Author: Sandy Windley

Martin Luther King, Jr., Redeeming the Prophetic Vision

Martin Luther King, Jr., Redeeming the Prophetic Vision
Sunday, January 14, 2018
2:30pm – 4:00pm
Urban Grace Church

Sunday, January 14, 2018 will mark the 12th annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Redeeming the Prophetic Vision.  This all volunteer-organized interfaith community event is brought to the community by The Conversation in partnership with Associated Ministries and Urban Grace Church. 

We seek to honor Dr. King’s radical call for peace and justice for all people by helping our community to shine the light of his vision on our current local, national, and global situation; re-imagine unity across difference; renew our shared commitment to the path of social justice; and reconnect with peace and justice activists and advocates across our community.

As part of our efforts to fulfill these goals, we offer a distinctive community event that is intergenerational, multi-ethnic, and participatory, including: blessings from multiple faith and wisdom traditions, spoken word and music addressing civil rights and justice themes, and messages from Dr. Dexter Gordon and other local voices on how to extend Dr. King’s radical vision through individual and community action.

Join The Conversation, Urban Grace Church, and Associated Ministries at Redeeming the Prophetic Vision 2018.  Bring your family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors on Sunday, January 14, 2018 at 2:30pm.  Urban Grace Church (corner of 9th & Market) in downtown Tacoma.  Plan to “fill a row” at Urban Grace!


AM Community Quarterly Meeting a Huge Success!

by Valorie Crout, Chief Program Officer, Associated Ministries
In 2017 Associated Ministries began convening Community Quarterly Meetings in partnership with other homeless and housing service providers working in Pierce County, with the goal of creating an energizing space to gather regularly to learn about, discuss and take action on the crisis of homelessness in our community. So far, 187 people representing 44 faith communities have attended one or more of these meetings to learn how they can impact homelessness.
We had a record number of attendees during our most recent CQM. The word is spreading! The energy is rising! People of faith are hearing about and responding to the call to help end homelessness!  We extend special thanks to the following people who made the December meeting a success:
  • YOU, for showing up to listen, learn and participate in this encouraging session. And to all of those who wanted to attend, but couldn’t. Your spirit was still with us. Thank you!
  • Pastor Eric Jackson for offering a warm and comfortable space to meet at Bethlehem Baptist Church.
  • Tess Colby, Manager of the Community Service Division at Pierce County Human Services, for a insightful and well-received presentation on our County’s new 5-year plan to end homelessness (pictured to right).
  • Pastor Nathan Hollifield from Fircrest United Methodist Church for offering a testimony on how his church has been blessed by hosting families experiencing homelessness multiple times this year as part of Catholic Community Services’ Family Housing Network.
  • Jeffery Boyce for sharing information on a unique way congregations can consider helping: by providing safe parking for those experiencing homelessness.  Learn more about safe parking from Jeffery here
The testimonies, information presented and dedication in the room was amazing! Truly we are community coming together to end homelessness.

You can find the PowerPoint presentation that was provided here.

As we enter the New Year, the team at Associated Ministries is committed to continue bringing forward the most current information and resources to inform our community, allowing us all to make informed decisions and take appropriate action to help end homelessness.
P.S. Please join us at the next Community Quarterly Meeting (download bulletin inserts here):
March 22nd from 5-7pm
Shiloh Baptist Church
1211 South I Street, Tacoma


A note from Rev. Gregory Christopher, Senior Pastor at Shiloh Baptist Church: 
Hello Community, Wow! The Shiloh Church family and myself are elated to host the next Community Quarterly Meeting sponsored by Associated Ministries. At these quarterly meetings the community is in partnership with other homeless and housing services and ideas are exchanged on how to best address homelessness and affordable housing. For me this opportunity is also personal; my oldest brother died of hypothermia December 31, 2015. My brother was made homeless because of a shooting in an area in Dallas Texas where the homeless population was allowed to live in huge tents similar to those on the port of Tacoma . He froze to death under a bridge. If you think that your family and closest friends are immune to homelessness, please think again.
Come out and join in the conversation; who knows, the best way of addressing homelessness could be within you.
Best Wishes during the Holiday Season,
Gregory Christopher, Senior Pastor

December Celebrates Births in Many Faith Traditions

December holds many faith holidays and celebrations.  As I looked through the calendar, a theme jumped out at me: birth.  Mawlid celebrates the birth of Muhammad, the prophet who received the message of the Qaran, the sacred text of Islam.  Bodhi Day celebrates Buddha’s “birth” of his new life into enlightenment after he sat under the bodhi tree for eight days.  And of course Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated by Christians worldwide.  As we move towards the “birth” of winter, the idea of newness, birth and enlightenment warm my soul!

Reverend Kojo Kakihara of the Tacoma Buddhist Temple shared this about Buddha and Bodhi Day:

“Even though he had every material thing he could desire, Prince Siddartha Gautama was not satisfied with his life. After diligently practicing many different kinds of strict disciplines including starving himself almost to the point of death, he realized that such extremes were not the way which would lead to a peaceful mind. Instead, he turned toward the “Middle Path” of meditation and sat under a Bodhi tree making a firm resolution not to move from his sitting position until he attained Enlightenment. December 8th is considered the day that the Prince Siddartha Gautama attained enlightenment and became Sakyamuni Buddha. If this event did not occur, the world may never have known of the teachings now called Buddhism. So this day is shared by all Buddhists regardless of sects as a day of utmost importance. Since Enlightenment is known as Bodhi in Sanskrit, December 8th is called Bodhi Day, and the tree that the Prince sat beneath is referred to as a Bodhi Tree. The word “Buddha” means the “Enlightened One.” Buddha is one who has realized the Universal Truth and can see the true nature of existence just as they are. Buddhism teaches that all things have Buddha-nature or potential to become a Buddha.

It is the common and ultimate goal in any type of Buddhism that this “I” aim to attain enlightenment and become a Buddha. To attain enlightenment is my being given a new life. Enlightenment is Great Wisdom and Great Compassion. Even though it is extremely difficult to attain enlightenment, the goal of attaining enlightenment always teaches me who I really am or how I am living everyday life. It is like a mirror that shows our true self as it is. Also Enlightenment makes it clear where we should live this precious life towards, and we come to realize the meaning of this life more clearly, and it makes our life more positive and richer. On the Bodhi Day, with thinking of Sakyamuni Buddha’s attaining enlightenment, I reflect again upon and appreciate my own life that is living towards enlightenment of a new life.”


A Six-Month Evaluation of the Coordinated Entry System

By Klarissa Monteros, Housing Program Manager

Associated Ministries (AM) implemented Centralized Intake for those experiencing homelessness in Pierce County in 2011. We operated the County’s first centralized intake process for five years and learned for the first time what homelessness looks like in our community. Through these learnings we were able to move from a Centralized Intake process to a Coordinated Entry System (CES) in October of 2016. Focus Strategies consults with Pierce County and among other things they provide system and program evaluations assessing the effectiveness of CES. Their six month report stated they found that, overall, CES is achieving its intended objectives, including:

  • People experiencing homelessness have a clear, well-understood pathway to accessing the homeless crisis response system.
  • The CES helps households solve their own housing crisis and stay out of the homeless system whenever possible.
  • Households receive the right resources at the right time.
  • Those with the greatest needs are prioritized for the most intensive assistance.
  • People experiencing homelessness move rapidly into permanent housing and do not experience subsequent returns to homelessness.

However, the evaluation also revealed that there is a racial disproportionality in the amount of African Americans accessing the lighter-touch Diversion services rather than a more in-depth housing intervention. African Americans are over represented as participants in this aspect of Coordinated Entry.

Everyone who reaches out to CES begins with a Diversion conversation. This conversation is an immediate problem solving intervention that assists clients to resolve their own housing crisis through creative thinking. Clients who feel they need a deeper intervention to solve their situation do not participate in Diversion and opt instead to be placed in our Priority Pool, through which they MAY eventually be referred to a housing program.

While 50 percent of everyone CES met with was white and 38 percent were black, 38 percent of white clients and nearly 50 percent of black clients chose to address their housing challenge through the Diversion intervention; there should be equivalent ratios participating from both groups. This disparity prompts further evaluation to ensure we are delivering equitable services to persons of color.

This is consistent with findings AM learned during focus groups with persons of color we held earlier this year. We found that there was an overall distrust in service delivery by people of color. They felt as though they were in “competition” for resources and that resources were hidden from them due to biases stemming from a “welfare” stereotype. As a result, many persons of color felt as though they had no choice but to accept any service or resource offered to them, even if it did not fully meet their need; they felt as though they would not receive other opportunities. This is useful information we are using to evaluate CES and make service delivery recommendations.

AM is committed to being an agency that serves everyone with equity and inclusion. We will continue to use data to assess and identify racial disparities and refine service delivery in order to effectively address all differences. We are honored to be a key part of our County’s Coordinated Entry System and its efforts to make homelessness rare, brief and one-time.

And the Community Pillar Award goes to…

by Klarissa Monteros, AM Program Manager

We would like to congratulate Living Access Support Alliance (LASA) on receiving AM’s Community Pillar Award. LASA has been pivotal in helping us come together to work towards ending homelessness in Pierce County.

Recently LASA creatively converted former transitional housing units into permanent affordable housing! Minimal affordable housing is available in Pierce County, and the vacancy rate fluctuates around 1%, so this is a huge win for our community! LASA’s efforts have creatively filled a gap that beautifully supports families working towards solving their housing crisis. Every client that finished the application process was accepted into their permanent housing units despite the barriers they presented. This is difficult work and there were some bumps on the road, but we were able to work it through together.

We value our partnership with LASA and with Paula in particular. She is an amazing advocate and we trust that our clients are in good hands when we send them her way. The whole team is on point and very responsive. Thank you LASA for all your efforts helping to end homelessness. You are a valued member of our community! 

(AM staff pictured above: Ivette Morales-Perez, Kelsey Johnson, Klarissa Monteros, Paula (LASA), Mike Yoder, Mary Aongo)

Join us for the BEST Community Quarterly Meeting Yet!

We are ending the year with the best Community Quarterly Meeting yet!  You will not want to miss the next meeting, scheduled for Dec. 5.

Those who attend will be among the first anywhere to get a sneak peek at Pierce County’s new five-year plan to end homelessness. Tess Colby, Manager at Pierce County Human Services, will join us in person to present it to us.

The goal of the plan is to change what homelessness looks like in our community. A few of the impacts this plan is expected to have in our community are: 

  • More comprehensive, wrap around services for those experiencing homelessness.
  • Ending homelessness for target populations or the most vulnerable, including: chronically homeless, veterans, families and youth.
  • Cost analysis to leverage resources to serve more people.
  • Increased partnerships with the faith community, businesses providers, government, etc.
  • Reduce criminalization of homelessness.
  • Affordable housing is integrated into the planning efforts.
  • Measurements have been created to monitor progress and success.

The next Community Quarterly Meeting will be on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 4:00-6:00 pm at Bethlehem Baptist Church, 4818 E. Portland Avenue, Tacoma.  Please join us to be part of this pivotal conversation in our community.

Associated Ministries convenes these meetings in partnership with other homeless and housing service providers working in Pierce County, with the goal of creating an energizing space to gather regularly to learn about, discuss and take action on the crisis of homelessness in our community. 

We especially encourage attendance from those representing a specific faith community (as a pastor or appointed representative) along with anyone else interested in helping to end homelessness.

If you have questions, please contact Valorie at or 253-426-1508. Download this bulletin insert to share with your congregation.

Annual AM Breakfast a Big Success

by Mike Yoder, AM’s Executive Director

Foss Waterway Seaport was filled with energy on the morning of Thursday, Nov. 2 as 260 people from throughout our community gathered for AM’s 6th annual “Lead the Way Home” Breakfast. This is the largest group we’ve ever had for our annual fundraiser! Guests included clergy and faith leaders, elected leaders and local judges, business people, those who work for other community service agencies, and many people of goodwill from all over Pierce County!

This year’s special guest was Rev. David Alger. During three decades of service as the Executive Director of AM, David effectively convened the local faith community to be in dialogue and relationship, and to spearhead innovative responses to many of our community’s great challenges. David continues to generously share his wisdom with all of us at AM and advocates for our ongoing efforts to serve the vulnerable; his warm words of friendship at the Breakfast and welcoming of two other past directors of AM (Bruce Foreman and Al Ratcliffe) made it feel like we were at a reunion of old friends!

Also during the gathering attendees heard from Byron and MacKenzie on video, and Sherry in person. They represented the 13,000 clients we interact with in our housing programs each year. Sherry shared a particularly compelling story of her year living on the streets, including insights into what it took for her to survive that challenging period in her life. AM was able to come alongside her and help her transition into permanent housing; she now works on the AM team helping others overcome homelessness just as she was able to do. Everyone at the Breakfast was riveted by Sherry’s unforgettable story of tragedy and triumph.

Each year we hold our Lead the Way Home Breakfast to inspire and encourage our friends who are committed to help build a stronger community. Generous financial gifts by many attendees energize our ability to impact lives and make lasting change happen. We were encouraged that there was record giving by those who came!

If you planned to attend but were unable to do so, and you’d like to support the important work of Associated Ministries, click here to donate online.

The support of so many in this community enables us to continue doing all that we can do to end the experience of family homelessness in Pierce County. Our sincere thanks to everyone who attended our Breakfast this year and helped us “Lead the Way Home”!

A Response to the Texas Church Shooting

by Mike Yoder, AM’s Executive Director

The news of yet another mass shooting in America is tragically all too familiar. Yet the report out of Sutherland Springs, Texas over the weekend arose in many of us a particular sense of horror and anger. The devastating and senseless slaying of nearly half the congregation of First Baptist Church while they were gathered for worship in their sanctuary is a violation of the most basic form of human decency. Our houses of worship must never become places in which we feel the need to look over our shoulder for a shooter.

Mark Bane, president of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations Lay Leadership, said: “This act of senseless violence and brutal terror has no place anywhere in the world, but particularly not in a house of worship. Indeed, the perpetrator has violated all houses of worship with this vile attack.”

I resonate with Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who responded to this latest shooting by saying: “We must come to the firm determination that there is a fundamental problem in our society. A Culture of Life cannot tolerate, and must prevent, senseless gun violence in all its forms. May the Lord, who Himself is Peace, send us His Spirit of charity and nonviolence to nurture His peace among us all.”

Pastor and author Nate Pyle shared the following prayer over the weekend that touched me; I encourage you to join me in praying along these lines in the days to come:

Pray for the victims of gun violence.
Pray we do not become numb to tragedy.
Pray we do not value our rights more than the lives of our neighbors.
Pray we as a nation wake to our ability to do something and repent of our inaction.

May we continue our long-standing efforts to create a community – and a world – that is more humane, compassionate and just.

(Note: A practical tool to enable local faith leaders to support one other during a time of crisis has been launched by Associated Ministries. Through our emergency response alert system, a text message will be sent in the rare event that a local faith community is threatened with a hate crime or violence and is asking for other congregations to lend support. To join the Pierce County Faith Leaders’ Emergency Response Network, text the keyword PCFAITHRESPONSE to 80123 and you will be automatically subscribed. For more information contact Sandy at AM at 253-426-1506 or email

Sparks Ignite at the Community Quarterly Meetings!

by Valorie Crout, AM’s Chief Program Officer

Associated Ministries began hosting Community Quarterly Meetings this past January. At the meeting, people of faith and goodwill explore ways to impact homelessness. Participants have been coming up with solid solutions and tangible action steps to decrease homelessness in our community. 

Sparks have been ignited! 

Several congregations are talking about ways to be better supporters of the Tacoma Rescue Mission Shelter and the Family Housing Network Shelter. They are excited about Shared Housing Services, which connects people who are experiencing homelessness to homeowners who have an extra room to offer as housing.

Another result: People of faith are donating toiletries, bus passes, socks, and underwear for people when they spend the night in local shelters. These are small things but they make a big difference in the lives of individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness.

Two Gig Harbor congregations are exploring ways to impact homelessness in their area, too. One congregation already identified six members who are willing to offer a room to a household experiencing homelessness.  The other congregation is interested in exploring what it would take to provide safe parking for households living in their cars.  A couple of churches in the Tacoma area are exploring the safe parking option, as well.

A member of a congregation in the Tacoma area met recently with Associated Ministries’ staff to brainstorm a strategy to build a 20-unit building to provide affordable housing in the Hilltop area.

These actions taken so far highlight the outcomes of only three Community Quarterly meetings. Imagine what the next three meetings will bring!

Three individuals who are experiencing homelessness attended a recent workshop on homelessness.    One individual said, “Our friends are the churches”.  Another confirmed, “Our friends and allies are faith-based organizations.”   Their hope lies within the faith community! 

Join us on December 5th from 4-6pm for the next Community Quarterly Meeting at Bethlehem Baptist Church, 4818 East Portland Ave in Tacoma. Be part of conversations that are changing people’s lives and positively impacting the crisis of homelessness. 

For more information about upcoming Community Quarterly Meetings, please contact Valorie Crout, Chief Program Officer, at 253-426-1508 or

Compassion – A Community’s Shared Value

When people of different faiths and backgrounds come together around a shared value, a space is created that is beautiful to say the least.  To kick off Compassion Month, Temple Beth El last week hosted a Compassion Shabbat “Standing United with Compassion”.  People from many different faiths came together to hear Rabbi Bruce Kadden (Temple Beth El), Prof. Samuel Torvend (PLU), Rev. Heidi Calhoun (Creator Lutheran Church) and Imam Ahmad Saleh (Islamic Center of Tacoma) speak to the necessity of compassion in our communities and throughout the world.

Compassion, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”  Empathy is trying to understanding how someone feels, and trying to imagine how that might feel for you.  Compassion takes it to the next level. It is trying to feel what that person is feeling, holding it, accepting it, and taking some form of action.

In March 2017, more than 30 faith leaders gathered to reflect on hate speech and threats of violence directed toward Jews and Muslims, immigrants, minorities, members of the LGBTQ community and others.  Empathy turned into compassion, and action began.  From that, “Standing United with Compassion Month” was created.  A statement, drafted by Professor Samuel Torvend of PLU, was provided to faith communities to share in solidarity against hate crimes and violence. 

Additionally, an emergency text network and system was created and put into place.  Faith leaders who are part of that network will be texted in case of a hate crime/violence emergency.

Compassion Month runs through November 12th.  What will your faith community do during that time to lead with compassion?  A list of ideas/resources can be found here.  Share your successes, stories and ideas – we’d love to hear them.  To share your compassion stories, e-mail them to

Join us in a Compassion Month closing service at the annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Gathering, this year hosted by Immanuel Presbyterian, Tuesday, November 21st, 7:00 p.m.

“A lighted candle of compassion can easily illuminate the world more than the blinding light of anger, intolerance and violence combined.” ~Dodinsky

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