The president of Habitat for Humanity addressed the participants at the 216th Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly by offering up plaques of honor to the denomination’s moderator and general secretary, on Monday, June 28, 2004. However, after all the words of gratitude were spoken, President Millard Fuller began piercing at the heart of many Presbyterians who give from their affluence, rather than from their love.
Some 1,000 Presbyterians were gathered for the breakfast with Fuller, who began his speech by saying, “Everybody who is made in God's image should have a decent place to live.”
Habitat for Humanity builds housing for the poor in some 100 countries around the world. This year, they celebrated the building of their 50,000th house in North America and 50,000th house in South America – an effort that took more than 30 years in the making.
The greatest compliment given to the Presbyterians was that the PC(USA), along with the United Methodist Church, are Habitat’s largest supporters. However, immediately after the praise, Fuller spoke of the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus, explaining that many of those same Presbyterians built million-dollar houses for their own.
Fuller shared an experience he and local Florida Habitat officials had in visiting the home of one of Habitat’s largest donors. Fuller said they were excited because the man had contributed $1,000, but later they found the man had spent $30 million on his own home, which was still under construction.
“We could build 300,000 Habitat houses with the money spent per year on million-dollar houses in the United States,” he said, reminding the attendees that many of those luxurious houses are being built for their own members.
“There's a huge problem facing the Presbyterian Church and the church of Jesus Christ,” he continued. “We live in the lap of great affluence — and the Bible has a lot to say about that.”
So often church meetings like General Assemblies “spend a lot of time majoring in minors” rather than focusing on the major themes of the Bible, Fuller said. But “God has given us the mandate to do more than throw crumbs over the fence.”
By the end of his speech, he challenged PC(USA) members to be more passionate in giving to those who need the help most.
“Crumb-giving doesn’t do it,” said Fuller.