EASTSIDE INTERFAITH SOCIAL CONCERNS COUNCIL MINUTES
P.O. Box 662, Bellevue, WA 98009-0662
January 12, 2016
The meeting was held in Bristol Hall of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church beginning at 12:00 noon.
WELCOME: The meeting was called to order and conducted by EISCC President Tony Copes.
OPENING REFLECTION: Tony Copes opened with a prayer.
SELF-INTRODUCTIONS were made by 25 representatives and guests.
MINUTES of the November 13, 2015, meeting were reviewed. In Karen Studders’ report on the King County Emergency Declaration, the last sentence in the second paragraph should be replaced with the following text: “In Washington State, there are over 35,000 school children experiencing homelessness. In King County, the number is over 3,000 school children who are experiencing homlessness.” Before the list of things that can be done to address this situation, add the text: “Individual members of EISCC and congregations and other organizations are encouraged to write and/or call their city councils, mayors, county council members, and County Executive Dow Constantine ASAP and say ….” The minutes were approved with those corrections. Note that you should have received a number of documents related to this issue with the mailing of the November minutes.
TREASURER’S REPORT: Our new Treasurer, Rev. J. C. Mitchell was out of town and did not provide a report. He is in the process of taking over that position from Kimberly Delcoure, who has found it difficult to attend our membership and board meetings.
REFRESHMENT COORDINATOR: Many thanks to Nancy Jacobs, Elizabeth Maupin, Nicky Sheriff, Jan Starr, and Anne St. Germain for providing the day’s refreshments.
Backpack Meals: Jan Starr offered her thanks for the support that this project continues to receive. For the most recent week, she reported that they supplied 155 bags of food – the most ever! Their new address is Backpack Meals; 6947 Coal Creek Parkway SE; Newcastle, WA 98059. For information on needed food items, packing opportunities, or other questions about this program, visit their website at http://www.backpackmeals.org .
Congregations for Kids: Nancy Jacobs reported that the project is seeking more congregations to support this project, as the number served is up (as is the associated cost) and the number of supporting congregations has been dropping. They are also looking for new board members to replace some long-serving current members.
Legislative Coordinator: Jean Harris noted that the new legislative session had begun the day before. This will be the short, 60-day session. Our interests are in protecting health and human services as the legislature addresses the Supreme Court charge to increase education spending. We hope that low-cost housing can be saved or increased to prevent further increases in homelessness. Thursday, February 4, 2016, will be the Faith Action Network Advocacy Day in Olympia.
Emergency Services Fund: Dave Bowlan is no longer with Hopelink. We hope to connect with his replacement soon and get regular reports at our future meetings. More information on Hopelink and the Emergency Services Fund visit their website at www.hope-link.org.
Special Update: Michael Ramos, Executive Director of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, provided an update on the issue of homeless encampments. The consent decree which Bellevue has been operating under in recent years is set to expire at the end of January, and social service agencies have been lobbying the City Council to establish new guidelines for encampments going forward (you might recall that we recently sent a letter to the Bellevue City Council addressing this issue). The Church Council of Greater Seattle, Temple B’nai Torah, and SHARE/Wheel were the three parties involved in the original consent decree, and they have been trying to negotiate with the Bellevue City attorney to extend the terms or create even more favorable conditions for encampments. The hope is that longer periods for each stay might be permitted and that a more coordinated effort among the Eastside communities could provide a more stable situation for such encampments. There is a possibility that the current agreement might just be extended for a year while negotiations continue.
They are trying to establish best practices for such encampments. They would like to see the various parties coming together to talk, but that is not currently happening. He urges congregations that are capable of hosting such an encampment to seriously consider doing so – he indicates that congregations that have done so have found it a very rewarding experience. It would also be great if other congregations (especially those who might not be able to accommodate an encampment on their premises) and service providers were able to work more closely with encampment hosts to help provide needed support.
Some attendees touted little houses as one possible solution. It was also suggested that more could be done to allow the homeless to park safely on the street or at other safe locations (such as congregation parking areas). For more information on Safe Parking, visit the Seattle University website at
Michael also touted a new series of programs that the Church Council is sponsoring on the Eastside, Standing Together. This interfaith study and dialogue program seeks to foster greater understanding, respect, and cooperative social action among citizens from different faith traditions. Five sessions explore:
- What is potentially ‘right’ with people, religion, and democratic values
- The positive influence faith can have on individuals and a democratic society
- The relevance of sacred teachings in modern life
Sessions take place on a Sunday 4-6 pm at various eastside Christian, Jewish, and Muslim houses of worship. More information at www.standingtogether2016.com. Promotional materials for these programs have been included with the minutes mailing.
Northwest Unitarian Universalist Justice Network: Several people had expressed interest in this justice network and wanted to learn more about it. The Unitarian Universalist community already has a state-wide advocacy network, but it was determined that another group not focused on advocacy but encouraging congregations to work more closely together and with other groups in the community could help them to do more, more easily, and to greater effect. The Network holds an annual conference, sends monthly justice alerts, and provides a website which congregations and individuals can use to network around their justice issues. If you would like more information on their work, visit their website at nwuujn.org or contact Dick Jacke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nadine Bentsen wanted to remind us that the Congregations for the Homeless Day Shelter will soon need a new home. This program is currently located in the First Congregational Church in Bellevue. The church has sold their property to a developer, and they will soon be moving to a new location. If you know of possible locations for a new day shelter, please let Steve Roberts know. See their website at cfhomeless.org.
PROGRAM: Faith Action Network.
The presenter for this program did not appear and had not let us know in advance that they would not be able to attend. Fortunately, Michael Ramos was able to address some of the items that he expected that the legislature would be addressing in this current session and provided us with a brief overview. We realize that this might not be exactly what we might have heard from FAN, but we were very grateful to Michael for his help.
Because there will be a great deal of pressure on the legislature to more adequately fund education in the state, we need to be sure that this is not done at the expense of our other health and human services. Support for the Housing Trust Fund and the Housing and Essential Needs (HEN) program would be good places to start. To communicate your concerns to your legislators, you can call 1-800-562-6000.
With the housing affordability challenges faced by Seattle and surrounding communities, relocation allowances for those forced out of their current housing is very much needed. Paid sick leave and minimum wage are important, but a living wage is even more needed – this is really the flip side of the homelessness issue.
There will be an effort to increase the sales tax to provide more funding for mental illness services.
Rabbi David Lipper is new at Temple B’nai Torah and is looking forward to learning more about EISCC and getting more involved in the interfaith justice community.
Diane Richards reminded us that we have a resource table on the south side of the meeting room that is available for you to bring and distribute flyers and brochures that you would like to make available to the other attendees at our meetings.
Elizabeth Maupin reported that Mary Queen of Peace parish in Sammamish will be hosting Tent City 4 in February. They could use help in hosting (as will other congregations who will be hosting in the future). Linda Benson of Nourishing Networks will be putting together a Community Action Planning gathering to help coordinate and provide additional support to host congregations and their supporters. If you would like to help, contact Linda at email@example.com.
Elizabeth also reported that Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy will be speaking at the First Methodist Church of Seattle on Wednesday, February 24, 2016, at 7 pm. She also notes that the Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day sponsored by the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance will be held in Olympia on February 2. To register, visit their website at http://wliha.org.
Farida Hakim expressed her appreciation for the Muslim contingency that were to be in attendance at the State of the Union address this year.
Nicky Sheriff indicated that the Muslim Community Resource Center was assisting 4 Syrian refugees and providing them with housing, transportation, and other services.
Karen Studders urged support for the Delta 5, a group of people who were being charged with criminal trespass for blocking a coal train in protest of its impact on climate change. The trial is currently being held in Lynnwood District Court. The court is allowing a necessity defense. She suggests that you consider attending the trial to show support for the defendants. [Note: since the meeting, the Delta 5 were convicted of trespass but found not guilty of obstructing or trying to delay trains. The judge determined that the defendant’s attorneys had not made an adequate case for the necessity defense that they had exhausted legal means in trying to bring about changes in climate policy and railroad safety.]
Karen also reminded us that the annual homeless count will be conducted on January 28, 2016, from 2 am to 5 am. If you would like to participate, contact Leslie Miller at Kirkland City Hall.
Trish Rogers reported that Rev. Geoff Ethelston, an Episcopal priest, advocate for the homeless, and long-time participant in EISCC, died recently. Services were to be held January 16, 2016, at the Church of the Redeemer in Kenmore.
Dick Jacke reported on Eastside Meaningful Movies, a project of the Outreach Team at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, the Earthkeeping Team at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, and the Earth and Social Justice Coordinating Council at East Shore Unitarian Church. The films are screened at St. Margaret’s on the third Tuesday of each month (through May) in Bristol Hall, the very room in which EISCC meetings are held. Films focus on current social issues and are followed by lively discussion. The January film will be White Like Me by Tim Wise. The February film is Inequality for All, and March will be Merchants of Doubt. Requested donation is $5, but no one is turned away. Two additional films will be added for April and May. Watch for that announcement.
Dick also invited attendance at a Climate Action Empowerment Forum the next day, Wednesday, January 13, at 7 pm at East Shore Unitarian Church. Selden Prentice of 350 Seattle and Yoram Bauman of CarbonWA (sponsor of Initiative 732) were to be presenting.
CLOSING REFLECTION: Dick provided the closing reading.
THE NEXT EISCC MEETING will take place on Tuesday, February 9, 2016, 12:00 – 1:30 pm
PROGRAM: Backpack Meals
Dick Jacke, EISCC Secretary