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From Don Fornoff, Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness:

Your task force met last Saturday, sharing and considering many ideas as we are wont to do – and I want to share one of them. We met a week earlier than usual in deference to the gathering of the Diocese to elect a new bishop. So, keep that event in mind and check in by Sunday to see who will lead us into the future.

The main discussion centered on a mission to take care of memorial services for those people who have passed away while homeless. It is a sad fact that last year, 295 street people died in Pierce County. I believe I heard correctly that 330 died in King County. Need I point out that while Pierce and King are the largest two counties, they are still just two counties in Washington State? The mission in Pierce is coordinated by a missioner of the Episcopal Church. In King, Share/Wheel and Mary’s Place gather as Women in Black and are known to conduct memorials. All this is done to make sure the unhoused aren’t forgotten and don’t die without their names being made known to the community. While December 21 is a national day of mourning for those who die homeless, the concern that came out of the meeting is to find a way to hold more frequent memorials in each county. Deacon Jeffrey Boyce has asked the task force members to search out ways to put in place memorials in other counties and for those outreach congregants to do the same.

Finding out who dies unhoused is known by the Coroner’s Office, Vital Statistics, and Health Departments. Each county has someone responsible for doing this. It just takes a phone call or two to find out who. Once known, memorials can be set up.

*Did you know that Kitsap County has the highest per capita number of unhoused in Washington State?

We were all reminded by Jeffrey that the Episcopal Church is a mission church. We should and can take the lead in reaching out to serve the poor and the homeless. It’s a matter of moving from the rear pews into the front pews. We know there is room up there, so let’s ‘keep on keepin’ on’ to do what our Baptismal Covenant calls us to do.

Updates from the Bishop’s Task Force on Homelessness

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