In this ministry highlight, I sat down with Pastor Will, who is part of World Impact, a CCDA organizational member. He shared about the World Impact ministries in Charlotte, NC (our Conference City) and on what wellbeing looks like for him and the organization. William “Will” Francis is the pastor of the HUB, which is a church community and development corporation in Atlanta, Georgia. Among the many hats he wears, he calls himself a “missional artist”, and most recently, he has also added the role of Ministry Developer for World Impact’s Atlanta Piedmont Region to his current responsibilities. Pastor Will is married to Tia Thames Francis and with their dog, Roxy, they call Atlanta home. For those of you that will be attending CCDA in Charlotte in a few weeks, you will have the opportunity to attend a workshop that Pastor Will will be co-leading at this year’s conference!
Tell us about World Impact’s ministry in Charlotte, how does it pursue community development?
There are 3 ministries making headway in Charlotte.
The first is our prison ministry, Onesimus. One component of this is to go into prisons to set up church based seminaries for those who are incarcerated. As a part of the prison ministry, we also train churches. As folks are released from prison looking for housing and work, churches are prepared to receive them to provide wrap-around services and resources.
With the prison ministry we couple trauma healing, which is another ministry in Charlotte making headway. This is a 5-week course that deals with trauma. We have a tendency to think that trauma is the loss of a loved one, or a job, but covid caused a lot of trauma. I always think about my nephew who thought he was under punishment when he couldn’t go to school. No one explained to him why he was not going to school during covid. Not being able to go to school, be with friends, and go outside to play was very traumatic for him. Black lives matter and the racial tension that has been continual is also a source of trauma. This program is not limited to folks coming out of prison, it’s for ministry leaders, and really anyone. When my grandmother died a few years ago, I went through this program myself. I realized that I never got to mourn because of all the roles and responsibilities that I carried as a leader. This program helped me deal with some of my issues, mourn, and heal.
Our third ministry, and newest ministry (1 year old) making headway in Charlotte is the Redemptive Poverty Work program based on the book by Alvin Sanders titled, “Uncommon Church”. This program trains communities and leaders to address social issues, and to find answers to their injustices and challenges by engaging communities and their assets, since our tendency as leaders is to come in with answers. As a pastor who went through this program, I wish I had this information long ago, because it put a framework of how we address social issues in community.
What are you looking forward to about the CCDA Conference coming to the Charlotte area?
I’m excited two-fold. First, because this will be my first time at CCDA and we will be facilitating a trauma healing workshop while we are there. I am also excited about coming together with like minded folks that live out scripture, and coming together to learn about the innovation that takes place in faith community development work.
What does wellbeing mean for you and your organization/community?
Wellbeing is not only spiritual, it’s physical, and emotional too. One of the things I admire about World Impact is that they encourage resting. It’s the first time I have worked for an organization that encourages taking a personal day for retreat once a month. They are also very intentional about holding space for a monthly corporal prayer time. The corporal prayer time has really been an opportunity to breathe, because as faith leaders we are hit with so much every day. At a time calling us to contribute to the healing of our communities, these moments for prayer and rest have been healing for me and us as well.
We are thankful for the work of World Impact and their collaboration with us over the years. You can find more opportunities to learn through our partnership here.