[Diocese of Atlanta] The Rev. Austin Ford, who lived and ministered in one of the city’s most deprived communities, died Saturday at his Grant Park, Georgia, home.
Ford, who was the founding rector of St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Decatur, left the security of the fast-growing suburban Episcopal parish in 1967 to start Emmaus House, in Atlanta’s Peoplestown community.
Moving into a dilapidated clapboard house, Ford took his time getting to know the community. He carefully listened to area residents and responded to their goals – growing the ministry to include an after-school program, once-a-month transportation to the state prison for families of inmates, chapel services, hot meals, and a poverty rights office.
Over three decades at Emmaus House Ford was a consistent and strident voice for welfare rights, neighborhood empowerment and racial justice.
The Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, said Ford was a priest who modeled Jesus’ preference for the poor and disenfranchised.
“Austin Ford was someone who believed and lived his faith shoulder to shoulder with people from all situations and circumstances,” Wright said. “He was a man and a priest who understood that Jesus wants His followers with the poor. His shoes will be hard to fill. His example changed minds, hearts and lives.”
Ford will be cremated. A time for a memorial service is yet to be determined. A.S. Turner & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory in Decatur is in charge of arrangements.