42nd Avenue in southeast Seattle, Washington has been busy with activity for the past week, ever since an arsonist decided to throw Molotov cocktails at the Iglesia Ni Cristo worship building located there. The Seattle Police department and the FBI have been coming through conducting their investigations, reporters have been reporting on the latest developments, and members of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) have been going door-to-door to invite their neighbors to a community outreach event on Saturday.
“It’s always a joy to see community efforts going on to help uplift and serve our community, so you’re doing a great thing. …we know about crime and some of the other things that are going on here, and I think the Church is a good place to be able to pray about those things and to help bring change to the people’s heart.”
Jefferson Butler, an assistant pastor for a church located across the street from the Church Of Christ worship building was among the neighbors invited to the community event.
“Well, I think you have to be able to move on and not let something despicable that happened - because the intent for whoever the culprit is - to discourage you from ministry. And that’s what you’re doing here today.'Click To Tweet
He wasn’t the only one who decided to stop by. Throughout the day, dozens of neighbors and community members walked into the compound, crossing – instead of the yellow crime scene tapes that had blocked off the exterior of the building this past week – a colorful balloon arch that welcomed those passing by.
The community outreach offered free services, clothing, and free giveaways to anyone who came by. Kids enjoyed free arts and crafts, while adults enjoyed music and free food. And while many came to receive the various free services being offered by the Church Of Christ, others also came for the opportunity to unite with their community and to learn more about the Church Of Christ and what it is doing for the community.
“The Church has been here and it’s part of this place. It has a place here. And to attack it like that is – it’s invasive, racist…it’s awful. Part of the reason I’m here is that I want to reach out and offer my solidarity and say that that behavior has no place in the neighborhood,” says Julie, a resident of the neighborhood.
Earlier in the week, members of various community organizations stopped by the worship building to reach out to the congregation. Among them was Elycía Ramirez, a community organizer from the North Seattle Progressives.I’ve never been in a Church like this… And it really makes me hopeful that even if bad things that continue to happen, there will be good people that will rise up against it.- Elycía, North Seattle ProgressivesClick To Tweet
News of arson attacks and shootings against churches have, unfortunately, become too common these days. Just hours before the community outreach event of the Iglesia Ni Cristo was scheduled to open its doors, news of a deadly shooting at a church in Pittsburgh filled the headlines once again – presenting the question of why a church would want to keep opening its doors and reach out to the community.
Brother Barry Thompson, a minister of the gospel and the District Minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo Ecclesiastical District of Pacific Northwest, sums up the response of the Iglesia Ni Cristo to reach out with love.
It doesn’t matter what people will do against us. As an organization, as members of the Church Of Christ, we cannot allow anything to stop our mission. This is how we show our love to our fellowmen, to our neighbor.
This same weekend, similar outreach events were held by the Iglesia Ni Cristo in communities around the world.
Steve Miller, a cameraman for Seattle’s KOMO 4 News, saw first-hand the concern of the Iglesia Ni Cristo when he came by the worship building a few times this week covering the latest developments on the attack.“In light of what happened, your Church still has positive thoughts and goodwill towards the community.” Click To Tweet
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