Seattle Temple Corps fights homelessness, helps youth
by Ruth Longoria –
Kim Dickinson, leader of Seattle Temple’s new homeless outreach ministry, steps off the curb with her team of soldiers en route to Pioneer Square.
A steady drizzle dampened the air as a small group of Salvationists descended on Seattle’s Pioneer Square early one Saturday morning.
The seven soldiers—known as The Fight!—carried no visible weapons as they stood on a downtown street corner and bowed their heads in prayer. Next, the reconnaissance mission began with a unified walk around the circumference of the square—a neighborhood filled with businesses, and home to many of this city’s homeless population. Their ultimate mission? To serve sandwiches and share salvation with the city’s lost and wandering souls.
The Fight! is one of several new outreach programs at the Seattle Temple Corps. The programs—which also include ministries to college students, children in daycare and parents, and after school childcare and tutoring—are aimed at reaching the evangelistic goals of the corps and the Regenerate goals of the Army’s Northwest Division, reports Corps Officer Captain Rob Birks.
After a summer in which several Temple soldiers, along with Corps Officer Captain Stacy Birks, participated in mission trips to Mexico, Canada, and across the country, many were feeling led to take what they’d learned and use it for the benefit of their own town.
But reaching out to the homeless isn’t the only need being tackled by Temple soldiers.
Birks recently spoke with Ryan and Naomi Halset about the need for a young adult program; the Halsets not only accepted leadership of the corps’ young adults, they took on the needs of college-age men and women across the Seattle area with a new once-a-month worship service: The Gathering. Thirty-one people attended its initial meeting, 16 of those had never been to the corps before.
In addition, the corps’ daycare program is meeting needs of children as well as parents—many of whom are single moms, a demographic the church is concerned about helping.
The Temple also is reaching out to elementary school youths. After School Kids (ASK) is a free program that offers after school care, games, snacks and tutoring for students in Seattle’s Greenwood area. ASK coordinator Sheila Schouten said there’s been a lot of enthusiasm from school administrators about the possibilities for area youths through the ASK club. “Some of the teachers have called to warn us that the kids can be a handful, but they’re excited we’re going to be offering something for their kids,” Schouten said. “I know there’s a real need here with latchkey kids, and parents who don’t have time, or computers, to help their kids with homework.”
In addition, the corps recently hired an Outreach Ministries Pastor, Micah Raymond, of Winnepeg, Canada, to help link social services clients with corps activities. Even the corps council has joined in the evangelism explosion. In May, the council decided to forego its regularly scheduled meetings though the rest of 2005, in order to set up three “Dream Teams” of corps leaders to pray, research, brainstorm and make sure the corps is reaching its goals to save, grow and serve.