Jamie Winship, a former police officer who has worked in ministry in high-conflict areas, was keynote speaker at the YMCA’s annual Good Friday Community Prayer Breakfast. (Mike Dunn photo)

Jamie Winship, a former police officer who has worked in ministry in high-conflict areas, was keynote speaker at the YMCA’s annual Good Friday Community Prayer Breakfast. (Mike Dunn photo)

YMCA celebrates its foundation of faith at annual breakfast

Looking to the future, the Y will break ground for its new flagship headquarters in June.

EVERETT — The YMCA of Snohomish County continued a Good Friday tradition with its 58th annual Community Prayer Breakfast. Speakers looked to the past and future of an organization that will soon break ground on a new headquarters.

Scott Washburn, president and CEO of the local Y, asked Friday’s crowd whether anyone had attended the first prayer breakfast in 1958. Among about 600 people, one hand went up.

“Ray Sievers was there,” Washburn told attendees in the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center at Angel of the Winds Arena. Long active in the YMCA, Sievers, of Everett, was the longtime president of his family’s business, H.O. Seiffert Co., a real estate and building operation firm.

The breakfast, Washburn said, “is a celebration of the Y’s Christian heritage.” The Y was founded in London nearly 175 years ago, in 1844, as the Young Men’s Christian Association.

Washburn focused on the future with an announcement that on June 9 the Y will celebrate the groundbreaking for its new flagship headquarters. The new Y will be at 4730 Colby Ave., former home of Everett School District offices, replacing its century-old downtown building.

Also at the breakfast, Gianna Frank, a student at Marysville’s 10th Street Middle School, read Scripture, Isaiah, 43:19. And Kim Williams, CEO of Providence Health & Services, Northwest Washington, spoke of her organization now being part of a larger system. Providence St. Joseph Health operates in eight states.

The keynote talk was given by Jamie Winship, a police officer before turning to ministry and relief work in high-conflict areas around the world. A dynamic storyteller, the Seattle man worked five years with Virginia’s Fairfax County Police Department. With a master’s degree in English and intercultural studies, he taught at the University of South Carolina and in Indonesia, Iraq, Jordan and on the West Bank.

“I’m heavily Christian, my wife is Jewish and my son married a Palestinian woman,” Winship said by way of introduction. He spoke of being invited by the government of an Islamic country to come help counter the influence of an extremist group.

Not naming the country, Winship told of leading a mission trip with high school and college students. He described the approach as “a new way — we can’t keep doing the same thing.”

While living in Atlanta, his family had taken in a 23-year-old homeless woman. His wife, Donna, had met her at a Starbucks. Tattooed, pierced and seemingly fearless, the young woman joined their mission team. She took their message of God’s love into the streets and homes of the Muslim city they visited.

Winship said he saw a transformation in the city as relationships grew. The mayor of that city eventually began an exchange program with a city in Georgia, he said.

“Here’s the truth,” Winship told the crowd. “You and I can go out there and transform this place.”

The breakfast began and ended with prayer, led by Dana Uplinger, a chaplain with Snohomish County Fire District 4, and Navy Lt. Richard Min, command chaplain at Naval Station Everett.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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