February 12, 2014
Building is empty, cupboards are empty, bank account is empty
As a contributor to the Mt Si Food Bank I am deeply disturbed about the recent events that have taken place and request your help.
Please join me in asking the following pastors to return the furniture, food and approximately $350,000 to the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank (old food bank by location, new food bank by name).
• Charlie Salmon, of Church on the Ridge
• Rick Skeen, of Snoqualmie Church of the Nazarene
• Steve Qualls, of New Life Christian Center
• Don Erlitz of Mountain View Assembly of God
Over the years, these assets were gathered and donated by our community (you, local businesses and our cities) with the intention of serving needy people at the food bank located at North Bend Community Church. As of today, these assets are in storage and in one of these churches bank accounts.
I’ve read these pastors intend to start a second food bank. In my opinion, the valley doesn’t need a second food bank. The one we have serves the community successfully. I’ve also read that because these assets were raised under the pastors’ ministry EIN number, this legally allowed them to take the assets.
I went to the IRS website to review non-profit status of the Snoqualmie Valley Ministerial Association. The status is “The federal tax exemption of this organization was automatically revoked for its failure to file a Form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years.” This is dated May 15, 2013.
So, were the assets taken legally? How about ethically?
I’m guilty of placing higher standards on these gentlemen; after all they are pastors and leaders in our community. But, this entire situation is confusing, sad, and doesn’t make any sense.
Please call or write to these pastors. If you are a member of their churches, please have a conversation with them. Ask them to be heroes, to set aside pride and make this right.
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
Feeding the Hungry is not a Church vs. State Issue
While healthy competition can be a very good thing in the business world, there should not be competition when it comes to feeding the hungry in our community. The decision by the Snoqualmie Valley Ministerial Association (SVMA) to withhold support from the Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank is wrong.
In my opinion, the SVMA’s actions perpetuate the idea that faith-based organizations and community-based organizations cannot work together. This is a disservice to every church that is a true partner in our community, and to the local organizations that serve and welcome everyone.
When Pastor Charlie Salmon of the SVMA states, “It came down to remaining a faith-based organization or a secular non-profit,” he leads us to believe that the legal holder of an entity’s tax designation determines the heart of the operation.
I strongly disagree.
The SVMA should have filed appropriate paperwork and taxes so as not to lose non-profit status. It should not create an environment where all staff and board members resign.
The heart of an organization is the staff, the board and the volunteers who give their time and energy, and, who tirelessly demonstrate their moral and Christian call to action. To give the impression that the SVMA provides the only faith-based direction is both frustrating and deceitful, especially to the staff, pastors, churches and volunteers who support the new food bank.
The Snoqualmie Valley Food Bank just has a new name. It operates at the same location and is run by the same great team that has served our community for many years.
All funds and resources donated to new food bank will be used to provide food and resources to our neighbors. The resources that were raised by the existing team (not the SVMA) were donated in good faith and should be transferred to the SVFB, not left in a bank account or storage unit.
We need to communicate this to the leadership of SVMA. We do not want or need a competing “religious” food bank. Let’s focus on what is most important, feeding the hungry in our valley.
Faith Based Snoqualmie Resident