Being in close proximity to marginalized people always challenges and clarifies my faith. Listening to the stories of the poor, those experiencing food insecurity, those dealing with chronic health problems and mental illness is messy and time consuming, and I almost always reflexively play the old tape in my head that questions, “Where is God in all of this?” Being in close proximity to the marginalized always shines a light on the structures of power that have not been designed to include and uplift those who are suffering, again begging the question of “Where is God in all of this?”
For the past three weeks many of our church members have attended the resident meetings at the Wellington Park mobile home community, which is under contract to be sold if our Town Commissioners agree to rezone the land for a new housing development. This sale will displace 47 families…
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…30 of those families will become homeless and all of them face relocating their children to different schools, moving farther from jobs and services they depend on and losing the safe home and community that many of them have had for decades. The stories we have heard at those meetings have been messy, heartbreaking and have magnified the powerlessness of the working poor, veterans, minorities and the elderly. My faith has been challenged.
Asking where God is in this very challenging situation has also clarified my faith and revealed the power of faith communities when we work together. The night that St. John’s learned about this impending sale and threat to our neighbors, we gathered with other ONE Wake churches and leaders as well as Wellington Park residents to strategize on how we could walk with our neighbors through the complexity of the rezoning process, possible eviction and loss of home and community.
Within a month, our ONE Wake team had set up meetings with all of the Commissioners, found a nonprofit (ROC USA) that was willing to purchase the mobile home park if it remained zoned as is, and connected the residents with Justice NC lawyers who specialize in evictions through our partnership with ONE Wake. As of Tuesday night, we have over 200 people committed to come out to support the residents and oppose the rezoning at the July 6th Town Meeting- all are encouraged to attend! Finally, partnering churches reached out to the land owner’s pastor, a meeting was set up with the pastor and the owner, and the residents’ concerns and the alternative options were shared.
Prayers for the spirit to open hearts and minds are needed. All of these small miracles have revealed God’s love in a terrible situation. You are invited to advocate for this community by making your friends and family aware of the situation, emailing our commissioners, praying for the residents experiencing so much turmoil and for the landowner to put people over profit, and attending the July 6th meeting at Town Hall. Faith in action is messy, it challenges us and it clarifies why we are members of a faith community and how the Holy Spirit is working in our lives.
Walk in Love,