Category: testimonial, Housing, Religious beliefs, Faith, Faith & Culture, Staff Testimonial, Religious Observance, Religion, Supported Housing, PA Housing, House-building, religious networks, religion belief, social housing, faith & belief
PA Housing: Religion and Culture Month Series
Here at PA Housing, we pride ourselves on the diversity of our staff team and a key aspect of this is diversity of belief because it allows us to gain insights from a broad range of different cultures and traditions. We also pride ourselves in recognising that Everybody is unique and that everyone can be themselves at PA. In order to find out more, I conducted a couple of interviews to discuss the personal faith of our colleagues and what this means to them. Through these interviews, I hoped to better understand some of the individuals within our wonderful, multicultural working environment.
I caught up with Steve Hanlon – one of our Project Surveyors – to see what he had to say.
Hi Steve, it’s lovely to speak to you. I suppose the first question I had better ask is whether you belong to a specific belief system and if so, what that is?
“Hi Marco, great to chat with you too. I am a Christian and I have been for about 20 years, so I actually arrived at this decision quite late in life.”
Care to elaborate on how you reached that decision?
“I used to sing in church when I was a boy, but it was always more about the music than anything else and I stopped going for many years. It wasn’t until my mid to late 30s, when I was in quite a low place, that I started to feel like something was missing in my life. This led me to a deeper exploration of spirituality, where I read a whole host of religious texts, but it was Christianity that really struck a chord with me. I felt like I was being pulled back to church.
“From that point onwards, I started attending on Sundays and I also joined the Christian Fellowship at a company I worked for which held meetings every Thursday lunchtime. I learned that you could build a deep, personal connection with God and that the Holy Spirit has the power to change lives. Now, I have encountered this power in my own life. So much wisdom about moral boundaries can be attained through scripture.”
What does the word “faith” mean to you?
“Well, the Christian definition of faith is ‘The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen’. Faith is a choice because none of us can really know what happens when we die. We have to hope for the best. If I am wrong and my worship was all for nothing, that’s sad, but I haven’t lost anything. But, if I’m right, eternal paradise is waiting for me. It’s a win-win [Laughter].”
How does your faith factor into your daily life? At home and in your work life?
“My faith has had a huge impact on my life. I met my wife in church, and I have got to know so many people there. It has given me a whole new community and support network. We’re also not afraid to have a laugh – who says Christians can’t share a rude joke from time to time? However, one of the key lessons it instils in you is that not everything is about you, it’s about how you impact those around you. Loving your neighbour, essentially.
“At work, here with PA Housing, it is just a continuation of that. I always like to go the extra mile for customers because I see us all as one big family. We are all God’s children, and we deserve to be treated with kindness and tolerance. My faith also helps me to show patience and empathy, even for people who do not show the same back to me because everybody is dealing with their own issues.”
What is your favourite religious festival and why?
“You would think it would be Christmas, but that has become more of a commercial opportunity these days. I still enjoy it and observe it, but for me, the big one is Easter because it is about Jesus’ victory over sin and the devil. Through his sacrifice, He saved our souls and that makes me grateful. It’s because of Him that getting into heaven is somewhat like getting into your favourite nightclub. You tell the bouncer, ‘I can get in… because I’m with Him’ [Laughter]. I always celebrate it by going to a Communion service at church in the morning. Later, I will have my friends over and we’ll have roast lamb for dinner.”
Are there any parallels between your spiritual values and the values of PA Housing?
Definitely, because Jesus loved everybody and at PA Housing, everyone is respected and given a voice. There are some strange assumptions around American Christianity – that you’re automatically tied to a far-right ideology and that you are intolerant towards certain groups if you’re a Christian – but that’s not me at all. I follow Christ’s teaching. Christ said He loved us all and when He came back from the dead, everything was forgiven. His message was never about antagonism towards groups like the LGBTQ+ community. He never said anything about that. The values of PA Housing are all about treating people how you would like to be treated and that’s something I live by in my faith too.
So, do you think that PA Housing is an inclusive organisation to work for?
Absolutely! It’s great working in such an inclusive environment. It’s our differences that make us strong, but it’s also productive to find common ground. The three Abrahamic religions have a lot in common. They start in a similar place and branch off. For example, Muslims acknowledge the story of Abraham (Ibrahim), just as we Christians do. It’s great that we have differences, but sometimes it’s nice to focus on what unites us too. However, not everyone has to follow my path. It is just what is right for me. Everyone should find out what works for them and embrace it.
Thank you for that insightful glance into your faith, Steve!
Stick around on our VERCIDA page as we will be posting more stories of faith and diversity throughout the month.