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"We're an activist church," says the Rev. John Helmiere of Valley & Mountain United Methodist Fellowship in Seattle.


"We're an activist church," says the Rev. John Helmiere of Valley and Mountain United Methodist Church, Seattle.

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Seattleites stand up for their convictions


Valley & Mountain United Methodist Fellowship  created a new church holiday. "Turning Tables Monday," the Monday of Holy Week, commemorates Jesus' cleansing of the Temple.

"It's a significant but often overlooked part of the Holy Week story," said the Rev. John Helmiere. "We felt the church needed a day to emphasize direct action against oppression."

V&M, a new church start situated in the economically challenged Hillman City neighborhood of Seattle, is "an activist church," said the pastor. "We're on the street; we're out lobbying; we perform direct action for social justice. All of this is rooted in our faith.

"I want us to be a church that's not playing the ‘everybody-be-like-us' church game," he said. "I want us to stand up out of our convictions."

The church began in 2010 with a small group meeting at Helmiere's house. The parachute-dropped church now has 50 to 60 Sunday worshippers, but that is not the sole indicator of church vitality.

In 2013, the church joined with an arts organization to create the Hillman City Collaboratory. The website describes it as a neighborhood hub where community thrives, a breeding ground where collaborations are born and relationships form, a compost bucket where positive social movements blossom."

Worship happens Sundays at 4 p.m. with singing, praying, preaching and offering. Following that, however, is a 15-minute Quaker Meeting-style time where worshippers share what is on their hearts or reflect on the sermon. Then, people break into small groups, each with a specific spiritual practice. Finally, everyone gathers for a Love Feast.

"There are a lot of ways to connect to God," Helmiere said. "We organize our resources, love and gifts to make a tangible difference in people."

The Rev. Erik Alsgaard is managing editor for the Baltimore-Washington Conference.

AT A GLANCE Valley & Mountain United Methodist Fellowship | 5623 Rainier Ave. South, Seattle, WA 98118 | | | Pastor: The Rev. John Helmiere | Pacific Northwest Conference