If anyone deserved more than one funeral, it was Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity.

When I reported Millard’s death in The Agitator last month, I just wanted to get the word out the day his extraordinary life ended. The next day he was buried in a simple pine box at Koinonia, the Christian community in southwest Georgia where he and Linda Fuller dreamed up the idea that became Habitat for Humanity. More than 600 mourners showed up and I’m sure thousands more of us wished we could have been there.

Two days ago, on Saturday, I sat with Ellen Church, the CEO of Craver, Mathews, Smith where we worked as fundraisers with Millard for almost 20 years. We were among a group of nearly 1000 others packed into the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. once co-pastored with his father.

And what a celebration! A tribute to the man with the audacity to believe we can end poverty housing in this world.

The celebrants came to Atlanta from all over, from every continent. They included President Jimmy Carter, former First Lady Rosalyn Carter and a sampling of other volunteer builders and donors, and most importantly the “homeowners”– the folks who now live in a simple decent home thanks to Habitat for Humanity and The Fuller Center for Housing. For those who couldn’t come to Atlanta the service was streamed live on the Fuller Center’s website and will be repeated soon.

We sang, laughed, cried, rejoiced and ‘amened’ to the rafters. ‘Joy’, ‘admiration’, ‘love’ and ‘loyalty’ were the key descriptors in this remarkable tribute to Millard. Never have I been part of anything like it.

Linda Fuller, Co-Founder of Habitat and Millard’s wife and partner for nearly 50 years, organized the memorial event around a “Million for Millard” campaign aimed at providing one million people with decent homes – a monumental goal to honor a man incapable of thinking small.

Each of us was given a carpenter’s nail apron containing the bulletin for the memorial celebration, the mission statement of the Fuller Center and a pledge envelope for the “Million for Millard” campaign, On the way out everyone lovingly placed their envelopes in wheelbarrows located at the rear of the church. Millard would have loved it.


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