If you’re local to Seattle, and spend any time near downtown Ballard (especially during the weekly Sunday Ballard Farmers Market), you’ve noticed many businesses going in and out. A few months ago a paper sign went up on a window near Old Ballard advertising “His Word Found Here” in a thorn-ringed heart (Sacred Heart). I’m sure I’m not the only one who pondered what this business could possibly be, and if it could be successful, given Washington is one of the least religious states and the Seattle metro area one of the most secular in the nation.
This past weekend I noticed they finally got the sign up for the new His Word Found Here shop, indicating (and confirming on the site) that this will be a coffee shop that also has Bibles and assorted resources. In this area of Ballard, you don’t have to walk more than two blocks from the intersection of NW Market and 22nd NW to go to one of eight coffee shops that serve fine espresso beverages, many with pastry, cake, take-away and hot food options, not to mention at least one promising a luxe coffee experience. One even has a used bookstore in the back (Bauhaus Books and Coffee.) Admittedly, I’m a bit sad that the sign for His Word Found Here has been up for months, and barely anything can be found on our neighborhood blog, My Ballard except for a fairly recent forum post which offers little except speculation that the shop would be affiliated with Mars Hill Church, a Neo-Calvinist empire headquartered near the Ballard Bridge. However, Mars Hill already has a coffee shop (well, not really, but Storyville Coffee and Mars Hill Church have close ties.)
Given that I’m a bit of a data junkie, I decided to answer my own questions since our neighborhood “media” hasn’t so far.
The business license for His Word Found Here has the governing person as Diane L. Bundrant. A Google search indicates through multiple sites Diane L. Bundrant is in her late 50’s or early 60’s she has for many years made multiple political contributions (and is listed as an employee of Trident Seafoods) both to Democratic and Republican campaigns as well as one of the largest contributors to the Lingle Victory Fund. Trident Seafoods is owned by Chuck Bundrant, and he is married to Diane.
Business and politics are easy to find, and it looks like the political contributions are heavily in favor of politicians that support the fishing industry that is their livelihood. However, since this new shop is definitely a religious one, this doesn’t answer the question of what *kind* of Christianity they’re selling.
You don’t have to be Christian to have absorbed all these ideas of what “being a Christian” means. It’s so entrenched in our culture that you can be raised outside of Christianity, and know just as much about Christianity as a self-proclaimed believer (or maybe even more.) Some forms of Christianity and their believers do not make a big deal about the private choices of individuals. While clergy and members of some of these institutions may personally be against women’s reproductive choices or the right for all people to engage in a marriage contract, not all believe it’s the responsibility of the state to govern these decisions. In Seattle I’ve seen congregations supporting the GLBT community with rainbow flags including Baptist, Methodist, Episcopal and Lutheran churches. Not all Christians support the state infringing on privacy and human rights.
However, we know there are a vocal and well-moneyed group of people who claim Christianity, and push their agenda by political contributions to the masses, with the outcomes like in Texas, where women’s access to preventative care, including birth control, has been greatly restricted because of restrictions on safe abortion.
In my searching, I have to say that the religious affiliation of the Bundrants is not easily discerned. Charles Bundrant gives multiple thanks to the Lord for his success in an Evansville, Indiana magazine. The Sacred Heart, used on the sign, is typically used by Catholics, but I usually see the Sacred Heart and Catholic paraphernalia with people who have strong ties to immigrant communities (exception: hipsters.) If they are Catholic, that tells us little because Catholics can range greatly from nuns who believe social justice was more important than “denouncing artificial birth control, abortion and homosexual conduct” to not just political action restricting privacy and individual rights, but access to comprehensive health care.
Charles Bundrant was listed as Director and Vice President of the Safe Harbor Church and Community Centerin Akutan, AK. The ministry of that church is through Arctic Barnabas Ministries, but no denomination listed. Indications are that it’s an Evangelical organization.
I look forward to finding out more. The Bundrants probably have enough capital to keep this place floating for awhile (records also indicate they own, or have owned, large amounts of land in Hawaii in addition to Trident.) I’m curious if their niche will have the response they’re looking for. Come to think of it, the Q Cafe is still going, but they’re non-profit, and the one time I went in, was not in the business of selling religion though religiously affiliated. (Their website actually states the cafe is a non-religious extension of their church.) What do you think? Will a coffee and Bible store thrive in Ballard? Where will the money go? Will this be a progressive or regressive institution? I’m considering breaking out of my little blog to actually email the info@ to see if I can get a little more information. Admittedly, this was a lot of work so far, so I’m taking a break. 🙂