Newsworthy Articles

News and Media Update August 11, 2023

Houses of Faith and Communities

Last week the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) held a roundtable with pastors and developers in Brooklyn to support housing development on their properties for congregants in their neighborhoods, with an emphasis on senior housing developments. According to HUD, the goal is to leverage the expertise of the government with the community connections and property and sacred sites of houses of worship to provide needed housing and services.

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Rendering of Urban Village in East New York, Brooklyn via

In Detroit, the Church of the Messiah, held its annual Neighborhoods Day promoting peace and community improvement. The church is the largest developer in the neighborhood and runs more than 213 affordable housing units. It also develops and uses its real property to offer medical services, free internet access, solar-powered charging stations, and run a business incubation center and co-op building. According to the church’s Pastor Barry Randolph, “these are the most impactful programs when it comes to lowering crime rates in the area.” He explained the church mindset was to build ownership and belonging. He said, “I am not worried about the future…This is the young people’s church. This is their platform. This is their neighborhood.” The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is studying the neighborhood and opportunities for replication.

Sacred Places and Belonging

This week a new national monument in Arizona with sacred and cultural ties to the Grand Canyon was announced by US President Biden. The designation preserves the land, including restricting uranium mining in the area. Carletta Tilousi, the coordinator of the Grand Canyon Tribal Coalition explained, "that's all we have left now as Native Americans, our historical sites and sacred places. Everything else has been taken from us, our original homelands, our sacred places." 

Protection of the religious and cultural lands in and around the Grand Canyon have been debated for many years. Biden used the Antiquities Act to create a national monument of these lands “because there are thousands of sacred and cultural sites that are important to more than a dozen tribes there.”

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Aerial view of the Grand Canyon National Park and the newly designated monument “Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni – Ancenstral Footprings of the Grand Canyon National Monument. Photo by Ryan Heinslus/KNAU via

Faith often connects people to the land in the form of sacred sites, places of worship, and shared community residents of the land. This includes faith groups joining the fight against climate change, which often erodes sacred sites, both as a means of stewarding the environment and caring for vulnerable communities.

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Youth members of Church of the Messiah with Pastor Barry Randolph (center in hat) during the Peace City neighborhood event in Detroit on Saturday, August 5, 2023. Photo by David Rodriguez Munoz, Detroit Free Press,

Hawaii’s Maui Fire Causes Loss of Oldest Sacred Sites

This week deadly wildfires in Maui, Hawaii caused loss of life and the destruction of its oldest church. To date 55 persons were killed and multiple cultural and religious sites were lost to wildfires. 

One of the losses due to wildfire was the Waiola Church, Hawaii’s first Christian place of worship built in the 1800s. The site of the island’s oldest tree, a banyan fig tree imported from India and planted in 1873, was also severely burned, although it remains standing. The cause of the wildfires is currently unknown.

Side-by-side photos show Waiola Church in Lahaina, Maui, before and after the wildfires this week. Waineʻe Church, now known as Waiola Church, celebrated its 200th anniversary earlier this year. Photo via AP.

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