to go back to 1991 and

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gotta make that happen

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very much like him That

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The Blue Angels and Thunderbirds

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The Surrey raised performer

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Alex hiked into the woods

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FCS Housing Case Study

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transformstreet Overview

Housing is a foundational component of community development. Having places that families can call home anchors them in the community and stabilizes core areas of life. Charis Community Housing, a mixed-income housing program empowered by Focused Community Strategies (FCS), entered Historic South Atlanta with a mission to transform the underserved neighborhood into a vibrant community where families flourish. Through intentional neighboring, strategic partnering and sustainable home ownership, Charis has been working block by block and street by street to bring laughter, livelihood and leadership back into the neighborhood.



Following years of neglect, Historic South Atlanta was in desperate need of a new day. The community had been devastated by predatory lending, foreclosures, general vacancies and a high percentage of rental housing. A staggering 80 percent of the community’s 532 homes were rentals – creating disconnect and disparity between the people who actually lived in the community and the landlords who lived elsewhere. On top of the existing housing crisis, Historic South Atlanta fell on ever harder times when the housing market crashed in 2008. Without the support of individuals invested in the neighborhood’s overall well-being, the community was destined for further disrepair.



Recognizing the need for revitalization and stability in Historic South Atlanta, a small group of the community’s residents appealed to FCS for assistance, and a partnership was born in 2001 through the Charis program. FCS began with a comprehensive master housing plan for the community’s redevelopment and a strategic approach to intentional neighboring – inviting specific homeowners and tenants into the neighborhood to act as agents of change for the community.


Through Charis, FCS then partnered with these neighborhood leaders to help shift the neighborhood’s housing stock from low income housing to affordable housing to market rate housing while at the same time, shifting from majority rental to majority homeownership. By providing active support and guidance to flip Historic South Atlanta’s 80 percent rental rate to 70 percent homeownership, Charis, along with key partners, has created a sustainable mixed income community featuring multiple types of housing.


The initial eight-year plan for the neighborhood was extended when the housing market crashed in 2008, and FCS recognized the need to prevent any further damage to the progress that Charis had already made. The commitment to change for Historic South Atlanta has never wavered. Through Charis working side by side with community members and strategically partnering with other nonprofit organizations, the neighborhood’s new day is on the horizon.



Since 2001, more than $11.5 million has been invested in commercial and residential development that has impacted this neighborhood of 532 homes. To date, Charis has directly impacted 119 properties, or 22 percent of the community’s housing stock, and created some of the best housing opportunities in the neighborhood in more than 50 years.


Another 10 homes are currently undergoing renovation as Charis’ work in Historic South Atlanta continues today. The neighborhood is still recovering from the crash of the housing market, but even in the face of great adversity, it is easy to see the strength of the community growing as the ongoing momentum and revitalization continues.

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Carver Market

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Come be a part of FCS's newest solution to food deserts. Find out more here


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Guide to Community Chaplaincy

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There is a growing interest in the vocation of Community Chaplaincy. FCS Urban Ministries has pioneered in this work since the late 1970’s when Bob and Peggy Lupton moved from an Atlanta suburb into inner city Grant Park, Atlanta.  They began to “neighbor” this community, building relationships and gathering resources to help their neighbors respond to local needs and concerns.  In the subsequent growth of the FCS Collective, Community Chaplains have been placed in the GlenCastle Apartments, The Villages of East Lake, Historic South Atlanta neighborhood, Old Fourth Ward neighborhood, Clarkston, East Point, North Buckhead and the Jackson Township neighborhood in Gwinnett county.  There have been numerous community chaplain interns working with FCS over the decades.

The emphasis on urban mission has gained a higher standing in seminary curricula. Mercer McAfee School of Theology has developed the urban track as a option in the Master of Divinity degree.  As students have been exposed to the priority of urban mission in the life of the Church and society more have been considering Community Chaplaincy.


The FCS Community Chaplain resides in the community and models for the community what neighboring looks like.  The Christian mandate places love for our neighbors in the same category as our love for God.  Jesus, in his story about the Good Samaritan, tells us that when people are in trouble a neighbor will see it and will respond with compassion and support.(Luke 10:30-37)  The New Testament also declares that it is impossible to truly love God whom we have not seen while refusing to love our neighbor whom we have seen.(1 John 5)  Because of the enormous importance of  neighboring in the Christian calling, FCS has given high priority to the Community Chaplaincy role in re-developing urban neighborhoods.


The FCS Community Chaplain ministry has emerged from the long and illustrious ministries of Chaplains in a wide variety of contexts. Historically the chaplain is a minister in a specialized setting as a pastor, priest, rabbi or a lay representative of a particular religion, attached to a secular institution or setting.  Traditionally, chaplains have served in the military, hospitals, prisons, police and fire departments and universities. In more recent days, chaplains have served in airports, hotels, sports, large corporations and small businesses as well as entertainment venues and with traveling musical groups. The Economist (Aug. 25, 2007 p64) reports that there are more than 4,000 chaplains serving in various business and professional organizations in America. Marketplace Ministries of Dallas, Texas has been developing corporate chaplaincy opportunities for over 25 years.  Their founder and CEO, Gil Stricklin publishes a quarterly newsletter telling stories of their several hundred market place chaplains.


Chaplaincy ministry usually involves a Masters degree in theology and at least four units of CPE (clinical pastoral education). This training is offered under the auspices of the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education.  As this field has expanded beyond the traditional institutional placements, the training requirements have been adjusted to conform to preparation for the particular arena of service.  Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary has recently developed a course of study for chaplains in sports. Sports chaplains usually are persons who have been players or coaches and who have a deep desire to mentor athletes in the Christian faith.  Often corporate chaplains are retired pastors who desire to continue service.  Many chaplains have received their training in the military Chaplain’s schools and upon completing their military service continued serving in another context.

In 2009, FCS began certifying and endorsing community chaplains.  The requirements acknowledged on the certificate were for at least two years of pastoral ministry and a Master of Divinity degree.  The candidates are recommended by a pastor or professor who has mentored or supervised them.  The candidates are interviewed by FCS Chaplaincy director and the Executive leadership of FCS, exploring the candidate’s calling, experience and aptitude for serving as an FCS Community Chaplain.  There have been nine chaplains endorsed in this process and they are now serving in seven different community setting around Atlanta.


One of the real challenges facing Community Chaplaincy as a full time Christian vocation is the issue of funding.  FCS Urban Ministries has sustained its 35 year history in Atlanta largely by each ministry developing its own financial support.  The record of FCS and other 501(c)3 organizations relative to their funding is one of slow and consistent building of relationships with individuals, churches, foundations and corporations.  Bob Lupton established the pattern of making friends, telling his story in monthly communications and continually trusting God to provide.  When this pattern is followed and the ministry is seen as authentic and effective, the resources are usually available.  The gifts don’t always arrive at the time we feel they are needed, but this faith process is sustainable because God is always faithful, and God’s people can be trusted when they have the information and the relationships.  Dr. J.B. Lawrence,  one of my father’s mentors,  served as president of the Baptist Home Mission Board for 30 years; His motto was “trust the Lord and tell the people” It worked for this good mission agency for many years, it worked for my father in over 60 years of ministry and it works today.


Community chaplains have a strategic opportunity to challenge our established churches regarding the importance of being good neighbors to the local neighborhood where their church facilities are located.  Most churches today are “commuter” churches. This is true of both suburban and urban churches.  Their members drive long distances to attend a particular church.  This “commuter church” phenomenon enables a congregation to feel they are successful because their sanctuary is filled every Sunday, while they have little or no personal ministry within their own “Jerusalem.”  Thankfully, some churches are recognizing that they are called to love their neighbors as a church body in a particular community. To help address this need these churches are employing chaplains who reside in the local neighborhood and assist the church and their neighbors to partner in bringing God’s Shalom to their local families, businesses and organizations serving the community.  Five of our present FCS Community chaplains receive some or total financial support from their local church.  We believe that some time in the future many more churches will follow this encouraging practice.

What we have said in this matter is not all that needs to be said; Dr. Lupton’s latest book, “Toxic Charity” challenges us to beware of the seductive tendency of dependency, which asks others to do for us or for ministry projects things that we can and should do for ourselves.  In this role the chaplain must be a visionary regarding the assets already present in the focus community.  We should also consider the gifts and expertise we possess which can be income generating possibilities; to teach, to consult, to write or to labor in needed enterprises that can provide income as well as economic assets for the local neighborhood.  The entrepreneurial spirit is a gift of God to see things that need to be done and ask why not?  We really do have the power needed to change things for the better.  Our Lord declared that he had been given all power in Heaven and in Earth, then he called us to go in this power and do what needed to be done to establish His Kingdom.  This is the Kingdom work which we call community chaplaincy. We must not approach this work as beggars, powerless before the difficult challenges that impact our neighborhoods. No, we have the transforming power of a life changing relationship with God and life changing relationships with others and this will mean change for the better where ever we are.

The FCS Community Chaplain combines the skills of a community organizer with the spiritual and relational gifts of a parish priest or pastor.  As community organizer or developer, the chaplain’s top priority is to know the community, become known within the community and model a “neighboring” lifestyle.  As parish priest or pastor the chaplain should develop the art of integrating the witness of our hope in Jesus within the challenging hopelessness which many persons and communities are feeling.  The community chaplain’s mission is relationships and community building, not evangelism.  However, if we listen and affirm people and trust the Holy Spirit to empower every contact and conversation, the evangelistic impact will become evident. The chaplain recognizes the centrality of prayer and is always ready to pray with and for people as the situation and the Spirit suggests.

The FCS Community Chaplain subscribes to the following principles:

  • To follow Jesus in seeking God’s Kingdom in today’s world
  • To live a neighboring lifestyle in the community and call others to do the same
  • To value the dignity and personhood of all persons as children of God
  • To serve with out discrimination regarding race, culture, class, religion, gender or sexual orientation
  • To work with the community to discover the assets and opportunities for community wholeness and development
  • To work in the confidence that God is at work within the neighborhood  to create the shalom of God’s Kingdom
  • To work with the churches and other institutions serving the community to imagine what the Shalom of God means in this context
  • To continually sound the call for others to join us in this work as neighbors, investors partners and friends



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Bread for Life (John 6)

by katiedelp on

by Bob Lupton  

The need for food is forever with us.  Every couple hours our body reminds us.  Ignore the need and our stomachs begin to growl an audible dissatisfaction.  From the time we enter the world, that need dominates our lives – and our parents’ lives who must schedule their sleep around it.  Mothers all over the world spend generous portions of their days preparing food for their families. It’s fundamental to life.

Given that food is such a priority, why then did such a huge number of curiosity seekers stream out into the remote countryside – without packing lunches – to see a Galilean rabbi rumored to be a miracle-worker?  Some said he was the long-awaited messiah.  And if that proved to be true, he would be even greater than Moses who provided free food for the entire Jewish nation for forty years.  And, sure enough, to every ones’ delight, the miracle-working rabbi came through.  He took the sack lunch of a little boy (whose practical mother had planned ahead) and multiplied it before the on-looking crowd.  It was a picnic the likes of which no one had ever witnessed before.  They all ate until they were stuffed and still there were mounds of leftovers.

The following day the crowds showed up again – city people from Capernaum and boatloads of folk that ferried in from across the lake.  The word was out.  This could be it – the leader they had long awaited!  Greater even than Moses!  The constant stress of securing daily bread might be relieved at last.  They pressed in around him, listening patiently to his message, watching as he laid hands on some sick people, waiting with intense curiosity to see how he would produce the day’s supply of food.  But when food was not forthcoming, the people started to become impatient.

“You’re not following me because you believe my message or even because of the miracles I do,” Jesus turned and faced them.  “You’re just wanting another free lunch.”

“Do a miracle like Moses did –free food for everyone,” the crowd retorted.  “That’s how you can prove you’re the one sent from God.”

But as soon as it became apparent that the miracle-worker was not going to supply any more food, the people became indifferent to his message.  He could give them true bread from heaven that would satisfy their hunger permanently, he told them.  A few were curious enough to inquire how to obtain that bread but when he tried to explain that he was that bread, they turned and walked away.

Sound familiar?   A similar scenario plays out on downtown Atlanta street corners when a van full of volunteers pulls up with free sandwiches to distribute.  Hoards of homeless people suddenly emerge from alleyways and bridges, hands outstretched for whatever their benefactors are passing out.  Are they interested in the bread of life?  Try gathering them with a Gospel message from a bullhorn instead of a sandwich.  Who wouldn’t choose dependency on a predictable, visible source of food over an elusive faith walk that offers no immediate, tangible guarantees?  A sandwich in hand will win out every time over a give-us-this-day-our-daily-bread faith-prayer.

So why did the miracle-working rabbi feed the crowd in the first place?  Compassion?  A heart-response to hungry people is certainly a divine impulse.  Heart-responses don’t examine recipients’ motivations or project future outcomes.  They see a need and take immediate action, no questions asked.  But the kingdom this radical young rabbi was introducing was about far more than heart-responses.  It was about heart-change.  And feeding the multitudes was clearly not the most effective method to achieve heart-change.  His disciples who executed the food distribution would learn that lesson the very next day.

Heart-responses produce distinctly different behavior patterns than do heart-changes.  Continual heart-responses yield diminishing returns: 

feed a person once and it elicits appreciation (oh, thank you so much);

feed him twice and it creates anticipation (wonder if he’s going to do it again);

feed him three times and it creates expectation (when is he going to do it);

feed him four times and it becomes an entitlement (I need it now);

feed him five times and it produces dependency (you can’t stop, I’m counting on it).

Heart-change, however, moves one in a very different direction.  Reliance upon God increases.  Dependence on God for daily bread – for body as well as soul – becomes integral to one’s faith journey.  Giving to others takes precedence over getting for oneself.  Sharing replaces hoarding.  Community increases.  Isolation diminishes.  These were the values that the young rabbi wanted the people to understand and embrace.  It became quite clear to his disciples that a free food distribution program would not be the preferred method for ushering in this new kingdom.  Should it not be as obvious to us?


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CF After-School Enrichment Program

by katiedelp on

 Homework Assistance, Tutorials, Arts Enrichment, Athletics

Along with same Christ-centered values, leadership development and team-building spirit you’ve come to expect from the CF Summer camp program.

Beginning October 2011

Mondays – Thursdays

Grades PK-5 2:30 – 5:30 

Grades 6-8 3:30 – 6:30

 1297 Jonesboro Rd. Atlanta

 Only $25 per month!

Transportation is available from Dobbs & Slater Elementary Schools for an additional fee but space is limited. Register early.

Registration begins September 1

 Applications are also available at the South Atlanta Marketplace

1297 Jonesboro Rd Atlanta, GA 30315

Questions?  Call Donna Barber 404-849-8117


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Refugee Beads

by admin on

Introducing our newest economic development partner, Refugee Beads. Refugee Beads exists to inject hope, a sense of community, and financial support into the lives of refugees living in the Atlanta area. Twice a week, Ruth Ann North gathers with a group of refugee women who are married to pastors. Together, they create jewelry, swap stories, and encourage one another. The jewelry they create is then marketed across America in stores, craft fairs, and online to provide these families with desperately needed income.

In this way, Refugee Beads empowers and encourages ethnic leaders to reach their own people groups and connect with a new culture.


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New Neighbor

by admin on

By Leroy BarberPhotos by Brian T. Murphy USA $14.99

We are regularly bombarded with the message that our world is getting smaller. We have more information about more people and cultures than we’ve ever had before. Yet our sense of disconnectedness continues to grow. How is it that we know people in other cities or even other countries, yet know nothing of the lives of the people next door? New Neighbor challenges our assumptions about what a neighbor is, who our neighbors are and what a neighborhood could be. This vivid gallery of words and images gives us a glimpse into what Leroy Barber and many of his Mission Year team members are discovering about being a New Neighbor. It is an invitation to join this movement. To explore, question, wonder and wrestle with others who are longing to be New Neighbors.


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Gift Card Giver

by admin on

We collect gift cards, count them, and then redistribute them to individuals and organizations in need. We are striving to make our community aware of the needs within it, and then address those needs in tangible ways.


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by admin on

FLOURISH is a new collaborative ministry that helps churches care for creation in ways that honor God and help people. FLOURISH recognizes environmental stewardship as an expression of our love for God and a celebration of the bountiful world in which he has placed us. Flourish works with local churches and partners to share ideas about how to integrate creation care with ministries of evangelism, compassion, missions, and community service.


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Everyday Missions

by admin on

By Leroy BarberUSA $15.00 - Pre Order

It's not every day that you get a visit from God. Burning bushes, ladders to heaven, chariots of fire and all that--we look for those stories in the Bible, and we look for them in our lives. When it comes to something as important as what we do with our lives, we think, maybe God owes us a big event.

But, as Leroy Barber has learned through his work in inner cities and with young people, that's not usually how it works. More often God calls out to us from everyday misfortunes and all-too-common injustices, and he invites our response--not just a response in the moment, but a recognition that we have a role to play in seeing God's kingdom come, God's will done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Through the surprisingly normal stories of the heroes of faith in the Bible, and through Barber's experiences with Mission Year and other ministries, in this book you'll learn what it means to change the world from your own little space in it.


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