Memphis "Sets the Table" for its Gifts - John McKnight, Peter Block, Walter Bueggemann to

Typically, institutions committed to a community’s well-being begin by asking what’s wrong with a place. But the three thought leaders to join an upcoming Memphis conversation — John McKnight, Peter Block and Walter Brueggemann — choose not to take the route of problem-solving. Instead they ask questions such as: What have we got to work with? In what way is God already present in a community? What do people care enough about to act on? Jay Van Groningen is executive director of Communities First Association, a national body co-sponsoring the Nov. 14 event hosted by the Memphis-based Center for Transforming Communities (CTC). The institution as savior paradigm no longer works and most

Building Hope for New Americans - Welcoming a Stranger is a Calling of Faith in Binghampton

When Cam Echols thinks of her work as the executive director of the Refugee Empowerment Program (REP), she speaks of a calling that motivates her to open arms to strangers planting new roots in her Memphis neighborhood.Welcoming a stranger is a calling of faith, she says. “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares,” reads Hebrews 13:2. The people Cam serves may have entertained the angels, but a great many have also seen the darkness of this world. Most are from war-torn regions of Africa — places like Burundi and Rwanda where some of the worst ethnic conflicts of the modern era have shattered countless lives. When she meets them, they

The Truths of Poverty Framed Through Art - Focus for the Good Capturing Community Transformation Thr

Their faces are honest and raw, at times looking withered and worn beneath the many lines of worry and sadness, but glints of hope sparkle in the corners of eyes that have witnessed the hardships of life on the streets. They are the Forgotten Faces of Memphis, captured through the lenses of Bill Piacesi’s cameras, and in their stark realism the truths of poverty are captured with an authenticity that calls to memory photos of the 1930s American heartland. Bill operates Focus for the Good out of a studio in The Commons on Merton, putting his one-man nonprofit organization in the heart of the quest to make the community better for a host of marginalized segments of the Memphis population. He t

"Our Diversity is a Gift," Says Rev. Billy Vaughan - Collaborative Spirit Spills into Stre

The collaborative spirit among partners at The Commons on Merton is a wonderful thing to be a part of, says Rev. Billy Vaughan, but what really excites him is when he sees that spirit spill out onto the streets connecting all sorts of people and families in the diverse neighborhood. “There’s a spiritual thing that takes place in the neighborhood because of what’s going on in the building,” Billy says. “You’d be amazed if you’re in the neighborhood for a few days, some of the ripple effects you see. The ‘us and them’ stuff begins breaking down, not only within The Commons, but within the larger neighborhood. You see so many different types of people in and out of there, out in the parking lot

Youth Find Common Ground in The Commons - Program Overlaps Benefit Organizations Serving Families

In Tennessee, more than 150,000 children are indirect victims of crimes committed by close family members. When a loved one goes to prison, they are virtually lost to their family, and the impact of that trauma is a very real burden upon communities. For more than 20 years, Families of Incarcerated Individuals (FII) has been helping families come to terms with the challenges they face when a loved one is sent to prison, either through direct support with health care or food access or through mentoring programs. The group works out of The Commons on Merton, a shared space that brings together a range of community-building nonprofit organizations under one roof, led by the Center for Transform

Sowing the Seeds of Community - Bonds are Formed in a Community Garden

Part way through an interview discussing his experience with urban renewal and community building, Christian Man, puts the journalist on hold. “I’ve just got to deliver these groceries,” he says, and in the muffled distance he can be heard discussing the upcoming harvest feast with a fellow named Walter, who must be part of the Green Leaf Learning Farm’s community garden project. Walter is on the hook for some sweet-potato pie, it seems, and in both of their voices rings the sound of enthusiasm. The harvest feast is shaping up to be a pretty good time where the community can come together and honor each other’s hard work and the relationships that have been sown in the neighborhood’s g

Linking the Hopes of Communities, Cities, and Society - Revitalizing a Cross Section of the United S

It’s completely reasonable to step back and view the Memphis neighborhood of Binghampton as a microcosm of the United States as a whole.It’s as diverse a community as you can find anywhere; a place where refugees from war-torn nations in Africa try to find footing in a new land of opportunity; a place where affluence and poverty cross paths on the street; a place where faith fuels hope, even in the midst of struggle. At the center of this cross-section of American society is The Commons on Merton, where the ministries and non-profit organizations working to enhance the community converge in a shared space — an old United Methodist Church building once reserved for one congregation and one li

CTC to Spark a New Story - Three Weekly News Stories to Focus on Gifts and Possibilities

Starting today, stories exploring the gifts and possibilities of Memphis neighborhoods will be posted on this site three times a week. Amy Moritz, director of the Center for Transforming Communities (CTC), says stories of transformation abound in our local neighborhoods. Working alongside church and community members in Memphis, Amy sees what happens when people shift their focus from deficits and problems to gifts and possibilities. It is those stories CTC will be sharing. Stories will show how people and organizations came together to create The Commons on Merton. These stories will follow how the organizations in The Commons, all with different mission, are working together toward the

Honoring All Voices in Community Transformation - Community Happens Organically in South Memphis

When all voices carry equal weight in the rebuilding of community, and everyone’s assets are valued, remarkable things can happen. For more than two years, a groundswell of community-building efforts has been building in the streets of South Memphis, led by a team of dedicated volunteers who choose to look at the abundant gifts on offer in the neighborhood beyond the many challenges there. The team is driven by faith and the concept of Shalom, which says the path to well being and peace is paved in efforts to create a better life for one’s neighbor. South Memphis is one of eight Shalom Zones under the Communities of Shalom initiative, a major focus of the Center for Transforming Communitie

Snapshots of a Community in Transformation - A Building at the Heart of Binghampton

Transformation is a familiar subject for pastor Billy Vaughan when he considers the evolution of the Everett Memorial United Methodist Church in Memphis’s Binghampton neighborhood. He’s been tied to the church and the area for at least 15 years and has seen what happens when organizations operate in but remain disconnected from their communities. He also knows the possibilities that arise when organizations extend open arms to their neighbors. Like many churches, Everett Memorial stared down challenges of declining membership in the face of demographic shifts. Rev. Billy Vaughan “This church was in this amazingly diverse neighborhood, one of the most diverse in the whole city, economical

Creating Community in The Commons - Transforming a Building into a Center of Revitalization

Three years ago the possibility of the church at the corner of McAdoo and Oxford in Memphis’s Binghampton neighborhood becoming a community hub seemed remote. Like many of the city’s 2,000 houses of worship, Everett Memorial United Methodist Church no longer felt the graceful presence of a steady stream of parishioners. It needed serious maintenance and upkeep and there was no money in the offering plate — the congregation that passed it around had ceased to exist. Yet within its mighty walls are the building blocks of community in transformation that is bonding in new and exciting ways, despite the shifting patterns of worship. Today the Center for Transforming Communities (CTC) connect

CTC Radio Interview about Block, McKnight and Brueggemann

On September 29, 2012 Amy Moritz, Director of Center for Transforming Communities (CTC), was a guest on the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club (LBPC) Radio Show. With the host Jeremy Park, Amy discussed what shalom means to her, CTC and the various communities that are part of the Memphis shalom network. They also discussed the goals of the Communities of Shalom (COS) initiative and the principles at the heart of sustainable, neighborhood transformation.In addition, Amy and Jeremy discussed and invited listeners to attend “Engaging Community. Narrating Change.” The event is hosted by CTC and will be held on November 14, 2012 from 8:30am to 4:30pm at Rhodes College in their McCallum Ballroom. The

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Center for Transforming Communities, Inc.

The Commons on Merton

258 N. Merton St.

Memphis, TN 38112





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