Under One Roof, Together

Dylan Novacek April 24, 2020

Written by Dylan Novacek, Content Specialist

“We share a common humanity and the same needs. These needs are all rooted in having a stable home.”

For Pastor Dan Doerrer and Elim Lutheran Church in Robbinsdale, a sense of shared humanity centered in home takes on a unique expression. Elim shares a home with six congregations across five denominations and three languages. Members in each of the congregations work with Elim to host families in Beacon’s shelter program and engage in changing systems. Their shared goal is home.

“This work has brought us together and broadens the definition of what it means to be a person of faith,” Dori Schlins, one of Elim’s key volunteers, shared enthusiastically.

Growing up as part of Elim, Dori returned to the congregation in 2015 to see a community that works together to give back. She feels there is a certain energy of passion and advocacy within this building.

“Together we give our guests a sense of stability, if only for a few nights. Homelessness is in all our communities, so it’s important to take care of our neighbors,” Dori said with pride in her work.

“Even though our congregation isn’t explicitly a part of Beacon, sharing space with Elim has brought us in. We’re bonded by a common mission,” Pam Haack from Genesis Covenant Church noted. “When more people get involved, the scope of our work gets larger. We just want to love our neighbors together.”

As an advocate for home, Pam has experienced the need for sustainable housing firsthand.

“I am a landlord to a building of five men who have struggled with housing due to incarceration. I am compelled to help my community. Through working with Beacon, I can do even more for those in need,” Pam said. “Working one on one with families is an experience like no other.”

“It’s moving and satisfying to know we are keeping the families who come here safe,” Elim’s Karen Dahlen, a key volunteer, added. “These experiences stay with you.”

These congregations share in the Beacon realization that we all do better when we have a home, and for these congregations that means a home of worship.

“When you work firsthand with these families, seeing their humanity, you understand this is a human issue. A dignity issue,” Pastor Dan asserted, considering the experiences families without stable housing have gone through.

“Setting up the rooms, we do our best to make sure our families are comfortable. Every room has a lamp, and a TV.,” Karen added. “We are lucky to have such a large space so the children can play, and the families can feel comfortable.”

Beacon congregations are driven by their faith to engage in service, invest in community, and take action through leadership and organizing. For Dori, working with the children stands out as a key experience.

“On my first week of hosting I wore this apron with dogs on it. A lot of kids were drawn to it,” Dori smiled as she recalled a small but significant moment with the families. “When I came back for another night of hosting, I wore the same apron and the kids remembered me right away. ‘Dori, you’re back!’ this little girl cheered as she hugged me. It was so special.”

From sharing meals, and spending the evening with families, Elim looks forward to growing their involvement with Beacon.

“The beauty of our work with Beacon is that it helps us take steps in advocacy and social justice,” Pastor Dan said. “Seeing how Beacon challenges polices and steps up for change inspires us all.”

As Beacon seeks to make change at the policy level, support from congregations like Elim is key. Through sending postcards and making phone calls to legislators and supporting families in need, it takes a strong collaborative to support our vision.

“It takes people to stand up and talk to your representatives. I have so much respect for the people trying to put the pieces back together,” Dori said. “Stability starts with a roof over your head.”

One night of shelter costs about $50 per person. That’s $1,000 per week per family. As Beacon continues to grow in supporting families in need, caring people like the congregants at Elim, and supporters like you are needed now more than ever.

“When we engage in these social issues, we see our story in the biblical sense more clearly and dynamically,” Pastor Dan smiled with pride. “We are ale to take bold steps thanks to our work with Beacon.”

Want to learn how you can support the vision that all people have a home? Considering investing in Beacon’s mission and learn more here.

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