A church in the US state of Minnesota has launched an innovative new building project to help military veterans who have fallen on hard times.
With the initiative now approved, Faith Lutheran Church in Forest Lake, will set about constructing a community of tiny houses which it hopes will be occupied by ex-military personnel who have lost their homes.
The project, titled "Sacred Settlement," is due to be completed by 2021 and will involve the building of several fit-for-purpose miniature houses.
"We have a lot of members who have served or are actively in the military," the church's senior pastor, John Klawiter, told the Christian Post. "We have a newly established veterans committee that will walk alongside any of the veterans that live in the Sacred Settlement."
Klawiter added that his church has "a long history of helping support homeless ministry," and, as such, the project completely aligns with the congregation's values.
A development team will now work in conjunction with an architect to ensure that the buildings are erected in an appropriate area of the church's property.
Alongside having their own private living quarters, the beneficiaries of the project will be able to enjoy a shared kitchen and dining areas, laundry rooms, gardens, workshops and gathering areas.
"This community will be well designed and intentional in how the houses are configured to be aesthetically pleasing and to provide a sense of community within our community," Klawiter added, noting that the Sacred Settlement is "not meant to be transitional housing, but a permanent community that brings community and belonging for the residents in a dignified and supportive place to call home."
In order to bring the project to fruition, the church will partner with a local homeless advocacy group called "Settled".
"We're so excited to take the first step in partnering with Settled on this visionary work of building a new kind of community for the homeless," Pastor Klawiter said in a statement posted to the church's website. "The members of our congregation are deeply invested in the mission of the church, including the Scriptural command to care for the poor, and that starts with the people living in crisis in our own neighborhood. If we can use our resources-physical, emotional, and spiritual-to make crucial contributions in establishing Settled's first community site, we may light the way for other communities of faith to follow."
Responding to the announcement, Settled co-founder Gabrielle Clowdus said her company was "thrilled to have found a community willing to expand its borders and open its arms, welcoming and engaging with persons experiencing homelessness".
"Central to our approach is providing a community where people can heal and form attachments-and that community must include both the housed and unhoused."
"It's a leap of faith to jump into this ministry," Klawiter concluded, "but we know that God's continued presence is at the heart of this opportunity to alleviate the growing concerns of those experiencing chronic homelessness."