The praise team from First United Methodist Church in Bellevue, Wash. brought a joyful noise during the Seattle District fund-raising event for the Rebuild: Up from the Ashes project.  View more photos from this event on Facebook!

By Rosalee Mohney | Photos by Jesse N. Love

Todd Shively welcomes everyone to Bellevue: First UMC.

Bellevue First UMC rocked with music and joyousness to raise funds for Rebuild: Up from the Ashes.

Bellevue, Wash. – Nearly 170 people came together Saturday, May 6, for an evening of wonderful music and inspiring words of celebration for the work that has taken place following the wildfires of 2014 and 2015 in Okanogan County and surrounding areas. A picture of future needs was also given stressing the number of families still without a permanent home. The Okanogan wildfires were the largest in the state’s history and left hundreds without homes and their livelihoods disrupted.

The Seattle District Fund Raiser was held to raise funds to support the Rebuild: Up from the Ashes Project currently taking place. Through the generosity of United Methodists and others through donations of money and volunteer labor, 30 houses have been built. There are five houses in process that are to be completed, weather dependent, by July 1; and six additional houses are anticipated to be enclosed by this fall so that interior work can be completed during inclement weather.

A few members from the choir of Kent UMC shared their gifts of song at this fund-raiser.


Over $6,500 or enough for about 1 1/3 foundations (a foundation costs an estimated $5,000.) was raised during the Seattle District fund-raiser. The audience was treated to a concert by several choirs of the District, including: the Samoan Choir of the Samoan Fellowship associated with Riverton Park UMC; Signs for Glory, Fairwood Community UMC; the Kent UMC Choir; the Trinity UMC Choir; and the Bellevue First Praise Team. The audience was energized and moved by these fun and outstanding choirs. In addition to the choirs, John Nilsen, from Portland, was the featured piano soloist, with music that ranged from jazz to classical.

Rosalee Mohney, Nancy Davis, Barry Hansen, and Jim Truitt provided updates and needs of the Rebuild: Up from the Ashes campaign.

Informative and inspirational presentations were given by Jim Truitt, UMVIM Disaster Response coordinator, and Barry Hansen, reconstruction project manager, giving a history of the wildfires, talking about the progress made thus far and describing what future needs are. This was followed by additional comments about how a home brings hope and stability to a family that had little following being burned out. Nancy Davis, Conference Lay Leader, helped the audience understand what a disaster looks and feels like, followed by challenging the audience to consider their response to all they had heard.

A free-will offering was taken and the audience began patiently waiting for the results to be announced. The wait seemed long, but was really just a few minutes and the audience was in a state of ‘joyful anticipation’ waiting for the results. When the results were announced there were loud shouts of gratitude by all!

Another highlight was that the program was signed by Tom Magee, an ASL Interpreter and Director of the Signs for Glory choir. As far as is known, this was the first time a District event has been signed. It is hoped that this will encourage other events and churches to reach out to the hearing impaired population and offer signing as an outreach mission, for it is needed.

Signs for Glory from Fairwood UMC (Renton, Wash.) offered a liturgical/signing performance to music.

Churches that were represented by the many volunteers that helped put this event together included United Methodist Churches from Bellevue, Des Moines, Ronald, Trinity, Kent, Fairwood, Samoan Fellowship, Redmond and Renton plus Conconully UMC in the Seven Rivers District; University Place and Puyallup First in the Tacoma District. People came from a wide area to be entertained, learn and be inspired – all to give money to build homes for people!

Rosalee Mohney, Seattle District Co-Lay Leader/Wildfires UMVIM Coordinator and event organizer wishes to thank all those that participated in the program and the many volunteers who helped with the arrangements for the event! She says, “It was wonderful to see so many people come together for a first-time event like this! God’s Spirit was alive and well within all of us who attended this important event in the life of the Seattle District! The roof was raised with joyousness, to be sure!”

For more information about how you can donate, go here. If you would like to know more about how to volunteer for an UMVIM work team, please contact Rosalee Mohney:

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