North Seattle church calls for crime and safety meeting


SEATTLE -- Crime concerns have gotten so bad for one neighborhood in the northern part of the city that a local church is now stepping in to help with solutions.

Parish leaders at Epic Life Church are going beyond Sunday sermons and talking about mobilizing a block watch group that balances crime-fighting with compassion.

The neighborhood that Charlotte Gottenkieny calls home doesn't always feel like the safest place.

"I look at the crime map every day," Gottenkieny said, refering to the online reports Seattle police make available.

From mail theft to car prowls to home break-ins, Gottenkieny said her family has tried to be vigilant and work with police but so often feel like they are in this fight alone.

Just the other day while walking their dog, Gottenkieny said she and her husband spotted a suspicious vehicle near their home.

"We reported it to 911 and they acted annoyed that we were even reporting it because they had so much else going on," she said.

That sense of being over-run by petty crime is shared by members of Epic Life Church. The parish has put down roots at the corner of Northgate Way and Stone Avenue N. Now it wants to work with neighbors on community safety.

"We also want to gather an understanding together as neighbors, get a fuller picture and come up with an action plan so we can move forward from there," said Averi Norgaard of Epic Life.

Norgaard is inviting the church's neighbors to join their congregation to start the conversation on how to reclaim their sense of safety. They also want to work with the city to bring the crime rate down.

"I'm not religious personally, but just kind of getting a dialogue going about safety in the neighborhood is pretty cool because no one else is doing that," Gottenkieny said.

Police records show that since the start of the year, nearly three dozen crimes have occurred in a three block radius of the church. While launching a block watch program is unusual for a church, the leaders believe that by taking the initiative with a community meeting they can make a difference.

The community safety meeting is set for 6-8 p.m. Sunday, February 21 at Epic Life Church, which is located at 10510 Stone Ave. N Seattle.

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