Common Ground Church Opens in Calais

By Lura Jackson

 

The band Elevate from West Virginia passionately performed in Memorial Park on Saturday, July 25th at the request of the newly-opened Common Ground Church on Germain Street. (Photo by Lura Jackson).

While it is true that many of the churches of Calais have fallen away over time—and in fact, the oldest church in town will soon be demolished—it’s also true that the spirit of the community is based in renewal. Appropriately, a new church has opened on Germain Street. Named the Common Ground Church, it offers a promise to all visitors of “Loving people to life.”

The church is the product of the efforts of Pastor Johnny Chambers, who has spent the last three months restoring the building with his friends and family members. In addition to repairing the interior, Chambers hopes to restore the downstairs soup kitchen to working order as soon as possible. “We want to see people healthy,” he emphasized, describing health as a composition of body, mind, and spirit. 

A Calais native, Chambers now lives in St. Stephen with his wife and family. “My heart’s always been here in Calais,” he says with a generous smile. Active in the faith for his entire life, Chambers has been a minister since he was 16 or 17. He experienced a life-changing event when he went on a mission trip to India, where he saw people struggling with the most basic necessities. “Growing up in Calais, it was safe and there was always food on the table. Seeing people without that was very humbling.” Since returning to Calais, Chambers has recognized how community members are having difficulties providing for their families and how addiction and alcoholism are becoming a significant problem. “So many people turn to drugs or alcohol when they are desperate. The drugs are tearing this city as well as individual families apart.  

“If we don’t stand in the gap, who will?” Chambers asked.

One of Chambers’s primary goals is to actively work with the poverty-stricken and youth of the community in an effort to ease the suffering that can be caused by a lack of necessities. The house next to the church is being restored to offer a place for displaced families to stay. As a former member of the Ascensions, a group that was admitted into the Gospel Hall of Fame, Chamber s is a firm believer in the healing and connecting power of music. As such, he aims to bring a variety of musical performers to Memorial Park, just outside of the church. 

One such group by the name of Elevate drove for seventeen hours to perform on Saturday, July 25th in the park. The band is composed of passionate musicians that have each found redemption from their troubled pasts, and they were more than willing to share their stories with the assembled local residents. Chambers invited the band to stay for services the following morning, bringing a welcome splash of Southern flavor to the proceedings.

 

The Common Ground Church holds its services on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. It is located at 9 Germain Street. Chambers hopes to conduct Bible Study in the fall, though specific dates are not yet set. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/commongroundcog or call 904-9005.