Signposts: Life and Work for Residents of the Open Door Community

(For Guests, Groups, Resident Volunteers, Prophets, Disciples, Inquirers, Justice Seekers, and Peacemakers)

We welcome you to our community and hope that your stay with us will be a fruitful one. Since we are a faith-based community, we depend on each other and take personal responsibility.

You are coming to share our discipleship, life, and work, which is dramatically different from the way most people live in this country. We see your time with us as an invitation to servanthood, formation, education, and action. We ask that you open your heart to this shared experience.

The Open Door is a discipleship, intentional community formed by people from many different backgrounds — formerly homeless, poor, rich, privileged, Black, white and brown, gay and straight, young and old, women and men. We learn from each other and strive to undo racism, poverty, sexism, heterosexism, and classism in order to build a world of nonviolence that treats everyone with love, compassion, and justice.

Following are methods we have developed in order for us to live together in joy and unity and practice our vocation of sharing life and servanthood with our friends on the streets and in prisons while pursuing justice within the Domination System.

We invite you to walk this journey of faith and practice with us. We ask you to join in the common-life disciplines of our Life together. We need your nurture, friendship and service as we, together, seek Abundant Life and The Beloved Community on earth as it is in heaven.

There are some things we ask you to leave behind: If you are staying with us for fewer than three months, please do not bring a computer. There are two computers available for use in our common space. For residents who live with us for any length of time, we ask that you do not bring cell phones, televisions, or other electronic/technological devices to the Open Door Community, with the exception of portable radio/CD/tape players. If you are staying for more than one week, please do not bring your car.

  1. The call to focus and concreteness: If you have relatives or friends living nearby, we encourage you to invite them to the Open Door to spend some time with us. Please check with the House Duty person, or your contact person. A meal would be a good time for a visit. However, we ask that you plan to spend your time here learning about our life and work. While staying with us, it would be hospitable for you to visit friends or relatives on your day off.
  2. The call to solidarity: We strive to live simply and recognize that two-thirds of the world eat meals without meat, have little to wear, do not shop at malls, and use public transportation, or walk. At night we offer vegetarian alternative meals. We don’t have soda or sweets, except on special occasions, so please don’t bring any into the house. Please understand your visit to the Open Door as a time to learn about homelessness, poverty, prisons, and the death penalty. It is not a time to tour Atlanta, to shop at malls, or to party. If you are here for more than a week and want to go shopping, please do so on your day off and in such a way as to avoid disruption of our community life, and remember that we ask you to live within $11.50 per week. Please ask your contact person or the House Duty person for ideas of places to tour in Atlanta. Also ask Eduard Loring about spending time on the streets among the homeless. The World of Coke, Underground Atlanta, and the Atlanta Aquarium are not appropriate tour sites, because of our political/cultural resistance to the American Empire. However, the City Jail, Woodruff Park, the King Center, the High Museum, and Grady Hospital are important places to visit.
  3. Issues of power and access on the road toward common life: We are aware of the imbalance of power between people who stay in the house and those who live in the yard; between Resident Volunteers, or guests, who are given keys, and short-term, formerly homeless members of the residential community, who do not have keys.
    While you are visiting here at the Open Door, it is not appropriate to develop romantic relationships (don’t let the love bug bite!) with those in the yard or with those who are guests in the house. Remember that you will go home, get in your car, hop on a plane, go back to school or work, whereas those you left behind will still be in poverty and live on the margins while we lock horns with the Domination System.
    If our homeless friends in the yard or members of the residential community ask you for something, please tell them to see the House Duty person. Please do not distribute money, cigarettes, food, clothes, or other items. Rather, listen to their stories with your heart.
    If you have keys to the house, offices, and sheds, these have been given to you for your use in carrying out the servanthood mission of the community. Please do not take residential members of the community out after hours without arranging it with the House Duty person and pastoral friend. Do not invite folks into the house when they knock on the door without checking with the House Duty person.
  4. We build the road by walking: The Open Door Community can help with your personal transportation needs while you are here. The community owns several vehicles. Priority is given to mission and community business. We encourage use of public transportation, and for those who are here for more than one week, MARTA cards are available from the House Duty person for use on your day off. If you run an errand, please bring the vehicle back with more than half a tank of gas. Ask the House Duty person for money, and bring back a receipt. We all agree to wear seat belts in Open Door vehicles. Use of Open Door vehicles, including bicycles, should be cleared with the House Duty person.
  5. Shout as loud as you can (Isaiah 58:1): Please only make long distance calls by shouting in Woodruff Park, by calling collect, or by agreement with your contact person or Pastoral Friend. If you need to make a call, please ask the House Duty person to show you which phone to use. Please do not dial 411 for information. The phone in the hall is available for use by our homeless friends during the hours that we are open. It is also for residential members of the community from the streets and prisons. Use of the fax machine should be scheduled through your contact person or pastoral friend.
  6. Dress for the sudden return of the Human One: Comfortable work clothes are essential. Tight-fitting or revealing clothes and short skirts are inappropriate. Since you are here to be in solidarity with the humiliated ones, it is a time to dress in solidarity with the poor. Please wear t-shirts, buttons, and stickers with justice and love messages.
  7. The Open Door does not condone sleeping together outside of a committed relationship.
  8. Captivity to Powers and idolatry to the White System: Smoking is allowed on the dining room porch from 8:30 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. It is not allowed anywhere in the house or in Open Door vehicles. If you smoke outside, please stay a long way away from the building – behind the basketball court out back or at the benches in front. Smoking cessation clinics are available at Grady Memorial Hospital. Also, lung cancer treatment and hospice care.
  9. There is no such thing as a stupid question when asked with goodwill: If you have questions, reflections, answers and insights, always tell the House Duty person, whose name is listed on the chalkboard outside the dining room. This person is shepherd of the household. Sometimes you will get various answers from other members of the community, which may not be appropriate. ALWAYS ASK THE HOUSE DUTY PERSON. Check with the House Duty person when you go out, suggest the time of your return, and write your name and destination on the chalk board. Go out in groups of two or more after sunset.
  10. Mail usually arrives in the afternoon. The House Duty person or a member of the Leadership Team sorts it.
  11. Share your food with the Hungry: Food for snacking is available in the dining room refrigerator or on the kitchen shelves.
  12. If you administer First Aid, please do so only while wearing gloves, which are available in the Sorting Room and in the Medical Supply Cabinet. Many of our friends are HIV positive.
  13. Our laundry facilities are located in the basement. Please wash your towels and sheets if you are here for more than one week.
  14. Serve the Lord with gladness: After lunch, everyone is requested to help clean up the kitchen and dining room. The House Duty person will give a time when all should be back in the dining room to help clean up. At the evening meal, we urge you to volunteer for cleaning up after supper. The House Duty person will ask for volunteers to sign up on the green chalkboard.
  15. Today is the Day the Lord is making; let us rejoice in it: Worship is an essential part of our life and work together. We worship daily according to the following schedule:
    Monday, 9:45 a.m. and after soup kitchen
    Tuesday, 9:45 a.m. and after soup kitchen
    Wednesday, 9:45 a.m. and after soup kitchen
    Thursday, noon
    Sunday, 5:00 p.m.
    We all gather for these occasions.
  16. Attendance and participation in Clarification Meetings is expected. These are meetings for discussion and reflection on community issues, the Bible, political events, etc, and are held most Mondays at 7:30 p.m.
  17. Short-term residents of the community will be expected to attend AA meetings at a minimum of once a week.
  18. Justice is important, but Supper is essential! Schedule for Meals and Rotations:Meals
    • Coffee is available in the kitchen at 5:00 a.m. The House Duty person will set out items for breakfast in the dining room at 8:00 a.m.
    • Lunch:
      Monday: after soup kitchen
      Tuesday: after soup kitchen
      Wednesday: after soup kitchen
      Thursday: noon
      Friday & Saturday: on your own
      Sunday: after Peace Vigil and reflection
    • Supper:
      Monday through Thursday: 6:00 p.m.
      Friday: on your own
      Saturday: prepared by volunteers, Jim Bingham and Bill Crockett
      Sunday: follows 5:00 p.m. worship


    • Soup Kitchens: Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at 9:45 a.m.
    • Soup Kitchen Volunteers: 9:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
    • Soup Kitchen Dishes: 10:00 a.m. until dishes are finished after lunch
    • Showers: Wednesday and Thursday, 7:30 until 10:00 a.m.
    • Sweep and mop the hall and dining room: after soup kitchen and lunch
    • First floor bathrooms: after soup kitchen and lunch
    • Supper prep: 4:00 through 6:00 p.m.
    • Supper set up: by 5:00 p.m.
    • Basement, public bathroom, and cardboard: after soup kitchen and lunch

    Special projects are done around regular rotations and vary in length of time. If you do not have the day off, please be available for your rotations on time. If you have time and energy for special projects after your rotations are completed, please see the House Duty person and ask, “How may I be helpful?”.

    On Monday at lunch, we go over the weekly Rotation Chart and have announcements and prayer.

  19. After looking at this schedule, you can see that we live a busy life with a full calendar from Sunday evening to Thursday afternoon. Please respect our community quiet hours from 10:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., and get plenty of sleep. If you want to listen to the radio during these hours, please use headphones in your room. In addition, at any given time the Open Door has among its members the elderly, the infirm, and the disabled. Please be very respectful and do not run or roughhouse inside the house. Dayspring Farm is a great place to play and fight. No dancing unless two or more folk can hear the music.

Thank you very much for coming to the Open Door to share in our life and work. Your presence gives us hope and strength, as we follow Jesus and engage the Powers so that the homeless will be housed, the hungry fed, the prisoner visited and the Death Penalty ended. On the way we dance and sing and laugh and cry. Please help us Proclaim a New Song to our Momma who art in heaven/on the margins of the Domination System.

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