The Lenten Season is one of the most important seasons in the Christian faith. It is a period of 40 days, starting with Ash Wednesday and ending with Easter Sunday. During this period, Christians around the world participate in a season of penitence, prayers, fasting and self-denial, just as Jesus did when he spent 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-25 and Luke 4:1-13).
This year, Danville Congregational Church will be joining with other East Bay churches* in taking up an offering throughout Lent for a fund devoted to Black Homeownership Reparations. This idea arose in white-majority churches like ours, out of examination of our white privilege and complicity this past year.
As you know, a lack of generational wealth hinders many Black communities. Through redlining, adverse mortgage terms, and loan application rejection, Black people in the East Bay have been disenfranchised from homeownership. The Black Homeownership Reparations Fund (BHRF) will be 100% devoted to supporting increased Black homeownership in the East Bay. A major barrier to homeownership, especially in the high-priced Bay Area, is lack of a down payment. This is especially true for Black homebuyers, who may have good incomes but no access to the additional capital they need for a down payment. The BHRF would:
- Create a zero-percent-interest loan fund, to be paid back only when the home is refinanced or sold;
- Be housed at the Richmond Community Foundation, as a donor-advised fund;
- Work through local organizations to identify potential Black homebuyers who are on the journey to home ownership but who lack a down payment.
Because the BHRF will be a loan fund, money from home refinance or sale will flow back into the fund, ready to assist other homebuyers. In addition, there may be other avenues by which we can support Black homeownership through our joint fund.
Prayerfully, consider giving to this special Lenten joint offering of East Bay churches as an expression of penitence and a commitment to make reparations for the generations of harm done to our Black siblings by systemic racism. To make your offering online, go to the DCC Donations page, select Outreach Donations / Other, and type in “Lenten Offering” or “Reparations Fund”. Or you may write “Lenten Offering” or “Reparations Fund” on your check made out to DCC and mail it to DCC.
Doug Leich and Laura Beaver
* Participating churches include Arlington Community Church, Kensington; First Congregational Church, Berkeley; First Congregational Church, Alameda; Good Table UCC; and Danville Congregational Church.
For more information, see the list of Frequently Asked Questions.