This summer, Jim Wehner was speaking with a resident in FCS’ transitional housing ministry. Circumstances required the woman to move from her apartment. She told Wehner she wasn’t interested in moving because paying market-rate rent meant she would need to get a job.
Image Credit: Taber Andrew Bain
“My initial thought,” says Wehner, “was that her life would be so much better with meaningful work. A job provides much more that just wages. It would help organize her day, give her someplace to go, and make her a part of a team. Meaningful jobs speak to our identity as persons created by God to work.
I realized when we give help without clear expectations of joint participation, we create dependency. Dependency in any form is painful to break, no matter how it was created. The process is painful for the provider as well as the recipient.”
This experience is just one example of why Wehner is so passionate about FCS' “responsible charity” philosophy. Wehner served his community for years as pastor of a small church in Acworth, GA. He quickly realized loving neighbors overwhelmed limited capacities of both compassion and tangible resources.
He reflects now how his calling as a pastor was really a journey. “I cannot think of one Scriptural example of someone being called because they were already prepared,” he says. “Funny. I had missed that part and skipped to the victorious ending in the lives of Abraham, Moses, Esther, Joseph, Ruth, John, Peter… you get the idea.”
Wehner also discovered that he had few skills to relate to people in need. “I have not frequented their world or lived through their pain,” he says. “I was in over my head from the moment I tried to meet the first need. I am convinced that some of this is just God’s way. He pulls us out of comfort until we are emptied of ourselves so that we can be filled with Him. I learned that relationship is the start to answering questions of chronic need.”
Image Credit: David Park
Wehner transitioned to the role of FCS President in January 2014. He had served for 6 years as Executive Director of FCS’ housing partner, Charis Community Housing.
He is known for his pastoral leadership style and office shenanigans. When his staff discovered Wehner’s obsession with the Pilot G2 multi-color pens, they stole them all. In a classic hostage situation, Wehner received picture texts from unknown phone numbers. He refers to it as a “great office caper” and responded by doing all inter-office work with crayons for three days. “Drove my accountant nuts!” he jokes.
Friday Farkle (a dice game) is a fun tradition started in the office by Wehner. “We play each week with all the staff as a stress relief and a reminder to make sure we are not taking ourselves too seriously.”
At home, Wehner is a devoted runner. In fact, he ran the Atlanta marathon in 2011 to raise money for Charis. Even though he Injured his knee and ended up walking the last four miles, he finished and raised $10,000 for Charis!
Wehner has four children: Thad (21), Josh & Jordan (17) and Karalese (12). He and his wife Jolyn have been married for 26 years. When recounting how they met in college, Jim says, “The first time I asked her out was on a study date. She misunderstood and brought her roommate. Or maybe she understood completely and brought her roommate!”
Wehner studied Business Administration at Washington State University. He also received an M.A. of Religion from Reformed Theological Seminary.
It’s an exciting time at FCS! Under Wehner’s leadership, FCS is refining and advancing its mission. We aim to create healthy places where families flourish and God’s shalom is present.