Of the current outreach programs, Wednesday Night Dinner is the oldest, dating from 1990. Saturday Night Brown Bag Dinner followed in its footsteps and more recently the English Language Learning class gave us a new focus. In 2019 the Outreach Committee was established to further broaden our outreach efforts.
The Outreach Committee
The Outreach Committee was formed in response to parishioners’ desire to become a healing presence in our community, particularly to serve the most vulnerable. The committee endeavors to support our neighbors both through hands-on volunteer work and through financial assistance. Shortly after the committee was formed, Church of the Holy Spirit received a generous, anonymous monetary gift, the income of which the vestry decided to dedicate to mission and outreach.
A major goal of the Outreach Committee is to aid our vulnerable neighbors on Vashon. Our projects reach out to both long-time islanders and new immigrants.
- A Lenten Giving Tree collected and distributed gifts to Islanders in need.
- Parishioners brought surplus from their gardens to share with church members and donate to the Food Bank.
- An Iftar dinner, the meal eaten when Muslims break their Ramadan fast at sunset, was hosted at the Church. This celebratory meal, prepared by local Syrian immigrant families, was shared with many Muslim families and other Vashon neighbors. We learned about Ramadan, and proceeds went to support refugees.
The committee also supported two talks, one aimed at educating the public on environmental concerns and one on immigration. We feel that both talks informed us and our community about conditions that affect all, but that affect the disenfranchised most dramatically.
- Rob Misel, an architect dedicated to caring for the environment and a parishioner, joined with his colleagues to speak about sustainable architecture and how buildings affect our environment (“Bringing the World of Sustainable Architecture to Your Doorstep”).
- Immigration lawyer Bob Gibbs, also a parishioner, talked about current procedures in US immigration—the intricacies of how immigrants become documented (“Myths and Reality of US Immigration”).
Current projects are partially in limbo as we wait out the COVID-19 crisis. We are searching for forms of outreach that we can do from our homes.
Newcomers are welcome to join the committee either as full members or as proponents for a specific project.
English Language Learning Class
The Church of the Holy Spirit offers an English Language Learning class every Tuesday morning. The purpose of the class is twofold: to provide an opportunity for immigrants in the community to improve their English conversation skills, and to provide an opportunity for intercultural social engagement within our community. The classes provide a fun, flexible, learner-centered environment in which students are encouraged to hone their conversation skills. Every fourth Tuesday parishioners are invited to join the class for lively conversation and food.
Tuesday mornings from 9:30-10:30 a.m. in Bennett Hall (the church basement)
Although the class is on temporary hiatus due to COVID-19, the instructor, students, and a few parishioners continue to stay in touch by phone.
Wednesday Night Dinner Program
The Wednesday Night Dinner program is temporarily suspended due to COVID-19.
The Wednesday Night Dinner program began in June 1990, the dream child of Sally Carlson, in response to Jesus’ words, “feed my sheep”. Since then, other Vashon churches have followed suit so that the Island now hosts a free dinner every night of the week. Many groups now participate in cooking and serving the dinner at the Church making it a truly community enterprise.
Wednesday evenings at 5:30 p.m. in Bennett Hall (the church basement)
There is a policy of no preaching; the meal is offered to all, whatever the need. Many Islanders are homeless, unemployed, or in transition. Many who live alone come for good fellowship around a shared table. The meals are prepared and served by teams of Islanders, some from faith and service communities and some unaffiliated. Financial support comes partly from a generous 1% rebate program offered by both Island grocery stores. The grocery stores, as well as local bakeries and the flower shop, donate food and table decoration to make this a special, sit-down meal with quality offerings.
“The Wednesday night meal is the longest running meal on Vashon Island. The dinner gives members of the community from all walks of life the opportunity to meet in fellowship and break bread together, offering sustenance of body and spirit. The meals at the Church of the Holy Spirit are varied and inspired, by loving cooks and volunteers who ask nothing in return but the warmth that is felt by giving in love to one another. I feel these programs represent the evolution of human spirituality, evolving to a time when humanity will live for one another and hold brotherly/sisterly love in highest esteem.” (Quote from Arnon Burns, former IFCH Coordinator)
Saturday Night Brown Bag Dinner
This ministry continues during the COVID-19 shutdown, in an altered state for those sheltering at home.
The Church of the Holy Spirit has joined the community effort to make certain a free meal is offered somewhere on the island every day of the week. These meals are for anyone showing up, no questions asked. Our day is Saturday and because of the difficulty of consistently preparing and serving a sit-down meal, we have created a “brown bag” meal.
Served at the Land Trust Building between the Senior Center and Fire Station, 5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Saturdays
Saturday afternoons at 4:00 p.m. a small group of volunteers prepare and wrap hearty sandwiches in our church kitchen. Added to this are home-baked cookies and fresh fruit. Our filled brown bags are distributed at a centrally located spot in town along with coffee, hot chocolate, milk and fruit juice. These meals are well received by recipients who appreciate being able to take them home. With two sandwiches in each bag this meal can be eaten whenever one chooses.
This is a quiet ministry often blessed by anonymous contributions… a bag of fresh fruit, a couple loaves of bread, freshly baked brownies. Our parish cares deeply about this outreach and a great many parishioners contribute in whatever way they are able.
The Prayer Chain is a confidential place to request prayers. Approximately 20 people are contacted by email and hold the person or situation before God. Requests may be made by anyone for anything. We affirm the power of prayer and the grace of allowing the spiritual to enter our daily lives.
Requests may be made via phone or email to the church office at email@example.com or 206-567-4488. Special, one time prayers may also be included during Prayers of the People at the Sunday services.
AA and Al-Anon
Meetings are temporarily suspended and held online via Zoom during COVID-19.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.
AA meets Friday, Sunday, and Monday evenings at 7:00 p.m. in Bennett Hall (the church basement)
Al-Anon is a fellowship for friends and families of problem drinkers to find understanding and support.
Al-Anon meets Tuesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. in Bennett Hall (the church basement)
Our trained pastoral care ministers visit, support and bring the love of our congregation to those who are not able to attend Sunday morning services. Many of our pastoral care ministers are also Eucharistic Visitors, and, on behalf of the whole community, bring the sacrament of the Eucharist to those who request it.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions the Pastoral Care Ministry has been suspended until it is safe to resume home visits. For more information please contact the church office.