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.