Tent City 4 Update Page

<<Daily Vigil for the Homeless Announced>>

The Church Council announces a Daily Vigil for the Homeless to take place from noon to 2:00, Monday through Friday, at the main lobby of the Bellevue City Hall, 11511 Main Street. The vigils began on Friday, December 2, the 25th anniversary of the murders of four women religious in El Salvador who had sought unity with the poor.

The daily group list is posted at this link.  Confirm your attendance by calling the Church Council at 206-525-1213 or by e-mailing us here.

Here are instructions:

  • Pick up the materials (sandwich board, handouts, carry sack) at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 3030 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue (1/2 mile south of Hwy 520)
  • The Fast is held on the interior steps opposite the City Council Chambers in the main floor lobby of the Bellevue City Hall, Main St. and 116th, Bellevue (exit at 4th St. off the 405, go east one block to 116th, and then south to the City Hall)
  • The Fast is held between noon and 2 p.m. weekdays.

Expectations:

  1. Fast while present
  2. Silence is not required. A group wishing to keep silence should designate 1 person to converse with passers-by and be ready to answer questions.
  3. During the Fast the green journal may be used to sign in and to provide a place to record thoughts and comments.
  4. Writing and leaving messages for Council members is invited (Council offices are up the elevator on the third floor)
  5. Names of Council members are:
    • Mayor Connie Marshall
    • Deputy Mayor Phil Noble
    • Claudia Balducci
    • John Chelminiak
    • Don Davidson
    • Grant Degginger
    • Conrad Lee
  6. Upon completion of the Fast, drop off materials at St. Luke’s.

Thank you.  Please take the time between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. to visit Tent City 4 at Temple B’nai Torah, 15727 NE 4th St. Bellevue, 425.603.9677.

Because of the importance of protecting free religious expression in King County, the Church Council has taken a vigilant stand against any governmental restrictions on churches who wish to host tent cities.  To read a full legal briefing on these issues, download our attorney's memo here>>.

To read Bellevue's case against Temple B'nai Torah, read their court document by clicking here>>.

Letter from Denominational Leaders to the Bellevue Mayor, June 14, 2005.

June 13, 2005

The Honorable Mayor Connie Marshall

City of Bellevue

P.O. Box 90012

Bellevue, WA, 98009-9012

Dear Hon. Mayor Marshall,

Tent cities for the homeless have become a controversial political topic throughout the suburban cities on the east side of Lake Washington.  To date, churches that belong to several major denominations have hosted these encampments.  As denominational leaders, we urge the Bellevue City Council to exercise careful deliberation in adopting any legislation that would curtail the free exercise of religion by residents of Bellevue.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ has a clear bias toward the poor.  Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor” (Matthew 5:3), and devoted much of his earthly ministry toward their care.  He went so far as to proclaim that those who minister to the poor are in effect ministering to him (Matthew 25:40).  This commitment to the needs of the economically disadvantaged begins long before Jesus, with the prophets of ancient Israel.  The prophet Isaiah proclaimed, “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them” (Isaiah 41:17).  We believe the church bears the sacred responsibility of caring for the poor, wherever they may be, in any epoch, in any community. 

For this reason, churches from our denominations have ministered to the poor by building permanent housing, by sponsoring transitional housing units, by providing indoor overnight shelter in church buildings, and by hosting homeless encampments on their properties.  We are proud of the church’s leadership in providing housing, but we recognize that this our commitment must be redoubled, since over 8,000 people per year find themselves homeless in King County.

While homeless encampments are controversial within certain neighborhoods on the Eastside, they have become a common part of life in the affluent, middle-class, and poor neighborhoods of Seattle, Tukwila, and Shoreline.  They have existed in harmony with their neighbors and have not been the source of any discernible increase in safety or health risks.  The sojourns of tent cities to the Eastside, while controversial, have been equally free of adverse impacts. 

As a result, we do not believe Bellevue needs to implement such stringent standards against tent cities that the constitutional rights of churches would be set aside.  We are concerned about standards that would:

  1. Reduce the maximum stay of tent cities in Bellevue below the standard 90-day maximum;
  2. Require that identification of homeless persons coming onto church property to receive services from a church be submitted to the government;
  3. Apply unduly restrictive sanitation standards so strict as to make tent cities infeasible;
  4. Apply health standards beyond what is required by health professionals with the King County Department of Public Health.

We strongly urge the Bellevue City Council to study the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000, which requires that, a) any law restricting the use of religious property be the result of a compelling governmental interest, and b) that the least restrictive means be used to meet that interest.  We believe this sets a high standard for governmental regulation of religious functions such as tent city, and that Bellevue and other cities must carefully study all facts relating to these requirements, so that any proposed law will have adequate substantiation of need if it seeks to curtail religious freedom.

Because you have taken an oath to uphold the U.S. and Washington Constitutions, both of which protect freedom of religious expression, we know you will make a judicious choice in this matter.  We entrust to you the task of protecting freedom of religious expression, one of our most cherished American freedoms.  Thank you for your attention in this matter.

Cordially yours,

Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett

Roman Catholic Church

Archdiocese of Seattle

Bishop Edward Paup

Pacific Northwest Conference

United Methodist Church

Bishop Chris Boerger

Northwest Synod

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr.

Regional Minister and President

Northwest Region

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Rev. Marcia Patton

Executive Minister

Evergreen Baptist Association (American Baptist)

Bishop Nedi Rivera

Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of Olympia (Western Washington)

Episcopal Church

Rev. Dr. Douglas Kelly

Synod Executive

Synod of Alaska Northwest

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Dr. Mark Miller

Transitional Interim Conference Minister

Pacific Northwest Conference

United Church of Christ

Rev. John Boonstra

Executive Minister

Washington Association of Churches

cc: Councilmember Claudia Balducci

    Councilmember John Chelminiak

    Councilmember Don Davidson

    Councilmember Grant Degginger

    Councilmember Conrad Lee

    Councilmember Phil Noble

 

Update: Seattle Times supports Church Council position on proposed Bellevue ordinance.  Read the June 9, 2005 editorial>>.

 

 

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