No doubt you’ve seen the statistics. The U.S. Census Bureau reported in December 2020 that an estimated 14 million adults living in rental housing were behind on their rent. An additional 11.8 million adults lived in households that could not keep up with their mortgage payments. While one of President Biden’s first acts as president was to extend a nationwide ban on evictions and foreclosures through March 2021, America faces a housing crisis.

How can congregations be of service to our homeless and housing insecure neighbors at this time? In this week’s Weekly, we begin in Pasadena at All Saints Episcopal Church, a congregation that is offering its property safely and sustainably to its neighbors. Then, we revisit the stories of two congregations — one in Austin, TX and one in Chapel Hill, NC — that, even before the pandemic, had created tiny home communities; theirs are different models for how churches might use land to serve those in need. Then, a word of encouragement from Rosanne Haggerty — these problems are solvable if we come together.

Welcome to the Weekly. 

A congregation helps homeless people during the pandemic by offering refuge and support

A congregation helps homeless people during the pandemic by offering refuge and support

When shelter options began to close for people living on the streets in Pasadena, California, All Saints Church stepped in by developing a system to offer its property safely and sustainably and to create a model for other churches to do the same.

Resources for leaders during the pandemic

In an RV/tiny home village, people who were homeless find housing and community

While there is urgency in the present housing crisis, congregations have been exploring models of ministry to respond to homelessness and housing insecurity for a long time. In this story from 2018, we are introduced to the ministry of Community First! Village in Austin, TX.

A place at the table

A place at the table

Lisa Fischbeck, the vicar of The Episcopal Church of the Advocate in Chapel Hill, NC, reflects on how congregations can participate with other institutions in social enterprises in their communities. She led one such partnership that culminated in the building of “Pee Wee Homes” on the church’s property.

These problems are solvable

These problems are solvable

“The real urgency in communities — and the extraordinary area of opportunity — is to help citizens and institutions work beyond their own spaces to collaborate in solving these problems together. It’s the only way these things get fixed,” says MacArthur Foundation Fellow and Community Solutions President Rosanne Haggerty in this 2014 interview.

From the Alban Library

Doing the Math of Mission: Fruits, Faithfulness and Metrics

by Gil Rendle

Doing the Math of Mission

Over the past ten years, the North American mission field has experienced dramatic changes, which in turn have required congregations, middle judicatories, and denominations to adapt. Among these adaptations is an expectation for clear goals and quantified progress towards those goals. Church leaders who have never needed to measure their goals and progress with metrics may find this change daunting. The use of metrics — denominational and middle judicatory dashboards, and the tracking of congregational trends — has become an uncomfortable and misunderstood practice in this search for accountability.

Doing the Math of Mission offers theory, models, and new tools for using metrics in ministry. This book also shows where metrics and accountability fit into the discernment, goal setting, and strategies of ministry. This book gives leaders a toolbox they can use in their own setting to clarify their purpose and guide their steps.

Before you go…

Each week during the pandemic, I hear from pastors around the country who are overwhelmed by the depth of needs before them. So many of them say that they feel like they “should” be doing more, and yet, they know that they and their congregations have limited capacity to do more. Sometimes, when we get to that place, even hopeful stories of other congregations’ ministries can feel more like judgment than inspiration.

Part of what I hope you hear in the stories and interviews this week is encouragement not to carry the burden alone. The challenges before us are too large for any one of our congregations to solve on our own, and even if we could, we shouldn’t. What we can do, we can do, but we need each other to find our way. 

So, consider this Weekly an invitation to reach out to a community partner or to another ministry leader. Dream together. Pray together. Hope together. Don’t try to go it alone.

We’ll see you next week, and in the meantime, peace! 

Nathan Kirkpatrick

Managing Director, Alban at Duke Divinity

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