November 2017 Update

Dear Friends,

Grace and peace to you. As we approach the season of Thanksgiving, please accept the thanks of the ministry team at Grace in Action. Your support makes it possible for us to be in ministry with those Jesus called “the least among us.” Thank you also for reading this letter and considering its appeal.

As my family and I have only lived in Davis a little over two years, I regularly meet people who ask what I do. When I describe my work with Grace in Action, reactions vary. Conversations reflect the mix of feelings and concerns people have about the poor and the homeless. So I spend a good deal of time reflecting on what our ministry does and why we do it, and I pray that future conversations about our work will provide openings for the Spirit’s activity.

It is understandable to wish there were no poor or homeless among us. It is perhaps harder to acknowledge “that person in need could be me or someone close to me.” It is more challenging yet, to experience spiritual kinship with those who appear so different.
The New Testament Epistle of James is often attributed to James the brother of Jesus. In the second chapter he notes our tendency to make judgments about the poor. He goes on to counsel us away from the trap of “judgment without mercy” and asserts that “mercy triumphs over judgment.” (NIV, 2:13)

Mercy is one way to interpret and experience grace. My aging copy of Webster’s Dictionary actually lists twenty-one definitions of grace including the one James calls mercy. Another understanding of grace influenced a favorite book of mine by Norman Maclean that became the film, “A River Runs through It.” One of the characters is an early 20th century Montana minister and fly fisherman (Maclean’s real-life father) who preached that by picking up God’s rhythms we can regain a state of grace or gracefulness. Such an understanding is a motivating factor in our ministry.

At Grace in Action we try to focus on the presence of God in all people whether or not they exhibit grace. Much of what we provide is basic. It takes the form of fellowship and food, transportation, legal assistance, clothing, blankets, bicycle repair, clean laundry and a place for supportive conversations and prayer. In these simple acts we hope people feel more physically comfortable. It is our intention that in being loved they will pick up God’s rhythms and experience more of that state of grace we believe to be God’s will for us all.

Thank you for your support. May God bless you and those who are dear to you, especially in this season of Thanksgiving.

In Christ,

Steve Smith

Grace in Action hires new Director

Grace in Action, a local Christian ministry dedicated to serving the homeless and marginalized people, has hired Davis resident Steve Smith to serve as its executive director. In this role, Smith oversees the program and supervises volunteers under the direction of the ministry’s board of directors.

“We are thrilled to welcome Steve to our team,” said Meg Harper, president of Grace in Action’s board of directors. “His desire to serve God by helping others combined with his extensive leadership experience makes him a great match for our mission.”

In 2007, Smith retired as a Presbyterian pastor after 27 years of service. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Ursinus College, a master’s in divinity from Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, a doctor of ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary. He lives in Davis with his wife and sons.

“Grace in Action is another example of local community-based group that quietly goes about the work of creating community for some of the most disadvantaged members in our city,” Davis Mayor Robb Davis said.

“Grounded in a strong faith that teaches that broken lives can be made whole, they go about their work of creating a safe space for conversation, relationship building and access to services. Steve is a non-anxious presence with a wealth of experience in dealing with people of all walks of life. I am thankful he and this organization are part of our community.”

For more than a decade, Grace in Action has worked in partnership with local churches in Davis to serve the homeless or isolated. The team aims to build relationships with guests to encourage physical, emotional and spiritual health.

Smith and volunteers routinely seek out homeless people to offer help and services. In addition, guests are welcomed twice a week for a meal and referrals to supportive services.


Published in the Davis Enterprise on 8/28/16