Is God calling Prince of Peace to use a piece of our land to develop affordable housing?  This was the question raised in prayer and conversation at a special meeting of the congregation on Sunday, March 21.  In a poll conducted after the meeting, a strong majority, about seventy percent, replied “yes”.

With this level of support from the congregation, the Affordable Housing Team can now reach out to potential developers, city, county and state government, and other community stakeholders to begin serious discussions about the viability of using the land for affordable housing. 

This was an important step, but far from a final decision. Many of you came to a different conclusion after prayer and conversation.  Some of you who have reservations have spoken about specific concerns.  You have cited a lack of clarity about the need for affordable housing in our community.  You question moving ahead without any assurance that proper zoning could be approved.  You are uncomfortable not knowing more about who would be accepted as tenants in a development.  And you want a better sense of how a project would impact the short- and long-term finances of Prince of Peace.

As I have said a few times in the past, this has been a “chicken and egg” problem.  We cannot know the answers to these questions until we have engaged with developers, government officials, and other stakeholders.  These stakeholders have been willing to have preliminary discussions, but it will take much more of their time and resources to answer your remaining questions. With the results of the poll, we now can ask them to join us in exploring the possibilities and helping us answer your questions.

The next congregational conversation about affordable housing will occur at our semiannual meeting in June.  It is likely, but not certain, that you will be asked to formally vote on some aspect of an affordable housing project at that meeting.  Between now and then the Affordable Housing Team will reach out to potential developers, the city, and other stakeholders.  They will report to the Congregational Council and provide regular updates to you.

I am gratified by the thoughtful way all of you, whether supporting or questioning a commitment to affordable housing, have engaged in our discernment process.  That process has not ended; it has gone deeper.  I encourage you to continue to ask questions, provide suggestions and help us understand what we are called to be. 

Peace and hope,
Michael Stetzler, Congregation President

The poll that was opened during the March 21 meeting has now closed. Please know that the Affordable Housing Team is always willing to receive feedback. You may email Pastor Betsy by clicking here.