A Place to Call Home

With many churches finding themselves called upon to offer practical support to those in housing crisis, four leading UK churches, with the support of the national Christian charities, Housing Justice and Scottish Churches Housing Action, have called upon their congregations to hold conversations around housing and homelessness in the UK.

A new resource of bible studies "A Place to Call Home" has been launched today and available on the JPIT website: www.jointpublicissues.org.uk/aplacetocallhome.  The resource has been created by JPIT, the Joint Public Issues Team who work on behalf of the leading non-conformist churches* to tackle issues including poverty, peace and the environment from a faith perspective.

"They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit." (Isaiah 65:21) (NRSV)

These words, written by the prophet Isaiah, look forward to God's coming kingdom as one that will include secure housing and fruitful enterprise.  This makes housing a key topic for Christians. God's vision of society is one where everyone is cared and provided for, not where some place their own needs and priorities above the well-being of all.

Since 2010 there has been a steady increase in the number of families accepted as homeless and in those living in temporary accommodation.  Recently, street homelessness has begun to increase dramatically. Churches across the UK are increasingly having to provide support for vulnerable people in housing crisis as the Government's welfare safety net is withdrawn.

The resource does not seek to prescribe a solution but to motivate and inform local Christians so that they can develop an appropriate response locally to their own situation by applying the principles of Scripture.

Topics for discussion include:

  • Houses as a home and the building blocks of communities with Christian values at their centre.
     
  • How good should housing be and the impact of substandard housing.
     
  • The shortage of affordable housing.
     
  • The changing nature of home where one part of society sees it as an unachievable basic of life while others view it as property and a financial opportunity.

The Revd Phil Jump, who wrote the resource works as an interim Public Issues officer with the Baptist Union, commented;

"This is more than a crisis of bricks and mortar, it affects and blights the lives of many people. Being forced to live in sub-standard housing or struggling with unmanageable housing costs affects the lives of families across the United Kingdom. These conditions stifle the development of children, and pass disadvantage to the next generation. These are all realities that Christian citizens will find themselves confronted with.

"Many within our congregations may well be struggling to afford the housing they need, some within our communities may even look to local churches for help. There are also some quite remarkable success stories about how churches over many decades have provided housing and homes, particularly for those who are most vulnerable in our society."

Welcoming this new resource, Alison Gelder, Chief Executive of Housing Justice, the national Christian voice on homelessness and housing and one of the organisations who have supported the resource, said:

"Housing Justice is delighted to see these new Bible Studies on homeless, published by the Joint Public Issue Team.

"Church members can often see the effect of homelessness as they walk to and from their place of worship each week. But, how often do we take time to reflect theologically on this subject, looking to see what God says on the matter?

I encourage Christians of all traditions to take some time, especially as we approach Lent, to use these materials in their small groups."

Notes:

The Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church collaborate together on issues of justice and inequality as part of the Joint Public Issues Team. For more information, please visit www.jointpublicissues.org.uk

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