GENESIS OF THE SHORELINE PASTOR NETWORK
In 1981 I began serving as the pastor of Richmond Highlands Baptist Church in Shoreline. During my early years I don’t remember much involvement with other local churches except for a monthly lunch for five nearby churches, which led to an annual joint Thanksgiving service for these five churches. Other than that, I was involved heavily in my own denomination, Southern Baptist.
In 1996, I was asked to recruit local pastors to be a part of the annual Shoreline Mayor-Council Prayer Breakfast. This forced me to meet more local pastors. Out of that I organized a monthly prayer meeting of pastors. It was enthusiastically supported at first, but gradually petered out within five years. So, I started another weekly prayer group, beginning with only one other pastor, which gradually grew to where we now have six meeting each week for prayer. Although we no longer sponsor a breakfast, we still organize a community evening program for the National Day of Prayer (first Thursday of May) each year.
In 2008 when my church sought some kind of community outreach, I suggested that we serve the cash-strapped school district by doing some landscaping. This began Embrace Shoreline Schools, where we normally did a spring cleanup of school grounds. The first time about 20 churches were involved, serving 13 schools. When I left Shoreline for an interim pastorate in Magnolia, that outreach had slowed down.
So, upon retirement in 2011 I became more proactive about bringing churches together. I began a monthly pastor fellowship "brown bag lunch" for the purpose of building relationships. Subsequent to that Bill Bear and I spent part of two years interviewing pastors to build a database of resources churches might share. We called it P.O.R.T. (Putting Our Resources Together) from an idea shared by a local Lutheran pastor. Embrace Shoreline Schools became less organized, but simply a way of connecting churches with schools for however they might serve them. Although we have not yet seen many of our non-Anglo pastors attend our lunches, I have noted that 30 out of the 40 local Anglo churches have been represented at some time at our lunches.
Although the Shoreline clergy group has no official organization, I brought together several of the most supportive pastors on a few occasions to help with direction. Out of that came a website and Facebook page, both put together by Bill Bear. I also produce a monthly newsletter for local church leaders (includes other staff members and local para church ministries) which promotes our monthly fellowship lunch and other events I think worthy of announcement.
Besides encouraging churches to give general support to the schools, we have promoted specifically that churches support the weekend food backpacks for hungry kids. The churches also support our annual summer Back to School Consortium which provides backpacks full of all the supplies kids will need for the year (in late August). Another ministry I lead that is tied to the churches is Pray Shoreline, our local prayer network that is based on the One Church/One Day (formerly Operation Rolling Thunder) model.
Steve Ulmer, Shoreline, WA, December 2017