It’s a great feeling when you get two people you love in the same room together, right? Well, as of this month, two groups we’re very fond of are joining up in a new way.
At Woodland, we’ve had a long term partnership with Settled and have helped to support their work to address chronic homelessness through tiny home communities called Sacred Settlements. And, during our fundraiser last winter, we raised money to support Mosaic Christian Community’s Safe Parking Lot Program which provides a hospitable space for neighbors living out of their vehicles.
Now, Settled and Mosaic are coming together to consider a possible partnership to bring a Sacred Settlement pilot to the East Side of St. Paul.
Before Mosaic connected with Settled, as a church they had a big heart for people experiencing homelessness. After hearing about safe-parking programs for people who travel the country in their cars, they did months of research and used existing models to create their own program.
Ricky Campbell, the Communications and Education Pastor at Mosaic says, “That’s not to say it was—or has been—easy. We faced some initial pushback, even internally, because of the potential risks associated with a Safe Parking Program. But people at Mosaic know that, above all, it’s our call to learn to love God through love of neighbors — and women with children who are living out of their vehicles are our neighbors.”
Ricky explains their decision by using the story of the Apostle Paul’s visit with the church leaders in Jerusalem. After Paul’s life was turned around by his encounter with Jesus, he went from attacking the gospel to preaching it. But he also wanted to make sure he was speaking the truth. So, in Jerusalem he visited Jesus’s disciples and asked for their guidance. The disciples received him warmly, affirmed his calling and his teaching and gave him Barnabas as a ministry partner. They also gave him one requirement: “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.” (Galatians 2:10)
Ricky elaborates, “You cannot separate the gospel—the message we proclaim as Jesus’ followers—from taking care of your neighbor. It’s incompatible. If it isn’t good news to the poor, then it’s not the good news.” This fundamental belief has been at the core of Mosaic’s love for their neighbors who are experiencing homelessness.
As they consider a partnership to create a pilot settlement on the East Side, they are also doing outreach to introduce the vision to the surrounding community. Ricky explains, “We want them to hear about the incredible opportunity and also give them room to ask questions or voice concerns.”
There are many approaches to addressing the crisis of homelessness, so why is Mosaic pursuing this model?
Ricky answers, “Every person was created in the beautiful image of God. Yet there are far too many people who have been labeled: ‘You’re worth nothing.’ The Sacred Settlement model uses a holistic approach that says, ‘Actually, you’re very worth it. You’re worth more than we can comprehend. We want to help show you that worth.’ Our culture’s expectation for addressing the problem of homelessness has been (at best), ‘Let’s just get them under a roof and maybe find them some food.’ There’s no redemption. There’s little transformation. There’s no addressing the actual issue. Our consumer culture wants to buy its way out of homelessness; Settled understands that the problem is much deeper.”
At Woodland, we are delighted to watch God’s Kingdom come to earth in this way. In fact, we just kicked off a new fundraiser to keep working toward the first Twin Cities tiny home settlement in collaboration with other congregations. Click here to learn more!