Project Web Site:
Published on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 | North County Outlook by Beckye Randall
In a frigid warehouse at the Arlington Airport, volunteers from Hands Together, a coalition of faith-based and community service groups in Arlington, used paint and brushes to create a small army of gingerbread figures on Saturday morning.
Deena Jones, pastor of the Arlington United Church and a leader of the Hands Together group, explained that the whimsical cutouts were designed to help create awareness of the 125 or so students in the Arlington School District who are homeless.
“When we think of the homeless, many picture the adult men that we see around town,” said Jones. “But 126 students in our district are listed as homeless, so the problem definitely impacts families.” To read more: Art project focuses on homeless children :: North County News for Marysville WA and North Snohomish County.
Arlington United Church (AUC) is a congregation of persons who believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior and as the Savior of the World. We belong to the United Methodist Church and the Evangelical Covenant Church denominations. This is a diverse congregation strengthened by views of politics and theology from all points on the spectrum. We respect one another knowing that the Body of Christ is made up of many diverse parts whose balanced interaction is necessary for the proper function of the whole (1 Corinthians 12:12ff.). We are bound together by our love for Christ and one another, and by our common belief in the core teachings of the Gospel. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we Unite to Serve Jesus Christ, and we invite you to join this mission.
The people of our faith community have a strong heart for helping people. Members of AUC saw a need for providing food for low income people in Arlington, and so in the 1980’s AUC began what is now Arlington Food Bank in the basement of the church. The food bank soon outgrew the space and was given over to the community. From 2006-09 we sent four teams to Mississippi to help rebuild after hurricane Katrina. Four years ago AUC saw a need to help the homeless in Arlington. A meeting was called for any concerned citizens of the community to attend, and Hands Together, a non-profit serving homeless and low-income people, was born. We are ecumenically minded and actively promote cooperation among churches. We join with other churches in providing shelter to the homeless on cold nights through Hands Together. Our church is one of four churches providing rent-free space for the shelter on a rotating basis. We also donate food and money to the shelter. AUC also supports and informally partners with Kids’ Kloset, a local non-profit which provides clothing to children in our city who qualify for free or reduced school lunches.
The people of AUC and Hands Together have a heart of compassion for the vulnerable people of the Arlington area, and through the strength of our community we are consistently meeting basic necessities for our citizens in need. However, we are not addressing the root causes of homelessness and desire to do more. We believe education is the key to helping us address these issues. We are a small church, and although we are not very ethnically diverse, we are diverse economically, theologically, ideologically, and politically. Our goals for this project are to teach participants (other local churches and citizens) how to engage people in compassion and mercy ministries, confront policies through advocacy and community organizing, and partner with programs of community-based organizations for the sake of Christ and His kingdom. We see using political will during an election year as an effective means of educating not only our membership, but our community.