Fran picks up her phone. “Hello?” It is 8:20 Wednesday morning.
“Hi. This is Bill H. at Catholic Community Services. Andrea at Holy Family gave me your name.”
“Hi. What’s happening?”
Bill continues, “I’m calling about the Overnight Shelter for Women and Children. The church that is scheduled to host the shelter in September can’t do it and our back-up church can’t either. Can Northlake shelter about 30-35 women and children from 8:30 pm to 7:00 am, September 7 – 30?”
And that’s how it all got started. Andrea L., Pastoral Assistant for Social Justice at Holy Family Catholic Parish, knows Fran W. through the Kirkland Interfaith Network (KIN). Northlake and Holy Family both belong to KIN along with 6 other Kirkland churches.
Later that day, Fran visited Northlake’s administrative office and told Sandy N. about the phone call. Sandy told Rev. Jim. Together they phoned Bill who offered to stop by Northlake on his way home from work.
In the past Northlake has not been able to host a shelter because the church has few restrooms, no showers and no laundry capability. This time it’s different because nearby New Bethlehem Day Center serves this same population and has showers, washing machines and dryers. The Day Center is at the Salt House, just across the street from Lake Washington High School.
After a tour of the church and discussions with Rev. Jim and Sandy, Bill thought Northlake’s facility would work for the shelter. He pointed out that St. John’s Episcopal Church just down the street has hosted the shelter in the past. Kirkland police and fire department are familiar with the program.
Northlake’s Social Justice Team sponsored the proposal to the Board of Trustees. The Rentals Team went to work reviewing impact to rentals and campus use, reporting their support to the Board. The Board of Trustees, viewing the bigger picture, considered questions about safety, impact on long-term renters, scheduled activities and whether or not hosting the shelter supports Northlake’s mission.
Information about how the shelter operates was gathered. The shelter has two trained staff onsite at all times, supported by a Program Manager who visits the shelter at least twice a week. Residents sleep on mats that are kept in a Storage Pod during the day. Each evening a prepared meal is brought in, no cooking required, a lot like the Community Suppers served at Holy Spirit Lutheran Church. Residents help clean up and receive breakfast before they leave at 7:00 am.
Monday evening, the 27th, the Board held a Zoom meeting, conversing by computer and phone. More questions were asked and answered. The Board decided to ask the congregation for their thoughts. By Wednesday, just one week from the day the request was first made, the Board approved hosting the shelter during September.
Isn’t it exciting!? Would you like to help? Here are some things you can do:
Donate diapers and feminine hygiene products.
Volunteer to assist with helping to get the shelter settled in to Northlake the first to evenings and with additional Sunday morning preparation for services. Signup Here
Northlake has worked to end homelessness for over 10 years. Members have donated socks and hygiene products and paper plates. We’ve cooked and served meals. And now we are bringing our work even closer to home. We are offering a safe, dry, welcoming space to homeless families.
Who: Eastside Emergency Shelter space is being sought by Catholic Community Services of King County (CCSKC), after their planned primary and backup church hosts fell through due to circumstances beyond their control.
What: Sleeping space for homeless women and families with children under 17. There are 2 staff people (who have been in their position for over 5 years) who remain awake all night and supervise.
When:September 7 to September 30, 2018, from 8:00pm (with the shelter opening at 8:30) to 7am, with cleanup completed by 7:30am. A nearby day center will provide facilities for showers, laundry, and other needs.
Where: The sanctuary. Clients will be limited to the upstairs of the building.
Why: Providing shelter for homeless families dovetails with our congregational mission. This usage covers many hours when our space would otherwise be empty.
Request to the board
The board was asked to approve this use, which represents a significant commitment of church space and effort during September, and which has impacts on staff, congregation, and other renters.
This request came in from the social justice team. Northlake staff have led the engagement with CCSKC and have been heavily involved in discussions. The rental committee has explored impacts on spaces and other renters, and has collected information for this proposal.
In the words of Bill Hallerman, agency director for CCSKC…
The Eastside Emergency Shelter for Families serves up to 50 people each night—30 regular spaces and 20 overflow spaces (which are all mats on the floor). Our average this year has been about 30 people a night. Currently, the shelter is open nightly from 8:30 pm to 7:00 am, with the facility rotating among five Eastside churches.
The Eastside Emergency Shelter for families has two staff onsite at all times, supported by a Program Manager who maintains relationships with community partners and visits the shelter at least twice a week during hours of operation. The Program Manager is responsible for overseeing nightly shelter operations and facilitating the shelter relocations. Each guest is offered dinner and breakfast, limited hygiene services, and a safe place to sleep. Single- and two-parent families with children age 17 and younger are the target population. Our Case Manager visits the shelter once a week to make sure that the families get assistance in looking for housing and resources. Residents of the shelter can go to the New Bethlehem Day Center in Kirkland during the days to get food, laundry, showers and more extensive services.
Meals for the shelter are brought in by different community groups, who sign up to cook and serve meals through an online signing up process. The shelter travels with a Storage Pod that can store supplies and mats during the day, which is placed in the parking lot of the host church at a location that they select. It would be great if the Shelter would have access to a refrigerator on site, to store leftover food for the following nights. The Shelter is accustomed to signing a facility use agreement and providing liability coverage and an insurance certificate to the host church. We also can provide the Church $1,500 for the month to help cover utilities and expenses. Our residents and the staff will clean restrooms and the Church space before leaving each morning.
It may have been in a committee meeting or perhaps just a chat in the foyer, but one Northlake member recently shared with another that I may have a bigger vision for NUUC than many of you do. I certainly hope this is not true, particularly since so many great things and terrific programs have been rolling forward this summer. How could I possibly expect more?
Yet, as this congregation enters a second transitional year, this is a good time to look at a vision for maintaining and building on all that is happening at Northlake. This is where I envision a 3-step program that should not only help all here through this coming year but also provide some terrific support for the ongoing life of this congregation through the coming years. Here are those three steps:
A Small Group Ministry Program
The first item is searching. The search for a new minister will be a critical component of church life in this coming year. Your search team is off to a great start. Please do everything you can to help them in this process. More information on the search process will be available from search committee members, so stay tuned for their messages. But the first step will be answering a questionnaire on what you desire from your next minister. Please fill it out and turn it in.
Your second item is covenanting. Plans have been made for covenantal workshops this fall to craft a working summary on your congregational covenant.
Please note that a Covenant of Right Relations (CRR) is more than a measuring stick. The words you choose to put in your summary should point toward the place you intend to be with each other. Since “intend” refers to a hope, wish, or dream you will look together at a process to be put into place that allows Northlake’s members and friends to say, “We may have fallen short, but we forgive ourselves and each other and will start once again, guided by the intentions of our covenant.”
Doug Zelinski served for nine years as the Director of Leadership Development in New York and New England. In The Exceptional Moment of Our Unique Faith Zelinski wrote,
“Unique among the faiths, Unitarian Universalism proclaims the ordinary but decisive moments of human agency as the key to creating beloved community rather than a particular system of belief. We ask: How do we strive for communities of wholeness, with ourselves and with creation? What must we promise to make this so? How do we “begin again” after we break our promises? These are the questions of covenant. We are not exceptional in our perfection of covenanted community, but we are called to be exceptional in our promotion of it.”
The summary you craft should be short. This summary should list the ways you (all of you) hope to be at NUUC. This summary will be developed within this community, outlining a “moving toward beloved community” practice, posted in the lobby, shared from the pulpit, and distributed to new members. This summary will be a goal, an aim, and a focus for the life of Northlake and Northlakers.
Your third item is A Small Group Ministry Program. The central goal of the Soul Matters program is not just for worship, or for interesting and focused services, its overriding aim is to “foster circles of trust and deep listening.” With this in mind, this faith community holds in its grasp an opportunity to enter and engage in one of these small group programs.
There are many benefits for small groups, including:
A Journey the Whole Church Takes Together
Experience the Theme, Don’t Just Analyze It
Questions to Walk with, not Talk Through
A Reminder that UUism is Distinctive, not an “Anything Goes” Religion
Soul Matters Adapts to You
Margaret and I have a vision that NUUC’s congregants could engage more fully in these steps that relate to the themes already being featured in your Sunday services. We have looked at the busy schedule for this fall and, given the many meetings already scheduled for September and October, aim to kickoff a Northlake UU small group program in November. It is our hope that many Northlakers will join one of these groups with the intention of doing your part to “foster Northlake’s circles of trust and deep listening.”
This 3-step program—searching, covenanting, and small groups—will deliver many possibilities for spiritual growth in this community, not only for the coming year but, it is my hope, also in the years ahead. ~ Rev. Jim VanderWeeleInterim Minister, Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church
Love Living; Live Loving
Hello! I’m Chelsea W., and I recently took over the role of Worship Team Leader from Chris K. The bright summer day when I walked into Northlake for the first time doesn’t feel like all that long ago, but Northlake has quickly become my spiritual home, and the place where my beloved community resides. Every week, I can’t wait to walk back through the doors to see all of your smiling faces, to hear about your joys and your sorrows, and to work together with all of you to create something larger than any of us could create alone.
The Water Communion/Ingathering Service is a longstanding tradition for the Northlake community. Many Unitarian Universalist congregations around the country take part in this ritual or return. According to the UUA (Unitarian Universalist Association), Water Communion services started in the 1980s.
Ritual is important for our lives and our faith formation, and the Water Communion ritual speaks to me because it symbolizes some of our most important centering beliefs – the first, that we are all one. No matter where we come from, our basic humanity is the same. Just like water – made up of the same basic elements no matter where it is. The second is that we each bring our own distinctive gifts to our community – in the same way that water tastes different depending on whether it comes from a deep well or bubbled through a rocky mountain stream.
WA UU Voices for Justice and the NW UU Justice Network are evolving into JUUstice Washington, a state action network. You are invited to connect with UU justice colleagues at a Justice Summit October 20th in Edmonds WA. Forge strong, new working relationships, develop state-wide Issue & Advocacy teams, and work with others allied with our causes, especially those with whom we are not yet in right relationship. Celebrate the formal unveiling of the new organization and its increased efficacy, professionalism and capacity. FFI or Register Here. Then save a date on your calendar for the Legislative Conference on November 18, where you can align your justice work with legislative priorities.