Have you ever received a giant, unbelievable gift?
Salt House is birthed out of incredible generosity and a vision to provide a community for emerging adults on the Eastside of Seattle to belong to and sort out questions of life and faith.
Our building was built in the 1950's and housed Trinity Lutheran Church for 60 years of ministry. In 2013 Trinity closed their doors and generously donated their property to Holy Spirit Lutheran Church (HSLC), a thriving church community in the Juanita neighborhood. Did you hear that? Generosity!
The good folks of HSLC gathered groups of people together to pray and dream about the bold, beautiful possibilities of this gift. What should this building be used for – for the sake of the Kingdom of God? Approximately 250 ideas were written down – from low-income housing to low-cost childcare to a school of the arts to a community garden. What bubbled to the top was the longing for young adults to have a faith family where they can grow in relationship with God, deepen connections and friendships with others, and discern ways to engage in the needs of the world. To be the “church” in fresh ways; a community that embodies the compelling life of Jesus, welcoming in all kinds of young folks. As this community takes form they'll have a chance to listen to their own passions, as well as the needs of the wider neighborhood, and let God lead them into other ways to use the property.
Pastor Sara Wolbrecht was called (hired) to be the pastor of this ministry! Given her deep love of the Eastside (having grown up in Redmond) and her experiences with discipling others, the hiring team felt she was the best fit! She and her husband, Jason Bendickson, began gathering together small groups of young adults to share in a weekly meal – to encounter the generosity of God that meets us in the food we share, in the company of one another, in the time spent in prayer. This small community was the seed for what eventually became Salt House.
The name “Salt House” emerged out of this group – “salt” names how Jesus invites us to live in ways that bring out the flavors of God in the world – just as salt enhances flavor. “House” names that this is a community where you can come and belong – find a home here.
A small-scale renovation got underway in November 2014 at Salt House to make necessary ADA updates and a few fun ones, as well. We opened our doors for the first time on March 29, 2015. With a creative, engaging worship and an experimental approach to what it means to live faithful lives following Jesus, it has been a wonderful journey since then...and it continues!
In December of 2015, the emerging community at Salt House said "yes" to the big, bold adventure of partnering with the New Bethlehem Project and Catholic Community Services to help fulfill their vision for a Day Center for families experiencing homelessness on the Eastside of Seattle. And on November 6, 2016 that vision became a reality as the Day Center opened it's doors for the first time. Located in the basement of Salt House, the New Bethlehem Day Center is reaching and meeting the real needs of those experiencing homeless.
The next faithful step for Salt House and our community comes in the form of another partnership to address issues of homelessness in our area. After a season of intentional consideration and discernment, the community at Salt House said "yes" to selling a portion of our land to the city of Kirkland to be used for a permanent, 24-hour shelter for women and families experiencing homelessness. With the blessing and confidence of our parent congregation, Holy Spirit Lutheran Church, we are moving forward with the sale! We expect to see the sale completed mid-to-late 2017 with construction beginning in 2018.
Salt House emerges out of a gift of incredible generosity. We believe in a God who is generous – and we get to pay that generosity forward. Come join us – COME and encounter the amazing love and generosity of God, come and THRIVE in community, and come to GO – be sent by Jesus' invitation to live beyond yourself, extending the radical generosity of God in the world.
You can read even more about Salt House on the Northwest Washington Synod's website.