Jennifer Ortiz

Representatives of faith communities throughout the District came together for an interfaith prayer service on Sunday, where they signed a covenant to reduce homelessness in the D.C. area.

The covenant outlined that these ministries are to support public efforts as well as play an active role in reaching out to the homeless members of the community. The covenant stated that the coalition’s purpose is to monitor and assure that ending homelessness remains “a high priority in each year of Mayor Bowser’s administration.” Kristy Greenwalt, director of the Interagency Council on Homelessness, spoke at the service as a representative for Mayor Bowser who was unable to attend.

“Government plays a really big role in ending homelessness, but we can’t do it alone,” Greenwalt said. “These are all our challenges and communities to solve.”

One way that the Good Faith Communities Coalition advocates is by writing letters to the mayor and city council, urging them that the budget represents more than a legal document and insisting that sufficient money is put forth to end homelessness. Each year the coalition writes over 3,000 letters according to John Hisle, the executive director of the coalition.

“The DC budget is a moral document. It’s not just a piece of paper,” Hisle said. “If you’re not giving someone who is in need the money or resources they need, that’s immoral.”
The Good Faith Communities Coalition, founded in 2010, consists of 45 organizations and congregations, according to Hisle. All wards are represented in the coalition as well as many denominations of Christian and Jewish faiths.

“Central to every religion that exists in the world, is the concept of compassion,” Hisle said, quoting a theological writer that examined all the major world religions. “Compassion is feeling so much for a person that you walk in their shoes. That’s what bonds all people of faith—Christian, Jewish, Muslim, whatever faith.”

Wallace Pearson, now a student at the Washington Baptist Theological Seminary, shared testimony of his experience with homelessness. Faith plays an integral role in his drive to help others now in that experience.

“A lot of people that are out there, homeless, don’t know that there are people praying for them,” Wallace said. “They won’t know these things unless we keep reaching out.”