Chris and his wife Rebecca were living in Colorado, volunteering at a homeless shelter, where they built relationships with many veterans and others. They were grateful to serve and make a difference in the short term, but they began researching how to help the people they were meeting create strong lives. That’s when someone gave them Theirs Is the Kingdom, one of Bob Lupton’s books.
They went on to read Lupton’s Return Flight as well, which mentioned the work FCS was doing in East Lake. So the Grays came to Atlanta to visit! They wanted to see the community development work in action. Rebecca sensed they would be back. Even though the couple were both Air Force and therefore unable to relocate, and unexpected opportunity arose to leave and move to Atlanta.
The Grays moved into East Lake as strategic neighbors in 1998. They knew no one in Atlanta, but they got involved with FCS, then becoming neighborhood chaplains and eventually served as co-Executive Directors of FCS. “For us,” Gray says, “FCS was both missional and a lifestyle that was part of a transformational strategy. We addressed both individuals and the community, and years down the road, you could see the difference in the neighborhood in spiritual growth and educational opportunity. That’s a needed mission!”
Around 2010, Gray joined the FCS Board of Directors, bringing his experience as a former Executive Director and his appreciation for strategic planning. “I enjoy staying connected to the mission,” he says. “The Board has committees, and Jim and Katie bring topics for us to roll up our sleeves and engage, and I really appreciate that. I like keeping up with the work being done and being able to contribute.”
When asked why others should get involved, Gray says, “FCS is an organization with a story that’s very unique.” He believes the holistic approach offers something for everybody when it comes to participating in the work. “Whatever your skill set or passion is,” he says, “there’s a place to connect.” Whether it’s housing, youth, business development, or something else, Gray affirms there’s a place where those interests and abilities can be put to use in support of the community.