Another side to every story…

Posted on: March 3, 2020, by :

March 3, 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

It has come to our attention that some negative things are being said on Facebook about Freeborn Lutheran Church. We invite you to consider that there is always another side to every story.

On February 22nd, Pilchuck Learning Center posted on Facebook (through both their Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens and Pilchuck Living History Farm pages) the following:

Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens (BBG) are operated by two nonprofits, Pilchuck Learning Center (PLC) & Freeborn Lutheran Church (FLC). The latter is demanding the dismantlement of the Pilchuck Living History Farm, has closed and evicted 79 preschoolers in an attempt to terminate PLC’s Little Red Schoolhouse program (November 2018), and last Sunday announced that it will be removing BBG’s walkways and kiosks on the portion of the Gardens that it owns. Last Saturday, with the help of a South Everett construction firm, they marked the kiosks for removal – please note the ribbons in the attached pictures. In light of this, we will be keeping the Hall Road gates closed this Spring as we try to work with the County and our attorneys to find a solution. If you love BBG and know any FLC member, we would appreciate you asking them to keep the Gardens intact.

On March 3rd 2020 they also posted:

On March 2nd, Freeborn Lutheran Church (FLC) fenced off its portion of Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens and retagged the boardwalk plus 5 of 16 kiosks. Last month Pilchuck Learning Center (PLC) was granted an April hearing date for its 19-108914 Conditional Use Permit (CUP) preschool application. FLC’s website appears designed to oppose the Gardens and Farm, but principally the Preschool’s CUP application (see top center: “Info on Gardens and Farm”). Again, if you know a church member, may we ask you to implore them to stop their efforts to oppose the preschool, close the Gardens, destroy the Green Creed, and demand the abandonment of the Living History Farm?

How we came to be the owners of record of the south portion of the Bonhoeffer Gardens in 2014 is part a very complicated and troubling legal matter, which we have been attempting to resolve with the Pilchuck Learning Center since January 2018. We hesitate to share too many details about this while these negotiations are ongoing. We implore the Pilchuck Learning Center to do the same. We also encourage the public to hold judgement until all the facts of the case are made known. We are grateful for the assistance of the code enforcement officials from Snohomish County who are working with us to ensure that the impact of PLCs code violating actions and lack of permitting fall appropriately to PLC to resolve, even though the church has been inappropriately tied up in them.

As you can imagine, there is more to the story than can be captured in a Facebook post so we have been reluctant to respond to these accusations. However, the communications we are receiving on Facebook, email, phone, and in person have become increasingly negative and harsh, and include statements that are untrue (or partially true) so we have decided to offer the following information to share our view of the situation. You can click the links to see related documents if you are interested. More information will be shared on this website as appropriate.

Freeborn Lutheran Church


Pilchuck Learning Center’s (PLC) claim

Freeborn Lutheran Church’s (FLC) Claim

The Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens are operated by PLC and FLC

False. PLC and FLC once did events together, but the Gardens are operated solely by PLC. FLC severed all relationship with PLC in 2018  due to some troubling information we discovered.

Part of the Gardens are owned by PLC and part by FLC.

Part-true. There is a complicated legal situation involving this land where FLC is recorded as legal owner of the south section of the Gardens. We are attempting to correct this.

FLC Fenced their portion of the Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens on March 2nd

True. This was following a walk through with Snohomish
County code enforcement staff that morning and was done to comply with County code violations. (also see County ruling from appeal)

FLC tagged kiosks for destruction

False. FLC tagged kiosks to identify which were on the South Garden parcel.

FLC is planning to remove kiosks and boardwalks

False. Thankfully, it does not appear this will be necessary at this time to comply with County codes.

PLC’s Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to allow public use of the Gardens has been filed and is in process

False. According to Snohomish County code enforcement officials, only the Preschool portion of PLC’s property is covered in PLC’s current CUP application (# 19-108914 CUP). We have been informed that public access to the Gardens will require an additional CUP.

FLC wants to terminate the Preschool program and opposes their CUP

False. FLC does have two concerns related to permits and to the how the building was used by prior occupants that we have filed as public comments on the CUP for their upcoming hearing.

FLC opposes the Pilchuck Living History Center Farm and wants it dismantled

Part-true. This is part of the complicated legal matter related to land ownership. The Farm is also under another set of code violations and would require yet  another CUP to operate. (also see County ruling from appeal on Farm violations)

FLC attempted to close the PLC Preschool in 2018

False. This is a long story, and again involved PLC code violations and accruing fines on FLC property.

FLC is doing this because they oppose the Green Creed

False. There are many troubling issues involved, and PLC’s “Green Creed” is not one of them.

The Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens are closed because of FLC

False. The entire Gardens are not open to public access without proper permits by order of Snohomish County. These permits will take at minimum 6-8 months and hundreds of thousands of dollars to obtain. (see County
code violations
, item 3). Various agencies of Snohomish County (along with many Federal, State, and local agencies) have been attempting to ensure PLC get the proper permits and follow proper codes and laws since they first discovered PLC logging without a permit in 2006, and constructing the Gardens in wetlands without permits, polluting waters, and degrading habitat in 2010.  FLC was not involved in the Garden’s construction and did not become owner of record of the south Garden parcel until September 2014 after the Federal wetland ruling had been imposed on PLC.

Thank you for reading and for considering another side of this story. Again, we encourage the public to hold judgement until all the facts of the case are made known. There are many more facts and documents that will come to light as this progresses. 


Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses and closeup, possible text that says '"SILENCE IN THE FACE OF EVIL IS ITSELF EVIL: GOD WILL NOT HOLD US GUILTLESS. NOT TO SPEAK IS TO SPEAK. NOT TO ACT IS TO ACT." DEITRICH BONHOEFFER'

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *