By Aaron Willett, SeaPres Communications Coordinator
On my way to Union Church, I noticed the Tesla dealership next door. As I marveled at the all-electric sports cars, the South Lake Union Streetcar rolled past. This neighborhood is full of both new ideas and fresh takes on things tried and true. Like the sports cars opposite its front door, Union Church has something a little different under the hood—there is no grimy combustion engine to be found here. Union is shiny and new, but not without strong roots. Like the streetcar, Union is looking backward for inspiration to move forward. It is an experiment in authenticity, probing for a vision of what church can be in the 21st Century.
I recently had the pleasure of joining Rev. James B. Notkin for a cup of coffee and a bite of fine, dark chocolate at Union’s newly opened café, kakáo. We discussed the impetus behind Union, how they are responding in new ways to their Kingdom calling, and how an entrepreneurial spirit informs this “Caleb” congregation.
An Urban Laboratory
Union, an extended congregation of UPC, was designed from the ground up to be different. James B. recalls, “We thought, OK, we’re going to have to put money into a building one way or another to make it a worship space. So, if we really believe that we are to be externally focused [and] be a part of the community that we are in, are we going to build it in such a way that screams church, or are we going to build it in such a way that says, ‘Hey, we want to be an asset to the community?’”