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Everett UCC outreach focuses on housing, food

Everett United Church of Christ on the corner of Everett Ave. and Rockefeller in downtown Everett refers to itself as “a small but mighty activist church endeavoring to do God’s work,” said the Rev. Ruth Brandon, retired UCC pastor and Everett United Church of Christ’s (EUCC), vice moderator.

The community refers to the church simply as “The Rainbow Church.”

Worshiping in person began in mid June. Photo shows Everett UCC worship leaders on the second Sunday of Advent.  Photo courtesy of Everett UCC

Much of its community outreach focuses on homelessness and food insecurity.

There is a 24/7 homeless shelter in space rented by the county and being run by the Everett Gospel Mission in the lower level of the church.

The shelter also uses the fellowship hall on the main level for meals, movies, TV and just a quiet place to be that is bigger than a bed.

Forty people currently reside in the shelter.

Beginning this year, when winter temperatures fall too low, the church is allowing the Gospel Mission to also handle an emergency overnight only shelter in the fellowship hall.

Thursdays Everett UCC has a free dinner that feeds not only those in the shelter but also any who need a meal.

For those not in the shelter, a takeout meal continues to be a popular option, she said. Approximately 75 to 125 meals are given out each Thursday, Ruth explained. 

Mercy Watch, a Snohomish county nonprofit medical team, regularly provides medical services in a separate room of the church at the same time as the Thursday meal.

COVID-19, shingles and hepatitis vaccinations are given. The staff is also available to assist with other medical needs. These services are free.

Everett UCC also has a small food “pantry” open on the last two Mondays of each month to give out bags of food in three categories: 1) for people who are able to cook, 2) for those who have no access to cooking and 3) snack bags for those living downstairs who already have three meals a day, Ruth said.

Church members donate food for the pantry. 

Finally, the congregation is in the middle of planning with Housing Hope, a Snohomish County nonprofit housing organization, to replace the current building with a new one, Ruth said.

The church will be on the main floor and parts of the second, Ruth said.

In the six to eight floors above, Housing Hope will run housing and services for people 55 years and older in about 80 residential units. Half of the residents will be recently unhoused and all will be in need of affordable housing.

Housing Hope, which will do the fundraising, has two projects before the one at Everett UCC begins.

“They will staff for the new housing and already provide job training and other transitional services, so many residents may have short stays and move on, although that will not be required,” Ruth said.

Besides its own congregation, Everett UCC shares its space with two rental churches: one Micronesian and one Latinx. 

Before the pandemic, the church had nearly 60 members. Its young, black, gay pastor for nearly three years is Jermell Witherspoon, who also serves Liberation UCC in Seattle, and also has a secular position doing school consulting.

“We are excited about the work we do and try to always be open to where the Spirit leads us,” Ruth said, sharing that the church’s vision is to “become more of an urban, multicultural and multiracial congregation of Jesus’ disciples” welcoming one another as “Beloved in God and gathered by the Spirit to call forth, equip and share the gifts of all persons, while we intentionally encourage and build a reconciling, compassionate Christ-centered community.”

EUCC’s vision statement continues: “We seek Christian unity and interfaith dialogue through diversity in age, abilities, culture, race, economic status, gender, sexual orientation and creation-keeping. Through biblical and theological inquiry we keep as our guiding spiritual law the practice of the two Great Commandments to receive and offer God’s unconditional love.”

Members from diverse backgrounds have found a home at Everett UCC, which celebrates and embraces people from a broad variety of traditions in its life—Catholic, Evangelical, LDS, and Pentecostal, including gay and lesbian Christians not welcomed by other churches, said Ruth.

EUCC’s outreach also includes programs like Bread for the World, Church World Service, Earth Ministries, Faith Action Network, Meaningful Movies and Neighbors in Faith, she added.

In person services resumed in mid-June at 10 a.m., Sundays, with about 25 in the sanctuary, wearing masks and social distancing.

Jermell than leads the same service and preaches the same sermon online at noon on Facebook live and Zoom, and it has an online coffee hour after the service.

For information, call 425-252-7224, email or visit


Pacific Northwest Conference United Church News © Winter 2021-22


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