I am a member of Central Presbyterian Church here in my home-town and was compelled to write this open letter after reading of the vandalism of places of worship in local newspapers. I would like to offer a response to the vandalism, other than the necessity of forgiving the vandals.
The worth of a place of worship is found not in the beauty of its architecture nor its history in a given place. Its worth is found solely in the way it embodies love, love that lays its own self down for others’ sake. It is in the spirit that animates such love that I offer that places of worship sell their buildings, or give them outright, to affordable-housing initiatives, such as Indwell, or to CityHousing Hamilton to transform into public housing for the poor, either by re-purposing the given space or, after demolition, re-building lodging on their lands.
Members of various places of worship couldcontinue to meet in one another’s homes and in their neighbourhoods, caring for those nearest to them as love bids them do. A course such as this would free 356 places of worship, according to the city’s Open Data Program, for public housing. Such a course would also create mixed-income and -use neighbourhoods, which is a desirable outcome in a healthy city’s life. Finally, such neighbourhoods, where each would get to know one another, would discourage the need for policing and — as 15 cents of every municipal tax dollar is spent on policing and its ancillary supports — would save the city much needed money for public goods, such as health, education, transit, and park-land.
For these reasons — economic, social, and spiritual — I would ask that Hamilton’s places of worship consider deeply not only what good they are already doing but, more, what good that could be done by giving their buildings and land to those in deepest need in this city. I hope that we can find the love that comes from giving freely what we have freely received.
Joshua Weresch, Hailton, Ontario (May 17, 2018)