A few weeks ago, as one of our youth sat beside me in worship, she asked me about my blog. She wanted to know if it was for me or for the church. I told her in that moment before worship began: I have no idea. On a previous blog, one that I kept just for church (and as since been deleted), I had a disclaimer saying that these thoughts were a reflection of my ministry — but in no way was I speaking for the entire membership. Really, that’s impossible and I never, ever want to do that. But, there are times when I have to make decisions for the well-being of our church family and I need a space to process those decisions. I journal those things that are for my eyes only. But, sometimes I want others to read my words. Sometimes I want others to wander through these thoughts with me. And so, I blog.
Recently, there has been a change in the homeless community in Olympia. I am not sure how to describe it because I really don’t think I can understand it. I can’t figure out how to explain how it no longer feels safe to have homeless people sleeping around our building. Because something has changed in this homeless community. We are finding more drug paraphernalia. We are finding more violence. I’m a girl from New York. I have worked with the homeless population before — but I am uncomfortable. Especially as these folks keep finding their way into the building and the safety of our members, our visitors or anyone that might happen to be in the building is at risk.
I want the church to be a sanctuary — but I won’t risk anyone’s safety for this desire. And it feels like our safety is at risk. And it’s not just us. It’s the local synagogue and the other churches — and even more so, it’s something we are seeing happen at the library just a few blocks away. We are all taking precautions. We are all increasing our security. And it is so uncomfortable especially in church where I really would love to believe that we could leave the doors open all of the time and nothing would be stolen, vandalized or abused. But, that’s not realistic. So, we’re on lock down. Or, at least, that’s how it feels. The doors to our church remain locked during office hours and we’re encouraging everyone to use the side door where we have tighter control on security. It’s the right choice and I’m so grateful for the faithful leaders who are so eager to support the staff, our members and our children by guaranteeing that safety comes first. But, I don’t like it. And I constantly feel like I’m leading with my own fear rather than from that abiding place of love. I want more love.