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Hillary Coleman prepares to be PNC moderator

In the Justice Leadership Program, she served with the Seattle King County Homeless Coalition

Hillary Coleman, whose parents, like her, were born and raised in University Congregational UCC in Seattle, is currently vice moderator and slated to be the new moderator of the PNC.

Hillary Coleman speaks during the Fall PNC Gathering at Shalom UCC in Richland.

She is not new to the Board, having served on it as a youth representative when she was in high school and then serving more recently as a young adult representative. Two years ago, she was asked to be vice moderator.

“I wanted to be sure younger voices are on the board so we can lean into the future of the conference in interesting times, changing the PNC with anti-racism work, deepening relationships and understanding issues the church faces.

“We look to how the conference members see church beyond Sunday morning and are looking for ways to do ministry and do church together related to camps, recovery groups using churches, and clergy and lay presence in marches for justice,” she said.

Hillary believes it is important to continue anti-racism work in the PNC, specifically focusing on what that means in conference leadership for the conference and congregations.

She appreciates the collective work the PNC began at Annual Meeting in Bellevue and hopes to continue these conversations and actions in all the different PNC contexts.

“There is positive movement in that work,” she said.  “I am also looking to deepen relationships across the conference.”

Her family lives in Lake Forest Park.  Both sets of her grandparents attended University Congregational UCC, and her parents were also raised there.

Hillary has participated as a youth in some camps at Pilgrim Firs, as a young adult in a retreat at N-Sid-Sen, as an leader for National Youth Event in 2016 and for the Western Regional Youth Event in 2018.  She also went to three NYEs.

She has lived in the Pacific Northwest all her life except for going to Connecticut College in New London, Conn., where she double majored in psychology and Hispanic studies.  Her studies also included participating in the Academic Center for Public Policy and Community Action.

“I knew I wanted to support other people and make the world a better place, so I focused on the social side of psychology,” said Hillary who graduated in 2014.

The campus was predominantly white, but she was involved with Students Organized Against Racism, helping people understand where others come from, and understand white privilege and anti-racism.
During her college years, Hillary studied the spring of 2013 in Cusco, Peru, with other 16 students in an academic program on indigenous people and the effects of globalization.

They connected with local Cusqueña  families, living with host families, speaking Spanish and learning about life.

“I learned how to be present in the moment. to learn by deepening relationships and talking with people, as well as by participating in activities, like Holy Week parades and other Catholic and local celebrations,” she said.

“I made sure to know people for who they are and understand how history, especially the ugly side, and discrimination influence how people walk in the world,” Hillary said.

Although she was active in church growing up, she did not attend a church in Connecticut, but she found her soul fed being in the Gospel choir on campus.

Hillary returned to Seattle to participate in the PNC’s Justice Leadership Program for young adults.  She served as an intern with the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, which is where she now works.

“I learned what it is to do advocacy work,” she said.  “In college, I learned about service with a focus on advocacy.”

She lived with one roommate with a UCC background and two with other backgrounds.  She attended All Pilgrims Church in Seattle, singing in the choir and leading a class on economic inequality with Steve Clagett, chair of the PNC Justice Witness Ministries Committee.

“I participated with other churches working on economic justice during my JLP year from 2014 to 2015,” said Hillary, who found the work with the Coalition on Homeless a good fit.

I began as mobilization coordinator and I’m now the community project manager, running work to help people experiencing homelessness register to vote, and doing advocacy at the state, county and local levels.

“It’s important to look atsystemic change.  There is much to be done to address homelessness in the region,” she said.  “The coalition works with 60 member organizations that provide direct services, so our advocacy is informed by the experiences of those working with the agencies and the people they serve.”
The work is grounded in community organizing to challenge policy makers.

“We look at the amount of financial growth in King County and call for an increase in finances for housing people who were formerly homeless.  We collaborate for he hard to house,” she said noting that there are many effective services.  “We don’t need funds for new programs but we need to be able to fund what is already in place.”

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Copyright March 2020 @ Pacific Northwest United Church News




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