Habitat for Humanity of Wake County relies on a volunteer army to hammer, drill and saw its way to affordable housing for families. Many local church congregations rise to the challenge and provide soldiers for the cause.
“Our vision is that everyone has a decent place to live and it comes from this place of the transformative power of Christian community,” said Samuel Gunter, faith relations coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Wake County. “We do it because that’s our calling and we invite other folks into that.”
Habitat for Humanity International was founded in 1976 as a nonprofit, ecumenical housing ministry with a mission to put God’s love into action by building homes and communities and providing hope. More than half a million homes have been built by Habitat groups around the world.
From its beginning, the organization has emphasized the spirit of community and working together regardless of race or faith.
“The early energy for Habitat was Christian ministry and the power of the Christian community and that call for justice is very much up in our DNA,” Gunter said. “We are intentionally crafting interracial coalitions and ecumenical coalitions that bring people together.”
Many of the coalitions in the Triangle are faith-based. Some coalitions come together by denomination, and others come together based on geography.
“Churches struggle to find opportunities to engage large numbers of folks in service, but Christian education and discipleship is about more than just memorizing your Bible verses and reciting the Apostles’ Creed,” Gunter said. “There is the action piece to it too.”
While coalitions are built that will have Assembly of God members and Southern Baptists working side by side, each project benefits a family in need of affordable housing, no matter what that family believes.
“For Habitat for Humanity it is a vision here that everyone has a decent place to live,” Gunter said. “That means everyone, regardless of faith, political party or race. We mean everyone.”
The strengthening economy only increases the need for affordable housing in Wake County.
“When land values rise, folks get pressed out and we are trying to grow to meet that need,” Gunter said.
Applications continue to pour in from those who spend a majority of their income on housing.
So Habitat will continue to engage coalitions to build more houses sold at no profit and with affordable mortgages to those who need them. And the local faith community will be an important part of that.
Gunter said it’s a process that is beneficial to the new homeowners as well as the volunteers who make the projects happen.
“It’s about breaking down barriers and bringing folks together when the rest of our society is trying to tear us apart,” he said.
Vacation Bible School
This is the time of year when many churches are busy planning Vacation Bible School activities. For many congregations, VBS is the largest community outreach of the year.
If you’d like your VBS included in an upcoming column highlighting these special summer programs, send me an email at the address below.
Carla Turchetti compiles Faith in Focus each week. Email her with details of upcoming events at firstname.lastname@example.org.