West Seattle, Washington
For four years, we’ve been reporting on Admiral Church‘s soul-searching over how to best ensure its future viability, while utilizing its half-acre campus for community good, ideally including affordable housing. In April 2022, the church announced it had decided what path it would follow, working with Homestead Community Land Trust “to gift them the total of our real estate for the development of permanently affordable, ownership-focused housing (including) a flexible use space exclusively for Admiral Church’s ministries …” Now, a year and a half later, the church and Homestead have just announced they’ve formalized the plan. First, the announcement:
Homestead Community Land Trust and Admiral United Church of Christ have signed an agreement that will lead to the development of permanently affordable homeownership on church land in the Admiral neighborhood of West Seattle.
Under the terms of the agreement, Admiral Church will convey its land in exchange for the ability to continue its ministries in the Admiral neighborhood in a newly constructed gathering and worship facility in the new development, representing a cost that is significantly below the market value of the property. Admiral Church and Homestead’s agreement makes it possible for most of the homes developed to be made affordable to those who make less than 80% of area median income.
“Admiral Church seeks to open the neighborhood to households that have historically been disadvantaged and excluded from homeownership,” said Reverend Andrew Conley-Holcom, pastor of Admiral Church. “We selected Homestead as a partner because their model creates generational wealth for its owners and Homestead is committed to partnering with us and the surrounding community in imagining and developing the homes.”
Admiral Church has served the North Admiral neighborhood in West Seattle since its founding over a century ago and is partnering with Homestead to continue that service well into its next century. The church conducted significant outreach with the neighborhood to gauge support for the concept of an affordable-housing project, including hosting neighborhood meetings, doing one-on-one meetings with interested individuals, and conducting an online survey through a neighborhood association. Over 80% of the 200+ respondents supported an affordable-housing project on the church’s site.
“By donating a significant amount of their land equity to this project, Admiral Church is going the extra mile to achieve its social and racial justice mission. Thanks to the members’ generosity, people who have been historically excluded from owning a home will have that opportunity in a lovely, walkable neighborhood with great schools and a thriving business district” said Kathleen Hosfeld, Homestead CEO and Executive Director. Hosfeld herself lives in the Admiral district.
Affordability at the site will be achieved through lower-cost land and the investment of public and private subsidy. The church, which will be temporarily relocated within West Seattle during construction, will return to a newly constructed gathering and worship facility co-located at the site.
The partners conducted initial feasibility to substantiate the terms of a purchase and sale agreement for the land. However, the site plan and project pro forma has yet to be finalized. The partners will host a community meeting to discuss their partnership and listen to the community’s vision for homes at the site on October 22, 1:30 pm at the Church, 4320 SW Hill Street.
Affordable housing timelines are subject to change, but the partners hope that construction will begin in 2025 and be completed in 2026.
Homestead is a classic community land trust, following the model created by Civil Rights era leaders in the 1960s and 1970s to prevent displacement and allow people to build wealth through ownership. Homestead builds new homes, fundraises to reduce the price of homes to what is affordable to a lower-income household, and keeps homes affordable permanently through agreements with our homeowners and post-purchase support. Homestead lowers barriers to homeownership for those excluded by discrimination, and has nearly 60% ownership by people of color. Typical home prices through Homestead range from $240,000 to $330,000. Homestead has 245 homes in trust and has created over 300 first-time homebuying opportunities for income-qualified buyers.
Admiral Church has been serving the people of the North Admiral neighborhood in West Seattle since its founding in 1899. The church is welcoming to all, having voted to be explicitly “open and affirming” decades ago. The church is a congregation that is God gifted, love centered, open to the future and extending Christ’s footsteps into the world. The church is committed to reach out to the un-served and the unseen in our community and seek diversity, peace, and justice in our world.
Homestead currently has 70 homes in West Seattle, said Hosfeld in response to one of the followup questions we asked her. Also:
How many homes will be built on the Admiral Church site? No estimate yet. What type? “They will not be single-family detached for sure. We have run studies to make sure the project was feasible but haven’t come up with the final mix. We do want to be sensitive to surrounding structures and homeowners and make sure the project fits in well.”
How affordable? “Affordable to below 80% AMI. The AMI levels for our homes in recent years have been 60% to 72% AMI. We will seek subsidy to get the prices as low as possible. There may be several “market rate” homes in the mix. We include market rate homes in projects to provide an internal form of subsidy so we can lower the prices of the homes for income-qualified buyers. We haven’t determined how many yet. We set the initial price of market rate homes to be at or below local comps at the time of sale.
Finally, we asked about terms of the agreement between Homestead – which is a nonprofit – and the church. “There is a technical purchase and sale agreement, and the payment from Homestead involves a limited amount of cash that serves as a bridge for the church while the project is completed. Payment also includes building and conveying a new church facility. The assessed value of the church property, according to King County Records, is $4 million. What the church might have received by selling it to a for-profit developer would be considerably higher. There isn’t a precise dollar amount value of the church facility at this point.”
P.S. For a bit more on how Homestead’s model works, see our summary in this past WSB story.
Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Gatewood has a new minister, and is extending an invitation to everyone in the community to the annual ingathering service and celebration this Sunday, including a community fair and dessert potluck.
First – meet the new minister!
Westside UU celebrates the hiring of Reverend Carter Smith, who joined us in the spring of 2023. She is a lifelong Unitarian Universalist from North Carolina whose calling to ministry is centered around building healthy and deeply connected communities that make space for people to share their gifts.
Carter has a BA in Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina at Asheville and an MDiv from Harvard Divinity School. As part of her training to become a minister, she served as the Intern Minister at the First Unitarian Church in Portland, and as Chaplain Intern at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center. Carter is especially passionate about UU Youth Movements now and historically, as well as the interfaith food-justice movement, and comes with professional and research experience in each subject.
Carter serves Westside for two weeks per month, and takes the Amtrak from her home in Portland to do so.
Here’s what she says Sunday’s gathering is all about:
This Sunday, Westside UU celebrates its annual Water Communion. Participants are invited to bring a small container of water and a stone to place on our common altar, though supplies will be provided for those who don’t bring any. It is a multi-generational service, engaging people of all ages in story, song, and celebration. Nursery care will be provided for the youngest members of our community. After the service, we will head downstairs to our social hall for food, music, and a chance to visit the tables of many of our small groups, committees, justice ministries, and more.
WSUU says it’s eager to welcome families with children of all ages, and offers special programming “focused on connection, belonging, and fun.” The congregation also wants people with physical challenges to know that WSUU’s main floors are wheelchair-accessible, with a lift. And if you can’t get there in person, you’re invited to check out the service via YouTube livestream.
As noted here Saturday, the Rotary Club of West Seattle has now placed five Peace Poles around West Seattle, part of a worldwide initiative. But the story behind the one dedicated Sunday at Our Lady of Guadalupe goes beyond the poles’ inscription, “Let Peace Prevail on Earth.” This one is part of an installation meant as a reminder of those whose land it’s on:
That plaque honoring the Duwamish Tribe is on a bench made by Eagle Scout Nick Krum:
He explained the project to those gathered for the dedication:
The space with the pole and benches is in front of the church on 35th SW south of SW Myrtle.
Story by Judy Pickens
Photos by Tom Trulin
Special to West Seattle Blog
Installation of a new rabbi usually doesn’t include a salmon release – but it just made sense for Kol HaNeshamah, West Seattle’s progressive synagogue.
“As a sacred community, we’re called to affirm life – and salmon have been central to Pacific Northwest communal life since time immemorial,” said Shannon Ninburg, KHN board of trustees member, seasonal naturalist, and creek volunteer. “We were thrilled to be able to include it as we welcomed Rabbi Sabine Meyer into our communal life.”
She is the fifth rabbi to serve Kol HaNeshamah since its founding in 2003. After more than a decade as an educator for congregations in the Southwest, she was most recently rabbi for Tree of Life Congregation in Columbia, South Carolina.
By the last Fauntleroy Creek salmon release of the season on May 31, more than 900 students and adults will have stocked the upper creek with nearly 2,000 fry reared through the Salmon in the Schools program.
As we do most years, we’re building a list of Easter/Holy Week/Passover services in West Seattle. Several local faith institutions already have sent their info, but we’d welcome more – date/time/brief description, email to firstname.lastname@example.org. (And if you have special activities in connection with services, like a breakfast or egg hunt, you can include that too.) Thank you!
Back in April, we reported on Admiral UCC Church‘s decision on what future to pursue for its half-acre North Admiral site, after years of discussion, both within the church and with the wider community: The church decided to explore partnering with Homestead Community Land Trust, so that part of the site could become “permanently affordable, ownership-focused housing.” Now the next step: Admiral Church has launched a brief community survey, 10 questions on one page. You can respond here. The church has been journeying toward change for its site for more than three years, realizing that the status quo is financially unsustainable, as discussed in a February community meeting.
Back in February, we covered a community meeting at which Admiral Church leaders explained three paths they were considering to avoid an eventual financial crisis. At an all-church meeting earlier this month, the church has decided which path to take. As summarized by pastor Rev. Andrew Conley-Holcom, “We have decided to start the process of drafting an MOU with Homestead Community Land Trust to gift them the total of our real estate for the development of permanently affordable, ownership-focused housing. The development will include a flexible use space exclusively for Admiral Church’s ministries to continue in the North Admiral neighborhood.” He offered context in a message to the congregation, published in the church newsletter this past Sunday – here’s an excerpt:
Those who gathered and those who voted by proxy [on April 3] decided that Admiral Church would no longer be a wealthy landowner in North Admiral. The congregation has consented to begin a process by which we discern who we are and the problems we want to solve in cooperation with Homestead Community Land Trust, who themselves are focused on solving the problem of generational poverty. This discernment is not new, but is part of a legacy of renewal here at Admiral Church. We are called to honor our ancestors, learn our history, and meet the current moment with the same fierce Love and welcoming Spirit that kept this church relevant and impactful for generations. So many institutions in our society are living off of their wealth rather than living into their purpose. Admiral Church has always been a church of purpose, a gathering place and a sending space for faithful people in North Admiral. We are choosing to trust God even more, extending Christ’s footsteps into the world.
The church sits on a half-acre of land at 4320 SW Hill in North Admiral, zoned for lowrise multifamily residential development. Its building is 60 years old. Church leaders have been considering some form of redevelopment for three years. They’re promising more information soon about their chosen path.
With Easter Sunday one week away, we’ve started a list of West Seattle Holy Week/Easter services in the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar. You’ll find it there, toward the top, for each day through next Sunday (here’s the direct link). Some local churches already have sent information on what they have planned – both in-person and online – and the list includes all that, plus the return of the West Seattle Ministerial Association‘s sunrise service at Forest Lawn. We’ll continue adding to the list as information comes in – just email us the basic information, email@example.com – thank you!
Almost a week has passed since Russia invaded Ukraine. Worldwide signs of support for Ukraine include some here in West Seattle. This morning, Our Lady of Guadalupe students and parishioners held a Prayer Walk after their Ash Wednesday Mass.
Many participants wore items in blue or yellow, the colors of Ukraine’s flag.
Some signs carried bilingual messages of peace.
At 6:30 tonight, before the evening Ash Wednesday Mass, OLG (35th and Myrtle) plans to pray the Rosary for Ukraine peace as well.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
More than three years ago, Admiral Church told community members that “big changes” were in its future.
Planning for those changes was subsequently shelved. But now it’s actively happening again, as the church has flatly declared that a “looming financial crisis” makes the status quo unsustainable.
So, church leaders told a community meeting this afternoon, they’re pursuing three potential paths for the future of the church (4320 SW Hill) and its 27,000-square-feet site:
Last fall, we reported on Admiral Church‘s plan to partner with Operation Nightwatch to host an overnight shelter for 10 men. After meetings in October and November to answer neighborhood questions, last we heard was that the shelter wouldn’t start up before December. Two more months have passed, and now the church has publicly announced that the plan is scrapped, via a “community announcement” on its website:
The hoped-for partnership between Admiral Church and Operation Nightwatch to offer overnight shelter to ten men living on the streets of Seattle is unfortunately not going to be possible. After further study, Nightwatch decided that several building issues, including having only two bathrooms and no openable windows in the sanctuary, make Admiral non-ideal for their purposes.
Admiral Church says Operation Nightwatch is pursuing partnerships with other local churches; we’ll be following up on that.
Meantime, separate from that, the church also has announced that it’s again considering “repurposing of at least part of our property” because of a “looming financial crisis,” and it’s having a community meeting at 2 pm February 20th for everyone interested. Pre-pandemic, the church was pursuing potential site redevelopment, but that’s been on the shelf for 2+ years.
Tonight is the final night of Hanukkah. The evening began with the lighting of eight candles on menorahs all over the world, including the one West Seattle synagogue Kol HaNeshamah brought to Junction Plaza Park for this year’s “Pop-Up Hanukkah..” The celebration included a “Dreidel Song” singalong, led by Orin Reynolds – our video shows the crowd, too:
Though this was the lone community event, the synagogue’s been busy with a variety of activities throughout the holiday, culminating in a geocaching “Dreidel Dash” that its youth group is sponsoring next weekend as a charity benefit – find out more here.
Tonight’s celebration in The Junction also included the donuts that are a traditional Hanukkah treat.
When the Sixth Church of Christ, Scientist, closed at what then became The Sanctuary at Admiral, it merged with the Fourteenth Church of Christ, Scientist, in Upper Fauntleroy. Now that church building too is being sold. The church at 3601 SW Barton is on an acre of land, listed for $2.3 million, and already has a sale pending, according to webpages featuring the listing, The description of the site notes that the new owner could “build 8 new homes” – since it’s zoned Single-Family 5000. The church phone number is disconnected, so we contacted a regional spokesperson for Christian Science to ask what happened to the church itself. According to the state website, it had shrunk to the smallest organized unit, a society, and the spokesperson tells us the Society based at that building is disbanding. West Seattle also had a Christian Science Reading Room until last year, in the Junction space that became home to Mystery Made. Back to the Fauntleroy church – no word yet on who’s buying it, as the sale hasn’t closed yet and the listing agent didn’t reply to our inquiry.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
“We’re all going to be OK.”
So said a neighbor toward the end of the second community meeting about Admiral Church‘s planned partnership with Operation Nightwatch to give 10 men a safe, warm, dry place to sleep each night. That neighbor was trying to reassure others who continued to voice concerns about the overnight-shelter plan.
Since the Sunday afternoon meeting, which included a chance for neighbors to question Nightwatch executive director Rev. Rick Reynolds, the church’s council has met to further discuss the plan. The church’s pastor, Rev. Andrew Conley-Holcom, says the only update from the meeting is that the program won’t start this month after all – “it’ll probably take around a month or more before everything’s ready on Nightwatch’s end.”
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
The Rev. Ron Marshall has died at the age of 73.
His passing was confirmed by First Lutheran Church of West Seattle, where he had been pastor since 1979.
Rev. Marshall was much more than a minister. He was a community champion – especially for nonprofits, particularly the West Seattle Food Bank and the former West Seattle Helpline (which merged with WSFB last year). He was a longtime WSFB board member and even wrote a book about the food bank’s first 30 years.
That was not the only book Rev. Marshall authored – he also wrote books on the religious thought of Martin Luther and Søren Kierkegaard. In 2013, he led a celebration of the Kierkegaard bicentennial, commissioning a statue of the Danish theologian/philosopher:
In 2017, he led a commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, for which the church commissioned a plaque of Martin Luther:
His eclectic interests also included the Koran, on which he taught a four-session class four times a year for nearly 20 years – transitioning it to Zoom when the pandemic hit. His weekly services for FLCWS were presented as written liturgies on the church website (we linked to them weekly on Sundays along with other churches’ pandemic-format services), and you can read his most-recent ones here. In the introduction on that page, Rev. Marshall noted that an online-video service “would be inconsistent with our mission statement and the honor it pays to historical liturgies (which require a congregation present). So the liturgies I provide are short, meditative in tone, and solitary.”
He himself was by no means solitary, being well-known and -loved throughout the West Seattle community. Local historian/journalist Clay Eals calls him “a giant.” Along with the West Seattle Food Bank, Rev. Marshall was also a longtime board member for Music Northwest, whose director is his wife, Dr. Jane Harty. When we hear from his family, we will add that here; Forest Lawn is handling arrangements and tells us there is no service date yet.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Admiral Church‘s two-thirds-of-an-acre campus hosts more than a congregation. It’s also home to a preschool, recovery groups, anti-racism classes, bystander-intervention training, rental space for local arts organizations, and a rest stop for Metro bus drivers.
The church’s congregation has decided to open it to another use: An overnight shelter where up to 10 men can sleep.
One week after the congregation made that decision in what pastor Rev. Andrew Conley-Holcom called a “near-unanimous” vote, it opened the sanctuary Sunday afternoon to neighbors who came bearing questions.
6:20 PM: Aside from the Camp Second Chance tiny-house village, West Seattle does not have a dedicated shelter for people who need one. Local churches have tried to pick up a little of that slack over the years. The next one to try to help is Admiral Church, which sent us this announcement:
Admiral Church has voted overwhelmingly to partner with Operation Nightwatch, a long-standing street ministry in Seattle, to provide shelter for up to ten men who otherwise would be sleeping outside this winter. The church is inviting neighbors and interested parties to attend an info session this Sunday, October 24th from 12-12:30 to learn more. The meeting will take place at 4320 SW Hill St in North Admiral, in the sanctuary where the men will be sheltered from 9:45 pm to 6:00 am. This ministry program will hopefully begin in mid-November.
You can read more about Operation Nightwatch here.
ADDED FRIDAY AFTERNOON: We asked Admiral Church’s Pastor Andrew Conley-Holcom a few followup questions after receiving this announcement on Thursday, and today we received the answers. The shelter guests would be brought by bus from downtown after Operation Nightwatch’s nightly dinner there. Operation Nightwatch will cover all expenses (staff, transportation, utilities, consumables) – what the church is contributing is the space, for “no more than 10 beds, spread out in Admiral’s sanctuary.” It would be “lights out” – or, “last cigarette” – by 11 pm. Everyone has to be up by 6 am and “out of the area by 6:30 am”; the plan for “busing the guys back downtown in the morning” is not yet finalized. An Operation Nightwatch staff person would “do half-hour sweeps and logging throughout the stay” and would stay to clean until 7 am.
As for who the men would be, “Guests will be folks already seeking help from Nightwatch but who otherwise would be turned away for lack of beds.” We asked about opportunities for community contributions; that won’t be clear until “after the ‘cohort’ gets established,” but “donations to the program are always welcome.”
A texter earlier today said Madison Middle School students had been offered Bibles by people standing outside the school. Later, Madison principal Robert Gary sent this email to families:
This morning before school in the front of Madison, five adults were handing out religious material to students and adults entering the building. Unfortunately we were not told this would be happening in front of our school and because the adults remained on the public sidewalk and not on school grounds, they were within their rights to be there.
Though Madison administration spoke with these individuals and requested they leave the area, they continued to offer our students information. Several Madison staff members were present and encouraging our students to not respond and to continue safely inside the building and to class.
Student safety will always be our number one priority. Many of our teachers spoke with their classes today about safety and students’ rights and the grown-ups in place at school available to listen and help keep them safe.
We have no further information so far about the material that was being offered or the people who were doing it. As noted, this was happening on public property outside the school, but if you’re interested, here are the state policies/rules about religious expression in school.
The pandemic has posed challenges for houses of worship, with in-person services prohibited for months, then allowed only with limited attendance. Some West Seattle congregations has have the extra challenge of seeking new leadership – including St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in Admiral, after the departure of Rev. Kate Wesch. Now, St. John’s has announced a new leader:
We have called a new Priest in Charge, Rev. Canon Elise Johnstone, starting August 8.
Elise describes her multiple callings of mother, spouse, and Episcopal priest as bringing great joy. She has been serving since 2014 as the Canon to the Ordinary of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington, in Kentucky. Prior to that call, she served as Priest in Charge of Holy Trinity, Georgetown, KY, and the Assistant Rector of Good Shepherd, Lexington, KY. She has a Bachelor’s in Classics from the University of Georgia, a Master of Divinity from the General Theological Seminary in New York City, and a Doctor of Ministry in Liturgy from the University of the South School of Theology in Sewanee, TN.
Elise has relished serving the Church on local, diocesan, and church-wide levels, serving multiple triennia as deputy and chair to General Convention, as well as serving on the Episcopal-Presbyterian Dialogue and the Board of the College for Bishops.
Her passions, in addition to her family, are liturgy, music, connecting those in need with resources while showing them they are loved and respected, as well as ballet and theatre. She is married to Ryan Shrauner, who is a seminary librarian, ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and a native of the Seattle area. They are the proud parents of Walter, who is a rising 6th grader. As a family, they enjoy hiking, travel, playing board games, The Simpsons, and figuring out what to do with the many LEGO they cohabitate with.
St. John’s is one of many local churches that have been streaming services online (as featured here with a list of links every Sunday) and has also been offering parking-lot services.
Though Fauntleroy United Church of Christ has been worshiping online, the raising of that banner tonight brought congregation members to the church’s parking lot. There, on the one-year anniversary of George Floyd‘s murder in Minnesota, Rev. Leah Atkinson Bilinski acknowledged that the church was late in making an anti-racism statement. She began by calling the banner “an embrace of the Black, Brown, Asian, and Indigenous people of our community who do not feel the embrace of love and justice.”
In the short ceremony, the pastor and her congregation declared, “This is the issue that we – as a country, as individuals, as institutions – are being called to resolve at this time in history.”
ORIGINAL SUNDAY NOTE: This Tuesday, it will be exactly one year since George Floyd‘s murder in Minnesota – which intensified the movement for racial justice, coast to coast and beyond. A citywide vigil is set for Tuesday night, with a local gathering in support, for those who can’t go. Here’s the announcement:
Prayer, Healing, and Action for Racial Solidarity on the First Anniversary of George Floyd’s Murder
All are invited to an ecumenical prayer service at St. James Cathedral on Tuesday, May 25th at 7 pm. Gather with Archbishop Etienne to commemorate the first anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, reflect on the need for repentance and healing, pray, and find ways to work together for change. South Seattle parishes will share how they will commit to working for racial justice. Limited in-person attendance is available by registering at conta.cc/3vqoo0L.
If you cannot make it downtown but would like to gather with others, we will livestream the event at Our Lady of Guadalupe in the church (more information here). You can also livestream the event from home on St. James’s Vimeo page.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is at 35th SW/SW Myrtle. If you know of any other West Seattle events Tuesday, please email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can include in the Event Calendar.
11:48 AM MONDAY: Organizers at OLG say they’ve canceled this but are urging anyone interested to go downtown or watch the stream. Members/pastors of both OLG and Holy Rosary will be part of the event.
Thanks to the local churches who emailed information about their services for the rest of Holy Week – from Maundy/Holy Thursday tonight, through Easter Sunday. With that and what we found on other churches’ websites, we’ve built a list with 17 churches so far – many having in-person services as well as continuing to stream. Most of the in-person services require pre-registration. Not too late to add to the list, so if you have info we’re missing, please send it to email@example.com – thank you!
You might call this a hybrid Holy Week leading up to Easter (Sunday, April 4th) – some churches are having in-person services, some are continuing entirely online, some are offering both. We’re building a list, as.we do every year, and have some listings already; consider this your invitation to send info about any Holy Week/Easter services in West Seattle, online or in-person – firstname.lastname@example.org – thank you!