This past year, Habitat for Humanity reached out to the various clergy of Morris County inviting them to a brainstorming breakfast on May 15th with the theme of: Building on Faith. The initial goal of this meeting was to think about ways to create an interfaith breakfast to promote: Habitat for Humanity’s Beloved Community Initiative celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy and the passage of the Fair Housing Act. Attending this breakfast, I noticed that the majority of the people at the table were connected to Newton Presbytery. After leaving the meeting, I began to think: Might this be a place where God is at work? Might this be a way for our congregations to partner together in ministry?
A second gathering was organized in June and was hosted at the First Presbyterian Church of Succasunna since Habitat has a six condo unit build happening two blocks from the church. This was a great way to continue the conversation as well as to go and visit the build site. Pastor Sarah from the Whippany church shared this: “At Whippany, we just did a mission visioning exercise and members would like to see us expand our ministry with people experiencing homelessness and do service together with other churches. This opportunity is a perfect fit.”
With Whippany, Mendham, Stanhope, Kitchell, and Succasunna on board, a grant was submitted to EMMCO for this Habitat Partnership. Although the original goal of hosting an interfaith breakfast never evolved, through attaining this grant, energy was directed at creating Welcome Baskets for each of the six families moving into the Succasunna site. With five Presbyterian Churches on board and three churches from the Roxbury Clergy Council, each family was adopted and beautiful baskets were presented to the families at the Dec. 13th dedication service. Pastor Dan from Kitchell shared: One thing that impressed me was the sense of collaboration at all levels with individual members from the various churches and organizations offering suggestions about what a family would need for a new home. Of course the size of the baskets increased with each suggestion.
The First Presbyterian Church of Succasunna is dedicated to being a hospitality site for the next year as the second set of condos are being built. It will be used as a warming station in the winter and a cooling station in the summer. Grant money has been set aside to provide meals and/or refreshments to volunteer groups. The eight congregations are also committed to coming back together again next fall to create six more Welcome Baskets as the next six families will be moving into their new homes.
We hope to organize a few partnership build days and both Whippany and Succasunna have invited Habitat for Humanity to be present at local community days. If your congregation would like to be involved in a build day, contact Morris Habitat to schedule a time. Work is currently happening in Succasunna. See pictures below.