Habitat for Humanity, a housing nonprofit, operates on the concept of the “theology of the hammer,” which focuses on the idea that every individual should have the right to a suitable dwelling and any person who wishes to contribute to this cause is invited to grab a hammer and commence working. Over the course of almost fifty years, these principles have enabled the organization to expand from its modest origins in a community in Georgia to a global nonprofit focused on housing. Habitat has assisted over 46 million individuals across the globe in finding a home. Many of the homes have been built through the efforts of interfaith congregations, which, in spite of having different beliefs concerning God, share the common commitment to helping their community members.
Religion News Service reports:
(RNS) — Habitat for Humanity was built on a pair of simple yet profound ideas.
Everyone deserves a decent place to live.
Anyone who wants to help make that happen is welcome to pick up a hammer and get to work.
For nearly five decades, those ideas — which Habitat’s founder referred to as the “theology of the hammer” — have helped Habitat grow from its humble beginnings at a Christian commune in Georgia into a worldwide housing nonprofit that’s helped more than 46 million peoplearound the world find a place to call home.
Among those homes are 30 “Unity Build” houses in Nashville, Tennessee, built by an interfaith coalition of congregations over the past three decades. Those congregations believe very different things about God, said Kevin Roberts, a former pastor and director of faith relations and mission integration for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville. But they share a common conviction about helping their neighbors.
That makes a Habitat build site a rare place where people who disagree can work together in polarized times. All they need is a willing pair of hands.
“When you step onto the Habitat build site and someone puts a paintbrush or a hammer or a saw in your hand, no one asks, ‘Who did you vote for?’” said Roberts. “No one asks, ‘Where did you go to church or did you go at all?’ ”
That inclusive approach has helped Habitat thrive despite the many challenges facing faith-based charities in the United States — including aging supporters in shrinking congregations, a loss of faith in organized religion, and the nation’s growing polarization.
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Image credit: Pamela Reynoso