by Kirby Lindsay“I didn’t know it was that long,” explained Pastor Heath Rainwater, of The Vine Christian Ministries, about his first experience walking the length of the Aurora Bridge, “you get to see Seattle from a new perspective.” He walked the Bridge – officially named George Washington Memorial Bridge – with his ministry team in mid-2009, and “it was very insightful for us.”
Pastor Rainwater had done a lot of research on the bridge, after he witnessed a suicide during his work as a Seattle Fire Fighter. Still, standing on the bridge – located only a few blocks from the church (at 4000 Whitman Ave N) – provided a profound experience. Rainwater, and the ministry team, hope many others will experience it for themselves at the 2nd Annual Take Back The Bridge event on October 8th & 9th.
More Than Ever
Last year the 24-hour prayer vigil, held from 11a Friday to 11a Saturday, brought out about 20 volunteers each hour during the day, to pray, or talk in small groups, about their experiences, light and dark, of the Aurora Bridge, its history and, potentially, more hopeful future. “It seems as though there is a stronghold of the enemy in this area,” Pastor Rainwater explained. The prayer vigil, and a community march at Noon on October 9th, could unite the Christian community of Fremont and Wallingford, and break this stronghold.
“The fence going up is a huge victory,” Rainwater acknowledged. A safety barrier is being added to the bridge by the Washington State Department of Transportation. The Pastor’s research, and information given to him by Crisis Clinic staff, has taught him that jumping from the bridge deck is a very impulsive act. Speaking with an experienced medic, Rainwater heard that those who survive always say they wish they hadn’t jumped. “The fence is going to make it inconvenient,” Rainwater said, and give someone contemplating suicide time to reconsider. “I don’t see how any objections [to the barrier] could stand in the face of a life being saved,” he stated firmly.
“We want to celebrate the success of the fence,” he said, yet Take Back The Bridge is about bring people together. “Real community is where people get together and are intimately involved in each other,” Rainwater explained, and he to see that for the neighborhood. “Maybe the bridge was the catalyst,” he admitted, to bring together the faith-filled in “a type of love people can feel and see.”
Say a Prayer and/or Join the March
Starting at 11am on Friday, October 8, volunteers will take an hour on the bridge – walking, or standing at the railing – to pray for those who have lost their lives, those who grieve a loss, and the prevention of future deaths. Last year, a gregarious group of students from Northwest University helped fill in a difficult early morning hour (3am – 4am) and “they were a much needed shot in the arm,” admitted the Pastor. Volunteers also come from other faith communities, people who have lost friends and/or family to suicide, and even a few random Fremonsters, like myself.
On Saturday, October 9, at Noon will be the community march, from The Vine to the Bridge, then up one sidewalk and down the other. They ask a $20 donation, to Crisis Clinic, from marchers, for a t-shirt. Last year the march drew approximately 160 people.
The motto of The Vine, which moved to Fremont/Wallingford in 2006 from Crossroads/Bellevue, is ‘see a need, fill a need – it starts in our community.’ Since adopting this community, they want to help build a consciousness of hope, love and the grace of God - around the Aurora Bridge and the whole area. For those who want to join the effort, volunteer for an hour of the prayer vigil on-line, or arrive at The Vine before Noon on Saturday, October 9th for the march. Rainwater hopes to welcome, “all the people who can relate to this message. It’s a unifying message.”
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.