by Jim Wehner
One of the first images we are given of God in the Scriptures is that of Creator. We serve a creative God. As we read along in Genesis, God is forming sky and water and decorating the landscapes with plant life. Animals are placed on the Earth and set free in the sea, and God’s hands dig into the dirt to form mankind. Creating, mind you, can sometimes be messy work.
The last few years at FCS, we have launched key initiatives and met some long term goals. We moved out of GlenCastle, the former Atlanta Stockade, and brought our team together in our focus neighborhood next to our local businesses. We’re coming up on two years of having run Carver Neighborhood Market, which is no small feat in a traditional business environment, but takes on special significance in our neighborhood. And, in response to years of requests for help, we launched The Lupton Center to provide training and resources in community development.
Looking forward to 2017, it’s exciting to think about what God is creating in South Atlanta this year and how we all have the opportunity to participate. We are eager to create together.
Creating Healthy Communities Together
As we dive into the details of our work in 2017, we are encouraged by seeing how our actions serve a broader impact on the neighborhood. Managing 45 mortgages, maintaining and leasing our 15 rental properties, and acquiring, rehabbing, and selling 12 homes in our workforce housing program all work together to create homes for 62 families. Meals will be cooked in the kitchens we gut and rebuild, and homework will be studied in bedrooms we paint and carpet. When families are given opportunity to own and maintain affordable homes, families are stabilized, blighted houses are transformed, and blocks become active and safe spaces for all.
Our economic development team will work on growing our customer base in 2017, increasing our average transaction rate, and dialing in our inventory numbers to ensure we meet our customer’s expectations. By focusing on these business indicators, we contribute to a healthy community by continuing to open doors for local employment (a first job for many neighborhood young people) and affordable access to produce and groceries. No healthy community can live on hot Cheetos alone!
But flourishing communities are more than good housing stock and local business. We know 2017 in South Atlanta will build on the legacy of neighborhood engagement with events and activities like our Halloween Treat Street, the South Atlanta Kickball Tournament, and our Pride for Parents Christmas Store. Neighborhood service providers and local families are gathering to participate in changes happening in our schools. And youth in the community will have opportunities to grow through local youth groups and our Bike Shop Ministry. These community building events create memories and camaraderie that bond residents to each other and the streets we call home.
We are thankful to be a part of what God is creating in South Atlanta, and I’m grateful for those of you that participate with us as neighbors, partners, and donors. 2017 is going to be a great year of creating together!
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,which God prepared in advance for us to do. - Ephesians 2:10