The members of CGF began meeting together for worship and Bible study at Virginia Intermont College in February of 2012 with the sense that God was leading us in a new and unique mission in our community. We recognized that our region needed a congregation that: a) appreciated historic Baptist freedoms, b) enjoyed welcoming people from all backgrounds, c) appreciated and understood struggles of the faith journey, and d) empathized with the spiritual wounding many people of our region have experienced in very conservative/legalistic churches. After several weeks of worship, Bible study, prayer, visiting other congregations, and a process of discernment, a group of about 30 of us felt and heeded the call to begin this new work.
In May of 2012, we named ourselves Common Ground Fellowship, and in September we began meeting for worship in the conference room at the Courtyard Marriott hotel near I-81, exit 7 in Bristol, VA. In the same month we called Rev. Brian Miller to be our pastor and began formalizing our charter by seeking to become a member church of the American Baptist Churches USA. In February of 2013 we became a member church of the Rochester-Genesee Region of American Baptist Churches USA. By October of that year we began meeting for worship in the conference room of the YWCA Bristol in downtown Bristol, TN.
Rev. Miller was later called to full-time ministry as Staff Chaplain at the Mountain Home VA Healthcare System in Johnson City, TN in January of 2014, and Rev. Heather Holland was called to be our pastor in February of 2015. Rev. Holland was also called to full-time ministry as a Chaplain at the Johnson City Medical Center in the fall of 2016. Both Heather and Brian along with other ordained and lay leaders of the church are now continuing in a preaching rotation.
We meet in rented space which comes with its own set of challenges but which also gives us new opportunities to: grow organically, be responsible stewards of the resources with which we have been entrusted, and redefine “church” as a gathered and serving community of believers.
As of January 15, 2017 we are relocating our worship space to the Chapel at First United Methodist Church of Bristol, TN. This move will afford us a space that can be set up more permanently and allow us to partner with a church whose passions and calling align closely with our own.