Request for Support Finding Muslim Leaders in Southwest Seattle

St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Burien, WA

Dear Neighbors,

Our church St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Burien, WA is part of the Episcopal diocese of Olympia, which is perhaps best known at the moment for being the plaintiff in the ACLU lawsuit against the Muslim ban. I serve on the vestry (aka board).

Historically, we rent extra space to various tenants, one of which is usually a Christian congregation. We also rent space to a few early childhood learning programs. Our parish hall recently came available for rent when a Pentecostal congregation tenant moved out. The space has its own entranceway, possibly its own kitchen (the kitchen needs some work) and a large hall with a fire code capacity of about 460 people. Our default will be to rent it to another Christian congregation. However, given recent events, I believe it would be a deeper expression of our own faith to lease the space for use as a mosque.

As best I can tell, there are no mosques in the SW corner of King County, e.g. Burien, Normandy Park, or Des Moines, until you get down to Federal Way. It’s also unclear to me whether the White Center and West Seattle mosques are open or not, from the information I can find on the web. We have been told there are a considerable number of Muslim families in the area (estimated 200 in Burien alone) and we have heard stories of people previously attempting to organize a mosque in the area and being unable to find space. We are looking to identify anyone in the area with an active intention to find space for a mosque.

Thus, I am seeking to connect with Muslims in this geography who may be able to help me identify community leaders who could point me toward anyone attempting to organize a mosque. I feel as though I’m in a bit of a race because Christian congregations are finding the space on the MLS and we are actively showing it. I would like to make sure the offer is also available to any appropriate Islamic community leaders while the space is still available for lease.

I realize this is an out of the box request and my idea here is perhaps uninformed at best, e.g., I have no idea what the needs of a mosque are, yet ever since this popped into my head a couple weeks ago, I can’t shake it. Aneelah Afzali spoke at a Seattle City Council meeting I attended and said these problems would only end when non-Muslims took the time to understand Islam. Whether people agree with her or not, I thought that was about the boldest thing I had heard anyone say to a room full of strangers in a long time and I was moved by her courage. I went home thinking our church could co-host an event on getting to know Islam.

The next morning I woke up thinking, no, not an event, we could host a mosque. A mosque co-located with a church seems like exactly what the world needs right now. Thank you for your consideration and help in this endeavor.

I will follow-up with whomever you point me to that may get me closer to finding the partners we’d need to explore this opportunity.

Much love and peace. Ubuntu,

Gabriel