John and Katheryn Heinz

Founders of CenterForm, a Christian co-working community in Atlanta, Ga.
Linking faith, church and culture through creativity within their city.

John: M.A. in World Mission and Evangelism, Asbury Theological Seminary, 2004
Katheryn: Master of Divinity, Asbury Theological Seminary, 2005

Like the ocean, life ebbs and flows around the constant of change. Instead of simply reacting to the perpetual tide of transitions in cities, economics, political structures and cultures, John and Katheryn Heinz opened CenterForm, a Christian co-working community in Atlanta, to connect their faith to an ever-changing world.

John and Katheryn founded CenterForm with the question: “If the Good News really is the Good News, what does it look like in the real world?” CenterForm is a networking community of Christians, non-Christians, entrepreneurs and leaders that leverages the creativity, social capital, and resources of that community to address complex challenges, such as gentrification, immigration and addiction, to promote the shalom of the city.

“CenterForm is an important place for the Church to participate in the shaping of communities, instead of freaking out that the world is changing,” Katheryn said.

After moving to Atlanta with The Mission Society in 2013, they worked, prayed and researched for two years before opening CenterForm. To do that, they needed an inspiring space to host events and entrepreneurial ventures. With little money and no leads on rental spaces, they wondered if they were being faithful to God’s call or just crazy.

“God likes to get us to the edge and a little beyond,” Katheryn said. “After two years, we thought, ‘God, what have we done? We’ve ruined our lives.’ But then, He opened a door.”

In desperation, Katheryn began researching every building within the downtown area. She discovered the M. Rich Center for Creative Arts, Media and Technology. The building is filled with creative, socially engaged organizations and located in a strategic area of downtown.

On their first visit, they met Linda, who founded Alaydi’s Café at M.Rich. Linda listened to their story, prayed over them and called the building’s leasing agent. She showed them a space that was everything they’d dreamed, but she had already received a Letter of Intent to lease that space from a for-profit company.

However, the woman who had redeveloped the M. Rich Building, had done so on one condition—that the building be used for Kingdom purposes. John and Katheryn were encouraged to write up their own Letter of Intent, but they still had no money.

Katheryn sent a Hail Mary email to past supporters explaining the opportunity and the need. Ironically, one of the foundations had received an email from their accountant the same day stating that they needed to donate the exact amount of money John and Katheryn needed before year’s end.

They opened CenterForm a few months later.

“Each of those things is just amazing,” Katheryn said. “It’s a series of small decisions, big discoveries, a lot of mistakes and astonishing God-moments. I don’t think you can just wake up one day and decide to found CenterForm. It took us ten years of daily God-moments for us to even get here.”

CenterForm offers flexible workspaces, access to networks and hosts conferences, events and training seminars.

For example, The Hatch is an innovative ministry incubator in which young adults with ministry ideas partner with a local entrepreneur to gain experience in the context of vocation. The Bellwether Series invites creative thought leaders to discuss the intersection of faith and culture. Saturday Morning ArtTunes offers a creative, interactive engagement of art, faith, and community, cohosted by Christian artists and based on rotating exhibits in the CenterForm gallery.

“We are beginning to discover as a community how the Church can be a creative, future-shaping leader in the city,” John said. “The Kingdom vision is a profound answer of hope and peace for our complicated times.”

For John and Katheryn, the work of CenterForm tests their theology and seminary education in the real world, within a real context, with real people who are struggling within real systems. As they live out their faith, they see the power of the Gospel redeem their lives and their city.

To learn more about the intersection and integration of faith within the marketplace, visit Asbury Seminary’s Office of Faith, Work and Economics page.

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