Story & Photos – Joseph Boyle
BAD NEWS HEADLINE!
“First Baptist Church of Lakewood buys old Lakewood Police Station.”
The building is located at 5504 – 112th St SW, Lakewood, Washington, between Gravelly Lake Dr SW and Bridgeport Way SW, right next door to First Baptist Church.
Earlier news accounts made it look like First Baptist Church planned to convert the entire precinct into a drop-in and overnight center for 100 homeless, runaway juvenile delinquents.
This kind of plan would surely cause a permanent crime spike.
My knee-jerk reaction brought the acronym NIMBY, “Not In My Back Yard”, blazing into the front of my mind.
GOOD NEWS HEADLINE!
“First Baptist Church of Lakewood buys old Lakewood Police Station.”
Hmmm. The BAD NEWS and the GOOD NEWS are the same. How can that be?
To get to the solid answer, we need to deal facts instead of rumors, fears and knee-jerk reactions.
For answers, I met Pastor Walt Kellcy at my community office, Towne Center Starbucks. Walt is the Senior Pastor at First Baptist Church of Lakewood.
Pastor Kellcy is energetic, dedicated and honest. He is also a constructive visionary. He is devoted to his family, congregation, youth and our community.
Walt’s background is interesting. It was originally planned that Walt would be born in Shelton, Washington. This plan was sidetracked when his mother decided to visit Walt’s future grandpa in Salem, Oregon. Walt became an accidental Oregonian when he was born in Salem instead of Shelton.
Pastor Kellcy was ordained in the Southern Baptist Church in 1987. The Southern Baptist Church is the home of another influential minister, Pastor Billy Graham. Walt keeps good company.
In 1991 Pastor Kellcy traveled from his home in California to Lakewood, to visit relatives.
The First Baptist Church of Lakewood invited him to serve as the guest preacher during his visit.
After his Sunday of guest preaching, he was invited to a lunch that turned out to be more than simply lunch. There were an amazingly large number of individuals joining him for lunch. He quickly learned that all the folks at lunch were members of the Lakewood congregation’s Senior Pastor Call Committee.
Walt accepted the church’s call and became an accidental Lakewoodite in 1991.
In 2001 he was awarded an appointment to our local school board. After 10 years service, he will soon leave the board when he completes his term as School Board President.
Walt served for over a decade as volunteer Chaplain with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department and the Lakewood Police Department.
Pastor Kellcy has built a positive solid reputation in our community over a 20-year period. I trust who he is, what he says and does.
Now that we know more about the leader of this community effort, let’s talk about what their plan looks like.
First, they do not plan to house 100 problematic homeless runaway juveniles in the old precinct. That fear can be put to rest.
They plan to work with a small number of displaced youth, who are nominated and approved by the Clover Park School District.
An example of a displaced youth is a teenager whose military father is deployed overseas. The youth’s mother takes her small children back to Georgia to live with her family until her husband returns home. They leave their teenager in Lakewood to finish high school. The teen is displaced.
The proper descriptor for the church’s community mission is displaced youth, not homeless or runaway youth.
The First Baptist Church plans to support the displaced youth in our community so they may successfully assimilate into a stable environment. That process will help these students complete their high school education.
The plan is to house 4 – 5 kids starting in 2014. They will be kids who have already shown an appropriate level of responsibility.
The participants selected for this program will be well-behaved teens that wish to succeed and can benefit from community support.
The church’s vision is collaboration among The Clover Park School District, First Baptist Church of Lakewood and our Lakewood community.
The students’ stay at the center would be short term until an appropriate home in the church congregation or community can be developed.
The idea is to connect each youth with a caring adult, which is a familiar Lakewood’s Promise concept.
During the 1980s, my family had experience inviting a student into our home when we served as host to 9 Japanese students attending schools in America. We had a spare bedroom. It was an enjoyable and life expanding experience serving others by hosting students in our home.
The center would like to add after school programs, music programs, and a car care skills program.
None of this is going to happen overnight. The progress will come in program phases.
There is strong community support for what the church is trying to do as evidenced by a community member, not affiliated with the church, having donated one quarter of a million dollars for the project.
By helping the youth in our community, Pastor Kellcy’s mission supports Lakewood’s Promise.
To learn more about Lakewood’s Promise, please check out their website:
Ok, my panic is over. Pastor Kellcy, I trust that you will transform the old Lakewood Police Station into a positive and supportive safe place for Lakewood’s youth. Your effort will be good for our young people and our community.
I have decided to replace the old acronym, NIMBY, with a new acronym, IMBYP. You have never heard or seen this acronym before, because I just created it for this article. IMBYP stands for “In My Back Yard, Please!”
Thank you Mr. Boyle for calming people’s fears. You’re right, kneejerk first impressions can often be misleading. This past year I was surprised to discover the high rate of local kids are out there “couch surfing”- in other words, they don’t have a place to live & stay with whatever friend whose parents will put them up for a while, moving from home to home. I’m glad the church recognizes this need in Lakewood.
Carl T. Fynboe says
To Pastor Walt Kelcy and the First Baptist Church of Lakewood:
Congratulations and thanks for purchasing the former Lakewood Police Station for the stated purposes given in Joseph Boyle’s article. This is an excellent move for both the church and Lakewood.
Kim Underwood says
Mary Hammond says
A very informative and encouraging interview and article. Thanks, Joe, for researching this and sharing your findings.
Andie Gernon says
Joe and Walt – You two are at it again – turning bad news into good news! All we need is a whole lot more folks just like you in Lakewood! Fortunately we have them – 100s of people who are involved in Keeping Lakewood’s Promise to our children and youth. Maybe that accounts for Lakewood’s being named one of the 100 Best Communities for Kids in the nation five years in a row. Still we have so many living in poverty and in great need. I hope every person who reads your great article will resolve to do something more for a child or youth in need in 2012.