Tightrope of Faith

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by Katie Delp

“How are things going?” she asked me, genuinely interested in the work happening in our community with FCS. It’s a simple - and quite common - question, and I appreciate those who care deeply about the ins-and-outs of our neighborhood work.

Still, I find myself taking a pause before responding.

How do I describe the tension that so often accompanies this work? On most days, I feel I could answer that question with either “things are going amazingly well” or “things are falling apart” and both would be equally true. I am recognizing how much there is this tightrope between extremes throughout my work.   

First, there is the reality that we work in communities with people facing challenges. And when you position yourself in hard spaces, hard things happen. There are disruptions outside our control, and there are messy choices that have far-reaching consequences. We can celebrate with neighbors paying off mortgages, starting businesses, or making other personal strides. And we still hurt with those in moments of pain or suffering and work with them to minimize the fallout.

In addition, our work is nonprofit, which means we rely on the generous support of individual and organizational donors. This dependency often looks like waiting (and hoping and praying) to see if all the ducks fall in a row at just the right time. We collectively cheer when donations come through, while always keeping an eye on the numbers that sustain our programming and staff.

The true answer to the question “How are things going?” is two-fold. Things are really good… and they are fragile. In fact, it is simply grace that things are not falling apart most of the time. But I am also reminded that even if they do, God is present and God is faithful.

Father Gregory Boyle tells a story in his recent book “Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship” about a time his ministry, Homeboy Industries, was at risk of shorting payroll. Homeboy Industries employees former gang members, and Father Boyle had often over-hired in order to keep young men off the streets and to teach them job skills. But in this moment, the income was falling short of what was needed to pay all of the men.

He prayed and then prepared to break the bad news. Amazingly, a woman shows up with just over the amount he needs just in the nick of time. These stories of modern miracles are familiar in the precarious world of nonprofit operations, but what is striking is Father Boyle’s response.

He thanked God, of course, for providing for the men’s checks. But he goes on to say that if the money had not come through in the final hour, God is still the same. God is still present and God is faithful.

It is a beautiful reminder to me in my life and work that things are good, but they are fragile. It is by God’s grace that we walk this tightrope of faith. And in the midst of it all - regardless of specific outcomes - God is present and God is faithful.

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6 Podcasts We're Listening To

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By FCS

At FCS, we strive to be continuously learning. And undoubtedly like many of you, we enjoy podcasts! There are so many valuable resources available, and we’d love to hear what you’re listening to. In the meantime, we’re sharing six podcasts we’re listening to right now. Take a look and add any that look interesting to your queue!

  1. New Activist - The New Activist Podcast shares the stories of leaders and activists who are working to fight injustice. Each episode features an interview with a different leader, with topics varying from immigration to adoption to incarceration. Two of our favorite episodes are the interviews with Latasha Morrison and Father Greg Boyle.

  2. Servecast - We’re fans of the way Servecast talks about values we are passionate about: service and compassion. As we listen to the guests on each episode, we are challenged to care for others in great and meaningful ways. They graciously hosted Shawn Duncan, director of The Lupton Center, and he shares the story of FCS and loving your neighborhood.

  3. The Promise - NPR dives into the story of another Southern city on the rise. By taking a closer look at public housing in Nashville, The Promise provides an up close look at the effects of gentrification on a neighborhood. Pro tip: start with episode one and listening through the short series.

  4. Freedom Road - Lisa Sharon Harper hosts this new podcast discussing relevant issues facing our nation. Leaders in faith and activism share their stories, provide opinions, and shape ideas around our most pressing issues. We were eager to learn from a recent episode commemorating the 50 year anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination.

  5. Akimbo - Seth Godin, known as a marketing guru, created a podcast about culture. Seth’s take on what’s happening in the world - and how we can choose to do something about it - is inspiring and thought provoking. He reminds us that we have the power to make change, which is especially clear in the episode, Status Roles.

  6. Seminary Dropout - Shane Blacksphere hosts Seminary Dropout, featuring interviews with leading Christian authors, leaders, and thinkers. This is a great podcast for hearing a Christian perspective on multiple different issues we face today. Of course we’re going to recommend the episode featuring Shawn Duncan discussing poverty and gentrification!

These podcasts have provided us with new information and valuable perspectives. We are excited to keep listening to these, and would love to hear your recommendations! Have you heard any of these podcasts? Which other ones do you recommend?

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Let's Play!

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By FCS

We couldn’t have asked for better weather when we gathered at the new South Atlanta playground for its official ribbon cutting. Warm breezes swept through the gazebo, and children immediately scaled the new climbing structure. Local elected officials Carla Smith, David Dreyer, and Matt Westmoreland joined neighbors as the Friends of South Atlanta Park officially opened the new playground.

The installment is both the fruition of several years of work, as well as the first sign of changes to come at our local park. The Friends of South Atlanta Park worked with FCS and the City of Atlanta to secure funds for the new play equipment, as well as some swinging benches for added seating. They have also spearheaded a complete vision plan for the park with neighbors contributing ideas from dog parks to bocce ball courts to solar paneled shade covers.

The Friends of South Atlanta Park will continue to work on exciting improvements to this valuable public space. It was a delight to celebrate the completion of this important first piece and watch neighborhood children enjoy their new playground. Local seven-year-old Gabriella Quezada said, “It’s fun! And I could climb all the way to the top and look out!” There’s no better endorsement of a playground than happy kids playing!

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