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Envision All People Have a Home...In St. Paul
March 5, 2019

Valentines Day, February 14th at 7:30 a.m. it was still dark out and 0 degrees, and I thought, “What a perfect day for a Faith Leader Breakfast.” As I parked my car along Prior Avenue next to a snow bank, I could see the Habitat for Humanity Building at the corner and the lights were on. I was greeted by a Habitat for Humanity team member, Bryanna, who quickly welcomed me and gave a quick tour of the building. All the tables were set up, the sound system worked, Reverend Gonzales of “Mother” St. James A.M.E. Church in Minneapolis arrived, ready to emcee the event. The quiche, hot coffee, fruit, and orange juice were on hand to welcome our guests who began to arrive at 7:50 a.m.

Looking out the window from the conference room, across the light rail tracks we could see Prior Crossing. Prior Crossing,  Beacon apartments built to help youth start a new life after experiencing homelessness, was made possible through the leadership of  House of Hope Presbyterian Church and Unity Unitarian Church several years ago. Now Beacon is focused on inviting in more Saint Paul communities of faith into the collaborative.

Senior Pastors, Associate Pastors, deacons, elders, committee chairs, and lay leaders - all arrived on a cold February morning to learn more about living out their faith through ending homelessness. Jeffry Martin, the interim Director of Saint Paul’s Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity and also an Associate Pastor at Progressive Baptist Church, painted a picture through a speech of what St. Paul is now and what it can be.  The charge given to the ten congregations represented that morning included organizing, building homes, impacting local policy, and sheltering families. They all discussed together in groups the vision of “All people have a home.” What was standing in the way of our communities achieving this vision in Saint Paul? What was the unique role of faith communities in achieving this vision?  

In the coming months, more Saint Paul congregations will be included in this discussion and invited to join Beacon’s collaborative. I will be reaching out to you soon.

Grace and Peace,




Chris Smith
Chris Smith is the Congregational Organizer for St. Paul and the East Metro at Beacon.