Pointing the Way: Gretchen Pierskalla

Dylan Novacek January 13, 2020

“This is good work. It is also hard work. If it were easy it would already be done.”

The following speech was given during the Family Supportive Housing Launch event on December 5, 2019 in Shakopee. Gretchen Pierskalla of Crown of Glory Lutheran Church serves on the Beacon Housing & Policy Strategy Committee and the Scott-Carver Campaign Action team. As a supporter of Prairie Pointe, Gretchen spoke on the importance of being neighborly, and importance of affordable housing…

I want to help people experiencing homelessness because my faith compels me to care for my neighbor just as I had been cared for and given temporary housing in someone’s home when I was between jobs in my young adult years. In 2014 I shared a Families Moving Forward Host Coordinator roll at Faith Lutheran in Waconia.

I enjoyed supporting the families and see them move into housing within a month or two. But it was taking longer for families to find affordable housing, and it was not just because of their individual challenges. There simply was not enough housing. I wanted to be part of solving that problem and got more deeply involved with Beacon. I met wise and faithful leaders who shared their wisdom and experience and lived their values and faith out loud, in public.  It is contagious!

We believe in Home. We work toward the vision: ALL PEOPLE HAVE HOME! This is good work. It is also hard work. If it were easy it would already be done.

As people of faith, we are made for hard work. The sacred texts of Christian tradition demonstrate this. In the book of Esther, ESTER discovered a challenge in her time and saw her opportunity to make a difference, “At such a time as this”.

We too face a challenge in our time and see the opportunity to make a difference “at such a time as this”. The challenge of not enough affordable housing for people in Scott and Carver Counties. Our families in Families Moving Forward who need emergency shelter are taking longer to find affordable housing. We are called to this work at such a time as this!

As people of faith we know that what shows up in our life’s road is one of the ways God calls us to action. This reminds of the scene on LIFE’S ROAD from the gospel of Luke,

A religious scholar asked Jesus: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?

Jesus responded: “What is written in the LAW? How do you interpret the documents of your faith tradition?”

 The scholar responded; “That you LOVE God with all your PASSION, and PRAYER and MUSCLE and INTELLLIGENCE – and that you LOVE your NEIGHBOR as YOURSELF.”

 Jesus said, “Good Answer! Do that and you will LIVE the eternal life”. But the scholar wanted to know how far he had to go with his neighborliness and asked: “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus tells the story about a man on life’s road who got beat up within inches of his life. He called out to people on the road – but they just passed him by – they did not want to get involved; they had places to go and people to see.

Then an unlikely hero comes by, a Samaritan, people like the Scholar could not imagine a more unlikely role model or example of Living the good and faithful life, yet this was who Jesus pointed to as an example of someone with eternal life! – helping the neighbor in need who he encountered on his life journey.

 Like in the parable of the Good Samaritan there are people who want to pass by people in need. Perhaps viewing them as half dead, half alive, not worth the effort, time or resources. How far does neighborliness extend?

If you Ask Mr. Rogers who constantly invited viewers of his PBS tv program, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

Jesus showed the religious scholar an unlikely example of the hero in the story. You might think of yourself as an unlikely hero! And yet, here we are! At such a time as this. For this work of building affordable supportive housing for families in Scott and carver counties.

Home means we have a place to land at the end of the day and launch into our lives each morning. This stable place called home means we can come along side people on the road of life and offer our helping hand – and connect them with resources –  supportive housing just like the good Samaritan when he brought the man on the road to the inn keeper!

We believe in home. Home makes helping others possible. Home makes health and healing possible. Home make contribution possible. We can make home possible for folks so they can do good for their families, and so they can do good for the people on their life’s road. I want to leave yo with a prayer written by Joseph M. Cherry:

If we have any hope of transforming the world and changing ourselves,
We must be BOLD enough to step into DISCOMFORT,
BRAVE enough to be CLUMSY there,
LOVING enough to FORGIVE ourselves and others.

May we, as people of faith, be granted the strength to be so bold, so brave and so loving. To go out to love God and Neighbor with all our passion and prayer and muscle and Intelligence.

I invite you to join me and others in this work on this road to building affordable supportive housing for families in Scott and carver county. We are made for such a time as this. It is our time. Let’s do this together!

To learn more about Prairie Pointe read our story on the kickoff event. Keep following us for more stories on Pointing the Way.