With the approach of National Housing Day 2016 on November 22, leaders of the Anglican Church in Canada and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC) are asking for prayers for the homeless and under-housed.
In a letter released November 16, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop Mark MacDonald and ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson together ask for members of the two churches “to pray for safe, affordable and adequate housing for all on November 22,” in the spirit of the 2013 Joint Assembly declaration.
At their joint assembly in 2013, the two churches passed a declaration calling on their members to address the challenges of homelessness and affordable housing over the long term. The declaration committed the two churches to learning more about the underlying causes of housing problems, supporting housing programs, looking at new approaches and calling for more federal funding for housing and a collaborative national strategy.
Housing, the church leaders say in their letter, is a human right. “We live in a country of abundance, yet not all benefit,” the letter reads. The homeless, or those with housing that is precarious or unaffordable, are among the most vulnerable today, the bishops say.
In Canada, more than 235,000 people spend some time homeless each year, and as many as 35,000 are homeless on any given night, the letter states. Housing in many Indigenous communities, it continues, is extremely poor, with mould, insufficient heating and overcrowding a problem for many families. Indigenous people are also more likely to face discrimination in the housing market, the church leaders say.
The prayer commended by the leaders asks that the “God of compassion and hope” open our hearts “to the needs of our neighbours who are homeless, under housed, seeking refuge or denied the right to water.” It asks that God “open our minds to the issues that contribute” to these problems, that he open our eyes to housing-related ministry and other approaches; that he open our hands to act compassionately and justly; and that he “bless us with time, patience, persistence and commitment over the long term, so that all may have safe, affordable and adequate housing.”
November 22 has been recognized as National Housing Day in Canada since 2000.