at that moment, but I imagine it included gratitude for just being alive and hope founded in God for what lies ahead.

As you look forward to the joyful celebration of Easter Day, I hope your prayers include the image of that man with so few things and yet so much faith.  I hope your prayers will encourage you to respond to his needs (and those of so many others) with generosity of spirit and generosity of action.  Please know how much this ministry values your participation in whatever way you can!

Finally, please keep the leadership in your prayers as we now begin interviewing candidates for Executive Director and Assistant Street Minister.

(Rev.) Stephen O. Voysey, Board Chair, common cathedral





common cathedral is here...

This has been a harsh winter - too many storms, too much darkness, too little rest.

For some members of our community conditions have been especially difficult. Not enough food. Not enough clothing. Not enough warmth. Not enough security. Not enough hope.

But common cathedral is here, witnessing love, bringing new hope to a tired world. Our ministers are out there, meeting people where they are, on the streets or in hospital - building bridges between housed and unhoused communities - passing on the gifts of clothing and of handmade scarves lovingly provided by congregations in Boston and beyond - providing opportunities, no matter the weather, for people to gather in warmth and safety, share a meal, recharge, create.

Spring is coming. Daylight is growing, and so is our conviction that brighter days are ahead.

We know this because of the ongoing and steadfast support of many. We know this because of new offers of help that are coming our way, almost every day. We know this because of the deeper engagement that we are feeling within and throughout our shared community. We know this as we work, ever more cooperatively, towards a more loving, transparent, efficient, mutually supportive organization that is poised to live fully into its core mission.

Our mission is clear and as necessary today as it was when this ministry began twenty years ago: "We are one congregation, housed and un-housed, sharing Jesus' love through community, artistic expression, pastoral care, and outdoor worship on Boston Common."

All are welcome here. If you haven't yet -- won't you join us?

Debra Leonard, Board Member, common cathedral