The Old Testament’s Book of Isaiah talks about opening our doors to the homeless. The New Testament instructs throughout the Gospels that we show hospitality to strangers. In the Qur’an, believers are directed to help the destitute. Hindu texts advise that caring for the needy is ‘the most auspicious gift of all.’ The list goes on—in every scripture there is a simple injunction: Care for those who have met misfortune, for those in need, for those who have lost their homes.
This shared principle was at the core of the formation of Family Promise, when several dozen congregations in Union County, New Jersey heeded this call and opened their doors, and their hearts, to children and families experiencing homelessness in their community in 1986
While Family Promise is a non-religious, non-denominational organization, our partners include 6,000 congregations and other groups informed by their religious beliefs and practice to be actively involved in empowering families. In fact, Family Promise creates common ground and shared purpose among a diverse array of faith communities.
We are proud that our Affiliates include representatives of virtually every denominational group in this country. In any one Affiliate there may be mainline Protestants, synagogues, Catholic parishes, LDS wards, and non-denominational evangelical churches involved. Representatives from Hindu, Buddhist, Bahai, Sikh and other traditions are actively involved. All of them partner with secular groups—schools, businesses, civic organizations, and volunteers from the community, to address the crisis of family homelessness.
That is the beauty of the program. The faith community has the existing space and motivated volunteers to end family homelessness, whether in a Presbyterian church in suburban New Jersey, a Pentecostal congregation in Georgia, a mosque in Las Vegas, a synagogue outside of Boston, a cathedral in Montana, or a Buddhist temple in Honolulu.
Since ancient times, the practice of hospitality has meant graciously receiving an alienated person into one’s land, home, or community and providing directly for that person’s needs. Family Promise continues that tradition today, celebrating our diversity as a nation by bringing communities together to serve the needs of families facing the challenges of poverty and homelessness.