GREENVILLE, S.C. – Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County, a leading voice for affordable housing initiatives in South Carolina, recently kicked off construction of its Abraham Interfaith Build home construction project.
Through this build, representatives from Greenville’s Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities will join forces to build a home for a hardworking area family in need. Construction began with a wall raising and home blessing by representatives from each of the four partner congregations: the Greenville Muslim Community, Christ Church Episcopal, Temple of Israel and First Baptist Greenville. The celebration continued with a fellowship dinner, where members of each of these congregations came together to share their perspectives and engage with one another socially.
The project, known as the Abraham Interfaith Build in honor of the central role of the prophet Abraham in each of the three religions represented, will offer representatives from each of the congregations the opportunity to work alongside one another each day of the 12-week long build. Participants will also share a daily meal and interact closely, giving them a unique opportunity to engage and build relationships with people of different religious traditions, and emphasizing their common goals of extending kindness, building unity and spreading the love of our creator.
The build also included a joint dinner celebration for all participating congregations at the Sterling Community Center in the neighborhood where the house is being built. This event brought together more than 200 people from each of the groups to teach others about key aspects of their faith and offer examples of their religious traditions, including blessings, gifts and the role of Father Abraham in each of their faiths, while enjoying one another’s company.
“In today’s world, it can be easy to get discouraged and assume the worst of people, especially those who have different beliefs from our own,” said Monroe Free, president and chief executive officer, Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County. “The Bridge Builder series seeks to address that problem head-on by focusing on all that we have in common and demonstrating that small actions can yield great results. We are building a home to break down barriers.”
During the wall raising ceremony, each of the participants focused their remarks on the importance of home, hospitality, helping those in need and welcoming the stranger in their respective religious traditions:
• “We come together today focused on hospitality,” said Reverend Kendra Plating, First Baptist Greenville. “Each of our respective religions calls us to welcome the stranger, the outsider, the poor and the weak. As we build this house, we focus on the fact that we serve a creator who knows no stranger, prepares a home for everyone and says, ‘Come inside; I have prepared a place for you, and you are home.”
• “Abraham is our common ancestor, and we believe that through him all humanity is blessed,” said Reverend Harrison McLeod, rector, Christ Church Episcopal. “We live in a time that would seduce us in believing that we are different, but, as people of faith, we know that what unites us is far greater than anything that would seek to divide us.”
• “As we build a roof to shield this family, we are showing our community that, through generosity and goodwill, we can build a roof big enough and a table long enough to shelter our brothers and sisters of all races and religions,” said Akif Aydin, President, Atlantic Institute.
• “The concept of Tikkun Olam (repair the world) is a core tenet of Judaism,” said Rabbi Sam Rose. “While there is much work to be done, we are thankful for the opportunity to set an example of love and faith in action and to be the change we want to see in the world. We also hope this project will demonstrate how easy it can be to make a difference.”
The Abraham Build is the second in Habitat Greenville’s Bridge Builder series of joint home construction projects designed to foster greater connection, cooperation and goodwill among different groups in our local community. The first build, which kicked off in June, paired the Greenville Police Department and representatives from local African American churches and Christ Church Episcopal, which donated the lots for both Bridge Builder projects and helped serve as a catalyst for the series.
Upon completion, the Abraham Interfaith Build home will be sold to the Patterson family of Greenville, which includes Geri Patterson and her four daughters, who were also on-hand for the fellowship dinner to express their gratitude to those involved with the project.
Patterson, who works as an officer in the Greenville County Department of Corrections, said that she feels very fortunate and extremely grateful for the work of these congregations. “As soon as I heard that our home would be built by volunteers from each of these religions, I instantly knew that the house would be blessed. How could it not?”
Habitat for Humanity hopes to start additional Bridge Builder projects in the near future and welcomes input from local organizations who have ideas or would like to offer financial or volunteer assistance for Bridge Builder or other projects. For more information, please visit www.habitatgreenville.org.
About Habitat for Humanity of Greenville County
Habitat for Humanity Greenville County is a leading voice in addressing the pressing need for affordable housing options in Greenville County, partnering with local government and the private sector to offer viable solutions and advocate for impactful public policy. As part of its financial management program, the organization educates, informs and empowers participants to effectively manage their credit and secure low-interest mortgages, allowing them to purchase their own homes and help contribute positively to the community and the tax base of Greenville County.
Through these efforts and the construction of houses, Habitat for Humanity of Greenville enables Greenville families with low income to build strength, stability and self-reliance. Habitat Greenville received the EarthCraft Builder of the Year Award in 2017. Chartered in 1985, Habitat Greenville has completed construction of more than 360 homes. In recognition of its financial health, accountability and transparency, Habitat Greenville received 4-Star Charity status by Charity Navigator and a Platinum rating by Guidestar. Learn more at www.habitatgreenville.org.
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