“In the Genesis creation story, God’s creation was teeming and flourishing," Ben Teague, our Board Chair reminds us. "Each of us are image-bearers of our Creator, and I believe this calls us to work for a flourishing creation as well. The values that drive FCS (Dignity, Empowerment, and Neighboring) are crucial to us accomplishing this mission of flourishing neighborhoods. I’m grateful to be a part of that!”
Yesterday was Giving Tuesday, a day focused on giving back and supporting nonprofits making a difference. This campaign offers us an opportunity to reflect on why we commit our time, energy, and finances to the work of FCS.
FCS President Jim Wehner says, “'God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.’ The Hebrew phrase for 'very good' elicits force. It comes from deep down. It wells up in the soul. Not just good... very good. These words are a brief glimpse of a God who is pleased in his creation from the depths of his soul! It is the beginning of flourishing. And it is worth fighting for."
We definitely believe flourishing is worth fighting for and working toward. We believe we can pursue flourishing best when we work together in partnerships characterized by dignity.
When a program is created with dignity in mind, it looks a little different. It looks like a grocery store where customers can affordably purchase healthy food. It looks like renovating and selling homes at a reasonable price and helping homeowners through difficult times. It looks like a coffee shop where customers can purchase a cup of coffee for just $1. Everyone who participates in these programs benefits without receiving a handout, and each program has a funding return. This is how FCS leverages every dollar you give into three dollars of income.
Creating programs that affirm dignity allow space for generosity for all. Executive Director Katie Delp says, “Traditional charity programs too often separate the generous givers and the grateful receivers as though these descriptors are mutually exclusive. Unintentionally, these programs have robbed those they serve of the privilege of being generous."
Each year, FCS organizes Pride for Parents, a unique holiday Toy Store that prices donated toys at affordable rates so parents can provide for their children. Delp notes, "What I have seen in FCS’ Pride for Parents is that many of families we serve come eager to buy a gift not only for their own child, but also for a niece or nephew or neighborhood friend. Yes, they are grateful for the reduced prices on toys for Christmas, but they are equally joyful for the opportunity to be generous.”
True transformation does not come overnight. It requires a commitment of time, resources, and people invested in the vision. Teague says, “In a culture where the needs and injustices of the entire world can be seen at our fingertips and the myriad of ways that we can respond can be overwhelming, I’m struck by the Incarnation story of God 'moving into the neighborhood' in such a humble and specific way. Jesus’ entire ministry never took him outside a small radius. I think that is what makes the mission and work of FCS resonate so deeply with me.”
“Sometimes visitors at FCS want to know what’s the secret sauce," says Delp. "What ministry hack did we employ to get Community Grounds and Carver Market up and running? How have we gotten so many neighbors invested in programs like our food co-op, Pride for Parents, or affordable housing? How have we been able to stay committed to this community for more than fifteen years? It’s simple. We live here.” Living in the neighborhood and learning to be neighbors is a joy. And it leads to lasting solutions to tough problems.
We are so grateful to be a part of FCS and the community of South Atlanta, where we live and work. And we are so thankful for all our supporters, some of whom live down the street and some of whom give from states away. It's a joy to be part of this family committed to transformation and dignity. We know everyone brings something to the table, and it inspires our work.
Would you give to create flourishing communities? Thank you!