Dear Mercer Island City Council,
We, the Mercer Island Clergy Association, feel compelled to address the recent ordinance regarding homelessness and camping on Mercer Island.
As people of faith, we are called to care for the homeless and marginalized in our community. We feel strongly that Mercer Island needs to continue to seek compassionate solutions and participate in serving members of our community who are without housing. We are not of one mind within our faith communities of the best way to approach this, but we do feel strongly that we have a responsibility when it comes to helping those in need. There is precedent and experience in some of the actions that have taken place in the past. Our hope is that the passing of this ordinance is the beginning of a wider conversation about how we can positively help those without housing.
We also share a deep concern about the tone of some of the community debate, particularly on the Nextdoor social media platform. We care deeply about the Mercer Island community. We are grateful to those who are working to suggest healthy ways to dialogue and tackle tough questions and conversations, and we offer them our support.
We are urging our city leadership to engage the community in education and conversation to work toward long term tangible actions that address the crisis of homelessness. We hope to be partners and advocates with city leadership in leading and demonstrating a different way to be in dialogue.
The Mercer Island Clergy Association:
Rev. Eugene W. Baade, Redeemer Lutheran Church; Rev. Kristy Farber, Mercer Island Presbyterian Church; Rev. John Go, Mercer Island United Methodist Church; Rabbi Jacob Herber, Herzl-Ner Tamid Synagogue; Lance Matteson, First Church of Christ Scientist Mercer Island; Rev. Lindsay Murphy, Mercer Island Presbyterian Church; Rev. Elizabeth Riley, Emmanuel Episcopal Church; Rev. Roberta Rominger, Congregational Church on Mercer Island; Rev. Julie Steel, Evergreen Covenant Church; Pr. Sue Wanwig, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church.