We Run for FCS

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By FCS

On your mark. Get set. Go! We are counting down the days until Sunday, September 23, when FCS neighbors and friends will take their place on the starting line of the Generosity 5k in support of FCS’ community development work. It’s certain to be a morning of fun, festivities, panting, and laughter.

As our team begins to form, we’d love to introduce you to some of our runners. Executive Director Katie Delp and Director of the Lupton Center Shawn Duncan will be out there representing FCS. And let’s not forget Community Trainer, Donell Woodson as well. The trash talking in the office has already begun!

Donell created a team called “Running with Purpose,” and he’s inviting others to join him at the race! His wife Evie is on his team, and they’ll be pushing their daughter, Hannah Grace, in her stroller. Donell says he’s participating in the 5k because he’s passionate about community development. “FCS’ vision and mission for community is the same as mine, which spurs our family to want to financially support and run together for FCS.”

In addition to our staff members, some South Atlanta neighbors are jumping in to run and walk with us. Mazie Lynn has lived in Historic South Atlanta for over thirteen years and is incredibly supportive of the work we do in the community. She says, “Supporting FCS is a priority for our family, and being a part of the road race is a fun and innovative way to do that.”

Mazie Lynn is also looking forward to the opportunity to invite others into the mission and work of FCS. Each runner commits to raising $200 in support of FCS, and she plans to share FCS’ impact with friends, coworkers, and relatives. Finally, Mazie Lynn says she’s eager to exercise after long days of caring for her two young kids, so working toward the goal of a 5k with friends and neighbors is motivating!

September 23 will be here soon! And we’re looking forward to spending the day together, sweating and raising money to support our community. You’re invited to join us or donate to help our runners reach their goal!

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A Rooted Response: Connected to God

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by Katie Delp

Katie Delp, our Executive Director, recently preached on Esther’s response to Haman and what it can teach us. This is Part 2 in a series of exploring Esther’s rooted response. You can read Part 1 here.

For the the past two decades, I’ve been working in marginalized communities. I’ve been in hard places and befriended those who haven’t always had a voice. In the day-to-day of community organizing and working for change and transformation, I’ve come up again some “Hamans.” They may be people in power or perhaps those just causing trouble.

I am learning to recognize how standing up to the Hamans in our world must be very different for Christ followers. The way we stand up to injustice is what differentiates us. Thankfully, Esther offers us a road map for a Godly response. For starters, hers is a response rooted in relationship with God.

When Mordecai informs Esther of Haman’s plan, her immediate reaction is “There’s nothing I can do! It’s against the law for me to speak to the King!” Esther is quick to diminish her role and her voice. She is quick to explain how helping is impossible.

But when Mordecai returns and reminds her of her connection to the Jewish people and her position of influence, she begins to respond differently. This is the point in the story where Esther understands she has to act, but she doesn’t know what that will look like. Instead of rushing to response, she gives herself some time by asking Mordecai, the rest of the Jews, and her household to fast with her for three days while she prays and asks God for wisdom and courage.

I think in my mind, I always visualized Mordecai challenging Esther for “such a time as this” and her swiftly realizing her call and immediately stepping up bravely to the challenge and making her demands to the king in her best Wonder Woman pose. But that’s not what happened. Esther agreed to to the challenge, but immediately responded with “give me the three days” to allow herself time to prepare and connect with God.

Our culture is so quick to respond to every conflict. Within hours of every controversy, we are bombarded with opinions from every form of media. We are expected to draw lines, form an opinion, and announce our stance even while the story is still breaking. It’s can be unbelievably exhausting...and ineffective.

“Contemplative activism” is a practice I’ve been drawn to in the past. It marries the practices of spiritual contemplative disciplines with our call for social justice and advocacy. In Sojourner Magazine, David Potter describes it this way, “Emotion-laden responses are useful in building bridges from apathy to action. Yet, as countless fatigued and burnt-out activists struggle in the wake of moral outrage, we must go deeper.

We need a discipline of contemplative activism.

In recognizing the challenges of working for social justice, spiritually-rooted social action provides something of substance to the people in movements. From this place of rootedness, social movements can set intentions that point towards sustainability.

Reading this article, I immediately thought that Esther is the perfect example of contemplative activism in her response to Haman. She demonstrates our need for a practice and a discipline that is not so quick to react with raw emotion that we join into the problem that already exists.

More and more I believe that as followers of Christ, we need to follow Esther’s example. We must be committed to standing up to the powers that be and the evil in our world, but we must first gather ourselves and connect with God.

Phileena Heuertz, a leader in contemplative activism, says, “Through activism we confront toxicity in our world; through contemplation we confront it in ourselves. Without practices that dismantle our unconscious ego motivations, at best our work will be limited in its effectiveness and at worse, our work will exercise more violence in the world.”

This slowing down isn’t just about making a better plan for taking down the Hamans in our worlds. This slowing down gives us the space to find where we, too, are a part of the problem and to remove our own biases. We give ourselves space to examine the ourselves, confess our sin, and hear from God. I believe this is a wise practice. Even my kids’ soccer league asks parents to wait 24 hours before they complain about a referee or a coaching problem! They know that allowing the emotions of the game to simmer changes how everyone will respond.

I’ve been trying to practice this discipline as well. I’ve experienced how my own quick response to an emerging situation backfired and created an avoidable mess. I owned my role in the mess and apologized. But as I reflected on the situation, I realized I acted too quickly and responded from a place of emotion.

So I’m working on being like Esther. I’m trying to take my time, to pause more. Give myself some space to wrestle with God about my emotions and role within the conflict before speaking out or acting. I appreciate Esther’s example in this.

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A Rooted Response: Part 1

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by Katie Delp

Do you remember Haman? He’s a character from the Book of Esther and the primary adversary against the Jewish people. To refresh your memory, King Xerxes of Susa had honored Haman, and the royal officials all bowed to him. However, it soon became apparent that Mordecai, a Jew, would not bow in the presence of Haman.

This did not make Haman happy. In fact, it made him so enraged that he devised a plan to not only punish Mordecai for his supposed disrespect, but to destroy all Jews throughout the kingdom.   

It was this plan that initiated Mordecai to reach out to Esther and encourage her to stand up for the Jewish people in front of the King.

This summer, our church has been listening to a six-week series on the Book of Esther. I was invited to speak on Haman.

As I’ve become re-acquainted with Haman, I’m reminded that folks like him - eager to bring harm and oppression - pop up throughout history. We’ve witnessed their terrible legacies in our history books, and we’ve seen how their stories played out on the large-scale global stage. But I’m also aware that there are “Hamans” present in our lives. There are people stirring up trouble in our cities, at our jobs, in our children’s school. Everyday Hamans make plans destined for destruction.

It’s easy to become obsessed with the Hamans. We feel outrage or anger. We fear them. We want to inflict the same kind of hurt on them that we’ve seen them heap on us or others.

But the story of Esther offers us a different - more rooted - way to respond to those who come against us and others. She exemplifies a path that is rooted in her faithful connection to God, a supportive community, and radical kindness. And her approach is a response that results in impact.

I’m eager to unpack these examples of rootedness and how our responses to the Hamans can be deeper and more effective. This is the first post in a short series exploring “A Rooted Response.” We can learn from Esther’s example as we seek to respond in a faithful way to the evil plotters in our private and public lives.

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