Introduction of the Future of Our Block:

Epiphanytide, 2024

Dear saints,

The history of this church tells the story of a parish that has variously responded to the call of God to be a church in and for the city of Atlanta. 120 years into that story, we find ourselves at an inflection point, privileged to be the saints of this particular chapter of our history who will discern together what God invites us to do and be on and with this city block. 

The question of the future of our block is no doubt a question about this particular patch of land and the buildings that do now and could in the future sit upon it. It is a generational question, one we seek to answer through prayer and the Spirit’s guidance for the sake of ourselves and future generations in this place. The deeper matter at hand, though, is not primarily about land and buildings, it is about who are as a parish, a community of people within the life of this city and beyond. 

As we discern together the future of our block I invite to ask what is most important to you about All Saints’. Which values are most central to our life as a church, now and for the future? Do we have all we need to be the church we wish to be for the coming few decades? Is there more we wish to do, either by ourselves or with new partners on this block? And what sort of church do we need to become for the sake of a changing population around us? What should stay the same, and what should change?

Our answers to these essential questions will shape how we cast a vision for the block. Once we have a sense of how God might be beckoning us forward to be the church in this place we will have a clearer sense of how we would need to resource that in terms of space and buildings as well as finances.

In 1903, land was gifted to establish this church as a beacon of God’s hope for the city that would eventually grow around it. The builders of that age wanted their legacy to last. I would like to think that at some point they imagined that people like us would be here, taking on their mantle as good stewards of that legacy. Today we hold the privilege of being stewards of the future of this church. May the God who has called us to this good work, grant us the strength and courage to accomplish it. 

Peace,

The Rev. Dr. Simon Mainwaring, Rector 

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Note that the form linked above will close on Sunday, April 14, 2024.



Future of Our Block E-Mail Updates: Winter and Spring 2024

Monday, April 8, 2024

Dear saints, 
In the early fifth century, bishop and theologian Augustine of Hippo wrote, "Receive what you are and become what you receive." Augustine was referring to the sacrament of the Eucharist. He goes on in his sermon: "If you, therefore, are Christ's body and members, it is your own mystery that is placed on the Lord's table! It is your own mystery that you are receiving! You are saying 'Amen' to what you are." What a wonderful image that is: that we place our own mystery on the table of the Lord's supper, our own lives on the altar. Receive your own mystery...
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Monday, April 1, 2024

Dear saints,
Greetings to one and all this Easter Monday. The staff and I are enjoying a few days respite this week following what was a truly wonderful Easter weekend at All Saints' this year.
For my own part, I have jumped across the pond to spend a few days with my mom, who of late has been having her own real estate discernment season. After nearly forty years she is leaving the home I spent most of my later childhood in and all the years since before I emigrated stateside. It was a curious experience to see that home of ours up on the English equivalent of Zillow. What's a picture of my bedroom doing on there? And was that really the color we painted the kitchen? Discombobulating, to be sure...
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Monday, March 25, 2024

Dear saints,
If there is a word that I have heard repeated more than any other as I have chatted to people about their hopes for our block, it is 'community'. People love our church building. Our music is food for the soul and our core ministries speak to what it means to be the people of God in this place. Yet, for most, it seems, it is the people, the relationships, the community of All Saints' that lies at the heart of who we are as a church...
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Monday, March 18, 2024

Dear saints,
This past Sunday, I preached about the retirement of Christendom. If Christendom was people choosing church on a Sunday morning, or for their child's baptism, or for their wedding day, Christendom's retirement is people choosing sports leagues and golf courses and sleep on a Sunday morning instead. That’s a rather crude way to put it, but the essence is there. You and I are living at the turning of a page.
It is easy to see such change as a threat to what we have known. Believe me, I feel that too from time to time. Not only have I chosen the church as the vessel for my working life, it is also an integral part of my personal story. Take the church as I have known it out of my life's journey and honestly, I am not sure where my path would have taken me...
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Monday, March 11, 2024

Dear saints,
Thank you to everyone who has already filled out our parish survey. It is exciting to see so many of you engaging in this important discernment process. If you have not yet filled out a survey, please follow the link below. I am very grateful for your time.
As we imagine our future it is helpful to get a fuller sense of our present in terms of life on our block today...
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Monday, March 4, 2024

Dear saints,
We are now six weeks into this exciting season as a parish as we discern together the future of our block. We have held four town halls, we have begun a series of ten home gatherings across metro-Atlanta and QR-coded posters have been soliciting your vision for the block all over the campus.
Today, we are delighted to be able to launch our parish-wide survey (see below my signature). This survey has been carefully put together by our parish engagement committee. As it says in its introductory note, it is intended to be thought-provoking and open-ended enough for you to think about the future through the lens of what is most important to you about our life as a church...
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Monday, February 26, 2024

Dear saints,
In the last parish that I served, in San Diego, California, at some point in the 1960s they started a program called "TIO," which stood for "talk it over." The gist of it was that small groups of parishioners would meet in one another's homes, sit in a circle, and tell one another what they really had on their minds about their life together. I suppose it was part of that decade's movement toward liberation on all sorts of fronts.
For a season, the TIO groups became a lens through which people saw the possibility of a new church, a new way of being the Body of Christ freed from the shackles of religious niceties and norms. After some time, and perhaps predictably, things started to fray at the edges as people discovered that at some point all the talk would need to lead somewhere. Eventually, TIO decided to talk it over no more.
Our first home gathering is scheduled for this week, one of ten opportunities for us to "talk it over" with regard to the future of our church and of this city block...
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Monday, February 19, 2024

Dear saints,
On Sunday, we had our final of four town hall meetings in Ellis Hall. It has been wonderful to hear an array of parishioners share their insights and visions for our block. We have recorded each of the sessions, and you can catch up on last Sunday's and the preceding sessions on our website via the links below. 
Things now move to a smaller scale as we begin home gatherings across ten homes in the metro-Atlanta area over the next several weeks. If you heaven't already, please sign up below. Early next month we will also send out the parish-wide survey that will ask each of us to share our individual aspirations for the block. One-on-one conversations will also continue, and if you would like to have one of those please do reach out.I hope by now you have got the message we are trying to convey: we want to hear from you... 
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Monday, February 12, 2024

Dear saints,
One of the more (among many) charming things I learned about Atlanta on coming here nearly seven years ago was that in this city it is possible for a grand idea to become a bold reality. The grand idea belonged to Ryan Gravel, whose Georgia Tech Master's thesis, 'Belt Line - Atlanta Design of Infrastructure as a Reflection of Public Policy', has led to the transformation of in-town Atlanta's abandoned train line. 
When I walk or cycle on the Beltline from our home in Midtown, I marvel at the glorious diversity of human life that shares that busy thoroughfare with me. Whatever Atlantans might think of the Beltline in its current iteration—not least Ryan Gravel himself—one of its most potent legacies in a city that strives to reconcile the divisions of the past is how a path just a few feet wide has become common ground for thousands each day...
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Monday, February 5, 2024

Dear saints,
Yesterday, Ellis Hall was packed with parents and grandparents, teens and toddlers, and an array of parishioners enjoying every minute of the Children's Musical led by our Primary and Junior Choirs. It was also Karol Kimmell's final production in this her swan song year at All Saints' before she moves into a well-earned retirement in the early summer. 
As I sat there, I couldn't help but let my mind wander to think of the hundreds of children who have stood before similarly packed rooms over the years under Karol's leadership, and also the hundreds of children and youth who call this church home today...
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Monday, January 29, 2024

Dear saints,
Yesterday, we held the first of three town halls that we have scheduled as we move into our parish engagement phase of the future of our block work. It was an excellent beginning. The chair of our parish engagement team, Kate Stradtman, introduced Hank Houser of Houser Walker who is very capably facilitating the sessions.  
I have been eagerly looking forward to starting this stage of the journey. The pause that the pandemic necessarily created for our block work allowed us to pour even more of ourselves into learning about what is happening around us locally and nationally, so much so that Hank Houser noted that he had never worked with any church or other organization that had committed so much to learning before launching a design process like this.
I felt both a sense of pride in All Saints' that we had chosen to be so thorough—as always—and a sense of joy that at last, now is the time for us to learn from one another... I commend the recording of the town hall to you. Please click on this link to see it...
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Monday, January 22, 2024

Dear saints,
It was thrilling yesterday to speak to a packed Ellis Hall as we launched our discernment work as a parish for the future of our block. During that forum I laid out what I believe are some of the key considerations for this time ahead. All Saints' and the city block is inhabits is a gift entrusted to us. Our call at this time is to prayerfully ask of one another how we should make the most of that gift for this and for future generations.
We know that whatever we do with our block we want it to further our mission as a church and help resource and sustain that work for the long-term. If you were not able to be in Ellis yesterday or join us online, I encourage you to catch up on our launch by watching this video recording of the forum here...
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Wednesday, January 17, 2024


Dear saints,
It is my delight to be able to welcome you to this new e-mail update from me about the future of our block. You can expect to get an update each week as we seek to keep the parish informed about where we are with our parish engagement process as we discern together how God calls us forward.
As we draw together to discern the future of our block, from the outset there are a couple of things that are worth naming clearly...
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Future of Our Block Video Resources: Winter 2024

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Future of Our Block Parish Engagement Launch

Sunday January 21, 10:20 a.m. - 11:05 a.m., Ellis Hall

Join our Rector, Simon Mainwaring, as we launch our Future of Our Block parish engagement process. Simon will lay out the process for the next several weeks, the core questions we want to raise up as a parish and how you can lend your voice as we discern how God calls us to fashion our block for the future of All Saints'.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Future of Our Block Parish Engagement Launch

Sunday, January 28, 10:20 a.m. - 11:05 a.m., Ellis Hall

Join fellow parishioners in Ellis Hall for a town hall style conversation about the future of our block. Please come and share what's most important to you about our church, your ideas and visions for the block, and what you feel we should pay most attention to through this process. This is the first in a series of three town halls.

Sunday, February 11, 2024


Future of Our Block: Town Hall #2

Sunday, February 11, 10:20 a.m. - 11:05 a.m., Ellis Hall

Join fellow parishioners in Ellis Hall for a town hall style conversation about the future of our block. Please come and share what's most important to you about our church, your ideas and visions for the block, and what you feel we should pay most attention to through this process. This is the second in a series of three town halls.

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Future of Our Block: Town Hall #3

Sunday, February 18, 10:20 a.m. - 11:05 a.m., Ellis Hall

Join fellow parishioners in Ellis Hall for a town hall style conversation about the future of our block. Please come and share what's most important to you about our church, your ideas and visions for the block, and what you feel we should pay most attention to through this process. This is the third in a series of three town halls.



How Does God Call Us Forward?

Thanks to the generosity of the people of this parish, we now own the entirety of our block. This achievement, one long hoped for by parishioners who came before us, now offers us the exciting opportunity to envision together how we can leave a legacy for future generations.

In the fall of 2018, a steering committee was commissioned by the vestry to guide the parish over the coming years through the work of discerning the future of our block. During the first year, noting all that was happening in our immediate neighborhood of Midtown, the committee determined that we would be well-served by committing to a time of learning together.

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The committee began their work by meeting with different partners in our community to learn about the changing face of Midtown, including Midtown Alliance, Georgia Tech, and Emory Healthcare.

One of the repeated messages we heard was how much Midtown is changing. For the past four decades, Midtown Alliance, a nonprofit coalition of business and community leaders, has been at the heart of that change. It focuses on planning and development in Midtown, and their assessment is that Midtown is becoming one of America’s most vibrant residential and commercial urban neighborhoods.

During our year of learning, we heard three key strengths that Midtown offers to those who work, make home, and play here, which are most pertinent to our own place in this part of the city of Atlanta.

0e16996635_1705522157_screenshot-2024-01-17-at-30727-pm.pngMidtown is a Walkable Urban Neighborhood

Midtown is fast becoming one of the most desirable places both to live and work in Atlanta. Year by year, more and more people drive and walk by our block, and come to see our place on the landscape as part of a larger walkable and accessible whole. Our neighborhood is increasingly a place where people want to be, and linger, and enjoy one another’s company, the very things we rely on ourselves for the formation of our own community.

Midtown is Becoming a Hub for Talent and Innovation

If we were to trace a line from our corner on North Avenue, down West Peachtree past Tech Square, we would pass through one of the most concentrated hubs of innovation and technology in the country. The most prominent example for us is the new headquarters of Norfolk Southern across the street, focusing its operations and innovation work within this West Peachtree tech corridor.

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The exciting invitation that this hub of innovation presents to us as a church is how our own mission and ministries might continue to adapt and grow to meet the needs and excite the imaginations of those innovating, literally down our street.

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Midtown is Accessible via Public Transportation

Our neighborhood has the benefit of having three MARTA Stations: North Avenue, Midtown, and Arts Center. Access to public transportation is one ofthe key drivers of the growth and development of Midtown. We are placed right at the heart of that transit zone, and have an opportunity to invite in the thousands who pass by our beautiful block every day.

In conversation with two of Midtown’s largest institutions, Georgia Tech and Emory Healthcare Midtown, we heard two themes that characterize much of what we see developing around us: innovation and collaboration.

Innovation

Both Georgia Tech and Emory Healthcare in Midtown have a strong focus on innovation. Nearly 25 years ago, Georgia Tech had a vision to effectively connect the university to the Midtown community through a development now called Technology Square. 

The district, just north of us in Midtown, has evolved to combine research, business, and education such that innovative enterprises, from small business start-ups to large international corporations, have planted and blossomed in our immediate neighborhood increasingly year by year.

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 Emory Healthcare has made significant investments in Midtown over the past few years. The recently opened Proton Therapy Center provides advanced radiation technologies for cancer patients and the construction and opening of the new Winship Cancer Institute has enabled Emory Healthcare to have one of the leading cancer care facilities of its type in the country right down the street from our church.

Collaboration 

Technology Square has created a place for the community, the university, and businesses to share space and work together creatively and effectively. The most prominent example is CODA, a mixed-use building for university researchers, students, and companies to work side by side in a space that is intentionally built for collaboration and relationship-building. Both the inside and outside of the building were designed for small and large groups to gather to share space and ideas. 

Serving Those In Need

As we ponder how God might invite us forward as a church, another vital part of our landscape are the many service agencies in the area. Steering committee members engaged in a broad array of conversations with service agencies, both faith-based and secular, based in Midtown and further afield around Atlanta.