Elevation Church, the Charlotte, N.C. multi-site worship community led by pastor Steven Furtick, recently donated $300,000 towards a $20-million city fund to fight homelessness.
The proceeds will help fight the rise of homelessness in Charlotte through the Social Impact Housing Fund, created to provide short-term rental assistance for families and veterans, and assist residents who earn less than 50 percent of the area's median income.
"I can't thank you enough for hearing my cry on the trail as I talked about how important this subject matter is to me," said Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon to Furtick in a video interview. "$300,000, that's a big deal and you do it with humbleness and without asking for anything back. Charlotte will be set up as a place for best practices, where we can be looked upon by other places in this country, if not the world."
The $20-million housing fund endowment also includes a $10 million dollar commitment from the city of Charlotte over the next five years, in addition to $10 million being raised by the Foundation for the Carolinas, a philanthropic organization and other faith-based institutions similar to Elevation.
"From day one, our motto was partnership," said Furtick, in the video. "We never wanted as a church to create our own ministries but partner with people…Our church is a generous church and the thing I always teach when we hear of needs that are happening in our city, down the street or across the world, [is that] there seems to be three basic responses and the first one is greed then guilt…but generosity is God's answer."
According to a recent report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, homelessness among families in Charlotte rose 10 percent in 2012. The report also noted that area shelters had to turn away individuals due to overcrowding at times. Tragically, nearly 5,000 city children were reported to be homeless.
In response to the problem, Elevation Church gives to non-profits throughout the city each year. Furtick also donates 12 percent of the church's giving to support outreach efforts nationally and globally.
Since Elevation was founded in 2006, they have given over $11 million to 84 outreach partners. During LOVE week in 2013, a community initiative to help the underserved, Elevation gave away $400,000 to charitable causes and throughout the year, they gave $2.5 million to efforts across North Carolina and the world.
"Out of what God has given me and has given the church, we hope to live in such a way that if Elevation Church died, the city would cry at our funeral," said Furtick.
Cannon praised Elevation for their help and said it was "refreshing" to see churches respond to Charlotte's growing social issue.
"At the end of the day, we're all God's children and there should be somebody out there to help those in less favorable situations that we might be," said Cannon. "If others follow that same lead, what a great community we'll be overall."
In addition to making headlines for his church's generosity, Furtick drew criticism late last year when a local North Carolina news outlet revealed that he was building a 16,000-square-foot gated estate. The news promoted curiosity from the community about his salary and how he handled the church's finances.
Furtick addressed the concerns during a sermon last October and emphasized that he believes in a "ministry of integrity that has not changed, and that will not change."