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Celebrate North Seattle

How do you help heal a broken community? How do you help a neighborhood change their reputation? How do you hope for more? My friends at Epic Life Church in the North Aurora community have asked the same questions. Epic Life meets one block off Highway 99 and 105th in Seattle. When they look around their community they see the need of the people around them. Although Epic isn’t a large congregation; they understand they serve a large God. This year I had the privilege of attending the 6th annual Celebrate North Seattle event. Celebrate North Seattle is a community event put on by Seattle City Light, Music Center, Epic Life Church, Ginger’s Pet Rescue, and Living Way Foursquare Church.

Walking up to the event, you see bouncy houses and hear entertaining music. The smell of mini donuts fills the air. Despite the earlier thunderstorm and a few falling raindrops the turnout is good. There is a line of families and individuals waiting to get into the event area. People have brought their dogs and their friends. The atmosphere is friendly, neighbors talking to each other, speculating what’s behind the poster paper that serves as a barrier. Flowers have been painted on the paper border, and colorful tent awnings line the parking lot.

As you enter you see kiddos climbing on a rock wall, volunteers giving out swag bags, and people wearing North Seattle Proud t-shirts are everywhere. Volunteers are ready to talk to you and help out. Represented in the booths are many local businesses and non-profits. There are booths for everything from chiropractors, to upholsterers, pet adoption and churches. The volunteers happily introduce rescue dogs, offer chair massages, and prayer. Many booths offer extra raffle tickets when you mark where you live on a map, play a game of checkers, or talk to someone about your neighborhood.

The event has a carnival-like feel to it. About half the area is sectioned off with games for kids, bouncy houses, ring toss, and even a fun mascot: “Scrappy the Squirrel.”

What Epic Life Church, and the whole North Seattle Proud community understand is there is a lot more to the North Aurora neighborhood than drugs and prostitution. Trafficking will not be the only story told of this neighborhood because churches are working together with their community to tell a new story on North Aurora. This community loves where they live.

There is one church in North Seattle, and the congregations volunteering at the event all shared one booth. A flyer in the swag bags gives a list and a map of the congregations in North Seattle, and it’s a beautiful representation of unity among the congregations—that each would be happy to see their neighbors inside any of the churches.

Aurora is changing. Yeah, you will still see marijuana shops and strip clubs; however, if you take a moment to talk with Pastor Keith Carpenter, or Casey Pier, they will tell you of the new businesses moving in as well, providing jobs and opportunities to the community. Soon, you will also see a coffee-truck called Pilgrim driving the Aurora Corridor selling delicious coffee to the neighborhood.

You will likely see outreach workers, and friends, offering care to those in need on a regular basis. A couple times a week you will see the large Puget Sound Christian Clinic van parked near the Aurora Commons, where medical professionals serve those in need who do not have insurance. PSCC was also on site at Celebrate North Seattle this weekend.

Aurora is changing. It’s being transformed by a community of transformed people. The people volunteering at Celebrate North Seattle aren’t trying to take over their neighborhood; they are hoping it will be transformed.

If you’re interested in hearing more about this work you can visit:

-Dawn Stenberg

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