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  • Nick Hatch

A Faith Based Housing Summit & Invitation

Throughout scripture God clearly articulates a special emphasis and love for those who are in the deepest need of security, shelter, and love. In the book of Isaiah, in speaking about what God has chosen for God’s beloved children, the prophet says this about being people of faith:

 

Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,

and bring the homeless poor into your house;

when you see the naked, to cover them,

and not to hide yourself from your own kin?

 

These are powerful and challenging words exhorting us to open our very homes to those who are homeless. Drawing on this Old Testament theology, Jesus encourages us to sell all that we possess and give to the needy (Matthew 19:21) and also reminds us that he himself was homeless, saying foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head (Luke 9:58).

 

Homelessness was an issue in Jesus’ day and in our day as well. Right here in the Fox Valley we have an affordable housing crisis that has been highlighted in multiple recent news stories. Contrary to popular myth, many of the people experiencing homelessness are not low income. Our lack of affordable transitional housing in this time of economic change creates difficulties for our community business in hiring staff, causes students to perform poorly due to the stress of housing instability, contributes to increased poor health outcomes, and decreases equal access to education. Surely our God who wandered the desert is here among us, helping us to wonder “How can we make a home where no home exists?”

 

First Congregational supports many resource agencies that help combat the affordable housing epidemic. But one unique opportunity is coming our way. Our Economic Justice Working Group (EJWG) is putting together a faith-based housing summit right here at our church on October 12. This summit is an effort to implement local effective solutions and, for the purpose of finding those solutions, invites anyone who has been affected by homelessness to meet with a planning team leading up to this event to share their knowledge and insights. The planning team understands these are sensitive issues but wants their work to be guided by those most affected and to be informed by members of First Congregational.

 

Our God is one of limitless hope, unmatched commitment, and an ever-present Spirit of transformation. Even in the despair and confusion of being without shelter, Christ knows our sufferings and invites us into conversations to unfold a vision of justice and equity for all. If you would like to reach out to the planning team, please contact Eilene Hoft-March at eilene.hoft-march@lawrence.edu.

 

Grace and Peace,

 

Pastor Nick & EJWG

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