Working For The Greatest Need

Dylan Novacek September 18, 2020

Waconia Moravian Church, Congregational Spotlight. Written By Dylan Novacek – Content Specialist

“We have a powerful asset to offer the community. We’re not going to let all the worries keep us from doing the work of God.”

For the congregants at Waconia Moravian Church, their mission of home is transformative for them and their community. With a goal to focus on race equity and justice, Rev. Dr. Amy Gohdes-Luhman and her congregation engage in our shared Beacon vision that all people have a home.

“Working with social justice issues around advocacy fits into what I think our calling is as Christians,” Pastor Amy confidently shared, with years of experience to back it up. “We own three homes and use one of them as housing for families in crisis.  As the other two homes come available for rent they also will be used to meet the needs of those in Crisis Housing.  It’s the most unique thing we do. I’ve never been in a church that utilizes housing for those the greatest needs.”

Through their engaged equity work, coupled with their efforts to provide affordable housing, those at Waconia Moravian believe in home. Working with Beacon’s Families Moving Forward since 2013, and working on their equity journey for quite some time, has made it evident that those at Waconia Moravian take this work to heart.

“We want to create a more racially just community through educating ourselves and working within our congregation,” Pastor Amy exclaimed. “I think every church has to examine why it is they are a church. There is value in worshiping together and being there for each other in prayer. But, I think a church has to also live out a mission that is Christ inspired.”

For Pastor Amy and the congregation, that mission is elevated through their partnership with Beacon. As they add to their advocacy tool kit, they are able to speak to their local representatives about the policy change needed to see that all people have a home, while also doing the important work of sheltering and supporting families.

“With Beacon, it feels like they are alongside us in our equity and housing journey. I’ve found that the training opportunities with our Congregational Organizers and leadership teams are so helpful. We understand that racism is the strongest factor in many people’s negative outcomes.”

Beacon is nearly 100 congregations strong, and we’re all united in this vision. It takes congregations like Waconia Moravian to come together and stand up for home, especially in rural parts of the metro.

“It’s harder to convince people that homelessness exists in more rural areas like Waconia. But we know the need is there. We want more of an understanding that poverty and racial justice aren’t just issues that impact the Twin Cities.”

With a desire to serve families with the greatest needs, the congregation is proud to offer a home for families in crisis. This new home came available during COVID and they were able to purchase it and work with Carver County Crisis Housing to serve a family in need.

“Our trustees discussion on who we’re willing to rent to was a standout experience in our journey,” Pastor Amy beamed. “It was wonderful to see our team conclude that we need to support those families most in need. And there is no way we could’ve done it without our work with Beacon and Families Moving Forward. Beacon has given us the opportunity to serve those without stability.”

This is a congregation that understands the gift of home. While offering their homes for families, they know the need for more housing is high. Due to this need, Beacon aims to create Prairie Pointe, supportive housing for about 50 families in Shakopee.

Prairie Pointe will be the first of its kind supportive housing to serve families in Scott and Carver counties. Congregations like Waconia Moravian are key in making these homes a reality.

“We would love to see Prairie Pointe be funded and built. We want more options for housing in our communities,” Pastor Amy asserted. “Our next step is to speak to our school board members and leaders in our city. We want to define the terms of racial and social justice through the lens of Jesus Christ and spread that message to others.”

It takes $12 million over three years to power our work of sheltering families, building new homes, and combating the systemic issues that cause homelessness in the first place; a goal we are halfway to. Through the power of faith communities, we are on this journey to make change together.

“Redlining and the myth of scarcity are what causes homelessness. It ties into race, poverty, and other factors,” Pastor Amy reflected. “Home is safety and shelter; something we all deserve. Right now we are working with our partners at Carver County Crisis Housing and Beacon to best serve those who are underserved.”

With the possible opening of a second home for families on the horizon, those at Waconia Moravian are educating themselves and their community to help push forward our shared Beacon vision.

“This work ties into our faith in a lot of ways. I think it ties into my understanding of the mandate that Jesus Christ brings good news to the poor,” Pastor Amy said. “Realizing that it’s a smaller world than we think, knowing that we are responsible for each other’s well being is vital.”

Together, we do the hardest work for those with the greatest need. Beacon is seeking to double the number of our supportive homes. It takes a seed of $15,000 for each of the homes – about 50 – at Prairie Pointe to become a reality. Learn more on how we create homes by attending Beacon Now: Weekly Virtual Tours. All month we are covering homes at Emerson Village, and all October we will focus on Prairie Pointe. Click here to learn how you can take action.