Two Saturdays ago, I had a chance to support a great West Seattle church that’s doing some real good in my community. Okay, not “some” good—they’re doing a lot of good. Alki United Church of Christ held a Mardi Gras Gala on February 25, complete with a drinks, a buffet, dancing, and three fundraising auctions. Such a fun time!
But first! About Alki UCC! It’s one of the most progressive, open churches I’ve ever encountered, filled with truly welcoming (and diverse!) people. They describe themselves as “90-somethings and 20-somethings, toddlers and infants, and a lot of us somewhere in between. We are single, married, and partnered; gay, lesbian, and straight.” The pastor, Reverend Diane Darling (shown above), is lesbian, herself. I know many people in the LGBT community have felt alienated and rejected by churches, but Alki UCC was a very refreshing change from what so many of us grew up experiencing.
The Mardi Gras Gala helped fund Alki UCC’s community involvement. This church has operated in West Seattle for more than a hundred years, and they’ve made a point of giving back to their West Seattle and White Center neighborhoods as much as they can. Some of their community support takes the form of:
- Alki Kids Place, an after-school and summer program that serves about 65 kids
- Concert series to raise money for West Seattle Helpline
- Kol HaNeshamah, a progressive synagogue that meets in Alki UCC’s building
- Alcoholics Anonymous and Alki Community Council meetings that meet at Alki UCC
- CROP Walk, which raises funds for international and local hunger relief
- Saturday meals for the local homeless popluation
- Donations to the West Seattle Food Bank and Northwest Harvest
- Membership in the Faith Action Network, which pursues low-income housing solutions
The Gala had three auctions, (1) a paddle auction, which is always exciting; (2) a silent auction with so many great items (I bid on tickets to the Seahawks, Seattle symphony, and 5th Ave, plus a few gift baskets), and (3) a dessert auction—I loved this idea! Members of church donated all sorts of delicious desserts that were displayed on a table most of the night so everyone had a chance to get a look. After dinner, each person wrote an individual dessert bid, and the table with the highest combined total got to choose their dessert first! (Second highest table chose second, and so on.) My table won first, and we decided to share an absolutely mouthwatering chocolate cake with strawberries.
I’m so glad I was able to spend this evening at the Mardi Gras Gala, and I’m even more glad about all the work Alki UCC is doing in our West Seattle community. As a final note—something that inspires me and shows how diverse people can live well in community together—I’d like to share this note from Alki UCC: We don’t believe that Christianity is the only way, but it’s the way we’ve been called to follow, and we are trying to live it with as much integrity and joy as we can.
Thank you, Diane and Alki UCC, for all the good you do for our community. I don’t know what West Seattle would do without organizations like yours!