Looking Back, Hoping Forward (Joe & Susan Tucker)

At South Street Ministries, we believe in the hope of Advent. In this season of overflow and celebration, giving is more important than receiving. Advent-ageous Giving is all about that sentiment. As we give, we receive a deeper understanding and connection to God and Beloved Community. This first month, read a reflection from ministry couple Joe and Susan Tucker, who are both heavily involved at The Front Porch–Joe as the Executive Director of South Street Ministries, and Susan Tucker, M.D., as the Assistant Medical Director at Faithful Servants Care Center.

Susan: One of the Tucker family traditions is the celebration of Advent
a wreath with five candles and weekly devotions that center us on the coming of Jesus 2,000 years ago and the expectant hope of Christ’s return and the fullness of His Kingdom. Two of our six advent seasons together have been spent ‘expecting’ the arrival of children, something that sharpened our awareness of the season. We have come to appreciate the practice of Advent in that it elongates the Nativity season and challenges something so foreign: slow-down.

Joe: Ministry life is busy, urgent. Perhaps one of the most common trappings of ministry is the tyranny of the urgent — someone needs housing NOW, a family is in crisis, a staffing issue needs dealt with immediately. It has been a decade long journey for me to learn how to navigate the many immediate needs with the long-term steps necessary for community impact, organizational growth, and Kingdom-work. This learning process was compounded by the addition of family to the mix of ministry life. When I started at South Street Ministries in 2009, I was single — I had the ability to open up the café at 7 am as well as close down for a group at 10 pm. Nearly 10 years later, my ministry schedule is not as flexible. Now the immediate needs of South Street crash against the daily realities of family life, a life that has immediate needs of its own!

Joe & Susan (far left) with the entire Tucker family. They’re holding their boys, James & AJ.

Susan: One of the Unlikely Partners in South Street’s work is Faithful Servants Urgent Care Center. We operate clinic nights at The Front Porch every Wednesday. This partnership isn’t all that unlikely though, since it is reflective of the Tucker family–Joe at South Street Ministries, and myself at Faithful Servants. One of the new wineskins of ministry for us is the flip-flop of schedules for who is at The Front Porch and who is parenting or transporting the boys!

Joe: On one such flip-flop Tuesday afternoon, I picked up the boys and headed to the Summit Lake Farmer’s Market to buy some jam. This was the fifth year of the Summit Lake Farmer’s Market. South Street Ministries helped found the market and maintained a staff presence at the market this year leading health lessons for youth. As I arrived, I had a moment of clarity. Despite the busy day, and taciturn tykes, I remembered how far this market had come. It was a divine moment, remembering and experiencing God’s Kingdom progress over those five years. In the midst of a hectic summer with many pressing needs and issues, I had the serenity to look back and hope forward.

Susan: As we approach the Advent season, let’s look back and hope forward. Amidst the busyness of the season, Advent is an intentional pause — to light candles, read Scriptures, remember the advent of Christ, and hope forward to His Kingdom come fully.

Joe: I have many days at South Street (and I know Susan does at Faithful Servants) where a feeling of overwhelmedness can dominate our days–where the actions of the day don’t seem to outweigh the challenges around us. However, these feelings are always quelled with perspective — when we remember how far God has brought us as organizations, as a people, and as individuals. The tyranny of the urgent seems less tyrannical because God IS. God IS good, always. God IS love, always. God IS provider, always. As we look back and hope forward, Advent reflections have empowered us, in God, to live presently.


The Tuckers


 Be a part of Advent-ageous Giving! www.southstreetministries.org/donate 

Advent Connections

Thanksgiving! Christmas! I love cold seasons in beautiful Ohio!

If this isn’t your favorite time of year, I can’t relate.  Being a lover of cold weather, warm flavors, and family gatherings, this is hands-down the best time of year for me.  South Street Ministries, too, seems to transform in this season.  Thanksgiving comes quicker every year starting with our Thanksgiving Basket Drive.  That’s always a fun night.  Standing in inevitably cold weather, giving food to our neighbors starts a season which we choose to make generosity-filled, and centered in gratitude.

I’m well aware of the anxiety and pressure the American holiday season has been known to create, though.  Rightfully so in many cases! This can be a lonely, cold, consumer-driven mad dash to January.  A season to celebrate Christ’s birth (in the wrong month, by the way) has become little more than a capitalist society’s binge session. I know how it leaves a bad taste in peoples’ mouths.

At South Street Ministries, though, we push back against the worst of the season for the sake of Christ and our neighbors.  We live into our mission in all seasons—Unlikely Partners Taking Shared Risks to Renew the Community for Christ’s Sake.  This means we have the power—in our words, actions, and work—to reclaim this season for the good of the neighborhood!  We choose to give away instead of storing up. We choose joy over bitterness, no matter the hardships we face.  We choose to serve instead of demanding more from everyone around us!

We believe anyone can make the holiday season an Advent-ageous one!  I’m excited to tell you that in November and December you can do just that: we need your financial support to continue loving neighbors and giving back. We want to redeem the holiday season with you, and we need your support to make it happen!

Imagine Summit Lake without Afterschool and Summer Camp…imagine returning citizens trying to make their way without South Street’s Reentry support…

To be specific, South Street Ministries needs your financial gift now more than ever.  Monthly commitments and one-time gifts made in November & December will help South Street to continue giving eternal gifts to our neighbors in Summit Lake, South Akron, and all over Summit County! We hope you take advantage of Advent connections this season which will support all of South Street Ministries programs and initiatives in 2019. Please see some options below to support all of South Street’s programs and initiatives.

Here’s to heartfelt giving & redeeming the best of the season,


Year-End Giving 2018

We’re excited about Advent-ageous giving!

Here are some specific ways to support South Street Ministries from November 1st to December 31st:

  • A Year-End Contribution – Give smart!  Choose to make your year-end contribution to South Street Ministries either online or by check (mail to: South Street Ministries, 130 W. South Street Akron, 44301, with “End of Year” in the memo line). Visit http://southstreetministries.org/donate/ to learn more or to make a one-time donation
  • Giving Tuesday – Make an impact this year on Giving Tuesday, November 27th – give online to South Street Ministries’ efforts and shout us out on social media: tag “South Street Ministries CDC” and use the hashtag #GivingTuesday to share your good deed with others!
  • Eat for South Street! – Come out to your favorite restaurants from November to January, buy a meal or two, and a portion of the contributions will go straight to South Street Ministries.  In-store purchases only. Some rules apply.  Contact Erin for more information – erin@southstreetministries.org or 234.352.0678 (See the full flyer with list of restaurants and dates HERE)
  • “Pay it Forward” Christmas Gift – Instead of one big-ticket item this Christmas, use the funds to invest in South Street’s many ministries – an alternative Christmas gift makes for an impactful monthly contribution to South Street Ministries.  Visit http://southstreetministries.org/donate/ for more information or to donate monthly.
  • Smile.Amazon.com – Make South Street Ministries your favorite on Amazon Smile when you shop now and year-round!  Choose us as the organization that gets a portion back from your Christmas shopping.

Thanks for all of your prayers and support throughout the year,

Erin Irwin

OPEN POSITION: Education and Volunteer Director

South Street Ministries: Youth Programming
OPEN POSITION: Education and Volunteer Director
Full Time Position — Undergraduate Degree Preferred
Job Description
Through support from the United Way, the Education and Volunteer Director will plan and oversee the academic direction and assessment of South Street’s youth programming, with a focus on the After School and Summer Camp programming (K through 5). The applicant must be a person of good character, with a heart for children, who is competent in educational theory, the analysis and interpretation of data, and equipped with mature interpersonal and managerial skills. An academic history and/or experience in the field of education is a plus, albeit not a necessary qualification.
Job Expectations and Responsibilities
●Maintain the spirit and values of South Street Ministries
●Report directly to Joe Tucker (SSM Executive Director) & work with the South Street Ministries youth leadership, BobIrwin (SSM Youth Director)
●Formation of a South Street Ministries education plan for each program beginning with After School program ●Sustain quantitative and qualitative feedback in following areas: SEI data (school attendance, MAP score, After Schoolattendance, narrative feedback from parents/families
●Maintain parental/guardian contact as needed and conduct annual(+) visits
●Engage with appropriate school faculty
●Advise volunteers/staff towards kids’ & families’ needs (to assist referrals & transitions out of Afterschool) ●Develop and maintain a volunteer process (recruitment, engagement, development, retention) for all of South StreetMinistries, with a focus on After School and Summer Camp programming.
●Developing individualized educational goals for each participating child and the communication of these goals to thechildren, parent(s)/guardian, staff, and volunteers.
●Continual learning and awareness of research pertaining to Out of School Time Partners, 3rd grade readinginterventions, successful enrichment interventions, volunteer training, etc.
Weekly/Yearly Duties
  • Attend Afterschool daily (Mon-Thu—2.30pm to 5.30pm)
  • Attend Staff Meeting, Youth Committee Meetings, and Youth Staff Meeting
  • Attend relevant and required United Way of Summit County/ Summit Education Initiative meetings.
  • Role may/will expand into assessing and serving with other youth programs pending on employment status (full-time or part-time)

Ministry & Non-Profit

The After School program operates squarely within the foundational mission of South Street Ministries which is: “Unlikely Partners Taking Shared Risks to Renew the Community for Christ’s Sake”. Accordingly, After School aims to bring people from diverse backgrounds together to provide an intimate, Christ-centered, life affirming, life enriching, educationally supportive environment. Additionally, applicant will engage in non-profit related services and fundraisers, as well as in interactions with donors, neighbors, partners, organizations, constituents, clients, and others connected to or learning about South Street Ministries.


To apply for this position, please submit the following to Joseph Tucker:

  • Resume
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Cover letter with reason for applying for this position

Applications can be e-mailed to joe@southstreetministries.org OR mailed to

South Street Ministries

130 W. South St.
Akron, OH 44311
APPLICATIONS DUE by February 28th, 2018

Advent: Love

This is the final piece in a four-part Advent devotional written by Executive Director Joe Tucker. See prior posts on Hope, Peace, and Joy. 


Of the countless Café conversations I have had at The Front Porch, there are a few that remain clear in my memory. One conversation that I often recall was with my father.  We sat in the back of the corner of The Front Porch and I shared about my work and ministry.  

In my sharing, I made some generic critique about the church not being active enough in service and the impact that ministry has had on developing my own faith. My father was quick to remind me that our salvation was faith-based, not work-based.

I recall laughing at this moment.  Not in disagreement, but in an experienced knowing.

At South Street, I know that my (our) work will never suffice.  There is simply not enough grace within me to forgive the 3rd or 4th relapse of a friend struggling in recovery.  Within my own self, I cannot produce sufficient patience to long-suffer another semester of disrespectful and chaotic After School youth.  And it seems almost daily, that my love is insufficient.

Just yesterday, a homeless friend visited the Café after being released from prison. He went from table to table looking to find some kind and unknowing patron to buy him food.  We know this man well — this is his hustle.

I treated him to some coffee and we talked briefly, and I found myself to be impatient and apathetic.  At South Street, I never worry about a works-based salvation. My works and my brotherly love consistently fall short.

But thanks be to God for the Advent of Jesus.

Thanks be to God for the reality of love made flesh some 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem.  This child, born of a promise, would grow to eventually claim that apart from Him, we could do nothing.

The love of God sustains us as we minister.  I know this to be true. Apart from God, my love, caring, and output simply falls short.  But in Christ, a deep love is made manifest.  Jesus delivers this message in the Garden of Gethsemane, the last command of his ministry, ‘Love each other.’

To know Jesus, is to know love.  The fourth Sunday of Advent calls us to the Love of God in Christ. To remain in His love, abide in it, and minister from God’s abundant love. As we take a deep breath at South Street at the end of the year, we pause and remember what it is to abide in Christ’s love.  

I will leave you with Jesus’ words found in John 15: 5-17.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”


To become an unlikely partner in the work of South Street Ministries, click here.