Yesterday morning I woke up early and headed to Atlanta. I got here to the Open Door Community around 12:30 and was greeted by Jon who is a novitiate here at Open Door. He welcomed me in, showed me my room, and began introducing me to everyone. When we walked into the dining room he introduced me to those who were eating when one of the people with their backs to me turned around. It was Rich Robinson who is a pastor at Epworth UMC in John's Island South Carolina and he and his wife started a non-profit called Nuevos Caminos. I had talked to Anton from Alterna about Rich and his work in Charleston and was going to put the two in contact with each other. I had met Rich at Annual Conference but did not really get the chance to talk to him all that much. I did, however, get that chance yesterday. Rich is staying here at Open Door while taking Course of Study classes at Chandler School of Theology at Emory University.
After meeting some other people and catching up with Rich over lunch, I got a full tour of the building. Here at Open Door they have various ways to help out out their homeless friends in the neighborhood. These include food distribution, clothes, showers, art lessons and more but best of all, community. Their clothing distribution is different from most places that I have seen in that the people who come in pick out some clothes and then give to open door their dirty clothes. Open Door then looks to see if they are still in good condition and if they are they wash them and put them back on the racks for others to use. This way is more of a clothing recycling where the people who come in are sharing with each other rather than the simple hand out mentality some places take on.
After the tour I rested a little bit and then attended their worship service. The service begins around 4:00 with welcoming and songs. There is then a time for prayer requests, of which this community has many. The time for prayer requests was one of the more telling aspects of the worship time. There were many prayers for each other in the community such as health problems and safe travels, but then there were also other prayers directed primarily to those on death row. Open Door as well as some of the other partners in the area work to speak out against the death penalty and they go to visit those on death row. There is an execution this wednesday so that was a great area of concern. The service continued with more song, liturgy and Rich happened to be preaching. After the sermon their was communion which lead into the community meal afterward.
I spent the rest of the evening talking with those in the community in order to learn more about them and Open Door and to share a little about my experience on this trip and at the Bonhoeffer House. Open Door is a wonderful and hospitable community and I hope that when I get back to South Carolina I can continue to have a relationship with them.