Highlights for December

An artistic rendering of the future St. Paul’s Commons in Northern California. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Walnut Creek would like to open its affordable housing complex in December or January. It’s called St. Paul’s Commons, and it will be a mixed-use development with community spaces operated by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. It will include 45 affordable apartments. Image/courtesy of Resources for Community Development
‘Yes in God’s Backyard’ to use church land for affordable housing

By Alejandra Molina
Religion News Service
Faith congregations across California are responding to the state’s housing crisis by sharing their parking lots with people living in their cars, providing mobile showers for the homeless and joining their neighbors in calling for rent control in their communities.
But another form of housing advocacy has been taking place among spaces of faith.
A number of churches are exploring ways to build affordable housing on their own land. It’s what pastors and other leaders are referring to as YIGBY, or “Yes in God’s Backyard.”
The acronym is a play off of the term NIMBY — short for “Not in My Backyard” — a term often used to describe community pushback against affordable housing or other similar projects.
“Jesus very clearly tells us to keep our eyes open to those who are in need,” said Clairemont Lutheran Church pastor Jonathan Doolittle.

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Visitors from Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock, Ark, view art in the “Abraham: Out of One, Many” exhibition at St. Paul Cathedral in Boston. Photo/Aysha Khan/RNS
With interfaith exhibit, Boston’s Abrahamic faith groups revisit their shared roots

By Aysha Khan
Religion News Service
Just over a year ago, the day after the deadly mass shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, more than a thousand locals gathered together on the Boston Common to mourn and pray.
As the Rev. Amy McCreath, dean of the historic St. Paul Cathedral that overlooks America’s oldest park, watched people of various faiths unite once again to mourn another national tragedy, she was hit with an emotional realization.
“I looked out over the crowds of people, and it was so clear that all of them really want a peaceful future,” she remembered. “We want to work together against violence, but we don’t even know each other. Unfortunately, the odds are good that something like that will happen again, and we need to be prepared to support one another and defend one another.”
That’s part of the reason the Episcopal cathedral agreed to host a new interfaith art exhibit that explores the faith and life of Abraham, the shared spiritual forefather of the world’s three largest monotheistic religions — and launched an accompanying interfaith book study to spotlight Abraham’s wives, Sarah and Hagar.

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