Chaplains on the Harbor

The following article is from the website of The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia.
More information on Chaplains on the Harbor is available here.

Dear friends, family and supporters in the struggle and in Christ,

The Rev. Sarah Monroe
Chaplains on the Harbor
Founder & Priest-in-Charge

What a spring this is! To see new life, sunshine, and hope breaking through in the midst of a world still very much on fire with injustice and grief can almost give you spiritual whiplash. And yet this is how it’s always been for our ministry at Chaplains on the Harbor, and for poor and oppressed people everywhere on earth—in the middle of a cruel slew of overdoses and shocking state violence, celebrations of new life and a promising harvest. Not unlike the volatile, pendulum swing of conditions we encounter in the story of Jesus and the disciples: miracles of good food and abundant healing for the poor cracking through the brutality and indifference of the Roman Empire.

Here on the Harbor we have been consumed for the past several months with trying to push forward a new shelter program, funded through the CARES Act, to serve homeless and vulnerable people in Aberdeen regardless of their sobriety. So far our proposal has been met with resistance and stalling from the county commissioners; this week, again, they refused to move a vote, which effectively stops the program from moving forward.

We fear the commissioners will eventually run out the clock, sending $1.5 million dollars back to the state in the middle of a global pandemic and economic crash. At the heart of the resistance to this program, once again, is the notion that “some people” simply do not deserve life and dignity—that every scrap of survival and care must be earned (or really, purchased) through achieving some arbitrary measure of respectability. Nothing could be more counter to the Gospel, as Jesus reminds us in Mark 2:17, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

What kind of call is this? Is it purely metaphysical, concerned only with the life we will find after this world passes away? We don’t think so at Chaplains on the Harbor. Jesus touched and healed and fed people’s physical bodies, defended their lives in this world. While the outcome of this current struggle is still unknown to us, we continue to hold fast to the work of being Christ’s hands and feet in this county’s back alleys, trap houses, jail cells, and encampments. We keep growing a powerful team of leaders who have come off the streets, out of jail, and are committed to their own healing as well as the healing of this entire community. We have three new farm apprentices who are expanding Harbor Roots Farm’s production to include herbs, berries, native plants, and reforestation this year. We also have three staff certified as Peer Support counselors (with two more in training), to assist others who are struggling with addiction and seeking recovery.

Your support in this work is how we keep that work moving forward, and your generosity truly does change the world. Please consider donating today!

With gratitude and blessings,
The Chaplains on the Harbor Team

Chaplains on the Harbor