Why We Organize

Common Ground had a pretty big night recently when the City of Vallejo presented their research on police oversight models to the City Council and the public. As you may know, Common Ground has been working on its Oversight Model for the last 2 years and have narrowed all the different models into one that will work for the City of Vallejo. The model has been circulated around to the community, Chief of Police, City Council, and also to the City Staff, including the City Attorney. After the over hour long  presentation by the City Attorney, City Council began commenting and had nothing but praise for the work Common Ground had done on its own proposal.

Common Ground was not allowed to give a presentation at the meeting, but the Council gave them 15 minutes to talk and had 8 speakers who gave public comment. Between them and the 10 or so other speakers, everyone threw their support behind the Common Ground proposal. The City Council directed the City Attorney to schedule a meeting with us within the next couple of weeks.

Common Ground has been around since 2013 and this is the first time that it got the full weight and respect of the City Council and the community. The next steps are to follow up with the City Attorney and convince her to listen and partner with them. Then when it is time for more public meetings, the members will be there, ready to act.

This is why Common Ground organizes our people power and the members of First Christian Church should all feel very proud of their mission with Common Ground right now! It was nice to have 7 members of the church there live for the meeting, plus several others on Zoom.

If you would like to make a personal investment in Common Ground, please visit https://www.commongroundiaf.org/donate

Labyrinth Sunday

We recently had a special worship service which we nicknamed Labyrinth Sunday. Through the power and presence of God and of our team of tech wizards, worshipers in the Sanctuary and on Zoom learned about the history and meaning of the labyrinth. Our speaker/facilitator was Brighid FitzGibbon, an experienced labyrinth guide from Veriditas in Petaluma. Brighid guided us in a finger labyrinth exercise during worship. Following that, 17 worshipers adjourned to the Fellowship Hall for a walking labyrinth experience (see photos). Brighid brought a 24 ft canvas labyrinth for the church. Following an explanation of the structure and meaning of the center rose “petals” and a brief introduction to labyrinth etiquette, several of us made the shoe-less journey to the center and back out. Larisa played the piano as we walked. Others used the wooden finger labyrinth tools. It was a very meaningful experience!

Part of Pastor Christy Newton’s sabbatical intention was to take labyrinth facilitator training in Chartres, France, which she has completed. This Labyrinth Sunday experience was our way of sharing the spirit of Christy’s commitment for spiritual renewal and her desire that we as a congregation participate in that intention. Hopefully, we will have future opportunities to introduce the labyrinth as a spiritual tool to more people in our congregation and our community.   

For more information on the labyrinth, online guided finger labyrinth sessions, and other resources visit www.veriditas.org.

So, What is this Thing called labyrinth?

We have been talking a lot about walking a labyrinth. What exactly is a labyrinth? Why are we learning about labyrinths? Labyrinth is a walking meditation, a path of prayer and a meeting of psyche and spirit. Unlike a maze, there are no tricks and no dead ends. The labyrinth has only one path that leads from the outer edge in a circuitous way to the center and returns to the starting point. Walking the labyrinth quiets the mind, opens the heart, and grounds the body. Labyrinths are currently being used world-wide as a way to recover a balance in life, and to encourage meditation, insight, self-reflection, and stress-reduction. While there are many patterns of labyrinth dating from ancient times, the design embraced by Pastor Christy during her time of sabbatical is the 800 year-old Eleven-circuit Medieval Labyrinth from Chartres Cathedral in France. Christy participated in Labyrinth Facilitator Training at Chartres from June 27-July 4 of this year. An element of the sabbatical period was for our congregation to learn about labyrinths and participate in a labyrinth walk.  

On Sunday, August 14, a special service of worship will include an introduction to the labyrinth as a tool for meditation and renewal, and an opportunity to experience the labyrinth first-hand. For our congregants who worship via Zoom there will be a finger-tracing labyrinth option. Brighid FitzGibbon is a trained facilitator in walking the Chartres model labyrinth. She is affiliated with Veriditas Center in Petaluma. Brighid will join us in worship to present a program about labyrinth and guide us with a walk using a portable labyrinth set up in the Fellowship Hall. Experiencing the path of labyrinth will enhance our understanding of Christy's sabbatical experience and provide us a useful tool for meditation and renewal. Please join our worship service and plan to stay to walk the labyrinth, if you are able. For more information you can visit www.veriditas.org/resources. There you can find information about the history of labyrinths, online Finger Labyrinth Walks, and can purchase or download a copy of the finger labyrinth (for a direct link to the finger labyrinth, click here.