Dear Beloved Community,
As we write to you, fires are raging across the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Smoke has blanketed Puget Sound. Forests have burned, homes have been destroyed, and lives have been lost. We know that the fires have directly affected some of you who are reading this. Our prayers are offered for you, and for all who are being affected by this disaster. We also continue to commit ourselves to climate action and climate justice, as we see the increased urgency of this work.
In this fire season the value of lives and of shelter is highlighted. So far the news we have of our UCC church in Malden is that their building survived the fire with minimal damage. Our Conference Minister Mike Denton continues to reach out to churches across the Pacific Northwest, and to our UCC Conferences in Oregon and California in response to the fires across the west.
As a part of our justice work in the world and here in Seattle, we are continuing to offer our building as a place of ministry. The UCUCC Child Care programs, which include the Child Learning and Care Center and the Trettin Drop-In Childcare Center continue to operate. In this time when childcare continues to be a critical need, and as programs and childcare centers across the country are under significant financial stress, our September Special Offering is designated to benefit these programs. Another way our building is being used is for a Day Center to serve unsheltered youth in the University District, and to provide meals to youth through Teen Feed. We are grateful to our partners at the University District Youth Center and at Teen Feed who help make these ministries possible. We are also grateful to those who care for our facilities, including our Facilities Committee and our Facilities Staff, led by Sione Tu’ihalamaka and including Joe Hendrickson, Agnes Briones Tahir and Tewolde Amelesom.
Through you, our building continues to serve. It also continues to experience the impact of being relatively empty in the U District, including broken windows and graffiti. Last Sunday morning our building care staff discovered that someone had thrown an iron bar through a sanctuary window, not only shattering the window but also breaking the statue of the Lost Sheep given to us by Charles McCollough, a UCC pastor and sculpture who was with us in 2015. The Lost Sheep statue was one of a series of three that are in our sanctuary, all focused on the parables of Luke 15. Some of our congregation who came for the Vigil for the Common Good at noon that day saw the damage.
It can be hard to hear that our building was vandalized. And yet, it is good to know that our building is available for ministry. As we hold both of those realities, we also are grateful to our building staff who responded quickly to the incident, and who continue to keep our building ready for service. In this difficult time, may we be ready for service too.
We continue to pray for all in the U District, and for our ministry there, even as we pray for one another in our dispersed places. It is so important to stay connected to one another and to God. You are in our prayers. And please reach out if you are feeling alone or in need. We are bound up together, even in our separate places, and it is good to be part of that inextricable web.