More than 50 Charlotte spiritual leaders — Jewish, Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Unitarian, Quaker, Baha’i — will venture out of their own houses of worship this fall to build a house for a low-income family.

Mecklenburg Ministries, which is partnering with Habitat for Humanity, says it believes this will be the first time anywhere that such an interfaith clergy group has built a Habitat house.

“It’s time clergy across our different cultures and faiths came together to serve the needs of the community,” said the Rev. Maria Hanlin, an ordained United Methodist minister who heads Mecklenburg Ministries, an interfaith clergy group. “It will also let us model inclusion by practicing what we preach.”

Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit that has built 720 homes for local low-income families, will determine where the house is built and who will live in it.

The idea for a construction crew of local spiritual leaders came from Sister Andrea Inkrott, a Catholic nun who works with Latinos in the Diocese of Charlotte. She suggested it at a lunch in November as a way to bring clergy of various faiths and ethnic backgrounds together and to celebrate Mecklenburg Ministries’ 20th anniversary.

Since then, 56 spiritual leaders have signed up. The goal: 80.

“The idea is very appealing because there’s so much emphasis in our religion on helping the poor and homeless,” said Khalil Akbar, imam at the Ash-Shaheed Islamic Center.


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