11 Aliquippa was a town devastated by the recent closure of its steel mill.
12 The streetscape resembled a ghost town The streetscape resembled a ghost town. It was a place dominated by unemployment, poverty and social problems.
13 The Community bought a disused funeral home and renovated it for office and chapel space.
14 Next to the office we also bought the 12 rowhouses which had fallen into decay. They required an enormous amount of renovation work.
15 Just down the street from the rowhouses, All Saints Episcopal Church was in great need after 80% of the congregation had left 6 months before to plant an Episcopal church in a new suburb. The Community joined with the remnant congregation to be a Christian presence in the neighborhood.
16 Soon we were involved in supporting local people protesting the mill closure and loss of pensions and medical benefits. This march on Palm Sunday 1987
17 had great historical significance as it was exactly 50 years after the Wagner Act was upheld by the Supreme Court giving the workers at the Aliquippa mill the right to organize into a union.
18 The closing of All Saints Church in 1999 gave us the green light to pursue our dream of building a chapel more suitable for the needs of a Benedictine community. This signaled a new direction:
19 We would invite individuals and groups to experience our life and mission first hand rather than our traveling to them. The chapel is nestled between the office and rowhouses.
20 Everything is movable, so we can accommodate many different arrangements. This is the setting for the Morning, Noon, and Evening Prayer offices.
21 In 2003 we dedicated the Chapel of the Holy Spirit in a joyous celebration that began with a procession reminiscent of our time in Scotland.
22 We gave thanks to God for providing such a gracious space in which to worship,
33 As part of our ministry of presence, we offer safe, affordable housing to the public.
34 The common backyard provides the only green space in the neighborhood.
35 Our new facility made it possible to offer a program to the women in the county jail. Women on work release came two mornings a week for workshops in wellness, cooking, and creative writing as well as learning crafts such as making jewelry and scrap booking, sewing, knitting, and quilting.
39 The repeat offender rate is above 80%, and our prayer is that the seeds of hope, self-esteem, and practical knowledge will bear fruit in these women’s lives and encourage them on a life-changing path.
40 Steven McKeown serves as chaplain to Aliquippa Police, Fire Department, City Council, Civil Air Patrol, Air Marshalls, and the FBI of Western PA.
41 The Community has a long history of a commitment to peacemaking and reconciliation. A recent conference theme was “Waging Peace.”
42 Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”
43 And “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”
44 In early 2003, every afternoon before Evening Prayer, we demonstrated in front of our houses—right on Aliquippa’s main street--to protest the proposed invasion of Iraq.
45 We joined with thousands of others in the National Cathedral in Washington, DC on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to prayerfully ask President Bush to make a Faith-based Initiative and give international inspectors more time.
46 Afterwards we marched to Lafayette Square across from the White House
47 where we led the singing as ecumenical leaders led the prayers for peace and held a candlelight vigil.
48 However, our life and mission is rooted locally, not at a national level. This is what downtown Aliquippa looks like today.
52 The undergirding principle of our life: We seek to find Jesus present in worship, in our common life, and in ministries that concentrate on responding to the needs of the times
53 Conversion of character The Community of Celebration is recognized under the Canons of the Episcopal Church as a Christian Community and we take Benedictine Vows:StabilityConversion of characterObedience
54 Ever since landing in Aliquippa we have prayed that God would send someone with gifts for evangelism. In 2001 God answered that prayer by sending the Stanley family all the way from Sydney, Australia. They are part of the Church Army, an evangelistic ministry in the Anglican Communion, and they live in one of the rowhouses.
55 When John Stanley arrived in Aliquippa, he immediately set out to locate a building that could serve as a hospitality center–where any and all would be welcomed into an environment free from oppression and drugs–right in the middle of Aliquippa’s blighted main street.
56 The building he chose had been officially condemned, and the Church Army bought it for back taxes.
57 The first miracle was that John was able to attract volunteer labor from churches, youth groups, retirees, and young men in drug rehab to accomplish the enormous task of renovating the building into usable space.
59 Today the Café serves breakfast and lunch 5 days a week, hosts open mic night and a movie night, provides space for AA groups, art classes, and special occasions.
60 It is all about rebuilding Aliquippa through creativity, imagination, community service, recovery, great food, and fellowship
61 Besides providing good food, good coffee and conversation, the Café acts as the home for an Aliquippa church, hosts Bible studies,
62 features local music on its stage and local art on its walls.
63 Uncommon Grounds is a healthy, diverse community where people of all ages, races, and income levels freely gather.
64 Five years ago God planted the seeds of another ministry alongside the Community of Celebration. Aliquippa Impact began as a summer outreach to at-risk kids in Aliquippa’s most challenging housing estate, staffed by students from a Christian college who donate their time to provide tutoring in basic subjects, build self-esteem, and to take the kids on field trips.
65 In preparation for the summer programs, they use our facilities for group study,