Habitat Faith Build takes over


TOWNSHIP – Like busy bees, three work crews spent an overcast morning affixing vinyl siding to three new homes under construction on 23rd Street NE through Habitat for Humanity East Central Ohio.

They volunteer as part of Faith Build, Habitat’s interfaith outreach campaign that invites disparate religious groups to come together for the common goal of building a new home. Or, in this case, three.

After:Habitat for Humanity obtains $ 100,000 grant for SE Canton neighborhood project

After a year of absence due to the pandemic, this year’s Faith Build involves 16 different faith groups in building three homes, according to Courtney Brown, ministry director of the Family & Faith Partnership.

“The plan was 2020,” Brown said. “The houses did not start because the faith groups were not meeting. Families have been participating in the program for two years.

Participating groups are Advent Lutheran, Christ Presbyterian, Church of the Covenant, Community Christian, Faith Family Church, First Christian, Holy Assumption Orthodox Church, the Islamic Society of North East Ohio, John Knox Presbyterian, Neighborhood Church, Richville United Church of Christ , RiverTree Jackson, St. Anthony / All Saints Catholic, St. Stephen Martyr Lutheran, Temple Israel, and Zion Evangelical Lutheran.

Brown said Habitat and religious leaders met virtually via Zoom during the pandemic.

“It is the largest faith-based enterprise,” she said. “We have always done Faith Builds because faith is a foundation of Habitat. We’ve always enjoyed Faith Builds and this time we thought, “Why split them up? We wanted to do that. Instead of a house every three years, we wanted to make three neighbors at the same time. (This year) 2021 gives us a lot of hope. “

The homes, which are expected to be completed in October, are built on land purchased from municipal schools in Canton for $ 1, Brown said.

Construction costs for each house are around $ 80,000, Brown said. Habitat families pay for their homes through a combination of equity and interest-free mortgages.

After:Canton Habitat for Humanity prepares to return home

Faith Build participants collected sponsorships for the construction. The balance was secured by donations from the Heritage House Legacy Fund through the Stark Community Foundation, said Alison Matas Smith, Habitat Development Director.

“In the 1960s, several churches in partnership with the Timken Foundation came together to build a high-rise apartment building in the downtown area with the goal of providing affordable housing for middle-income families,” said Matas Smith . “After the building was sold in 2019, three of the churches came together with the proceeds from the sale to create the Heritage House Fund to continue providing affordable housing in Canton. This fund generously donated funds to help the faith building this year. “

The churches associated with the fund are Christ Presbyterian and St. Paul’s Episcopal in downtown Canton, and St. Stephen Martyr in Jackson Township.

RiverTree’s First Faith Building

Sydney Everly cuts the pavement while Beth Kinkaid holds it at the Habitat for Humanity interfaith building project in Canton.  The women are from the Jackson Township RiverTree Church.

This faith building marks a first for Reverend Jeremy Redman, the new Senior Pastor of RiverTree Jackson.

“I love it,” he said. “RiverTree has a long history with Habitat. It’s a way to bring the good news to the world. It’s also a way to meet leaders and develop relationships with religious leaders. It’s a win-win. “

Redman said 14 RiverTree members are participating while others are working on a Habitat home being built on Sycamore Avenue SE.

“Faith without deeds is not alive,” Redman said. “If we can help, it’s love in action and faith in action.”

Brown and Matas Smith said Faith Build is open to organizations of all sizes.

“The beauty of Faith Build is that it is accessible to smaller groups,” said Matas Smith. “Not all communities can sponsor a house. We want to make it accessible to all religious communities who wish to be a part of Faith Build.”

Brown said small departments have found other ways, such as providing lunch, to help.

Each day on a Habitat construction site includes a time of devotion, which Brown says is an opportunity for volunteers to learn more about each other’s faith.

“I think that’s a really important part,” Brown said, adding that families are not being proselytized or pressured to join a religious organization.

“When people come to help you build a house, it’s faith in itself,” she said. “We can all support the idea that home matters.”

What is it like to build a Habitat house?

The Temple Israel volunteer contingent includes three members of the clergy: Rabbi David Komerofsky, and his predecessors, retired Rabbi Jon Adland and Rabbi Emeritus John Spitzer, who have participated in previous editions of Faith Builds.

“It’s a great experience,” said Komerofsky, who joined Temple Israel last year. “I wanted to see what it was about.”

Like Redman, this marks Komerofsky’s first Faith Build.

“So if this house collapses …” he laughed.

Komerofsky noted that the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is known as Har Habayit or “the mountain of the house of the Lord”.

“They say a person’s house is their castle, but it is also their temple,” Komerofsky said. “It’s not just about your home, it’s also about your neighbor and the community.”

Adland volunteers for his third local Faith Build, having worked on projects while living in Lexington, Ky.

“I tried to be a participant wherever I lived,” he said. “The idea of ​​helping people, there is nothing better. Rabbi (Abraham Joshua) Heschel spoke of ‘Praying with the feet’. It is praying with the hands.”

In 2022, Habitat Faith Build will partner with faith communities to build two houses in Massillon and two houses in Canton. No date has been set. Interested organizations should contact Courtney Brown, Director of Family & Faith Partnership at 330-915-5888, ext. 112, or by email at [email protected]

Contact Charita at 330-580-8313 or [email protected]

On Twitter: @cgoshayREP

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