In early 2002, CRC member Carole Zimbrolt (of blessed memory), along with Rabbi Randy Fleisher of Central Reform Congregation, and Donald Jeffries, a member of the First Unitarian Church, initiated a meeting with clergy from First Unitarian, St. John’s Methodist, and Trinity Episcopal. All four congregations were within easy walking distance and a neighborhood collaborative was born. We called ourselves ‘Holy Ground’ from the biblical passage in Exodus: ”the place on which you stand is Holy Ground.”  We wanted
the neighborhood we shared to be as filled with as much compassion, equity and love as possible. We wanted to be part of a vision not only as individual congregations, but as a diverse and inclusive, multi-racial, and interfaith partnership.

 

Currently, the Holy Ground Collaborative consists of six congregations: Central Reform Congregation (Reform Jewish Synagogue), First Unitarian, First Church of Christ, Scientist, Trinity Episcopal, the primarily African-American Cornerstone Institutional Baptist, and Second Presbyterian. M-SLICE has also become a non-congregational member. 


St. John’s United Methodist was active until the church closed. Metropolitan Community Church (for LGBT and Allied Christians) was a member until they relocated to the neighborhood. Therese of Divine Peace was also a member in the past.

 

Together we try to learn more about each other. We have concerts and music programs that increase our awareness of our wonderful diversity. We have forged deep friendships at picnics and concerts. We have attended services at one another’s congregations. We have celebrated and mourned together. Now this urban neighborhood seems more like a village where many of us now have multiple spiritual homes. Understanding our differences means that some projects may preclude participation by all congregations.


Various Holy Ground congregations have joined together to help paint schoolyard fences (lead paint was an issue), volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, visit with local nursing home residents, hold candidate forums and register voters, study neighborhood development issues, hold joint services to protest cuts for child and adult programs in Missouri, and to celebrate the historic inauguration of President Obama. Some of us have participated in blood drives and in the annual Pride Fest which is a celebration of the LGBT community. Once a month we share responsibility for a lunch program for our neighbors in need of a meal.


We are drawn together by our sensitivity and deep respect for each other’s faith traditions and practices. We are not about changing each other. We are about cooperating on the things we can, caring about the community and growing in respect and appreciation for one another.

 

In 2007, the Holy Ground Collaborative was honored with a ‘Heroes of Humanity’ award from the Art of Living Foundation.

 

We continue to meet monthly at the various congregations. The leadership rotates among the congregations. The Chairs have been Carole Zimbrolt (CRC), Bill Colbert (St. John’s Methodist), Dale Chavis (MCC), Donald Jeffries (First Unitarian), Valerie Jackson (MCC), Rev. Rick Edwards (Cornerstone Institutional Baptist), Janet Hegarty (First Church of Christ, Scientist),. Rev. Marybeth McBryan (Therese of Divine Peace), Dr. Tom Craddock (First Unitarian), Ann Watts (Trinity Episcopal), Rick Isserman (CRC), Al Adams (Trinity Episcopal Church), Rabbi Randy Fleisher (CRC) & Rev. Rick Edwards (CIBC), and our current chair, James Page (M-SLICE).

 

“For the place on which you stand is Holy Ground”
- Exodus 3:5

 

History of the Holy Ground Collaborative