a Jewish presence in the City of St. Louis
In early 2002, CRC member Carole Zimbrolt (of blessed memory) initiated a meeting with Rabbi Randy and the clergy and other representatives from First Unitarian, St. John’s Methodist, and Trinity Episcopal. All three churches are within walking distance of CRC, and a neighborhood collaborative was born. We called ourselves ‘Holy Ground’ from the biblical passage in Exodus: "The place on which you stand is Holy Ground.” We wanted the neighborhood we share to be filled with as much compassion, equity and love as possible, and we wanted to be part of that vision not only as individual congregations, but also in a diverse and inclusive interfaith partnership.
Currently, the Holy Ground Collaborative consists of seven congregations: CRC (Reform Jewish Synagogue), First Unitarian, Therese Divine Peace (progressive Catholic led by womenpriests), First Church Christ, Scientist, Trinity Episcopal, the primarily African-American Cornerstone Institutional Baptist, and Second Presbyterian.
St. John’s United Methodist was a member until the congregation closed, and Metropolitan Community Church (for LGBT and Allied Christians) was a member until they moved from the neighborhood.
We have been involved together in many projects. We have helped to repair homes of vulnerable residents, painted schoolyard fences to cover lead paint, organized blood drives, and volunteered with Habitat for Humanity. We have canvassed the neighborhood to raise awareness of lead poisoning, held candidate forums, and registered voters. We share responsibility once a month for a lunch program for our homeless neighbors. We have held joint services to protest Medicaid cuts, express support for Gay Pride weekend, and to celebrate the inauguration of President Obama. We hold an annual concert that highlights the variety of music that lifts up and inspires our houses of worship.
Along the way, we have gotten to know one another, and we have forged deep friendships. We hold social gatherings such as picnics, and we have attended the services at one another’s congregations. We have celebrated and mourned together. And, we have made this urban neighborhood seem more like a village where many of us now have multiple spiritual homes.
In 2007, the Holy Ground Collaborative was honored with a ‘Heroes of Humanity’ award from the Art of Living Foundation.
Clergy and other representatives from Holy Ground meet monthly and the meetings rotate among the participating congregations. The leadership rotates as well. So far, our presidents have been Carole Zimbrolt from CRC, Bill Colbert from St. John’s, Donald Jefferies from First Unitarian, Valarie Jackson from MCC, Reverend Rick Edwards from Cornerstone, Janet Hegarty from First Church Christ, Scientist, Marybeth McBryan from Therese of Divine Peace, and Tom Cradock from First Unitarian. Our current president is CRC member Rick Isserman.
“For the place on which you stand is Holy Ground”
- Exodus 3:5
In This Section