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The Faith Factor
September 19, 2017

When Laura Vitelli called me last week to ask if I would speak tonight, she said, ‘Help us think about why we do what we do in Beacon from a perspective of faith’ (and do it in 5 minutes!!).  And my first thought was, based on our faith, how can we NOT do what we’re striving to do through Beacon?


Whether we are Muslim, Jewish, or Christian, we are all compelled by the words we call holy to see with clear eyes the need of our neighbor and to respond in merciful and compassionate ways. It’s not optional.


Do justice.  Love kindness.  Walk humbly with God.  Those are the requirements of our faith. 


There’s this section in the 6th chapter of Micah where the question is being asked, “Ok, so what really is it that God requires of us as people of faith?” And the speaker is thinking in terms of maybe more burnt offerings or precious oil or those kinds of sacrifices.  But the answer that comes is one that causes us to think about this is in a totally different way.  It says, “He has told you what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”


Do justice.  Love kindness.  Walk humbly with God.  Those are the requirements of our faith. 


Loving kindness – to ease another’s pain, to show extravagant compassion & hospitality, to love our neighbor as ourselves.  In Beacon terms, I think ‘loving kindness’ translates to the housing and shelter we provide, a practical, on the ground response to an obvious need. We can’t fathom that anyone should be living on the street, because we know every person is a precious child of God who deserves the best we have to offer, and so we marshall our resources and house people, one person, one family, one shelter, one home at a time.


But what about doing justice?  That’s asking us to go beyond meeting someone’s needs today to change the bigger picture, to confront and impact the root causes of injustice.  As members of the Beacon collaborative, ‘doing justice’ is what happens when we go to City Hall, or the county commissioner’s office or straight to the Capitol, and advocate for our community’s support of a specific housing project or for more money from the state for affordable housing programs or for policy change that has long-term impact.  Doing justice is the work we undertake together to get to our unapologetic goal of ending homelessness.  That’s big work; that’s bold work.  And it’s going to take all of us together to realize that vision where all have a place to call home.


That’s what I think is the pure magic of Beacon, that it gives to all of us a way to do this work of our faith with others who are motivated and driven by their faith too, to leverage all of our gifts and passions and networks for the sake of the vision we’re all aspiring to.  Because when you’re  vision is as bold as ours is – to end homelessness – it just can’t be done alone.  We need each other.  We need those anchoring beliefs of our various faiths to shape our efforts and to strengthen our resolve.  And we need God to go ahead of us and carve out a way where sometimes there seems no way.


Why do we do what we do at Beacon from a perspective of faith?  Because as people of faith, we can do no other.  So let’s get moving, Beacon….doing justice, loving kindness, walking humbly……….people of faith ending homelessness together. 

Shari Prestemon
The Rev. Sharon (Shari) Prestemon is a member of Beacon's Board and the Conference Minister of the Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ.