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Work expresses faith for Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity

by Richard Mize Published: February 23, 2013

Editor's Note: This is one of an occasional series of commentaries about the religious and theological aspects of the work of Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity and its partners. Mize, a student at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, is doing supervised ministry this semester with Habitat and Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ in Oklahoma City.

— The Medina family does have a prayer — a bunch of them, in fact.

Prayers came with the Medinas' new house in Yukon, courtesy of volunteers and staff of Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity.

Erick and Liliana Medina and 18-month-old daughter Dulce became the latest family to buy a house from Habitat in the Wagner Lake Estates neighborhood, after kicking in their 300 hours of sweat equity and meeting other guidelines.

Think of the prayers as a spiritual version of a “building envelope,” the array of brick-and-mortar components that keep a house's outside out and inside in: roof, foundation, walls, doors and windows.

Enveloping prayer is the kind of thing that helps a family turn a house into a home.

Nancy Riddell, a Habitat board member, said the first prayers went up a year or so ago, when Habitat acquired the lot. Two or three prayers went up, not counting the unspoken ones offered by family, friends and others, at a short but rich house dedication Friday afternoon.

Ann Felton Gilliland, Central Oklahoma Habitat chairman and CEO, presented housewarming gifts from the Central Oklahoma Home Builders Women's Council, Edmond Board of Realtors, Advance Pierre Foods, Buy for Less, Whirlpool and the NOAA Employees Association of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at the National Weather Center in Norman.

Family support volunteer Lila Hoover presented the family with a Bible. Paraphrasing Psalm 119:105, she told them that the Word of God would be a lamp unto their feet and a light unto their path. Board member Dan Houston presented them a U.S. flag.

There. Unless you've been directly involved with Habitat, that's probably more “God talk” than you've ever seen associated with the nonprofit group, even though it is, and always has been, an ecumenical Christian ministry. Habitat people do not hide that fact; they just do not wear it on their sleeves, preferring to let hammers do their talking.

Habitat for Humanity International's late founder Millard Fuller insisted early on, in fact, that “the theology of the hammer” would define Habitat: “We may disagree on all sorts of other things,” Fuller said, “but we can agree on the idea of building homes with God's people in need, and in doing so using biblical economics: no profit and no interest.”

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by Richard Mize
Real Estate Editor
Real estate editor Richard Mize has edited The Oklahoman's weekly residential real estate section and covered housing, commercial real estate, construction, development, finance and related business since 1999. From 1989 to 1999, he worked...
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