On November 8th, Quest Church in Ballard hosted "Conversations For the Common Good: Homelessness & Human Dignity". The night was moderated by our friend and pastor, Eugene Cho, with an impressive panel that included diverse voices from people who work closely with homelessness in our city and communities. Panelists included: Megan Espinoza, SMR Architects; Jeff Lilley, Seattle's Union Gospel Mission; Jenn Adams, Bridge Care Center; Sharon Lee, Low Income Housing Institute and Jackie St. Louis, City of Seattle’s Navigation Team. Each of the panelists brought a unique perspective on how to engage this complex topic from housing first to "relational-not-resource" ideologies.
Each panelist started off with an oppotunity to share their organization's work or their personal story of how they have engaged in homelessness. Jenn Adams' talk was the most captivating, as she shared her experience of coming out of homelessness and the personal side of what it feels like to be on the streets and experience loneliness, the bare elements and being overlooked on a daily basis. Sharon Lee, Executive Director of Low Income Housing Institute, shared her 26 years of passion for the "housing first" approach- which is quite compelling. Jackie St. Louis and Jeff Lilley also shared their relational approach to ending homelessness, which when boiled down to it gives everyone an opportunity to simply say, "hello" to someone you see and let a conversation happen, just as you might approach anyone else on the street. They feel that compassion can go a long way into making a difference.
The night ended with questions from the audience and also attendees who work in the field and sharing briefly the name of their organization and what they do to help the issue. For Light Up the City- this event was hitting the sweet spot of how we want to encourage the Church to just join in on the conversation of helping those in greatest need. We don't have to have the answers, but need to posture ourselves to learn from those who might and that includes hearing from a broad range of perspectives. If you, your Church, or small group would like to do something similar, please let us know, we would love to talk to you.