Seekers Church continues to support many missions and ministries in the United States and other countries. The amount budgeted for domestic giving this year is about 22% of what we expect to receive in offerings over the course of the year. Once our budget is approved each year and the overall amount available for domestic giving has been determined by the Stewards of Seekers Church, all members of the faith community are invited to request support for missions or ministries where they are personally involved.
For 2018 the community affirmed support for 25 domestic missions and ministries listed here. For easy access to more information, the name of each organization is linked to its website.
L’Arche of Greater Washington
N Street Village
Silver Spring Village
Center for Wisdom’s Women
For Love of Children (FLOC)
Free Minds Book Club
Hispanic Summer Program (Union Theological Seminary)
Luce Center for Arts and Religion
Maryland Choral Society
Museum of the Palestinian People
Muslim Women’s Coalition
CHURCH OF THE SAVIOUR
Dayspring Overlook Retreat House
Christ House & Christ House Art Program
Center for Medicare Advocacy
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake
PICO – Sanctuary DMV
WORDE (World Organization for Resource Development and Education)
Here are the domestic missions and ministries we are supporting this year. to visit their web sites, click on the name of the organization.
L’Arche is an inter-denominational Christian community that welcomes people of all backgrounds to share life together. Community life is centered around four communal homes and the 16 members who have intellectual disabilities, known as “core people.”
Each community member is encouraged to discover and deepen his or her spiritual life and live it according to his or her particular faith and tradition. Those who have no religious affiliation are also welcomed and respected in their freedom of conscience. L’Arche of Greater Washington, D.C. is a faith community; a licensed provider of professional services; an advocate with and for people who have intellectual disabilities; and a member of a worldwide federation of autonomous L’Arche communities. Emmy Lu Daly’s was instrumental in establishing L’Arche communities in the Washington DC region, and her son Fritz has been a long-time core person.
MANNA is a nonprofit developer of quality, affordable housing in the District of Columbia. Since 1982, MANNA has been involved in a wide range of housing projects, producing nearly 1200 units, mostly for-sale homes. The organization has developed townhouses, condominiums, cooperatives, rentals and the occasional single-family home. They currently develop more condominium projects than any other nonprofit developer in the District.
The mission of MANNA is not one of simply building and selling houses. They focus on revitalizing entire neighborhoods through homeownership. MANNA’s strategy also includes educating first-time homebuyers for the process of home purchase and for continued success as homeowners. They also train homeowners and their neighbors throughout the city to become community leaders and advocates. Doug Dodge is a founding member of the Manna board of directors.
N Street Village empowers homeless and low-income women in Washington, D.C. to claim their highest quality of life by offering a broad spectrum of services, housing, and advocacy in an atmosphere of dignity and respect. We help women achieve stability and make meaningful gains in their housing, income, employment, mental health, physical health, and addiction recovery. N Street Village serves nearly 2,000 homeless and low-income women each year.
Their goal is to meet each individual woman exactly where she is on her unique journey to healing and recovery. They recognize that those they serve face a variety of challenges, and some individuals may face numerous obstacles simultaneously. Some of the most common challenges for the women of N Street Village include: health or mental health problems, substance abuse or addiction, a history of trauma, a lack of educational and vocational opportunities, job loss or eviction, domestic violence, a criminal background or other barriers to employment, or functional illiteracy. And sometimes the biggest challenge for a woman arriving at their front door is the loss of her own sense of dignity, self-worth, and hope. Cynthia Dahlin, a long-term volunteer member of the staff, teaches poetry at N Street Village.
Silver Spring Village provides a wide variety of programs and services for seniors in Silver Spring. Their trained, screened, and insured volunteers help with things like household chores, errands, transportation, and medical appointments; they make friendly visits and phone calls and implement a full calendar of social and educational activities. Village members make new friends, learn new things, and have easy access to needed help. Jacqie Wallen and Michele Frome have been long-term volunteers.
In the middle of Lewiston, Maine lies one of the poorest census districts in the state, one of the poorest in the country. Forty percent of the residents live at or below the poverty line. Within that neighborhood there is a place, a safe and sacred space, called Wisdom”s Center. Run by and for women, it brings hope and joy, life and light into the lives of women who otherwise fall between the cracks of the social service system. They are forgotten mothers, daughters, sisters and wives, many of whom are the most wounded of our society and have no support system elsewhere. Wisdom”s Center for those guests, is a sanctuary of sorts. For many years, the Banksons have provided support to Klara Tammany, the founder of the Center.
First Book transforms the lives of children in need. Through a sustainable, market-driven model, First Book is creating equal access to quality education — making everything from brand-new, high-quality books and educational resources, to sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more – affordable to its member network of more than 350,000 educators who exclusively serve kids in need.
Since 1992, First Book has distributed more than 170 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families in more than 30 countries. First Book currently reaches an average of 3 million children every year and supports more than one in four of the estimated 1.3 million classrooms and programs serving children in need. With an additional 1,000 educators joining each week, First Book is the largest and fastest-growing network of educators in the United States exclusively serving kids in need.
First Book members work in classrooms, after school and summer or early childhood programs, shelters and health clinics, libraries, community programs, military support programs, and other settings serving a majority of children in need. Elese Sizemore has been a staff member and supporter of First Book for many years. The Eyes to See, Ears to Hear peace Prayer Mission Group also provides ongoing support.
For Love of Children (FLOC) provides educational services beyond the classroom to help students succeed from first grade through college and career. They bring together students, volunteers, families, and community partners in proven programs that teach, empower, and transform.
For Love of Children uses education to empower young people and their families to close society’s achievement gap. Seekers Church has been supporting FLOC since we were called into being as a faith community. Currently the Eyes to See, Ears to Hear peace Prayer Mission Group also provides ongoing support.
The Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop is a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. that brings the tools of books and writing to incarcerated youth and formerly incarcerated youth and adults.
Free Minds members who are now at home read and discuss their work and those of members still incarcerated through “On the Same Page: Free Minds Poetry in the Community and Classroom.” These events, led by Free Minds members known as Poet Ambassadors (formerly incarcerated youth or adults) offer a new way to engage with issues of youth violence and incarceration and to find healing through the powerful medium of creative writing. “On the Same Page” events, such as Write Night, are held with diverse audiences across the city. Free Minds reaches well beyond a hundred volunteers each month at Write Night, alternating between two sites: Western Presbyterian Church in downtown DC, and Seekers Church. In responding to poetry written by youth who are still incarcerated, volunteers have an opportunity to be literally “on the same page” with the young prison poets.
On Write Night, the Seekers sanctuary is filled with tables of people of all ages and ethnicities who are given the opportunity to sit down together with pen in hand and read and comment on the powerful poems written by incarcerated youth. Often times, the incarcerated poets are in solitary confinement for as much as 23 hours a day and are also placed far from family and friends who might otherwise visit them. This reportedly leads to extreme loneliness and the sense that they have been forgotten by the world. So this small act of communicating with them by reading and commenting on their poetry has a hugely positive effect on the attitudes of those incarcerated when they receive back their poems with hundreds of comments from people they don’t know. Write Night is also a time when the Poet Ambassadors (formerly incarcerated youth and adults) speak sharing their poems, their experiences, and their current prospects and placements for further schooling or work. The ambassadors circulate throughout the tables for the hour and a half session informally creating a bond between community members and the group of the formerly incarcerated youth and adults. It is a very powerful experience that is always well attended. It has been especially good to see that so many of the attendees are students from the DC area wanting to help the cause. Poet Ambassadors also frequently meet with middle school and college students as well as community groups (offices, civic organizations, book clubs, and more.) Recently, Poet Ambassadors met with students and faculty at both Harvard Law School and Columbia Law School.
During the past two years, and especially in 2017, there has been an increase in the number of volunteers who attend the Write Night at Seekers (typically from 50 to 75 attendees). There has also been an increase in the number of Poet Ambassadors who attend. In the early days at Seekers there might have been 4 or 5 Ambassadors attend, and now there are regularly have between 10 and 20. During the time that Write Night has been happening at Seekers, the organization has grown tremendously, adding more re-entry services for members once they leave jail. Last year, Free Minds served over 500 members through its Jail, Prison and Reentry Book Clubs. They also won the prestigious Aspen Ideas Award, enabling them to plant seeds for similar programs in several other cities across the country. Marcia Sprague volunteers regularly at Write Night and often helps with setting up the space and coordinating evenings at Seekers. Michael Woldoff is frequently there as well.
The Hispanic Summer Program is a 2-week summer institute for Latinx seminary students and those who see themselves working in ministry situations within the Hispanic community. Deborah Sokolove has been on the Board for the past 3 years, and attended a program for non-Hispanic faculty and administrators called Through Hispanic Eyes, which revealed the particular struggle of seminarians who may never have had the opportunity to meet someone from their culture with a PhD, or to study under someone who looks and thinks like them. The mission of HSP is “to supplement and enrich the theological and ministerial education being offered in seminaries and universities, with academic courses and other activities directly addressing Latinx history, ministry, and theology.”
The Henry Luce III Center for Arts and Religion nurtures and guides students, churches, and artists exploring the intersection of the arts and theology. The Dadian Gallery serves as a meeting place for both contemplative reflection and communal celebration, playing host to compelling one-of-a-kind shows and spiritually themed exhibitions. A long standing Artist-in-Residence program offers seminary students hands-on-training in a variety of artistic traditions, while also providing artists with shared studio space and a spiritual home well suited to vital art making.
By producing dramatic works, concerts, artist talks, poetry readings, dance workshops, symposia, and other special events, the Center for the Arts and Religion seeks to promote dialogue between artists and theologians, and to foster inspired creativity in all forms of ministry. Deborah Sokolove serves as director of the Center.
The Maryland Choral Society (MCS) is a community choral group dedicated to quality performance for music enthusiasts in the Greater Washington area. A mixed chorus of approximately 40 members, MCS is based in Prince George’s County, Maryland, but has members from throughout Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia.
MCS performs a wide repertoire of musical styles and periods to attract as broad an audience as possible. It strives to nurture an appreciation for the choral arts among both novices and seasoned listeners. Katie Fisher is a member of the chorus.
The Museum of the Palestinian People celebrates the culture and people of Palestine — our resilience in the face of oppression, their ability to exist in their land, to struggle and survive. Here, visitors will encounter the Palestinians whose culture has evolved and thrived over centuries and see them as heroes of their own stories.
The Museum of the Palestinian People is the first museum in the United States devoted to exploration, celebration, and preservation of the Palestinian people’s history, stories, culture, and art. The Museum began as the Nakba Museum Project, a series of traveling exhibits featuring maps, photographs, and graphs outlining significant historical events in Palestine; photographs of nonviolent resistance in the West Bank; paintings by Palestinian artists living in refugee camps; and video firsthand accounts of the Nakba. The exhibits have been presented throughout the United States.
The Museum of The Palestinian People will be housed in Washington, DC. The physical space of the Museum will serve as a center for the celebration of Palestinian artistic expression, identity, and scholarship. In March 2018 the museum obtained a space near DuPont Circle in Washington DC for the next two years. This interim space will be a stepping stone toward a full-fledged museum. Sandra Miller and the Eyes to See, Ears to Hear peace Prayer Mission Group provide active, ongoing support.
In recent years, the world has awakened to a need to better understand Muslims and their faith. Many are only now realizing the contribution Islamic civilization has made to global society. For example, the principles of democracy, equality, justice, and communal welfare are inherently Islamic values introduced with the advent of the faith. Ultimately, these fundamental Islamic principles are designed to create harmony and balance in society.
The Muslim Women’s Coalition (MWC) is dedicated to upholding these and other Islamic principles by uniting American Muslim women who seek to serve the worldwide community with compassion, love and goodwill.
MWC’s Greater Washington DC Area office works to build a positive and consistent relationship within the community, including all races, ethnicities and faith traditions. Their work is based on compassion and respect for all humanity. Their volunteers are committed to educating everyone about the beauty of Islam through the true Islamic principles of Ihsan: the perfection of one’s character.
The Coalition also aims to serve as a resource for all Americans to learn about women in Islam. We provide the interfaith, media and policy-making communities access to timely, relevant information, and act as a channel for the Muslim woman’s viewpoint on issues pertaining to domestic policy, civil society, and foreign affairs. Sandra Miller and the Eyes to See, Ears to Hear Peace Prayer Mission Group provide active, ongoing support.
CHURCH OF THE SAVIOUR
Christ House opened in December 1985 as the first 24-hour residential medical facility for homeless persons in the United States. Today, Christ House is still the only facility of its kind in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, where over 6,000 people experience homelessness every day. To the best of their knowledge, there are only 13 stand-alone residential medical facilities for the homeless like Christ House in all of the U.S. and Canada. Since their inception, they have had over 8,000 admissions. The art program gives Christ House patients another way to express themselves.
Patients are admitted to Christ House from area hospitals, shelters, clinics, and medical outreach projects. They suffer from a variety of illnesses and injuries including cancer, hypertension and stroke, liver disease, kidney failure, diabetes and related amputations, HIV/AIDS, respiratory disease, major lacerations, fractures, and ulcerations of the skin. Many are malnourished, anemic, depressed, and desperately disconnected from healthy sources of support.
In addition to comprehensive health and respite care, Christ House offers activities for the enjoyment of their residents, activities like trips to the local library, pumpkin carving at Halloween, attending a Washington Nationals baseball game and creating art. Jean Adams, a longtime member of Seekers Church teaches in the art program.
Overlook Retreat House is a comfortable home overlooking Merton’s Pond on Dayspring Farm. It is well organized and equipped 3-bedroom living space (sleeps up to six people) with a kitchen and dining area as well as a small library of books and art materials for soulful and playful exploration. It is available for individual and small group self-guided retreats, and open year-round. The house is near the farmhouse on Dayspring Farm, overlooking Merton’s Pond, in the midst of 210 acres of natural beauty. Overlook is a new ministry of Church of the Saviour, supporting individual and small group retreats. The Banksons are supporting Trish Stefanik as she responds to this new call.
Discipleship Year is one of The Festival Center’s core programs. It is a year-long residential experience that actively engages volunteers with issues of social justice and servant leadership. During their year, the volunteers will:
- live in intentional community in a Christian setting;
• enter into theological study and reflection through classes at the Servant Leadership School;
• work in one of the Church of the Saviour ministries or a similar organization.
Discipleship Year places participants with organizations that have the pursuit of a more compassionate and just world at the core of their mission. A number of their placements provide direct service to low-income individuals and families, addressing inequities related to housing, health, education, and experiences of incarceration. Other placements focus on the ways that advocacy and organizing efforts can respond to issues such as global poverty and climate change. Trish Nemore and the Eyes to See, Ears to Hear Peace Prayer Mission Group provide active, ongoing support.
The Festival Center serves as a meeting place for activists, artists, people of faith (and no faith), seekers, and mission-driven groups. Our work is to be a hub and a generative space for all people working for justice and the common good. We do this by offering space to the community, a beautiful chapel for prayer and meditation, courses and events through Soteria Community School, and a year-long internships through our Discipleship Year program.
Over the years, the Festival Center building has been home to multiple organizations. Currently, the Festival Center provides space for a number of other mission-driven organizations, such as Jubilee Housing, City Kids, Faith and Money Network, Little Bird Community Acupuncture, and Adams Morgan Partnership. They are also home to numerous faith communities, regular events, and AA and NA groups. Sandra Miller serves as Board Chair for the Center.
The Potter’s House is a nonprofit café, bookstore, and event space in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC. Since opening our doors in 1960 we have been a key place for deeper conversation, creative expression, and community transformation. In our rapidly changing city – one in which development so often means displacement – The Potter’s House is a deeply rooted space where all who come can build relationships across our differences, envision just alternatives, and grow the movements that will make them possible. Marjory Bankson and the Eyes to See, Ears to Hear Peace Prayer Mission Group provide active, ongoing support.
Arlington Thrive delivers same-day emergency funds to our neighbors in crisis, so they can be secure in their jobs, health, and homes and thrive in a caring community.
It has been 10 years since Arlington County launched a plan with a goal to end homelessness in the county. Arlington Thrive has played an important role in that effort by providing same-day emergency funds to pay for rent and utilities. Without those funds, many low-income Arlington residents face the risk of being evicted and ending up on the street. In 2017 Arlington Thrive helped 2,187 people remain in their homes. Cynthia Dahlin is a longtime volunteer and supporter of Arlington Thrive.
HIPS promotes the health, rights, and dignity of individuals and communities impacted by sexual exchange and/or drug use due to choice, coercion, or circumstance. HIPS provides compassionate harm reduction services, advocacy, and community engagement that is respectful, non-judgmental, and affirms and honors individual power and agency.
Since its founding in 1993, HIPS has been one of the very few organizations in the country providing non-judgmental healthcare and social services for sex workers and others who live on DC’s streets. Many of HIPS’s clients have been (and continue to be) marginalized by their experiences of trauma and are unable to seek medical or housing resources due to laws that criminalize, stigmatize, and frequently dehumanize them. The majority of HIPS’s clients are particularly at risk as transgender women of color, a multiply-marginalized population that is one of the highest risk groups for unemployment, sexual assault, HIV Infection, and, all-too-frequently, murder.
HIPS’s Drop-In Center on H Street provides harm reduction and housing counseling, HIV and Hepatitis-C testing and treatment, showering facilities, free laundry and community lunch, numerous support groups, and a 24-hour crisis hotline. Three nights weekly, a volunteer-staffed overnight van meets people on the street to distribute safer sex supplies and hot chocolate, and to offer on the spot micro-counseling. HIPS staff, interns, and volunteers are active in neighborhood committees, advocating for these long-time residents and pushing back against the ongoing forces of gentrification that would just as soon them disappear. The organization operates on a shoe-string budget, making a point of hiring the majority of its staff from the communities in which it operates and drawing on a broad base of volunteers who believe in its mission and unique impact.
The Caron LGBTQ Retreat began in the 1980s as a safe, supportive place for those with HIB/AIDS and in recovery to come together. Over the years, the retreats have expanded to be inclusive of all in the LGBTQ community, regardless if they are impacted by HIV/AIDS. Our core group of faithful participants has grown into a special extended family and welcome you to join our family. A few times a year, we return to Caron to share feelings, laughter, and life struggles; mourn losses; and unconditionally welcome newcomers.
The Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc., established in 1986, is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan law organization that provides education, advocacy and legal assistance to help older people and people with disabilities obtain fair access to Medicare and quality health care. The Center is headquartered in Connecticut and Washington, DC with offices throughout the country.
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (IPC) educates, supports and inspires people and communities of faith to advocate for the waters of the Chesapeake through policies and practices that promote a healthier environment and healthier people.
IPC envisions a time when people of faith throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed understand their sacred duty to love and respect the Earth and all the life within it. We envision a time when people of faith will act individually and collectively to cherish and protect the land and the water, so that the Earth, its breath, its essence, its creatures, and its people will thrive and be joyful.
In March of 2017, Seekers Church joined a local movement of (now) 70 religious bodies called Sanctuary DMV to support immigrants, especially those without documents, in myriad ways. All members of SLT as well as other members of Seekers have attended meetings of Sanctuary DMV and I am a primary contact and continue to attend meetings and participate in activities of both the local group to which we were assigned, MoCo Sanctuary, as well as the full regional DMV group. In addition, I have participated in several trainings and joined in an effort to persuade Montgomery County government to provide funds for deportation defense. Seekers participation is ongoing.
Among the activities sponsored and/or supported by Sanctuary DMV are:
- • training and creation of Rapid Response Teams of religious leaders and congregational members to show up and monitor ICE raids at homes and workplaces,
• training of members to accompany immigrants to scheduled ICE check-ins and to monitor what is done, provide support for the individual needing to check in and make arrangements for that person’s family members if the immigrant is taking into custody at the check-in (becoming more common)
• Know Your Rights (KYR) trainings for immigrants to better prepare them for encounters with law enforcement and ICE
• Periodic meetings of the entire regional movement and more frequent meetings of the geographically organized groups
• Support – housing, food, and people – for DACA young people who come to DC to lobby for protections
• Support – financial and logistical – for churches that have agreed to provide physical sanctuary to individuals targeted by ICE for deportation
• Organizing, through email, accompaniment teams from those who have been trained.
The World Organization for Resource Development and Education [WORDE] is a nonprofit, educational organization whose mission is to enhance communication and understanding between communities to mitigate social and political conflict. Utilizing a research-informed foundation for programming, we identify drivers of conflict and opportunities for building strong, resilient communities.
We believe that providing networks with the right resources to build community resilience against extremism is a requisite component to any long-term development strategy for building communities. Our work accomplishes this by investing in human capital and strengthening civil society by mobilizing local leaders, establishing community centers that emphasize civic responsibility, and providing institutional capacity building to those who share our vision.