Two Congregations | One Mission
Recent headlines around the plight of our neighbors who are affected by homelessness has led to many conversations throughout King County concerning the right response to our current state of crisis. The results of the One Night Count that show a 19% spike in homelessness from last year, and the tragic murders in the Jungle homeless encampment have pricked the public consciousness of elected officials, community organizers and leaders in the Church. By God’s leading and the Spirit’s prompting prior to recent news, one long-standing congregation on the boarder of the Capitol Hill and Central District neighborhoods has decided to act urgently to care for our friends living on the streets.
In December of 2015, Pastor Carey Anderson of First African Methodist Episcopal Church, (F.A.M.E.) approached Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission about a burden he had on his heart to serve individuals who would be caught in the winter cold and might need a warm place of rest during the day while waiting for a bed downtown. Having experience ministering in shelters back in Reno, Pastor Anderson and his Board of Trustees desired to minister to an under-served population in the heart of Seattle. They convened a meeting with various members of the Mission, Catholic Community Services and Rev. John Haralson of Grace Seattle Church—also on Capitol Hill to address this need. After several meetings with practitioners in the area of homelessness, and visits to downtown shelter facilities, the leaders of this 130 year old congregation has decided to open an overnight shelter for single women 7 days a week out of their fellowship hall at F.A.M.E.
Out of a heart and spirit of partnership, Rev. Anderson has named the shelter the Capitol Hill Women’s Shelter, so that local churches will see this work as guided by the Father, operated by more than one congregation, and grounded in the Capitol Hill and Central District areas. The neighborhood has a history of racial division, and is currently experiencing acute displacement and gentrification—under these socio-economic forces, working class and poverty-level communities are increasingly displaced or ending up on the streets. Consequently, the fact that a long-standing African American congregation in partnership with a majority-culture church, Grace Seattle, and Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission is working together to provide shelter for single-women in need of refuge is surely a work of God. To the glory of Christ, more volunteers and churches are also in talks to partner as the new shelter opens after Easter.
Currently, the Capitol Hill Women’s Shelter (CHWS) will serve 15 guests, seven days a week for 90 days with the hope of continuing on an ongoing basis. The opportunities to serve the shelter, open from 6:30 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., are plenty as volunteers ages 16 and up will have the opportunity to serve meals, greet guests, paint nails, and have bible studies. . There are also opportunities for congregations to provide weekly laundry service for linens, as well as linking up with local restaurants and businesses that may like to donate a meal.
The CHWS has developed faster than anyone expected; therefore, refined volunteer descriptions still need to be implemented. However, anyone can begin the volunteer registration process right now, by clicking here. Trainings for volunteers have already started at FAME with a healthy cohort of volunteers from both congregations. When offering prayers of thanksgiving for CHWS, please be in prayer for continued favor with logistics, donations, partnership and most of all our friends who will be not only be served but will transform the lives of every individual who chooses to be involved.
When reflecting on the importance of this work, Pastor Anderson expressed that the heart of this initiative is love—please pray that God’s love will be made manifest at this church and shelter on the corner of 14th and Pine.
- Jason Davison