This week the staff and board said goodbye to Michael. He has been the heartbeat of the Church Council for 15 years as our Executive Director and 19 years on staff. Across the region many of us know him as a prophetic voice of faith in the public square. Speaking truth to power, deeply grounded in justice, compassion, and liberation. Michael always shows up to bear witness, confront injustice, and lead communities of faith through challenging times.
Through his legacy, Michael has come alongside and invited each of us to join him in this work. Below we share some remarks from past and current staff and board members.
The Reverend Doctor Linda Smith of SKY Church and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Baptist Church, former CCGS Board President and close colleague and friend of Michael’s, shares:
“Michael has truly demonstrated what the Lord requires: to Love Justice, Do Mercy and Walk Humbly with our God. He puts his whole heart and soul into the work of justice…His commitment for the betterment of our world is deep in the soul of his spiritual DNA, he has a heart for everyone. He believes deeply that every person deserves the gift of life and he works tirelessly to give voice to issues of immigration, homelessness, Black Lives Matter, poverty, women, wages, youth – you name it. I have never seen Michael not show up and advocate for matters of humanity regardless of who it was for… He has healed so many along the Samaritan Road of Life as well as influencing so many others to do the same. He just loves all people and believes the best about them.”
Many faith leaders have passed through the doors of the Church Council at the beginning stages of their journey for justice. Rev. Jenn Hagedorn, former Church Council Intern and current Church Council Board Member recalls the ways Michael’s presence has shaped her call and ministry:
“…I often had the opportunity to sit with Michael to hear the strategy behind the choices about where and how the Church Council would show up. For a young person just learning the ropes of organizing, it was an enormous gift to experience the intentionality required to nurture the relationships necessary for building collective power. Michael is always thoughtful about not only who he’s engaging with, but the communities, peoples, and history that they bring to the room. He is deliberate, kind, and unwavering in his commitments. I know Michael has offered that mentorship to countless others, and our greater Seattle area is better for his presence, leadership and vision.”
The Church Council’s newest board member and pastor of Seattle Mennonite Church, Megan Ramer, shares:
“Michael bears witness to God’s vision of a just peace for all creation: How often I have been glad that his is the public voice representing our network of faith communities in Seattle! And he participates in God’s vision of a just peace for all creation: How amazed I have been to observe him showing up again and again, with his whole body, heart, mind, and strength.”
We celebrate Tara Miller and Joey Lopez as they step into the role of Co-Directors, stewarding the Church Council’s mission and vision into this new chapter of life together. Tara and Joey share:
“Michael has led with an openness to where Spirit is calling The Church Council as we account for our history of white institutional practices, honor our legacy of listening and responding to emerging movements toward justice in the community, and shift toward antiracism and centering impacted communities as the core of our work. We are excited to continue forward in a shared leadership model, one held by the staff, board, and all those who share The Church Council’s mission and vision. As we step into this new chapter, we know we must embody these values of shared leadership and collaboration.”
The Church Council envisions a future when justice is realized, where all people experience liberation, profound peace, expansive equity, and joy-filled human flourishing. Following the leadership of and accountability to communities impacted by systems of oppression is the only way we can fulfill our mission to build collective power through faith-rooted community organizing for transformational change toward liberation and justice.
If we are to live into this mission, that means each of you are a part of the collective power we are building. We invite you to continue your support of The Church Council through a gift in Michael’s honor. You can be a part of sustaining the powerful work to continue the momentum of his brilliant, deeply spiritual, and visionary leadership. We invite you to make a gift in Michael’s honor by visiting https://thechurchcouncil.org/thanksMR.
In this season we remember and celebrate the ways Michael has shaped our communities to act for justice and liberation. We hold to Michael’s benediction to “remain steadfast in love for one another, overcome borders wherever they exist, and breathe life into the vision of a shared humanity where all flourish.”
Deepest Gratitude for Michael and this generous community,
The Staff and Board of the Church Council of Greater Seattle