The recipient organizations of our domestic giving vary somewhat from year to year. The general rule is that one or more Seekers are personally involved in these organizations in some way. Recipients are chosen by consensus among the congregation at the start of every year.
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 2019 the community affirmed support for 26 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
Luce Center for Arts and Religion
Maryland Choral Society
Museum of the Palestinian People
Muslim Women’s Coalition
Pyramid Atlantic Art Center
CHURCH OF THE SAVIOUR
Dayspring Overlook Retreat House
Christ House & Christ House Art Program
Caron Foundation LGBT HIV/AIDS Retreats
Cedar Lane UCC Church Sanctuary Project
CKC Urban Farming
Asociacion Civica Nicaraguense
Center for Medicare Advocacy
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake
Congregation Action Network (nee PICO – Sanctuary DMV)
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 believes that education is the best way out of poverty for children in need. First Book aims to remove barriers to quality education for all kids by making everything from new, high quality books and educational resources to sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more – affordable to its member network of more than 400,000 educators who exclusively serve kids in need.
Since 1992, First Book has distributed more than 175 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low income communities in more than 30 countries. First Book currently reaches an average of 5 million children every year and supports more than one in three 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 served as 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 uses books, creative writing, and peer support to awaken DC youth incarcerated as adults to their own potential. Through creative expression, job readiness training, and violence prevention outreach, these young poets achieve their education and career goals, and become powerful voices for change in the community.
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.
Since 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 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 Has served as director of the Center for many years.
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 open its doors on June 15, 2019.
Guided by the motto “Many Stories, One Heart”, the Museum of the Palestinian People will share stories of the Palestinian people through historic artifacts, personal narratives and other forms of artistic expression. It will connect Palestinians throughout the diaspora to evoke pride in Palestinian arts and culture. The museum is also partnering with other organizations to reach broader audiences committed to its vision of a world without borders. 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.
Pyramid Atlantic is a nonprofit center for contemporary art, fostering the creative disciplines of papermaking, printmaking, and book arts within a collaborative community. They equip, educate, and exhibit in their historic Hyattsville home. Pyramid also takes its educational show on the road, offering all ages of youth the opportunity to learn more about creating art, offering guided tours to children and adults of exhibits in area museums and galleries, participates in national conferences about the arts, and offers opportunities to study with internationally recognized experts in various artistic disciplines.
The Center was founded in 1981 by noted artist and teacher Helen C. Frederick to provide a setting for artistic collaboration and dialogue. A 501(c)(3) non-profit community arts center, Pyramid Atlantic receives federal and state funds as well as generous support from private foundations, corporations, and local businesses. In addition, we count individual donors and our members among our most valued supporters. They are located in the historic Arcade building in the Hyattsville Gateway Arts District. The facility features a papermaking studio, print shop, letterpress studio, bindery, and a darkroom. They also have private studios for artists to rent and a gallery for exhibitions. Sandra Miller is an active participant and supporter of the Center.
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 taught in the art program for many years.
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 has been one of The Festival Center’s core programs, a year-long residential experience that actively engages volunteers with issues of social justice and servant leadership. At the end of this year’s placements in August, the program will be laid down to allow discernment of a new call. Visioning sessions have been held in open public forums, in one-on-one conversations with stakeholders, conversations with nonprofit leaders whose mission aligns with the Festival Center, and with faith leaders. The DY Program will rest through 2020 while the residential whole house is rehabilitated. As soon as possible in 2021 the Festival Center will launch a new program, the exact structure of which is still under consideration. Seekers Church supports the conclusion of this year’s program and the discernment process now underway. Sandra Miller is the chair of the Festival Center Board, and 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. Their work is to be a hub and a generative space for all people working for justice and the common good. They do this by offering space to the community, a beautiful chapel for prayer and meditation, and courses and events through Soteria Community School.
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 their doors in 1960 they 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.
Arlington Thrive is the only organization in Arlington County, Virginia that provides same-day, emergency financial assistance to County residents who experience sudden financial crisis such as temporary unemployment or illness. Most clients are the working poor, elderly and disabled people on a fixed income, and the homeless and formerly homeless who need Arlington Thrive’s funds as a “safety net” until they are able to get back on firmer financial footing. Arlington Thrive’s clients are among Arlington County’s most vulnerable residents. Families with children are given the highest priority, and one-third of the individuals served by Arlington Thrive are children.
With three staff members and a dedicated group of 30 volunteers, Arlington Thrive serves over 5000 clients every year. The two main assistance programs are the Daily Emergency Financial Assistance program and the Carter-Jenkinson Housing Assistance program. The Daily Program, budgeted at $345,000 annually, employs trained volunteers who fulfill requests from Arlington County and private social service caseworkers. Cynthia Dahlin is a longtime volunteer and supporter of Arlington Thrive.
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.
Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda became the first church in the DMV (District, Maryland and Virginia) region to welcome an individual into physical sanctuary when, In December 2018, they invited Rosa Gutierrez Lopez, the mother of three US citizen children, to stay with them while she fought her deportation order and pursued her request for asylum, first made when she arrived in the US in 2005.
Cedar Lane has trained hundreds of members of local congregations that are part of the DMV Sanctuary Congregations Network, recently renamed Congregation Action Network. Seekers is one such congregation and has had several members attend the trainings and participate in various activities to support Dona Rosa’s presence on the Cedar Lane Campus. Because part of our commitment to the Network is to support congregations offering physical sanctuary even if we are not ourselves able to offer such hospitality, Seekers is giving both financially and of the time of our several volunteers.
CKC Farming is a non-profit land trust created to protect and manage urban farms in Montgomery County in order to cultivate and inspire the next generation of sustainable food innovators. Through education and community engagement, they aim to increase understanding and appreciation for where our food comes from and how it is grown. In addition, they help property owners protect their land indefinitely for agriculture and education.
The organization is operating now on the Koiner Farm, located at 737 Easley Street in the heart of Silver Spring, just a few blocks from the Silver Spring library. Koiner Farm was established in 1983 by Charles Koiner and is still managed by his daughter, Lynn. This one-acre property grows a wide variety of produce, including greens, herbs, root vegetables, beans, berries, tree fruits and more.
Koiner Farm has partnered with CKC Farming to conduct education programs and help maintain their farm. CKC Farming in the process of obtaining a conservation easement to the property, in order to preserve the farm in perpetuity.
CKC Farming hosts a growing number of school field trips, manages a dedicated group of interns and volunteers, and organizes community picnics, speakers and outreach programs at the farm. Koiner Farm is an ideal learning environment – it is easy to get to, it provides plenty of opportunities for students to embrace the experience, it has more plant diversity than you will often find on 100-acre farms.
CKC plans to work with neighborhood associations, utilities, local governments and private property owners to identify parcels of land that can be used and/or protected for agriculture and education. Michele Frome supports the CKC Urban Farming initiative.
The Asociación Cívica Nicaraguense, INC (ACN) is an advocacy organization composed of Nicaraguans who live in the DMV area and organized themselves to support Nicaraguans who are victims of the brutal State-sponsored repression that has followed the social protests since April 2018. ACN helps Nicaraguan exiles and refugees within the US, by representing them before authorities, and providing lodging and other practical support. ACN also organizes and participates in political advocacy and manifestations to elevate the demands of Nicaraguan social movements for democracy and respect of human rights.
As Nicaraguans, Rosa and Oswaldo participate in the local activities of ACN, support its fundraising, are included in the digital communication groups, contribute with ideas, networking and help disseminate the work of the organization.
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. Trish Nemore maintains close connections and provides volunteer support.
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. Kolya Braun-Greiner serves on the IPC staff as religious educator.
In May 2019, PICO Sanctuary changed its name to Congregation Action Network . (Click here for the announcement.) 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.