A collaborative ministry celebrating common ground and making meaningful change.
Common Threads, a collaborative ministry, was formed in April 2018, by the First Baptist Church and Saint James’ Episcopal Church. At its inception the group was created so both congregations can honor different faith traditions and celebrate “common threads” within the community. Its mission is to “do something for the good for the community, and to promote racial unity in order to build community.”
“Common Threads has enabled us to not only address the critical issue of racism in this county and in our country, but it has enabled us to forge meaningful friendships not only with members of the First Baptist Church, but other local churches, and members of the NAACP,” Father Ben Maas, St. James’ Episcopal Church, said. “It was such a gift to have this community in place in advance of the summer of 2020. It was very difficult to find constructive avenues to wrestle with our history, the current state of our country, and a hopeful way forward while we were separated by COVID.”
Father Maas noted that Zoom allowed the group to engage in very honest, yet difficult, and oftentimes very personal discussions. “It also allowed both parishes to know we were not alone in not only addressing racism, but in the difficulties of being a faith community amidst COVID.”
Since its inception, Common Threads has held approximately seven race and reconciliation workshops. “We have expanded beyond our two parishes, and the group that has participated has been quite faithful,” Father Maas explained. Yet, Maas feels the group needs to grow in order to gather more people, and to focus on community action and advocacy.
Rev. Vinicent D. Holland, board member with Mental Health Association of Fauquier County, pastor for Shiloh Baptist Church in Woodville and an associate pastor for First Baptist Church in Warrenton, expressed that everyone who has been involved with the group has been happy and the group itself is growing. “[Common Threads] is positive and impactful. The joint services have been enjoyable, and everyone is enthusiastic,” he said. “Personal and spiritual relationships have been rekindled. The impact is joint community work, prayer walks, joint services, and more.”
Holland shared that the group is gaining traction in town, and that more people are participating in the workshops and other activities. “Our hope is to continue to expand on the relationship building, and growing the commonalities everyone has between each other,” he said.
Rev. Holland also shared that other local churches, including the Presbyterian Church, Warrenton Baptist Church, Warrenton United Methodist Church, Trinity Lutheran, First Baptist, and Our Saviour Lutheran, are now becoming involved. “There is a dynamic mix with the group, and a chance to grow relationships,” he said.
Common Threads is seeking more individuals to join the group to make meaningful change and focus on building relationships in the community. After the first of the year, content planning will begin for the next workshop. As information becomes available, the Common Threads page on St. James’ website will be updated.
“I also hope we continue to have ways to draw our churches, and other faith communities, closer together. I do believe it is in celebrating our common ground, our common threads that we are most effective and compelled to make meaningful change,” Maas shared.
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