Faith United church welcomes Tent City 4

March 4, 2014

By Peter Clark

Tent City 4 found a new temporary home.

Faith United Methodist Church’s congregation voted to welcome the traveling homeless shelter to its Klahanie-area property Feb. 25. Pastor John Brewer said the question was directly posed to those members of the church that attended a congregation meeting.

“The decision was referred to the congregation as a whole,” he said. “Those who could be there could cast a vote.”

The congregation approved to host the shelter and the move took place March 1.

The decision process involved a large public meeting Feb. 11, where, although opinions seemed evenly split, those residents opposed to hosting Tent City 4 made a much louder plea to protect the children that attend the church’s preschool.

Brewer said that level of negativity seemed to evaporate as the conversation continued.

“We are waiting to see just how much concern is lingering,” he said. “We can all understand these concerns, but for the most part, it seems understood that we have a very safe campus and a very safe preschool.”

At the public meeting, several parents said they would take children out of the school should Tent City 4 come to the property. At the meeting, Preschool Director Kathryn Aitcheson said the school could only stand to lose 30 kids, “then we’re in deep trouble.”

As of yet, Brewer said parents were not withdrawing students en masse.

“It sounds to me like there were some three or four parents who would take their children out regardless of our decision,” he said. “But whether they have done that or not, I don’t know. Ours is one of the best preschools I’ve ever seen.”

Tent City 4 has spent the last month in a Lake Sammamish State Park campground after a move to a church in Sammamish fell through. The shelter worked out a deal with the state to pay $2 a head per day and assist in park maintenance.

Issaquah Sammamish Interfaith Coalition Coordinator Elizabeth Maupin rejoiced at the news and said the immediate future for Tent City 4 does not look so precarious.

“Tent City 4 is safely at Faith United Methodist Church — Alleluia!” She wrote in an email. “They also have a site at Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue for their next move.”

Brewer said the church will have information on its website for how the community can assist in giving to Tent City 4.

“The congregation is very supportive,” he said. “Everybody seems to know there’s a lot of work to do on the ground to combat homelessness. The community has been pretty quiet and many have expressed support.”

He praised the members of the church for their stalwart approach to community stewardship.

“I have watched the congregation go through the process,” Brewer said. “And I am impressed with my own people. They were very conscientious and I am very proud of this church.”

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