Dear Beloved Community,
Blessings to you In this Eastertide season. As we continue to experience this challenging time, it is good to know we are praying for and caring for one another. We know that our faith calls us to a deep inner journey of compassion and connection.
We also know that our faith calls us to an outward journey of work for a more just and compassionate world. This pandemic is revealing more starkly what we already knew: we live in a broken world. Our economy, our health care systems, our justice systems, our “safety nets,” our international relationships, and even our way of being on this planet are inequitable and unsustainable. As people of faith, we are called to work for a world where justice rolls on like a river, and right relationships are like an ever flowing stream.
In this time of isolation, it can be hard to figure out how to live out this call. But we want to let you know some of the ways we as a church are doing just that, and some ways you can join in.
- You can join us and Bread for the World and write a letter, as an individual or a family, to support hungry people.
- You can join our Racial Justice book group. Email gro.ccuytisrevinu@snoitacinummoc to be added to the list.
- You can make a financial gift to Mwanzo, our April special offering recipient. Any amount will make a difference in this pandemic time of great need.
- You can join in the effort of faith leaders around the state and email the Governor to support financial relief for undocumented workers in Washington, who have been left out of the federal relief plan.
- You can join a “virtual table” at Mary’s Place’s GiveBIG digital fundraiser, helping support families who are experiencing homelessness.
- You can join us in a virtual “Standing for the Common Good.” Take a picture of yourself or your family holding a sign that says what you stand for, and email it to gro.ccuytisrevinu@eciffo. On Sunday, May 3rd, we will display those signs.
- Be sure you have filled out your 2020 census form. Census statistics are a critical way for us to know what resources our health care centers and hospitals may need in urgent times.
- Continue your plastics fast and report the results to Sacred Earth Matters at gro.ccuytisrevinu@srettaMhtraEdercaS
We also want you to know that while our building continues to be closed, space is being used for some essential services, including childcare for essential workers, day center space for homeless youth, and Teen Feed meals-to-go.
And on a very simple note: a group of folks are sewing masks for anyone in the congregation who might need them. Just email your request to gro.ccuytisrevinu@rekamksam and let us know of your need.
At such a time as this, our faith is calling us not only to care for one another, but also to reach out to a world in need. May you find ways to take both of those journeys this week. You are in our hearts and in our prayers. If you have a specific need, please let us know. We are available, and our contact information is listed below.
What does it mean to be “essential”?
While we gather digitally for worship, fellowship, and church business, the UCUCC building is serving those whose work has been deemed essential by state and local governments. These partnerships help us to live into our vision for justice in our wider community, and we wanted to share with you some updates and gratitude from them.
UCUCC has been a long time partner with Teen Feed, who are offering food in a “to-go” model, with teens coming into the building one or two at a time to pick up dinners that have been bagged by a dedicated team of volunteers.
Recently we’ve made room for Teen Feed to offer meals six nights a week at UCUCC, allowing University Lutheran (a previous Teen Feed site for three meals a week) to expand their day center for homeless women to a 24-hour facility. Teen Feed Director of Programs, Phillip Peters, writes “Thank you again for helping us relocate our dinners. We are off to a great start, and it has been such a relief to move into the space six days a week. You have been phenomenal partners during this difficult time”
Child Learning and Care Center (CLCC)
“I think it’s wonderful CLCC will open again for essential families/those in most need” —CLCC Parent.
After a two-week closure, CLCC has reopened to serve families of essential workers. They are operating with shorter hours, additional cleaning procedures, and stricter drop-off/pick-up procedures including temperature checks for the kids. They are encouraging those who can, to remain home, but the CLCC staff and Programs Board understand that not everyone is in a position where keeping their kids at home is an option. Ashleigh Johnson, CLCC Director and UCUCC member, writes “It is our mission to offer care to families who need it most. Right now those families are those who work in the essential industries, such as health care, food, government, etc. in addition to families receiving financial aid.”
The University District Youth Center (UDYC)
UDYC is a program of YouthCare, and they have expanded their daily drop-in center for homeless teens from Gold House to the UCUCC basement (rooms 104-106). They recently wrote us a thank you note, saying, “YouthCare is so grateful to have neighbors like the University Congregational United Church of Christ. Coming together as a community to care for our most vulnerable communities is essential—now more than ever. UCUCC has been instrumental in helping us care for homeless youth who call the U-District home. Thank you! Teens love the space.”
Using the rooms in our basement allows the youth to spread out, keeping them safer and more able to ‘socially distance.’ They are using one of the rooms as a place for art projects, and a place for writing and using some of the UDYC computers. With our space as the main drop-in area, the smaller rooms at Gold House can be used for mental health offerings, and (if needed) a quarantine area if someone exhibits symptoms.
“These are some of the most difficult times in our history,” writes Nicole Phaysith of YouthCare, “But our collective resolve to not give up on youth, and the unwavering support of our community will get us through. We truly appreciate you, UCUCC, for helping us care for youth experiencing homelessness during these difficult times.”
Here is some art created by the UDYC teens: