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Friends in faith: Fargo church boosts Churches United efforts

FARGO — A $50,000 fundraising campaign at St. John Lutheran Church here will help Moorhead-based Churches United for the Homeless tackle large-scale housing projects throughout the Fargo-Moorhead area in the coming years.

Their gift will provide seed money for one of the shelter’s strategic projects to address the issue of homelessness, such as adding separate housing facilities for families and partnering to create affordable housing options.

St. John was looking to raise funds to pay down about $1.2 million in debt from a renovation a few years ago, but also wanted to put a portion of it into the community, the Rev. Nathan Keith said.

Congregation members decided to pledge $50,000 to Churches United over the next three years.

“Life is bigger than just St. John,” Keith said. “We want to be a part of our greater community where people are struggling and people are hurting.”

The church made its first $10,000 donation on Giving Hearts Day to have its dollars matched.

The church has been involved with the shelter for a few years, Keith said.

“We have a DNA here of helping out those who are hungry and those who are thirsty,” he said.

With their commitment to fundraising $50,000, he said they’ll continue to “throw some gas on that mission.”

Though Churches United is composed of 40 member churches, Executive Director Jane Alexander said the shelter hasn’t ever received a gift like that from a congregation.

St. John’s willingness to give, despite the church’s own financial situation, shows “tremendous belief in what we do,” Alexander said.

The first installment of $10,000 was the largest gift the shelter received on Giving Hearts Day.

The shelter has large-scale plans for the funds.

Alexander said the money can support their plan to create separate housing facilities for families and children.

With the number of single men and women in the shelter, Alexander said it is difficult to provide family-friendly services.

“A separate facility would help us do that better,” she said.

It could also be used to create long-term affordable housing options in the area.

Alexander said they might lean on their member churches to create that kind of housing.

“We see St. John not only as a financial partner but a community partner that is really shaping something good for people,” she said.