The power of showing up!! Our Mission Door Christmas Letter…..

8 Dec

Dear Friends, 

Julia Morgan Y vigil pictureJesus showed up at just the right time and place.  He was born in extreme poverty in the most unlikely place for a king to be born, a place unfit for human habitation—like so many of our homeless neighbors.

In our housing justice ministry, we are showing up and seeing powerful results. So far, 135 homeless housing units have been approved in the past 12 months and we expect a development of 94 units to be approved in the Civic Center—half for chronic homeless neighbors and half for low-income families. [i]  To gain approvals for these 94 units, those experiencing homelessness have joined our weekly prayer vigils and have found their voice by telling their story to City Council members, those who have the power to approve affordable housing. Professionals like Sonja Berndt, a retired DA, a committed Christian, are also showing up at our vigils. Sonja has found her purpose by joining our efforts to end homelessness. We follow the example of the Early Church that ended poverty among them in Acts 4:34.

At our “Affordable Housing Rocks!” event on Oct. 26th, we honored Phil Burns, another professional.  Having served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala, Phil is bilingual in English and Spanish, and he leads children and youth ministry at Pasadena Presbyterian Church.  I met Phil years ago when he joined our team to make it possible to again build granny flats in our back yards—which today, thankfully, are legal anywhere in CA. In fact, you can build one inside your home as well as one detached, or you can convert your garage or build one over your garage. AARP calls this “aging in place” by making space for a care giver… which I may need one day!

Phil BurnsThis year Phil showed up again, at just the right time to serve on a different committee—joining our inclusionary housing team. Using his professional skills as an urban planner, he demonstrated that market rate housing developers would still have a fair return of 10-12% if they set aside 20% of their residential units to be affordable. This research changed the hearts and minds of our City Council members, bringing a unanimous vote! This one policy has produced 577 affordable units embedded in high end housing throughout the city. Now with the increase from 15% to 20% of all new units required to be affordable, many more affordable units will be produced!

For Phil, the power of showing up didn’t stop with his involvement with granny flats and inclusionary housing.  With our severe affordable housing crisis, and few available sites for building new affordable units, God was stirring in Phil’s heart as well as mine to start a Church Land Committee, whereby churches with excess land might build affordable housing on their property. Phil has shown superb leadership and today chairs that committee, with seven churches already showing interest. We meet in Phil’s office in Old Pasadena (which by the way his firm planned along with Pasadena’s Civic Center and the Playhouse District). This team is helping churches to determine what is feasible on their land, enabling them to walk down the path of discernment with a goal of finding the right affordable housing development partner based on what they envision.

I’m sure you can see why we chose Phil as one of our Affordable Housing Rock Stars to be honored this year! Along with Andre White, a Harvard-trained affordable housing developer, Phil is working pro bono, freely doing professional work with land use, zoning maps, feasibility and more. They both feel a sense of calling, trusting that God will provide. We have submitted a grant with LA county for $200.000 and would like for you to pray with us that this will be funded.

In 2020, I need to focus more on my health, and capitalize on my areas of strength. I’m still on maintenance treatments for my cancer (In April scans showed that I’m clear!!! Thank you, Jesus!!) Therefore, we are looking to write a grant to hire a program director to lead much of our local efforts so I can reach out to other communities. We’re taking what we’ve learned in Pasadena and sharing it with other cities via our Housing Justice One-Day Institutes. We have done eight institutes, primarily in cities in Colorado. In these institutes we discuss a theology of land use, a theology of advocacy, what it takes to end homelessness, gain approvals and much more. Presently we are planning an institute for the city of LA—where 36,000 homeless people were counted in 2019. Feeling intimidated by the vast need, and size of LA, I know that only God can give us the wisdom and courage to plan such an event as well as the insight needed to craft a grant for a program coordinator.  Please pray!

Your on-going gifts have kept me from needing to take a salary from the nonprofit we have started, for which I can’t thank you enough. So please continue to support this ministry and pray for the resources and wisdom needed as we seek to follow God’s lead. At our Oct 26 event we raised $5,000. Our goal by Jan 1st is to raise $10,000. This will help us maintain our present staff, Morgan Duff-Tucker, our Office Assistant, and Bert Newton, our Liaison Church Coordinator.

Our Mission is to equip congregations, community leaders, and neighbors with practical tools needed to do housing justice. I believe God has raised us up at the right time to help mobilize people of faith to realize the power they have by showing up in the right place with the right message to address this urgent need. I’m humbled when I think of all that God is doing. This could not happen without your support.

Family update:

mamcita christmasAt Thanksgiving we showed up for my dear Mom (whom we call “Mamacita.”) At 89, with diminished memory, she still shows up fully present, with the love of Christ shining through her. Around the Thanksgiving table she looked each of us in the eye, calling each of us by name: my sister Jana and her husband Dwight and their daughter Sarah and me and Anthony, with her arms lifted toward each of us, proclaiming her love for Jesus and for each one of us, saying, “I love you, love you, love you!!” Even now I can feel the power of this moment in my soul. We are deeply moved and humbled her grace, forgiveness and genuine love.  I’m so grateful to have such a beautiful role model.  

As we celebrate the birth of Christ, may we all seek to follow Jesus as our role model, who demonstrated unrelenting love.

With a grateful heart of joy,              Jill

To contribute to Jill Shook’s support with Missions Door you can also contribute several ways, on line: or  send checks to Missions Door, 2530 Washington Street,  Denver, CO 80205. Or call to set up a credit card or direct deposit 303-308-1818

To give to our nonprofit you can contribute online: or send checks made out to “Social Good Fund” with “Making Housing and Community Happen” in memo line to:

Social Good Fund, PO Box 5473,  Richmond, CA 94805-4021

Jill Shook,  (626)675-1316.


[i] We have lowered Pasadena’s homeless count from 1,216 in 2011 to 530 in 2016, a 54% decrease. In 2019, Pasadena had a 20% decrease, whereas most of LA county had a 16% to 24% increase.


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