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Just off of I-5, tucked into a quiet and peaceful Green Lake neighborhood, lies St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. The church’s nave is lined with beautiful stained glass pieces created by members of the congregation and the morning light fills the space with a warm, beatific glow. Outside of the building, a landscaping project is nearing completion and their new labyrinth will be ready to walk in December. The building itself is in the process of being remodeled, after a successful capital campaign was begun in 2014.

St. Andrew is also home to The Center, a vibrant ministry of the parish that brings in people from the church community, the surrounding neighborhood, and the wider diocese. Originally started in 2001, as a ministry for counseling and Christian formation, The Center at St. Andrew has become a space for healing, community, and lifelong learning. Under the guidance and leadership of Cherry Haisten, program director for The Center, the ministry has grown to include classes across a wide range of subjects, community forums addressing issues such as homelessness and education, space for centering prayer, and even weekly yoga classes!

While the adult education classes offered by The Center include classes in Faith Formation and preparation for Confirmation, there have also been classes that appeal to the wider community. There have been classes on Emergency Preparedness. Classes on building healthy relationships and active listening were especially meaningful to the participants. The art classes they have offered have made significant inroads into bringing members of their Green Lake neighborhood through the doors of St. Andrew. Traditional dancing and drumming have been very popular with the community, as have classes in which participants create icons or new stained glass panels for use in the church nave.

Forums hosted by The Center have become an important part of Seattle’s interfaith conversation. A recent workshop The Center co-hosted with the Seattle Mennonite Church brought in Dr. Frank Rogers to discuss “The Way of Radical Compassion.” Throughout the weekend, participants learned about cultivating compassion that is grounded in contemplation, personally empowering, and socially restorative. They also hold regular celebratory and community events, like their recent evening featuring the music and dancing of Oleaje Flamenco.

But the heart of The Center remains their work with centering prayer. The Centering Prayer group meets every Wednesday for a time of opening themselves up to the presence of God, meditating and moving beyond words to put into practice the act of praying without ceasing. While most of The Center’s prayer groups are local, they have also implemented online centering prayer groups, reaching thousands of individuals from around the world. The online centering prayer groups also provide a safe space where participants feel free to be even more vulnerable with one another than they would in person.

The Center is continuing to grow and transform, always looking to meet the needs of their community. Even with limited time and resources, they are constantly discovering new ways of engagement with their congregation and their neighborhood.

Engaging the Community – The Center at St. Andrew, Seattle

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