As someone who is involved very actively in the Christian denomination and unfortunately seeing a number of congregations closing—and now seeing, I think, folk rethinking how they engage in their faith and in how those traditions are carried out, I think that it is going to take a lot of education; it’s going to take a lot of rethinking how people connect with communities of faith. But those assets, those physical land assets and property assets, we have a huge opportunity to rethink how mission is done in that regard.
I’ll just say a personal example. My church—I’m United Methodist—my church sits in the middle of one of the hot markets for housing development. Not a single unit that is being developed around our church is affordable. Not a single one. So, my church is…as a matter of fact, this Sunday we’ll be meeting with one of our nonprofit developers so that we can transform some of the land that we have into affordable housing. We think that that is a new opportunity, especially in the South, in the Bible Belt, where we have churches that are closing, and those assets can be converted into community and social enterprises that will help move the needle on poverty.
My faith tradition lifts up poverty as a high order of work that we should be about, and so we’re going to be really pushing faith communities to make those assets available for the issues to address poverty—at the center of it, housing.