4 Reasons You’ll LOVE Our Open House

Three times a year, FCS opens our doors and invites folks in to see up close and personal what we do and how we do it. Our Open Houses are for pastors, nonprofit leaders, students, and community developers who want to understand what healthy charity and community develop look like in practice.

If you've heard of FCS and would like an honest, practical look at the work we’ve done, the lessons we’re learning, and the ongoing desire to serve and love our neighbors well, then Open House is for you!

We’ve still got a few spots remaining for October’s event. Here’s four reasons you won’t want to miss it

1. Hear Bob Lupton Speak

Dr. Bob Lupton has authored many ground-breaking books that are changing the charity paradigm for people all over the country. At Open House you will get to hear him speak about lessons learned from 40 years of urban ministry experience. It’s a challenging message that anyone seeking to love the poor needs to hear!

2. Get Practical Help in Changing Your Charity Paradigm

If you have read Bob’s books and are asking, “Now what?!” you won’t want to miss this follow-up workshop with FCS Director of Training and Education, Shawn Duncan. He will lead you through interactive and dynamic training to prepare you to change and/or establish responsibility models of charity in your context.

3. See Our Ministries Up Close

We not only will talk you through the why’s and the what’s of our community development model, we will walk you through our neighborhood and our ministries. We’ll introduce you to our local coffee shop, Community Grounds, the South Atlanta Bike Shop, and our brand-new grocery store, Carver Neighborhood Market. You’ll also be able to see housing diversity strategically developed by our housing division, Charis Community Housing.

4. Ask Your Questions

We keep our Open House events small to truly create an interactive event. You will have opportunity to ask questions of FCS leadership, as well as other on-the-ground ministry directors. Get behind the stories and down to the nitty gritty of launching and supporting innovative community programs.

Our Open Houses are always a time of great connection and mutual encouragement. It’s a joy to be in a room with so many people seeking shalom in the neighborhoods where they live and work. Come visit us in October!

Can’t make these dates? Be on the lookout for our 2016 Open Houses. They are scheduled for the following dates: March 10-11, July 14-15, and October 20-21. We’d love to see you!

Why All The Hustle?

by Jim Wehner

I arrived early at work on one day to find a tenant from our apartments sitting on the curb outside our corporate offices (across the parking lot from the apartments).  She was angry and highly agitated. The keycard system was under repair which meant she was unable to get into Glencastle through the closest door to her apartment.

So instead of walking to the front door where she still had access, she has been climbing in her first floor window to get into her apartment. This resident is 62(ish), thin as a rail, and spunky to say the least. She has COPD and struggles to gain her breath as she reaches the end of her anger and has talked herself out.

She was tired of telling property management about the problems. She let me know clearly that the property manager hates her and is trying to evict her even though she has caught up her rent. And while she had my ear, there were repairs needed in her apartment that we had not repaired in over two-years. 

I was stunned at her anger and the amount of repairs that we had failed to fix. Even so, my experience told me that the story wasn’t quite right. A 62 year old with COPD climbing in her window (which are not at ground level)? Two years worth of repairs left undone and this is the first time I am hearing about it?

My response? I ask to see the repairs first hand. She gladly walks with me over to her apartment and runs through a list of six significant needs. One of the repairs is a hole in her wall that she has covered with newspaper and a mixture of water, flour and toothpaste. The puzzling part is that the repair issues are real. A simple repair order would have fixed all of them.

I suggest we go see the property manager (the one that hates her) to discuss the issues. She refuses in a renewed burst of anger and begins to list a new set of problems (and she is now smoking a cigarette which only exacerbates the breathing issues). The bottom line...we are doing the hustle.  

My gut tells me all of these issues are smokescreens to something that I have yet to discover. So as she calms down I give her a choice; either we go speak with the property manager, or I go back to my office and act like nothing happened. She chooses (after another 5 minutes of ranting) to go to with me to meet with John. As we go, she suddenly holds my hand and becomes very sweet and grandmotherly as we walk to his office.

As we sit down with the property manager, we begin with the repair issues, which it turns out she has never reported. We have a box posted outside the office where residents can turn in work orders to have repairs done in their apartments. She has never filled one out for any of the issues. 

After going around on this for 15 minutes, she bends her head down and says, "Mr. Jim, I never finished school and I can't fill that damn thing out." THERE IT IS! The real issue! 

Our work order system did not help this resident. Instead it affirmed negative feelings and emotions in her life. In pride, she had dealt with living situations in her apartment instead of coming to the property manager. She had convinced herself that our property manager hated her because she was behind in her rent.

So we fixed the issue with the work orders so that she could get the repairs needed. We addressed the issue of her back rent in a way that both honored her effort to keep up with rent and give her accountability at the same time. More importantly, we addressed the issue of dignity by refuting the lie that we thought poorly of her, and we affirmed the reality that we were glad to have her in our apartments.

The hustle took 2 1/2 hours that Monday and a lot of listening. Time I would have gladly spent on other things.  But if we never work to beat the hustle, we miss opportunities to truly love people.

Letter from the President

We have a wonderful privilege at FCS. We are surrounded by a dynamic group of supporters and volunteers who believe in our work. We also have the opportunity to connect with organizations around the country who share our mission in their neighborhoods. With all these relationships, we’ve noticed two questions that we are often asked.

First, What does “FCS” stand for? If you go way back with FCS, you know Bob Lupton started the organization as Family Consultation Services. When he set up the official non-profit, though, the name had evolved into simply FCS Urban Ministries. As Bob has handed off leadership and mentored young leaders, the initials “FCS” have been reframed to provide a more holistic description of our work: with “Focused Community Strategies”.

The second question is, What does FCS do? We partner with under-served neighborhoods to provide innovative and holistic development that produces flourishing communities where God’s Shalom is present. There are four areas of focus that allow us to accomplish this vision: Mixed-income Housing Development, Economic Development, Community Development and Training & Education. We align our programming within this four pillar structure.

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This month, we are rolling out a new logo that expresses our vision with an image demonstrating the strength of a pattern woven from our four areas of focus. Bob has used the idea of reweaving the fabric of community for years, and we are excited to incorporate that image as foundational to our brand. The logo also forms a cross, communicating a clear stance in regard to how our Christian faith motivates our work.

Our aim continues to be to reweave the fabric of communities through innovative and holistic development practices. We know the work requires commitment, creativity, and patience. Decades of work at FCS have shown tremendous impact in Atlanta neighborhoods.

Thank you for walking with us during this leadership transition over the last year. Our board and staff teams have dreamed big dreams about our direction and strategy for this next season in the life of FCS. We are energized by the strength of our four pillars and the engaging work going on in our current neighborhood of South Atlanta. FCS continues to be an innovator in the field of neighborhood-based community development. Thank you for your ongoing support that makes it possible for us to empower neighborhoods to thrive!

Jim Wehner
President, Focused Community Strategies

Ben Teague
Chair, Focused Community Strategies