A little church with a big heart that serves all: St. Martin’s, Shady Cove

A little church with a big heart that serves all: St. Martin’s, Shady Cove

This blog was written and contributed by The Rev. Laura Sheridan-Campbell, Vicar of St. Martin’s in Shady Cove.

When the global pandemic hit in March 2020, St. Martin’s Shady Cove had been offering a monthly, indoor, no-barrier food pantry to the community for over ten years. Through this outreach ministry, we were known as the little church with a big heart that serves all. Then when a global pandemic emerged, we were forced to adapt to a drive-thru model. 

Bill and MaryEllen Mower

Coordinators Bill and MaryEllen Mower led our stalwart volunteers to set up canopies and tables, sort food indoors and carry it outdoors, and give it all away. As families and individuals lost jobs and faced hardship, they came in droves. More volunteers came to help. So we offered two pantries a month. Then last Fall, two wildfires displaced over 5,000 persons in the Rogue River Valley. More community partners came to the fore. St. Martin’s responded by holding five food pantries in September, and three every month after that. 

In 2020, the Diocesan Commission on Poverty and Homelessness awarded St. Martin’s a grant. It came at a critical time. Not only did this generous gift help us to feed more hungry neighbors with more healthy food. It was a vote of confidence when we needed it that furthered the mission of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon in Shady Cove. We are so thankful.

As do many of our churches, St. Martin’s faces the threat of wildfires again, and unprecedented cases of COVID-19, hospitalizations, and deaths due to the Delta variant. The needs are greater than ever. Like Jesus multiplied a few loaves and fish to feed thousands, God takes the grant we received, and other generous gifts, and showed us how much more we can offer a hurting world in Jesus’ Name. 

Amidst multiple challenges, in a deeply polarized world, there’s a little stretch in Shady Cove where the good news is being proclaimed in humility with every loaf of bread and box of fruit given and received. With deep gratitude, St. Martin’s looks forward to supporting the Diocesan Commission on Poverty and Homelessness in their “Baskets of Plenty” Virtual Auction in October. We hope you will, too.

Baskets of Plenty Virtual Auction – October 9, 2021

Join the Commission on Poverty and Homelessness for their upcoming online silent auction, beginning October 2, and their online live auction on October 6. You can sign-up to participate by visiting: https://cphfundraiser.schoolauction.net/auction2021/. Download the flyer here and share it with your congregation and community.

Congregation Close-up: St. Martin’s, Shady Cove

Nestled on the banks of the Rogue River in northern Jackson County, Shady Cove is a city of almost 3,000 people. St. Martin’s Episcopal Church has many close ties within the community, including counting amongst its members the mayor, a city planner, and volunteers with Friends of the Library. They also cheerfully participate in community activities such as the city’s annual Chili Cookoff despite being “robbed” of victory every year by the Fire Department.

Once dependent upon the timber industry, the local economy has suffered in recent decades. The Rev. Deacon Allan Miles recounts that church members devote many hours, day and night, to reach out in various way to people who need help. In this independent area, there is a high value on neighbors supporting neighbors without relying on government help, and the people of St. Martin’s believe it is their calling as Christians to take care of people regardless of their affiliation with the church.

One growing ministry of St. Martin’s is their Laundry Love program. About a year ago, volunteers started going to a local laundromat once a month to provide soap, dryer sheets, and coins to run the machines. Now they go twice a month, and share the observation that while there are some homeless people who come, the majority of Laundry Love participants are people who work but just don’t earn enough to cover all their expenses.

It is similar at the monthly food pantry, where St. Martin’s offers food for humans and pets alike. In the summertime, fresh local gardens provide fresh produce, while a woman with a soft spot for animals gives a substantial financial gift every month to buy animal food. This addresses an important need of many elder people, for whom a dog or cat is a precious source of company and comfort.

The environment of Shady Cove also influences church activities. In the summer, they hold picnics on the riverfront properties of church members to foster a sense of fun and community. The Rogue River also played an important role in the church’s Easter weekend services. On Good Friday, members walked through town from the church down to the river, taking turns carrying a wooden cross and stopping to observe the Stations of the Cross along the way. Then on Easter Sunday, they used water from the river for a baptism.

In June, priest Tom Buechele will be retiring, but the friendly, tight-knit community of St. Martin’s will continue caring for each other and their neighbors with love, laughter, and dedication.

Visit the St. Martin’s website.

Congregation Close-up: St. Andrew’s, Portland

By Carol Cushman, senior warden of St. Andrew’s.

Saint Andrew’s roots are deep, providing continuous worship services since July of 1895. We have struggled at times with a lack of consistent clergy, but we were grateful for the support of the bishop and the diocese. Members step up in many roles to keep moving forward in Christ. St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in North Portland is pleased to once again feel that we are moving forward. We have recently called a new vicar, Jonna Alexander.

Our visioning committee, led by Michael Henry, our able junior warden, is taking a fresh look at our property. We are developing a unified plan to be responsible stewards. An urban farmer is growing produce for market in the front yard with our food pantry receiving fresh fruits and vegetables from the bounty. Half of the “old” church, the Hereford House Pantry, offers food and other necessities to those in need in our community. We are working on the upper half (a painting party is in mid project) as we seek a compatible tenant who will provide health services to the community and income to promote sustainability of the parish.

The Undercroft is filled during the week with the sounds of Scouts, drummers, piano, and Capoeira. The kitchen hums with sounds of preparations for our frequent Sunday brunches, and we are exploring sharing the space with a group providing soup for the houseless downtown.

The spiritual life at Saint Andrew’s continues to grow. Through inclusive hospitality new members have joined and are active participants serving at the altar, as readers and in many other ways. Adult formation classes are part of the week, additional services and pastoral care enliven the life of the community. The Saint Andrew’s community is excited to see where the Holy Spirit leads us next. We invite you to come join us one Sunday.

Visit the St. Andrew’s website.

Congregation Close-up: St. John the Divine, Springfield


The Shepherd’s Table Food Pantry, a partnership with Food for Lane County, opened in a modular unit at St. John the Divine in 2013, but suffered a plumbing accident in 2016 that forced them to operate out of the Parish Hall. Now they have built a new, permanent building with twice as much space, which was blessed and officially opened last Sunday.

Run by volunteers, The Shepherd’s table serves about 180 people each month. They are currently open on the first and third Saturday of each month from 9:00 a.m. to noon.

(Video courtesy of kezi.com)


Hereford House Food Pantry

The winter weather in 2016-2017 left St. Andrew’s Hereford House Food Pantry with flood damage to the walls, floors, and shelves. After closing our doors for four months to conduct some major work on the floors and walls, including carpet removal, drain and gutter cleaning and installation of a sump pump, we were left with a number of related or second tier problems which required funds beyond parish donations, grants from the Oregon Food Bank, and prior help from the Commission on Poverty and Homelessness.

Then we learned about the opportunity to apply for the Pentecost Offering Grant. We received the grant and bought three large restaurant style mats for the doorways and bagging area, and a window air conditioner which kept summer temperatures at levels acceptable to the Oregon Food Bank. We also repaired the hand-washing sink, another requirement of the Oregon Food Bank and Multnomah County health laws. We were able to buy some wood, which a volunteer used to repair shelves and build a few new ones for a clothing outreach area we started this year. We also were able to get our pantry computer set up to access the church Wi-Fi and hook up to a donated printer. All in all – much needed improvements!

All this work after the flooding resulted in a new contract with the Oregon Food Bank and a grand re-opening in May 2017.  Since then, we have passed a surprise inspection.  Between the reopening in May 2017 and December 2017 we fed 5,500 clients! A significant number! God is good and Hereford House shares God‘s abundance with our North Portland community.

The 2018 Pentecost Offering Grant cycle is now open for applications. Funds to support the grant will be collected by churches on the day of Pentecost, May 20, 2018 as one of the diocese’s canonical offerings.