As part of our mission to build safe, decent, affordable housing, Habitat for Humanity has had a foundation in faith from the outset, in 1976. Built on a desire to put God’s love into action, the experiences at Habitat put faith into action, offering everyone a unique opportunity to serve their neighbors.
The most exciting aspect of this community engagement is, of course, the opportunity to work alongside future Habitat partner home buyers. By working together as neighbors, we discover the many ways we’re all alike, sharing our hopes and dreams for our lives and families, and for Whatcom County.
Since the beginning of Habitat’s Building on Faith Program, all faith groups have been welcome to participate, to become housing allies with Habitat by volunteering, making cash donations, and sponsoring events.
Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County teaches volunteers everything you need to know to work on our build sites. No matter your skill level, there are a variety of tasks to do and ways to participate, both indoors and outdoors. Habitat also offers team experiences that are perfect for organizations, students, or singles who want to work with others.
This year Cordata (formerly Birchwood) Presbyterian Church generously donated $5,000 to Habitat for our flagship Telegraph Townhomes Project. Telegraph is a purpose-built 52-unit community of townhomes designed with the core Habitat for Humanity building goal: a hand-up, not a handout. Habitat makes every donated dollar count.
“I went to an informational session Habitat held on the Telegraph Road Project and I found it quite compelling,” said Cordata Church Pastor Greg Ellis in a recent conversation. “The model of cooperation between Habitat and other county organizations, coming together to say housing price, and the difficulty of finding affordable housing, is a common issue for our community.”
Seeking to have the biggest impact by addressing urgent housing needs in our community, Habitat strives to be both a partner and a catalyst with local faith communities like Cordata Presbyterian Church, sharing values in working together to promote sustainable housing alternatives.
Stable housing means stable families, which in turn makes possible a wide range of positive outcomes for everyone, especially for children. For example, stable housing directly supports children’s ability to remain in and do well in school. A safe, decent, affordable home is literally a major building block of every healthy community.
“We find this command in the Bible, which says ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’” said Pastor Ellis. “A short number of words, a hard thing to do. We found that while we have pretty strong connections on a global mission scale, we also had a great desire to connect for local impact.
“And what does that look like,” he continued, “to be on a mission for God in the local arena? Well, it means paying attention. It means respecting where we are. What is our physical space and who do we share it with? Who are our neighbors? We’re a county-wide and beyond church, in terms of our membership, but we’ve got a renewed appreciation and understanding and sense of calling to be good neighbors to our neighbors. To get to know our neighbors and to find out what their needs are. To see how we can serve the folks we find ourselves rubbing shoulders with in the neighborhood.
“Some of that, obviously, if you think for very long about it in the Bellingham area, is about housing,” said Pastor Ellis. “And that’s where the awareness of and the appreciation for the work of Habitat for Humanity has gotten on our radar screen. And we thought…how can we connect up with that?”
The original Birchwood Church, founded in 1923, was located in Bellingham’s Birchwood neighborhood until it outgrew its building and had the opportunity, in 1997, to establish a much larger facility in the new and expanding north Bellingham community of Cordata (not too far from Habitat’s Telegraph Townhomes Project). Over the past 22 years, the church has worked to be a vital center for faith and care for families.
“There’s a lot that happens within these walls,” said Richard Emerson, Chair of the Missions and Outreach Committee at Cordata Church, “and we want to make sure there’s a fair amount that happens outside as well. To take our ministry outside of the walls of the church.
“We have 16 international and local missions that we help fund,” he added. “It’s very important for any church to go outside the sanctuary.”
Cordata Presbyterian Church is an important Habitat Champion, and we thank them for their community commitment and generosity.