By: Bethany Apelquist
John 4:5-42
Reflection—v. 11 ‘Sir, you have no bucket’

We all have a friend who is the practical thinker, the one who points out all the ways a plan could go wrong, the friend who can look at the resources and assess the best way forward. I imagine this woman sitting at the well with Jesus was that friend. Jesus asks her for some water and she points out the obvious problem that Jesus seems to be overlooking, that he doesn’t have a bucket. But then Jesus surprises her and offers her the unexpected–he offers her water that doesn’t require a bucket, he offers her water that is life itself. It is easy to think that if there is no bucket there is no water, that if we don’t have a picture perfect plan, God can’t work. But what if we opened our hearts to be suprised by God, to be suprised by the ways that God can move, and to be surprised by the gifts that God offers each of us–gifts of grace, gifts of creativity, gifts of mercy, gifts of kindness, and gifts that don’t fit into our small buckets, but rather fill and overflow our hearts and our communities with the unexpected. Maybe then we will feel more free–more free to offer others gifts of love, mercy, and kindness. Maybe then we will be more free to be creative, to try something new, and to believe that just like Jesus offered the woman water that satisfies her soul, Jesus offers water for our souls.

Prayer Thank you God for all the ways you surprise us and the way you remind us of our precious gifts. May we be free to be creative as we share our gifts with others.

Pastor Chad


Chad is pastor and founder of Mercy Community Church, a grassroots community of worship and action—a group of people who believe Jesus wants the hungry fed, strangers welcomed, and every child of God housed.

Originally from North Carolina, in the fall of 1986, he made the move to Atlanta to attend Emory University.  Following graduation,  Chad enrolled in Candler School of Theology, graduating with a Masters of Divinity in 1993. That same year, Chad was ordained and began to serve as an associate pastor at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Atlanta.

Chad and his wife Camille began Mercy Community Church in August, 2005.  A small circle of friends gathered for simple worship, sensing a call to begin an intentional community in a congregational form with an unmistakable preferential option for the poor at the heart of its worship and life.  Today Mercy makes it home on the campus of Druid Hills Presbyterian Church, serving meals, sharing clothes, talking about the Bible, welcoming strangers, and trying to build a diverse and faithful community with over a hundred people a day, five days a week.

Chad is an Associate of the Missionaries of the Poor, a Catholic religious order that embodies a daily commitment to the spirituality of Matthew 25.  He and Camille and their two sons, Matthew and Levi, live in Scottdale, Georgia

Contact Chad at chad@mercyatl.org.

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Pastor Brittany


Brittany grew up in Jacksonville, Arkansas.  She first learned about God and what it means to be a church community that loves and cares for one another from First Presbyterian Church, Jacksonville, AR.  Brittany graduated from Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. After teaching abroad and working for a travel company, Brittany began her studies at Columbia Theological Seminary, taking steps to answer a call to ministry that she had felt since her childhood.  Upon moving to Atlanta, Brittany’s passion for being present with those on the margins led her to volunteer at Peachtree and Pine’s Taskforce for the Homeless and to become a pastoral intern with Mercy Church.  After completing her MDiv at Columbia, Brittany began a PhD program at Emory University, but left to answer God’s call on her life to full-time ministry as a pastor to our community.  Brittany was jointly ordained by the PC(USA) and Mercy Community Church in 2018.  Outside of Mercy, what gives Brittany life and joy is spending time with her husband Cooper and daughter Emi, traveling via plane, train, and foot, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and nerding out over Karl Barth.

Contact Brittany at brittany@mercyatl.org.

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Pastor Holly


Holly grew up in Ocala, Florida where she was nurtured by her faith community and encouraged to find ways to be a leader in the community.  Holly graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in Psychology.  After a period of discernment, she was called to a church community in Lady Lake, Florida where she served as the Youth Director for over six years.  She began her seminary career in 2014 at Columbia Theological Seminary where she earned her Masters of Divinity and Master of Arts in Practical Theological (Pastoral Care).  During her time in seminary, Holly began attending Mercy Community Church where she fell in love with the community.  Upon graduation, Holly served for two years as a Chaplain Resident at Grady Memorial Hospital and specialized in pastoral care through the lens of behavioral health.

In her free time, Holly loves to exercise, travel, spend time with her family, read, and organize.

Contact Holly at reimer4holly@gmail.com

Contact Brittany at brittany@mercyatl.org.

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Pastor Maggie


Maggie was raised and nurtured in Presbyterian churches in Plattsburgh, NY and Wilmington, NC. She attended undergrad at UNC-Chapel Hill. Following graduation, Maggie volunteered in Guatemala as a PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer.  When she returned, Maggie attended Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur,Georgia.  Bringing together her interests in community outreach and pastoral care, Maggie was been ordained by PC(USA) to work as a pastor for Mercy Community Church starting in 2010.

She enjoys traveling, cooking for friends, social justice, hiking with her pooch, yard games, laffy taffy jokes, and practicing and teaching yoga.  One of her joys is teaching for Centering Youth, a nonprofit that offers free yoga classes to those who might not otherwise have access to it.  For them, Maggie teaches yoga on the streets, to pregnant incarcerated women, youth caught in the court system, and women trying to get out of the sex-trafficking industry.

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