For another perspective on what need looks like in our community, we turned to the Kenmore-Bothell Interfaith Group. Kristin Joyner is a Deacon at Bothell United Methodist Church and has spent a great deal of time pondering issues of need here.
Right away, she identified that people of faith in this area tend to live with what she called the “Sin of suburbia.” She explained, “We hear a lot about our urban relatives who are feeding homeless and opening shelters and have a bunch of direct services for people who are poor and homeless. But addressing need isn’t limited to feeding the poor.”
For many faith communities, it’s hard to conceptualize what serving others looks like without long lines at missions and serving at soup kitchens. But there seem to be just as many needs that have little to do with poverty and hunger. In the span of just a few seconds, Joyner rattled off a list of some of the more “invisible needs” might be here in the suburbs like grief, domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, sense of loss, people laid off, lack of affordable housing. In addition, she named depression and suicide as significant issues that easily go unaddressed. All of these things are real needs of our neighbors here, and people of faith, like everyone else, often have a difficult time responding to those needs.
Joyner also noticed that our suburban, bedroom community is a place where racial injustice and lack of cultural awareness can easily go unnoticed. “It’s such a global place,” she says. “People are moving here from India, China, Russia, all over and yet these groups are largely unnoticed.” This is a big topic that we’ll address in a blog post down the road.
So what is the response of churches, temples, mosques, and other faith groups in the face of this kind of need? “The first thing is awareness,” says Joyner. She has recently helped to organize a community resource day at Cascadia College not only to provide resources, but also to simply raise awareness that this kind of need exists. “Sometimes there is such a stigma around these issues that people just don’t know they can ask for help or they don’t know there are resources out there.”
Her next solution would involve a more collaborative effort by the community. Joyner indicated, “None of us can answer these questions by ourselves. But what if we knew that this church over here did really well with mental illness and that one does a great job with veterans? It’d be great if each of us knew what was going well and supported each other.”
Already the Interfaith group is collaborating with the Faith Action Network on some goals around refugee resettlement and affordable housing, but the more faith communities worked with each other and neighbors, the more we could accomplish together.
For more information about community resource day visit: https://communityresourceday.com/