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Magnolia UCC in Seattle offers classes on racism, compassion

Magnolia UCC has been busy during the months of the pandemic. In the summer, it rang its bell seven times at 3:30 p.m., Fridays to share a message of peace and solace to neighbors. It connects with members and the community in various ways. It engages in ecumenical outreach to support vulnerable members with food and housing. Members participated in a Black Lives Matter march after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Magnolia UCC members join in community Black Lives Matter march in the summer.

Photos courtesy of Magnolia UCC

Then in June, about 20 members of the church and community joined an eight-week class led by the senior pastor, Marci Scott-Weis, on Dismantling Racism, followed by an eight-week Compassion Cultivation Training course during the election season.

On the bell ringing, The Queen Ann News reported that Magnolia resident Don Ross, chair of the King County Medical Society’s Mental Health Society, proposed ringing the bell to uplift people, because when he was growing up, church bells made him feel “hopeful and connected to the greater good.”

Magnolia keeps in touch through use of Zoom and Facebook Live, worshipping virtually since the first week of March.

“We’ve had anywhere from double to 10 times the people since we’ve gone virtual,” said Marci, noting that people who have moved away have become involved again, calling in from around the country.

She uses Zoom to serve communion to members and to check in with them twice a week, as well as to teach a class on the Book of Revelation to dispel myths and misunderstandings, especially during COVID-19, said one article.

Queen Anne and Magnolia have not let the coronavirus pandemic keep them from serving people in need, along with their parishioners.

Magnolia UCC (MUCC) and Queen Anne Lutheran Church have combined support of members to serve vulnerable neighbors.

MUCC has raised funds for different organizations in a “Help Us Help Our Community” campaign.

Each month they have mobilized to help a different partner each month.

The church and community collected and delivered more than 1,500 pounds of food for the Ballard Food Bank. They collected towels, puzzles, adult coloring books, cards and craft supplies for residents of Compass Housing Alliance, transitional housing and services for people emerging from homelessness.

MUCC also held a gardening drive, collecting plant starts, garden tools and soil for Interbay Village and a grocery drive for Queen Anne Helpline.

Church members joined about 100 people marching in a silent protest in Magnolia in conjunction with an event organized by Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County to honor black lives lost across the nation following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and demand an end to institutionalized racism.

Marchers, most masked, carried signs and marched along a route from the Magnolia Community Center several blocks and back to it.

Commenting to the Queen Anne News on her participation in a rainy day, during COVID-19, Marci said: “I think that all white people have an obligation right now to use their voices and their bodies in the work of racial reconciliation, and to me that is holy work and sacred work.”

She said there is need for white people to work to undo the systems of racism and identify their complicity.

In June, Marci began teaching an eight-week class on Dismantling Racism, which completed phase one and has moved into phase two of implementing individual plans each of the participants developed to carry out over the coming year.

The plans involve commitment to a spiritual practice, identifying and following on social media a local black leader, identifying and supporting with time, talent and donations a black organization, and identifying a stretch goal to take on racist behaviors they encounter, said Marci.

Participants meet each month to report back on their follow-up.

• “They are following black public leaders on social media, YouTube and their writings to increase their awareness of the experience of black people,” she said.

• They are following such groups as the Equal Justice Initiative, Campaign Zero, Mary’s Place, William Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign, WA

A Black Lives Matter sign the church had set up in its yard was vandalized in early September.  The church council is deciding next steps on how best to respond to the vandalism.

Then, to meet the divisive rhetoric and uncertainty of the election weeks, Magnolia UCC began Compassion Cultivation Training to offer virtually to community, congregation and PNC conference participants awareness of how to cultivate compassion.

Marci learned of the course, developed at Stanford University, from Meighan Pritchard, pastor at Prospect UCC in Seattle.

“The hope is that each of the 25 participants will spread compassion within their communities through six steps,” she said.

Those steps include settling one’s mind and becoming more aware to practice loving-kindness and compassion for a loved one and for oneself. They also include embracing shared common humanity and developing appreciation for others; cultivating compassion for others, practicing active compassion, and integrating that practice daily.

The course includes lecture, discussion, listening and communication exercises, and assignments to help participants practice compassionate thought and action.

The classes on Zoom from 1 to 3 p.m., Mondays from Sept. 28 to Nov. 16, are instructed by Diane Hetrick, who is certified as a Compassion Cultivation Training Teacher at Stanford and certified in mindfulness facilitation training through the Mindfulness Awareness Research Center (MARC) at UCLA.

For information, call 206-283-1788 or email


Pacific Northwest Conference United Church News © Fall 2020


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