Community outreach in Edmonton area offers a Common Ground

Exciting things are happening in the Edmonton area community of Sherwood Park, Alberta all thanks to the efforts of Rev. Dr. Eileen Lennon Edwards and Rev. Ian Edwards. Called to be pastors at Good News Moravian Church, they are also the driving forces of the Common Ground Community Cafe.

Earlier this year, Sherwood Park saw the transformation of an old pharmacy into a community coffee shop staffed by volunteers. This outreach of the Moravian Church Northern Province, which grew out of a need for community and connectedness, provides a place where people can connect and share what’s important to them.

During the construction phase, the majority of the volunteer hours were put in by people with a direct connection to the Moravian church. However the volunteer community that staffs the barista positions is made up, primarily, of people who have no connection to any Moravian churches.

I am privileged to be a part of the barista team. It has been amazing to see how the community of Sherwood Park has embraced this coffee shop. Volunteers span ages from high school students to retirees. Customers appreciate the quality, direct trade coffee, homemade soups, muffins and other baking. We frequently get compliments on the decor and atmosphere that invites everyone to stay as long as they want whether they are working (we have free WiFi) or visiting or sitting enjoying a book. We have a selection of board games and toys to help families spend quality time together as they enjoy a beverage.

Each month we feature a local artist who can display and sell their art. We also have display cases for artisans to sell their creations. A large bulletin board provides space for notices about community events.

It is exciting to be part of the new thing that the Moravian Church is doing in our community. In an era many people are choosing not to be part of an established church, people are finding community in this coffee shop and having faith conversations and sharing their life stories. New connections are being made–new relationships are formed.

I think I speak for all the baristas and customers when I say congratulations to Eileen and Ian. They have sacrificed a lot over the months to bring this vision to fruition. Their dedication and hard work continue to be a testimony to all who meet them. Their warmth and pastoral gifts have played a huge part in the success of this coffee shop.

In the business world success is measured by profit and loss–the balance sheet is what matters most. Even though this is a business, and we all recognize the need to be responsible with the funds provided by the Moravian Church, we also see that this coffee shop is part of a faith community. As people of faith we measure success by lives that are changed and community that is created. By that measure, the Common Ground Community Cafe is already a great success. We all look forward to being part of possibilities unimagined.

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Dee Downing is a member of Good News Moravian Church and a volunteer at Common Ground. Photos courtesy of Common Ground.  

From the May 2014 Moravian Magazine