The Atlanta Habitat for Humanity Interfaith Build
Atlanta Habitat’s commitment to creating engagement opportunities for all faith-congregations has been essential to both the foundation of our mission and the growth Atlanta Habitat has been fortunate enough to experience over the past three decades. An important part of this growth has come from the interfaith relationships.
Many of these interfaith congregants joined together after 9-11, sensing that the faith community needed to not only discuss faith-relations, but to also put their discussion into action through hands-on service. In 2002, Atlanta Habitat’s leadership and board acknowledged the importance of interfaith bridge building and dialogue, and was interested in bringing that concept of ‘bridge building’ to the mission of building communities. What has since emerged and flourished is what Atlanta Habitat now calls the ‘Atlanta Interfaith Build’.
This group is truly the hub of the interfaith community at-large in the city. Many are actively involved or work at places of faith or interfaith, such as the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta (FAMA), one of the leading groups since 2002, whose president is highlighted below. They work to build community and unity through hands on action. Collectively, the Atlanta Interfaith group has built and funded 10 homes as they have transcended racial, ethnic and faith boundaries. With those boundaries crossed, what has formed is a group dedicated to compassion, unity, and most importantly friendship.
The 2016 Interfaith Partners
The Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, Buckhead Community Fellowship, Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Congregation Bet Haverim, Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta, First Christian Church of Decatur, Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Oakhurst Baptist Church, Oakhurst Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Temple Sinai, The Sally & Peter Parsonson Foundation, The Shumacher Group Inc., and The Shia Imami Ismaili Council for SE USA.
Contact Atlanta Habitat
Questions and correspondence may be addressed to:
The Habitat Build - I Finally "Got it" – Audrey Galex Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta, President of Board
The strategic plan that the Faith Alliance of Metro Atlanta has been working on all summer is close to completion, but that’s not what I want to write about. The campaign for the U.S. Presidency is in its last lap, but that’s not what I want to reflect on either. Instead, I want to write about something I honestly didn’t get, until recently.
For years, Jan Swanson, leading individual in the Atlanta interfaith community and founding member of FAMA, has passionately insisted that FAMA be a part the annual interfaith build for Atlanta Habitat for Humanity. So, for years, FAMA has provided financial support and a sprinkling of volunteers. And I admit that I wasn’t one of them. I just didn’t get it.
I remember – maybe six years ago – interviewing Muslim board member Nafeesah Madyun for a segment on what was then known as Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters as she measured and cut pieces of wood. I think we also grabbed video of Nassar Madyun taking pictures. I recall interviewing a Hindu mom and her son. I spoke with the homeowner, who, side by side with others, nailed wood siding onto her own house. I confess: I felt I’d done enough by reporting on the build and didn’t need to participate. Plus: I was intimidated, and it was cold. I didn’t get it.
Last year, I made a lackluster attempt to join the build. I can honestly say: I still didn’t get it. And I never got there.
Fast forward to a couple of months ago. A new voice on the FAMA board and employee of Atlanta Habitat, Haley Hart, joined Jan in urging FAMA board members and our loved ones to roll up our sleeves and volunteer.
And so I finally did. On Sunday, August 7, 2016, the first of seven Sundays, when I witnessed the couple who would eventually live in the house, nail the first nails, I got it. When I was invited to take a felt-tip pen and write a blessing on a beam to the family, I got it. When I stood shoulder-to-shoulder pushing walls up, I got it.
And if you have spoken to me in the weeks since, you have probably heard me rave about the build and invite you to join me. No doubt you heard me speak of a deep sense of gratification knowing that I was even a small part of helping a family achieve the dream of owning their own home.
I think you’ll get it.