Deacon Ken's Farwell Message

Dear Friends,

Most of you know I am called by God, and Ordained by the Episcopal Church, to be a Deacon. As a Deacon, I have been assigned to Ecclesia Ministries to work with common cathedral, common art and CityReach. These three years have been a challenging, wonderful and life-changing experience for me, and I have come to know and care for this special community.  Now this assignment is coming to an end, and my final day with this ministry will be Sunday, July 12.

While I am sad at the thought of leaving, I am filled with pride at the work we have done together.  I will never forget the stories you shared with me, how you shared your lives with me. How we laughed and cried together, complained of the heat and cold together, and how we prayed together.

These experiences changed me, shaped my ministry, and will go with me wherever I am called.

When someone speaks to me of the Kingdom of God, I'll smile and say, "Yes, I know. I used to work there."

Please keep me in your prayers, and please know you are in mine.  May God's blessings always, always, always be with you.

Your brother in Christ,

Deacon Ken


Meet Our New Minister and Chaplain!!!

Ecclesia Ministries Inc. (d/b/a common cathedral in Boston) is thrilled to announce the appointment of Ms. Laura Shatzer, MDiv, as our incoming Associate Street Minister and Chaplain.

An Iowa native, Laura has lived in Boston for the past five years. She holds a bachelor's degree from Carleton College (Northfield, MN), an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School and is approved for ordination in the United Church of Christ, pending call. Currently completing her chaplaincy at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Laura formerly worked at a Washington DC center for women experiencing homelessness and discerned her call to ordained ministry while serving as an intern with the Outdoor Church of Cambridge.

Laura finds joy in being in God's creation, singing out her soul (especially in Taizé chant), and training for half marathons. She is a member of United Parish in Brookline.

Laura is thrilled and honored to be joining the team at common cathedral. She sees herself as a companion in ministry, journeying with others and inviting them into community. She believes in the power of God's love in community to change lives and is eager to share this love and hope with the people of common cathedral.

Laura joins our team, officially, on June 1st. Please join us in welcoming her to our fold - and as always, continue to keep our ministry in your thoughts and prayers.

Don't Miss our Art Show and Auction!...On Lent and Perfection...BostonWarm...and More!

Dear Friends,

The season of Lent began on February 18 with Ash Wednesday .  Amanda, Ken, Heidi, and I carefully planned our observance, including services at 10am   (on the Common) and at  1:30pm (at common art) .  The focus: We don't have to be perfect.  We are simply called to be good. Therefore, when we make mistakes, we can repent and try to be good again.

The 10am outdoor service took place at Brewer's Fountain on Boston Common. I was there, bundled up in a bright pink coat and mittens with a small container of ashes in my pocket.  Since the blizzards, the fountain has been surrounded by a wall of snow that hid me from the rest of the Common.  Therefore, the "service" entailed Mary (me), circling the fountain and wondering if anyone was going to come. Sometimes, I walked left around the fountain, sometimes I walked right around the fountain.  The whole time, it was just me.  

After waiting 15 minutes, it was time to find people.  Why wait!

I walked to McDonalds and, look! There were "R", "G", and "S".  I haven't seen them for a few weeks.  We exchanged hugs, briefly talked about Ash Wednesday (S: "that stuff's not for me") and I hear how they pooled their money and stayed in a motel through the blizzard.  We celebrated the joy of cable TV and a bathtub!

Turning to leave, "G" pulled me aside and said, "I'd like some ashes." I couldn't tell if he was embarrassed, or ashamed, or unsure ... But I put the cross on his forehead and said, "From dust you were made, and to dust you shall return." His shoulders relaxed and he was released.  I don't know from what he was "released", but he left with his head held high.

Feeling proud that I FINALLY gave ashes to someone, I reapplied my mittens and kept walking.  Look!  There's "K".  He's on his way to work and we walk together. He says, "Thank God for the snow.  I'll have work every day this week!  But what are you doing here, Pastor Mary?" 

"It's Ash Wednesday .  I'm sharing Ashes and reminding people that we don't have to be perfect.  We just have to try and be good."  K stops walking.  "I need me some of that." So I take off my mittens, and make the sign on his forehead, and he departs for work smiling.

Next, I hear "V" and "L" yelling.  "Mary, Mary!"  They tell me they can't come to common art because they are keeping their anger in check by avoiding certain people.  We laugh and joke about how many socks a person can wear at one time. Then talking seriously about avoiding temptation and violence. I offer them ashes, which they both accept.  "We need all the help we can get."    

This story happens over and over again.  It's not what I had planned, but when we step beyond "the plan", glorious things happen.  

common art goes to the United Nations (and other news)

Below is a section from our latest newsletter. To read the full newsletter click here:



Dear Friends,


This has been a difficult month for unhoused Bostonians.

The abrupt closure of the Long Island shelter (during which those displaced were not allowed to retrieve their belongings or to continue receiving needed services) increased the anxiety and frustration of our entire community. We have responded by reaching out to - being in community with -- and holding in prayer -- those who have been displaced. As we anticipate that the need for clothing will be greater, we are making sure that we will have plenty on hand to be given out at November's CityReach.

The violence perpetrated against two Park Rangers on the Common rocked our community as well. Although the alleged perpetrator was known by some in our community, he did not choose to attend our programs. We have responded to this incident by reaching out to all the Park Rangers, by keeping them (as well as the alleged perpetrator) in prayer, and by continuing our prayers for peace and understanding for all.

Even though our community is not new to having to live a transient life - or to witnessing violence - these events have been hard to handle.

However, in the face of these tragedies one thing is clear. Our community is resilient. We will continue to be a peaceful presence on the Common. We will continue to stand together with hope, and to work for justice. We remain dedicated to welcoming all to God's table.

And to sharing our good news.

We are proud to share how our common art program sent two representatives to the United Nations in New York City, to accompany the mural we created last spring, and to speak with international leaders to advocate on behalf of those experiencing poverty.

We share Pastor Mary's delight in anticipation of the life-changing power that is CityReach.

We are also pleased to share with you our new website. Please spend some time here, reading more about the work, the church, the intentional community we are building together.

And - we thank you for being a part of this great community.


Amanda Grant-Rose            Dr. Debra Leonard
Executive Director                Board of Directors

Lesson in welcoming

Below is a section from our latest newsletter. To read the full newsletter click here:


In every new job there is a learning curve.  I knew that this would be the case when I started at common cathedral but I never expected I would need to learn how to welcome. I come from an Italian family who welcomes well, loves well, and believes that there is always room at the table for one more. Yet, my past jobs and global communities did not prepare me for how deep and loving a common cathedral welcome can be.  

The power of a common cathedral welcome is that it does not matter how you enter the space. If you are healthy, happy and ready to share your joy, the community is there to welcome you. If you have stumbled, sick and feeling empty, the community is there to welcome you.

Last week a community member came to common art and received a "Mary Welcome". If you don't know Mary, our associate street pastor, you should. When Mary welcomes you are truly seen, truly loved and you know she cares.

This community member came to common art to check in. After years of living on the streets he has been living in an apartment. He has not been around common art much lately, as he now enjoys being able to watch TV and listen to music, any time he wishes.

When he came in he was dressed head to toe in Red Sox gear, worn jeans, and shoes that have already walked miles. Although not originally from Boston he shared that he has fallen in love with being a Bostonian and believes God brought him to be a part of the common cathedral community.

This community member was given a hug, welcomed back and told how much he had been missed. This welcome began with Mary but quickly the community saw he had returned and greeted him as well. A welcome anyone would have stopped to notice but it was what happened next that was humbling.

He turned to me, asked my name and wanted to hear my story. This community member knows the power of the welcome which, without prejudice, includes everyone. As staff I had assumed I would be the one welcoming but in being welcomed I saw the power in our ministry. He welcomed me into the community, welcomed me into this community of Christ.

My prayer today is that we all find this passion to welcome. No matter our path in life, no matter our housing situation, may we welcome all and offer a sign of the restorative power of Jesus Christ. 

Amanda Grant-Rose, Executive Director, common cathedral