The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Seattle church, neighbors face off over Tent City

A North Seattle church whose members have decided to host a temporary tent city for the homeless is feeling heat from neighbors but is resolved to live its mission.

Signs have surrounded Maple Leaf Lutheran Church saying, "Burn in Hell, Maple Leaf Lutheran" and "Please be Good Neighbors; No Tent City."

Neighbors have intimidated Maple Leaf members on their way to worship by questioning them and handing a lengthy booklet stating the case against a tent city. Nails have been strewn across the church parking lot while vehicles were driven next to a recent outdoor Oktoberfest, said Julie Blum, pastor of Maple Leaf. Members of the church's tent-city task force also have received intimidating e-mails, threats of lawsuits and at least one house-egging. One neighbor threatened to move should the tent city come.

A sign urges opposition to Maple Leaf
Neighbors displayed signs outside Maple Leaf Lutheran Church, Seattle, protesting the church's plans to host a tent city in its parking lot. 

"I want to think I can give humanity more credit," said Blum, adding that everyone is encumbered by sin. "I think their biggest concern was they didn't have a say in the matter."

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Embracing diversity