7 Books to Build Your Smart Charity Library

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At FCS we believe that how we do ministry and form partnerships in urban communities matters as much as what we do. Maybe you’re new to the idea of smart charity, or perhaps you’ve been doing community development work for years, but want some refreshing resources. We’ve put together a list of 7 books worth checking out.

#1 Slow Kingdom Coming: Practices for Doing Justice, Loving Mercy and Walking Humbly in the World

Blending personal stories and theological insights, Kent Annan’s new book walks us through the sometimes frustrating and slow work of pursuing justice. He offers 5 disciplines - almost more like spiritual practices - meant to encourage and refresh those feeling tired and discouraged.

#2 Charity Detox: What Charity Would Look Like If We Cared About Results

In his newest book, FCS Founder Bob Lupton, challenges many of the traditional ideas of charity. He asks what would charity look like if we, instead of creating dependency, measured our work by its’ ability to alleviate poverty and needs? He offers strategic examples of organizations implementing these groundbreaking new models.

#3 Embrace: God’s Radical Shalom for a Divided World

It’s easy to live in a world divided by things like class, race, and values. Too often we ignore people who are different from us. But God’s call for the church is the opposite. Leroy Barber writes about how and why we need to embrace all kinds of people and communities, especially those that have been marginalized.

#4 Where the Cross Meets the Street: What Happens to the Neighborhood When God Is at the Center

Noel Castellanos, CEO of the Christian Community Development Association, challenges the churches’ sometimes narrow view of the cross and invites us to rediscover the power it can have in both, individuals and communities. Through inspiring personal stories and biblical context, he focuses on the value and need for holistic ministry in our neighborhoods and churches.

#5 Assimilate or Go Home: Notes from a Failed Missionary on Rediscovering Faith

Through rich storytelling and poetic prose,  D.L. Mayfield pulls us into the refugee community where she works, but also into her deeper journey of self-discovery. Her essays invite us to reconsider our preconceived ideas of love, justice and Kingdom work.

#6 Roadmap to Reconciliation: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice

Many of us notice the injustice and inequality in our community, and often get stuck wondering what can we really do to make a difference. In her new book, Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNiel, offers a roadmap for how to dialogue and discuss these issues and then, most importantly how to follow Jesus’ call to mobilize and move forward.

#7 Subversive Jesus: An Adventure in Justice, Mercy and Faithfulness in a Broken World

Craig Greenfield, the founder of Alongsiders International, challenges us to not only understand the subversive message of Jesus, but to actually live it. Through his captivating storytelling he leads us from the slums of Cambodia to inner city Canada, as he and his family seek to follow Jesus’ call.

P.S. If you liked these resources and want to find out more about how to implement principles of smart charity in your organization, please contact our Director of Training and Education, Dr. Shawn Duncan, to learn about FCS consulting.

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Growing Up with GlenCastle

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by Kacey Dennis, guest writer

I was about seven years old when I watched the opening ceremonies for the GlenCastle apartments. My mom and I had just returned to Atlanta after my parents divorced, and we had been searching for a place to live that we could afford. A woman at a bus stop came up to my mom and told her about Charis Community Housing and GlenCastle. We moved in the day it officially opened!

My mom was the first Resident Manager of GlenCastle, and she was amazing at caring for the residents who were our neighbors. I loved living in GlenCastle! It was such a cool place to live, and I loved our apartment. We lived on the third floor and had windows that wrapped around and you could see the Atlanta skyline. People called it the penthouse.

Mostly, I have fond memories of having a safe place. GlenCastle was so family-oriented, and we knew most of the folks who lived there. As a kid, I made fast friends, who are now some of my best friends from childhood. We had camp there every summer, and college students would live at GlenCastle to run it. We probably wore them out knocking on their doors at all hours, wanting to play! At the end of every summer, we’d perform a talent show of sorts on the front porch of GlenCastle. It was so fun.   

Across the parking lot, at the Blacksmith Shop, I began dancing with Moving in the Spirit. The whole GlenCastle campus was a bustling place of family-friendly activity. I remember the Junior League would come and take us to Braves games and community events. Each year, I looked forward to the FCS Fall Festival, where Moving in the Spirit would perform and there were booths and tables to serve the community.

My mom also became a Christian while living at GlenCastle, and we started a church at the Blacksmith Shop. A woman named Reverend Love would preach, and we had a small choir. That church was a game changer for our family.

Also at GlenCastle, my mom met my step father. They moved out of GlenCastle and into FCS’ duplexes, which served families recovering from addiction. My mom managed the properties for FCS, and eventually became the Chaplain of GlenCastle.

My mom eventually left to start her own ministry, but she stayed connected for years after to FCS. When Charis was having a party to celebrate homeownership, she asked me, now a young adult having completed graduate school in professional counseling at Georgia State, to go with her.  

We sat at a table with Dana Lupton, Executive Director of Moving in the Spirit. I had known her when I was a young dancer, but she didn’t recognize me since I’d long outgrown my Coca-Cola glasses, braids, and buck teeth. (Thank God for contacts and braces!)

Dana mentioned a possible job opening coming soon to Moving in the Spirit to run their mentoring program. I wasn’t sure I was interested, but by the time it became available, I was ready to apply. I was hired in 2007 to direct their mentor program and coordinate volunteer opportunities. In July of 2015, I transitioned to become Moving in the Spirit’s HR Manager.  

The GlenCastle campus has had a major impact on my life, and it’s so incredible to see it coming full circle. Growing up, so many friends lived in the projects, and I know it could have been an option for my family. But GlenCastle was an alternative that opened doors, and I’m thankful that my family benefited and now and both my mom and my own family have our own homes.

At the same time, the ministries that ministered to me as a child, especially Moving In the Spirit, are also growing up and moving out of that same space. We have opened a new facility this year in Old Fourth Ward, and we are in the process of constructing a state-of-the-art theater space in conjunction with Atlanta’s transit development. Meanwhile, FCS is relocating to South Atlanta, where they can continue to provide safe, affordable places to live for families who need it most.

I’m happy the building will continue to stand, and I can drive by and remember the good memories I’ve had there. And I’m excited about the new beginnings for myself, FCS, and Moving in the Spirit as we step into the next phase of our journeys.

Kacey Dennis is HR Director for Moving in the Spirit, a nationally-recognized youth development program incubated by FCS and uses the art of dance to positively transform the lives of children and teens in Atlanta, Georgia. She lives in College Park with her husband and two kids (pictured above). 

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On Mission and Moving Forward

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by Jim Wehner

The GlenCastle campus, our FCS home for more than 30 years, is an amazing story of transformation. This century-old building served as an Atlanta’s prison for decades before FCS transformed it in the 80’s. Since then, it’s been a space of ministry to families in need of housing, a place for children in our youth development programs, the starting point for schools and small businesses, and a connection for other nonprofits needing inexpensive shared office space. Even now, when we are in the final stages of relocating, it’s almost difficult to imagine it as something else. How do you ignore such a stirring story of restoration as that of a former prison becoming a campus full of life and vibrancy?

At a staff lunch a few months ago, I recognized some of our team wrestling with the relocation. Some were lamenting leaving the campus’ rich history, while others were more excited about the upcoming adventures. It can certainly be a bittersweet experience. When they asked me what I thought about the move, I had to admit I couldn’t wait!

I am extremely focused on our organizational mission. And the campus, though important to our history, does not represent the future of FCS. Of course, I must confess the  expensive upkeep and operation of the 110-year old buildings has influenced my view of the campus. But the fact remains I am energized about positioning our offices in Historic South Atlanta, the community where we have been active for almost fifteen years.

Our work in mixed-income housing, economic development, and neighborhood engagement all happen in this community, and our staff wants to be in the neighborhood! So next time you visit Carver Neighborhood Market or Community Grounds Cafe, you will be able to visit our offices from the same parking lot.

And the story of transformation does not end, but continues in fresh ways. Grant Park, the neighborhood home of GlenCastle, will benefit from our relocation. Our former campus is under contract for sale to a developer that brings the needed expertise to restore the historical buildings and bring new life to the property.

And in our South Atlanta neighborhood, proceeds from the sale will enable FCS to make a significant investment in our community. This journey fits squarely in the middle of our mission to partner with underserved neighborhoods in Atlanta by providing innovative and holistic development that produces flourishing neighborhoods where God's Shalom is present. Our mission remains the same, and I expect our new space will continue to be a place that ministers to families and youth, supports education and businesses, and helps other nonprofits grow.

Come see us at our new address!

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