Practice the Resurrection with Community Development

by Shawn Duncan on


Our work at FCS is bound up in the picture Jesus paints in Isaiah 61. “The Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the bind up the brokenhearted… to rebuild the ruined cities and the places long devastated for generations.”

Just like this verse highlights citywide and individual redemption, mature community development marries both the interpersonal and the systemic aspects of mercy and justice. Development without solidarity leads to displacement. Solidarity without development leaves unjust structures unchanged. When I think about community development, I can’t help but think of Jesus’ staggering promise. “You’re going to do greater things than I did,” he said.

As we follow up this path that Jesus laid out, we end up encountering both light and darkness. We experience the cycle of death and resurrection Jesus experienced. It’s a difficult gyre to inhabit, and it offers an otherworldly call. In one of his poems, Wendell Berry identifies it as the call to “practice resurrection.”  The phrase strikes me to the core. I find myself wondering how Jesus would feel if we said we believed in the resurrection but never practiced it.

But what does it mean to practice the resurrection? I think it means living as if we believe that God can bring life where there has been death. Hopelessness, cynicism, resignation to the way things are in the world--those are all practices of death. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by things that are wrong in the world. But submitting to the status quo often leads us to participating to it. In giving up on redemption, we accept the voice of death and use it as our own.

Instead, resurrection calls us to practice life, and the hope for life when death abounds. Living out a belief in life sits in real grounded practice, not idealism. The practice crops up in the midst of blatant evil and brokenness. When we see an abandoned, dilapidated property and have a vision for it to become a place where diverse people are thriving or gathering, that’s a practice of resurrection.

Getting up and persevering even when hard work seems to fall apart proclaims the resurrection. Giving years and years our lives for the hope of seeing more shalom in the world (with no guarantee on a payout) declares that Jesus lives. Things may even get uglier, grosser, and more evil before it gets better. But we can continue to practice resurrection. We expect to suffer, but we also expect for life to emerge in the space that could be possible.

We would do well to remember this time of year that the Christian story of resurrection springs forth in a tomb. God showed the most power in a moment and space of darkness, of hopelessness. I want to believe in that image and carry the hope it births to all of my days at the Lupton Center. Let’s not just proclaim the truth of resurrection in our churches, let’s practice it in our neighborhoods.


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16 Businesses Open as Start:ME 2019 Closes

by FCS on

FCS sponsors the Southside Cohort for the Start:ME Business Accelerator each year. The accelerator, an offshoot of Emory’s Goizueta School of business, partners with organizations embedded in communities around Atlanta. Capitalizing on these partners’ relationships, the program solicits local entrepreneurs to go through a 14-week course that teaches business fundamentals. We’re so glad to recruit neighbors to this exciting program and to offer our office space for the weekly courses. This deep partnership has been a great boon to establishing an equitable, mixed-income community.

Each year, Historic South Atlanta gets to benefit by receiving new businesses! Shop local with us and take a look at the Start:ME shopping guide!


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Joining Together in Innovation

by Katie Delp on

Image courtesy of Invest Atlanta

Image courtesy of Invest Atlanta

“This is new. And different,” the compliance officer said as I, along with other FCS staff, sat at the closing table with Invest Atlanta. Everyone nodded with understanding… and excitement. For months, we’ve worked with them to discuss ways to deepen our Affordable Rental Home program. They have been tremendously supportive and share a commitment to making a more equitable Atlanta. But this is new.

It’s an oddly common refrain we hear at FCS. Unusual. New. Different. Unconventional. For many we meet, it is our mix of smart development and business principles with a lens of ministry and justice. For others, it’s leaning into our faith as motivation to fix broken places (literally). For others, it’s our deep commitment to one neighborhood. Or it’s the fact that so many of our staff live in the neighborhood where we serve that raises questions and eyebrows at the same time. For others, it’s our commitment to mutual exchange and the fact that we don’t give things away for free.

Our founder Bob Lupton often talked of Jesus’ parable about new wine in old wineskins. Mark 2:22 reads, “No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”

Innovation - new ways of solving problems - are often ahead of institutions. But what was clear at the table with Invest Atlanta was that Atlanta is ready for fresh ideas in addressing affordable housing and rental properties. And partners like Invest Atlanta are committed to changing the city for the better, even if it means trying something new and figuring it out along the way.

Creativity. Innovation. Problem-solving. It’s exciting to be in this work, diving into the challenges and strengths of our community and finding partners who are eager to find (or create or build or sew) new wineskins. We’re grateful to Invest Atlanta, and we’re thankful for all our supporters who have taken risks on our ideas over the decades and come alongside us as we work together to create something fresh in our neighborhood!


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