When Rev. Jasmine R. Smothers was appointed lead pastor of Atlanta First UMC in 2016, she became the first female, the first person of color, and the youngest leader in the congregation’s 175-year history. In this Q&A, Smothers discusses the church’s long-standing partnership with the Georgia United Methodist Foundation.
Q: Why does Atlanta First UMC partner with the Foundation on the investment of its funds?
Rev. Smothers: Atlanta First has a long-standing partnership in which we have invested funds with the Foundation that proceeds me in my appointments here, first as associate pastor and now as lead pastor. Churches have unique needs, especially when it comes to understanding how and when we will need the funding to handle capital emergencies and different things that crop up. The Foundation understands churches in a way other investment companies don’t understand churches. So, we have appreciated the close working relationship through the years.
Q: What are the benefits of choosing the Foundation as your investment partner?
Rev. Smothers: The flexibility. The Foundation offers many different ways to partner together, and the opportunities we get to share as a connectional church are important to us. We don’t invest with the Foundation just because we are good stewards for Atlanta First. We also invest for the good of the North Georgia Conference and the community as a whole.
Q: In what ways does the Foundation help Atlanta First UMC fulfill its purpose and mission?
Rev. Smothers: The Foundation has helped us keep a real sense of the church and the church’s mission. The Foundation provides many learning tools for churches to help us understand how best to manage the assets and gifts that God has given us through God’s people.
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens has launched a faith-based development initiative to help churches help the city fulfill the goal of providing 20,000 affordable housing units in the next eight years. Atlanta First embarked upon this initiative in February 2022. We already have the endowment funds in place through investments with the Foundation to take on this project and do what we need to do to provide affordable housing in our community.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Rev. Smothers: If any church out there is looking to attempt something so big that without God, it’s bound to fail, the Foundation is a great resourcing partner in that ministry and can be helpful to churches in ways beyond having funds to invest.