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Church responds to stabbing at shelter

Posted by Geeky Swedes on December 17th, 2009

After last night’s stabbing at the shelter inside Trinity United Methodist Church, Reverend Rich Lang is sending the following letter to neighbors:

To our Neighbors,

As you know a major incident happened last night at the shelter between the hours of 8:30-9pm. Two residents of the Vets Hall Shelter broke into a fight, which escalated into a stabbing.

The “victim” was taken to the hospital and will not return as a resident to the shelter. The man who did the stabbing is known and being sought and will be charged with felony assault.

We’d like to thank the police and fire departments for their prompt and professional excellence in this emergency. We’d also like to thank watchful neighbors, the Shelter itself, and our live-in security person, Randy Thompson, for their immediate calling of the police as the incident began to flare.

This is the first incident of violence with a weapon in the ten years of our active ministry with the homeless. Although our systems of security responded quickly and effectively, we nevertheless deeply regret the disruption of our neighborhood security. We affirm that, as neighbors, you have every right to a secure street. As you know we have recently added a paid Security Officer that monitors our Saturday Soup kitchen. Thankfully in the three years of our open house hospitality we have had no major incident during that ministry. The Security officer was hired because we are seeing, as you are seeing, that with this economic downturn, the streets are becoming more desperate and despairing. This is a political matter of great concern. It is also a matter of moral concern: we acknowledge that feeding folks and housing folks is not enough. What is needed is transformation of character, and reorientation of desire, along with a restructuring of our economy.

At Trinity we desire to move beyond charity into relational ministries of transformation. It is a long road, and difficult work. We acknowledge our dependence on your good will, and we take very seriously our responsibility to provide neighborhood tranquility. In the course of our work, and our life together, incidents happen. We want to re-affirm that although this incident was an anomaly, we will nevertheless increase our diligence in providing safe, sane, and sober neighborly relations.

On behalf of Trinity United Methodist Church,

Rev. Rich Lang
www.tumseattle.org

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85 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 SPG // Dec 17, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    Yeah, but the problem is when you have the “bums” that get to the point where they've had enough and want to get out. It's tough for one of those guys to get a job and get on his feet in an economic boom, think how hard it is to get a job now when you're competing against all the “regular folks”.

  • 2 me // Dec 17, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    You should talk to the church about this. Churches as a whole are regularly sought out by folks not choosing shelters, to sleep in their bushes and such.
    My understanding is that Trinity wants to be good neighbors as it peruses its mission of helping the homeless. They have also made a statement that they would rather host inside, not outside and that is why they do not host the tent city anymore. I am sure they don't condone folks sleeping and god forbid pooping behind the church.
    Why not be proactive and talk to them about your concerns.
    OR do you just like to sit behind a computer, & fuss about it instead?

  • 3 PRBd // Dec 17, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Yes.

  • 4 Simon Cowbell // Dec 17, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Does the church have a hobo daycare license?

  • 5 Bjorn Toobywild // Dec 17, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    It sure is a big building. Seems like we have housing surplus.

  • 6 Ytoo // Dec 17, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    You only own a small portion of this neighborhood. Other property owners feel differently and they do with their property as they choose as do you. I have owned property here for over 50 years and I have as much say as you do.

    If you choose to you may move to a neighborhood with rules against this sort of thing but this is not one of those neighborhoods. Maybe you should have researched more carefully before you purchased here.

  • 7 Idle Activist // Dec 17, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    It's called a 'liquor license'. …..

  • 8 Ballard15+ // Dec 17, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    Share shelter hours are 9pm to 7am.
    Trinity has business tenants who come and go all day long plus they have a secretary who oversees the coming and goings of people in the building during business hours.
    I've been to all their community meetings. They are really quite on top of it as far as being in contact with the community about what they do in their building…in fact more than any other church in Ballard, including mine…

  • 9 Idle Activist // Dec 17, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    “Rev. Lang has 'stepped up' immediatley to address the action and not blame it on someone else, is refreshing”

    Actually he's blamed everyone but the church and vagrants:

    “this is a political matter of great concern. It is also a matter of moral concern: we acknowledge that feeding folks and housing folks is not enough. What is needed is transformation of character, and reorientation of desire, along with a restructuring of our economy.”

  • 10 Idle Activist // Dec 17, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Who? We live in a republic.

  • 11 IntegralPoker // Dec 17, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    This is a beautiful communication from Rev. Lang, and I appreciate hearing his perspective. I'm also deeply grateful for his ministry to those less fortunate than I have been… it is hard work, and it does take a long time, but people's lives can change. A cursory study of developmental psychology shows how…

    It's amazing to me to see all of the projections on this comment forum, from a place of fear, onto this shelter and onto Rev. Lang. I've never met him, I've never been to his church, and I don't care what his political positions are… he's doing loving work in our community, in a difficult situation, and doing his best to run it as well as he can.

    I'll choose to open my heart to him, to his church, and to those they help. They are our neighbors, and Ballard remains an incredible place to live.

  • 12 plumbe // Dec 17, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Everything you say is true Ballard15. Unless you live close to Trinity, doubt you would notice anything amiss on your visits.

    Do you live by the church? Those who do could tell you otherwise about who hangs around from time to time.

  • 13 Ballard15+ // Dec 17, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Yup on 19th.

  • 14 balishag // Dec 17, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Where do you rent your apartment, srcsmgrl?

  • 15 balishag // Dec 17, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Then you should have quite a nest egg built in the equity of your home. When you decide to cash out and retire, won't you then be the person destroying your own precious neighborhood by selling?

    Can you afford to purchase your house at its current market value? Most of “old ballard” can't. It's called gentrification and it happens everywhere. Even in dear “old” Seattle.

  • 16 Ytoo // Dec 17, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    I have no issue with the new development and live in a condo right now. I have been retired for 20 years. My daughter, who is divorced, and her children live in the house in which my children grew up, rent free. I also own business rental property.

    Yes of course I could afford to buy both the house and my condo. I own both now with no mortgage on either and never a second mortgage or HEL. Are you telling me that you really have no idea what kind of money is in 'old' Ballard? My generation did not and does not live like drunken sailors. We did this on the salary of a teacher and a longshoreman. Son you are clueless.

  • 17 srcsmgrl // Dec 17, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    I rent a house, but my rent pays the property taxes and I have lived here for 3 years–in this neighborhood. Sorry I am not as affluent as you.

  • 18 balishag // Dec 18, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Another logical “not in my backyard” argument. Plumbe, I completely agree. In fact, I think you resonate the truth of it all. Everyone is liberal and up for supporting the homeless effort, so long as no homeless live near them or on their block. The bleeding hearts come out online so long as the shelter is blocks away from their mac.

  • 19 Name // Dec 18, 2009 at 12:46 am

    i'm definately more libeal than conservative, but i'm starting to feel less and less warm and fuzzy about these places, especially in the middle of residential neighborhoods. neighborhoods where, as someone mentioned, people pay plenty of property tax.

    anyone know for sure what has become of the share shelter at the other church on 85th and 24th? have they moved as intended? anyone?

  • 20 Nehalennia // Dec 18, 2009 at 1:22 am

    The homeless come in well before 9 PM and leave as late as 9 AM. Trinity does not hold itself to the “regulations” set by SHARE. This leaves schools (and there's one right around the corner) especially vulnerable to potential sex offenders.

    SHARE opposes background checks, and since Rich Lang is totally in agreement with whatever they say, our neighborhood is vulnerable to whatever Trinity decides to do.

  • 21 ballardpilot // Dec 18, 2009 at 2:58 am

    well, the SHARE child rapist shelter has not left yet. I believe they just said they *planned* to move and did not specify a timeline, so it's probably too early to celebrate that.

    I agree with you 100%, though, we need to continue to do what we can to shed the neighborhood of excess services that attract more bums here.

  • 22 kim // Dec 18, 2009 at 4:41 am

    i thought i heard it was going to be mixed use. apts and condos…

  • 23 Princess Platypus // Dec 18, 2009 at 5:56 am

    In early November, when they announced the shelter would be closing, the Ballard News Tribune reported:

    “Rebecca Butler at Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church … said the shelter will move out of the Calvary Lutheran building when it has found a new place to go. Or it will close if shelter membership dwindles to five or fewer residents.”

    http://www.ballardnewstribune.com/2009/11/06/ne

  • 24 mickey // Dec 18, 2009 at 6:08 am

    Oh, boo hoo. I live across from the Loyal Heights Community Center and guess what? I and my neighbors call the police every other week … to deal with your drinking, drugging, out-of-control dumbass white teenagers, pulling up in mommy's and daddy's sparkling SUV's to trash our streets and our yards.

    Hey, I know! Let's make white teenagers illegal! That will solve all the problems! And everybody can feel good about their property taxes again!

    Some of you people are nothing but useless, ignorant, elitist bigots.

  • 25 bill // Dec 18, 2009 at 7:50 am

    that by far, has to be one of the stupidest things i've ever read. what a douche. these teenagers live here – and i bet you actually were one once. these bums have never lived here and damn it, they wouldn't be anywhere near here if these do-good churches didn't take it upon themselves to bus them in here. you can make more cash panhandling downtown than up here.

    cool to know that if we dont agree with your idiotic ideas of shipping bums into our neighborhood we are useless, ignorant, (elistist) bigots. sounds like you just described the dirtbags invading our neighborhood at the invitation of the churches. i guess if we are lucky enough to still have jobs we need to bend over and take it, huh?

  • 26 mickey // Dec 18, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Your inability to comprehend my comment says more about you than you could possibly know.

    Thanks for playing!

    Oh. and by the way– not twenty minutes ago, two teenage dumbasses coming back from a drug buy decided to stand and piss all over my next door neighbor's garden. Then they got into their SUV and drove away.

    A typical night with the privileged white kids in Loyal Heights.

  • 27 Name // Dec 18, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    yes, i remember that statement – i'm wondering if they have actually moved or not.

    thanks.

  • 28 Ballardmom // Dec 18, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Wasn't that a sign at Trinity at one point?

  • 29 Ballardmom // Dec 18, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    I agree that the Trinity Shelter definitely needs tight security. But honestly, if this was the biggest issue they've had in ten years, in our neighborhood I imagine there have been more domestic violence incidents such as this one in private residences than just one in the last ten years. It sounds like Pastor Lang is addressing the issue and the neighbors directly and being open to working with everyone. This is wildly unlike what happened at the OR shelter when Pastor Grumm just pile-drived his agenda and turned a deaf ear to valid concerns.

    I really don't have much information on the Trinity Shelter so my opinion could change with more information. We'll see. Though honestly, at this point I'd say it's the folks actually living on the streets and the drug dealers (who don't stay at the shelters) who are causing the biggest problems in Ballard, not the folks at Trinity Shelter or the people who need to use the Ballard Food Bank. And my opinion is, a lot of the new population of “bums” started not with shelters opening or the food bank existing, but when police presence started pushing them out of Belltown, the financial (shopping/downtown) district and Capitol Hill a couple years ago and they all moved up here.

  • 30 Nehalennia // Dec 18, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    I have no problem with the shelter once they do background checks (no sex offenders or fellons) and random drug testing, and set to the hours they are supposed to be gone.

  • 31 dontbemean // Dec 19, 2009 at 6:26 am

    And I would like to add that the crime my daughter has experienced while living in her home in the same neighborhood has come from drunken idiots living in homes and apartments bordering the alley behind her house: car smashed on the street during the night (someone hates the toyota prius apparently), fence driven into by drunken neighbors, trash can run over by a different drunken neighbor while committing domestic violence (wife or lady friend being dragged down the alley way by him in his car as her hands were around his neck), attempted theft of a kayak by drunk patrons of the Viking Inn after closing time, and bicycle stolen by white teen-ager. Nothing to do with shelters or homeless people.

  • 32 Get Out of our neighborhood // Dec 20, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    “This is a political matter of great concern. It is also a matter of moral concern: we acknowledge that feeding folks and housing folks is not enough. What is needed is transformation of character, and reorientation of desire, along with a restructuring of our economy.”
    ——————————-

    Communist bleeding-heart claptrap.

  • 33 ashleighvp // Dec 20, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Although I respect Rev. Lang for his mission to provide shelter for homeless of our city and as it is a political issue that needs to be addressed because even one homeless person is too many; you have to realize that most of you can commend his letter and actions because this issue, this threat of safety did not occur on your safe block in Ballard it happened on ours.

    I live on NW 23rd and 65th directly across the street from Trinity United Methodist Church I've lived on this street my entire life, only leaving for school but my parents still reside there, so imagine my fear to get calls from other Ballard residents saying there was a stabbing on my street. I immediately phoned my parents who explained that it occurred at the church. Thankfully they were not injured.

    We can applaud the police and fire departments fast response to secure the area and even the onsite security guard, but Rev. Lang does not deserve commending. Orignially this homeless shelter came to NW 23rd in the form of a tent city in the parking lot on the west side of the street. These individuals spent their days littering up and down our street cutitng through our yards from the alley, making noise all hours of the night, allowing their dogs to defecate in our grass. After numerous complaints tent city was eventually moved into the church itself; where these issues were not entirely resolved. These individuals continue to pan handle the neighbors and continue to litter and continue to post a danger to the numerous families that reside on NW23rd.

    Rev. Lang can speak about their desire as a church to 'move beyond charity into relational ministries of transformation' but tell me what transformation are they providing by allowing these people to continue to dwell in their circumstances rather than provide them with the tools they need to get out of our neighborhood, and out of the shelter.

    Rev. Lang can write a letter to us apologizing for the disruption to our safety and our block because he does not have to deal with it on a daily basis, he does not have to pick up the litter or continuously ask them not to cut through our property. Rev. Lang can explain how hes taken every precaution to keep us safe with his single security guard but tell me Rev. Lang what is being done to keep this from happening again? and what happens when next time it pours out into the street and actual resident and neighbor gets injured?

  • 34 ballardmum // Dec 24, 2009 at 9:57 am

    As a very responsible parent who sends her child to preschool at Trinity, we were assured by the Church and the preschool Board that they did do background checks on the shelter inhabitants. I know it is normally against SHARE's policy to do background checks, but it was a requirement in this particular case.

    But now I want confirmation that background checks were actually carried out and not just promised…

    As an aside, the preschool itself is not connected with the church and is not religious, but rents the space from Trinity. We were housed there before the shelter and there were definitely concerns about the shelter amongst the parents at the beginning. So far there have been very few incidents which have impacted us (the only one being drug paraphernalia being found in the bathroom once by a parent volunteer during preschool). We do not see the shelter residents as they are normally out of the building during preschool (we might see them during evening Parent Meetings). We share the same space in the gym for gross motor skills during cold/wet weather and at first we had some issues with some shelter objects or trash being left in there, but the church addressed it and it has been clean ever since.

    I sense that most parents at the preschool do not feel that impacted by the shelter. We would prefer it to be a little further away from our families, but appreciate what Pastor Rich is trying to do. I thought that a lot of families might drop out after the shelter moved in, but that didn't happen. The teachers and the community there are just amazing and families didn't want to give that up. As a preschool co-op there are many parent volunteers present during class time and we're all extra aware and alert to strangers in the building, for example.

  • 35 John_Steinsvold // Jan 7, 2010 at 4:38 am

    An Alternative to Capitalism (which will end homelessness)

    The following link takes you to an essay titled: “Home of the Brave?” which I wrote and appeared in the Athenaeum Library of Philosophy:

    http://evans-experientialism.freewebspace.com/s

    John Steinsvold

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