Mercy Junction transitioning to non-hierarchical leadership structure

Our Lady

We are excited to announce some changes at Mercy Junction Justice and Peace Center that bring us closer to our commitment of creating a non-hierarchical community that is devoted to hospitality, social justice, peacemaking and equality.

The Mercy Junction Council of Elders, the governing body of the interfaith ministry, will be taking on roles of daily leadership in the organization, while founder and pastor, the Rev. Brian Merritt and Director Beth Foster transition to part-time roles.

“The leadership of Mercy Junction had been vested almost entirely in Brian and me,” Beth said. “That is not in keeping with the commitment we have made to non-hierarchy. This transition will bring us closer to creating the community of our vision.”

“I am excited to see what new and exciting things this change will make possible for Mercy Junction.”

Elder Sadie Morgan said, “We are being led to a more mature vision of our fellowship, in which we are all participants and not merely spectators in the activities promoted by the center.”

Morgan, along with Elders Maddie Nix and Susan Seretean form the Hospitality Working Group and will direct the day-to-day Hospitality Hours at the Justice and Peace Center. Hospitality Hours are now 2 pm to 6:30 pm, Monday through Friday. During Hospitality Hours the sanctuary is open for anyone needing a quiet, comfortable, safe place to pray, meditate, read or just take a nap. Also during Hospitality Hours, a vegan meal is served, snacks are available, and there is hot coffee and cold water to drink.

“I am amazed every day how the work at Mercy Junction changes not only the lives of those in the community, and  the lives of the animals in our care, but how it has changed the lives of those doing the work at the center,” Susan said. “The opportunity to precipitate these changes for others is an incredible gift for us and we are truly grateful for this ability to make a difference.”

Elders Shelly and Damien Crisp will continue their work with the Peace Collective Free Store, which sees close to 100 guests visit the Justice and Peace Center every week. The Free Store includes clothing, household items, toys, books and other items — all free. The Free Store is open, for leaving what you no longer need or taking what you do need, Monday through Friday, 2 pm to 630 pm. Also during Free Store Hours, the center often has bread that guests can take home thanks to a partnership with the Gandhi Global Center for Peace.

Elders Joan Flores and Samantha Bayles will be central to Mercy Junction’s continued work to provide a place of hospitality, sanctuary and care to non-human animals. Both are involved in companion animal rescue work.

“I am also grateful that we have elders and partners who willingly work to make our world better by giving of their time and talents,” Brian said. “I am confident that moving forward Chattanooga is a better place because of the lived love of people at Mercy Junction.”

Brian will continue to lead Mercy Junction’s faith programs. These include a Wednesday night Christian service with the Lord’s Supper served at 6 pm. On the first Saturday of each month, Mercy Junction has a 5 pm community potluck and at 6 pm, an interfaith service.

The transition to part-time will allow Brian to focus more of his time on his role as pastor at Renaissance Presbyterian Church on the westside of Chattanooga.

Brian’s office hours at the center are Wednesday through Friday, 3 pm to 7 pm. He can be reached at 423.521.0642 or by email at

Beth will continue to compile and edit Mercy Junction’s long-running zine, the Holy Heretic, as well as organizing social justice-oriented events and action.

With the transition to part-time, Beth will be focusing more of her time on writing and activism around animal rights and veganism, as well as continuing her companion animal rescue work.

Beth’s office hours at the center are Monday through Wednesday, 3 pm to 7 pm. She can be reached at 423.521.0642 or by email at


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