We’re writing up this Great Idea to inspire and support congregations eager to take the next step in diversity and equity.
The Triple Pandemics of disease, racial injustice, and climate change have left countless people spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially spent. It seems counter-intuitive to add a huge project to the to-do list.
But for many congregations who have embraced the hard work of anti-racism trainings and educations, questions of “what now?” are common.
And youth and elder alike – feeling disillusioned with the world – are looking for a reason to hope that the future might be better.
Putting these two sentiments together – along with the idea that helping others can take us out of our own troubles – finding or creating housing for unhoused peoples, supporting them through the transition and for the long haul can be deeply rejuvenating.
To that end: your congregation may find joy in working with an organization like Simpson Housing Services or Align Minneapolis to support finding and creating shelter for people living in Minnesota who are experiencing houselessness.
For an even more significant culture-change in your congregation, you might consider partnering with Settled* as they create Sacred Settlements: tiny houses that share utilities and other spaces as a way to shelter people while developing support networks, mutuality between sponsoring congregations and those living in the Sacred Settlements, and a deep sense of community.
[*Settled’s theology may not align perfectly with some Ministry Lab congregations, but the opportunity to work toward community, belonging, and housing might over-balance any discrepancies!]
Minnesota is also preparing for a large influx of Afghan refugee families. According to the MN Council of Churches, most of these families ‘have been granted “humanitarian parole”, which means they are ineligible for the same financial and program supports as refugees’. That is, they will have virtually nothing when they arrive and the government will not be supporting them in any significant way.
Here’s where congregations can clearly and beautifully be the Body of Christ: wrap these new neighbors in loving welcome by working with any number of denominational or inter religious organizations already preparing the way for our Afghan neighbors.
- The MN Annual Conference UMC’s UMCOR has numerous ways to support arriving Afghans.
- MN Conference UCC and the Lakes Area Sponsor Circle are seeking sponsoring congregations.
- PC(USA) congregations can work through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA).
- Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service works ecumenically to support families new to the US.
- The MN Council of Churches resettles individuals and families.
If your congregation would like to work with a different organization, you might try We Are Alight or find further information at the US Department of State’s Sponsor Circle Program for Afghans.
This could be a transformational undertaking for the whole congregation and your community. What a powerful way to be the Beloved Community!!