Meet Pastor Chad of Mercy Community Church. Pastor Chad started Mercy over 17 years ago, with service as its core mission. Mercy was one of the first sites to receive Concrete Jungle’s produce when we began 12 years ago.
Pastor Chad explains, “Waking up in the morning, coming in, preparing breakfast, and serving it to people who are hungry seems very direct. And it’s not one group of people doing something for another group of people. It’s us, working together to do something. It’s really about building community. We’re all working together to try to care for one another, respect one another, carve out spaces of justice and dignity and peace and wellbeing.”
Mercy is a community church for the unhoused and housed that live along Ponce de Leon Avenue. Mercy provides resources to anyone who need it. While people may come for the food or service, they stay for the community that Mercy fosters.
Each day at Mercy follows a similar pattern: the morning ritual of brewing coffee and lighting the grill. Since COVID hit over two and a half years ago now, Mercy has been doing most of their meals outside. Rain or shine, they set up tents and serve breakfast to people who need it. Then, Mercy opens up their clothing closet where folks can take items they need. Some days the community at Mercy makes art or writes songs or practices yoga together. They have nurses, psychiatrists and caseworkers on site to talk with people. And they share their shelter and resources with the wider community.
Pastor Chad says, “We share the shelter we can give. We don’t have a place where we can just say ‘hey, here’s housing.’ But what do we do with the shelter we’ve got is to create a safe space for people. It’s a creative space where people aren’t being harassed, or they’re not being told, ‘Hey, you can’t be here, you need to move along’.”
Pastor Chad has been involved with Concrete Jungle for a long time. He told us, “I think that’s the thing about Concrete Jungle that is beautiful; I think that’s the thing about Mercy that’s beautiful. It’s like – you just do it. You don’t obsess over ‘Gosh, how are we going to share food?’ You just share it, and then you problem-solve. You can figure it out as you go along. But just do it. If you see an inequity, try to try to equalize it, try to make things better. And that’s what I love about Concrete Jungle.”
We at CJ are so grateful for our partnership with all the folks at Mercy Community Church. Pastor Chad said it best: “When you’re trying to do something good, it’s great to have other people around helping. When you don’t have that, it’s a little harder to do the good things.”
This year for #GivingTuesday, we hope you’ll help us map the way to a fruitier future. Our fruit tree map – an inventory of 4,200+ trees in Atlanta and Athens – needs a little TLC. With your help, we will be able to make much-needed upgrades to our map software, so that we can continue getting the freshest produce to families in need. Learn more and help us map the way to a fruitier future at http://donorbox.org/mapthefruit .