Delegates and clergy from the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon will gather at Trinity Cathedral, Portland to elect the 11th Bishop of Oregon.
In the Hollywood neighborhood of northeast Portland, St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church is well known within the diocese for their long-standing Misa service. As the church prepares to celebrate 25 years of worshipping in Spanish, the Rev. Chris Craun smiles, reflecting on how the service started and continues to grow and develop as the congregation faithfully goes into the places of challenge and discomfort created by being a bilingual and multicultural community.
Beginning as a small group gathered around the altar with the Rev. John Scannell and the Rev. Deacon Marla McGarry-Lawrence, the Spanish-speaking community transformed over the years from an outreach ministry to an integrated part of the church’s life. During a 2017-2018 parish visioning process, a significant amount of time was given to listening to and learning the stories of church members. One exercise involved building a map with photos of parishioners, their houses, and answers to the question, “Where else is home?” For many in the Latino community, St. Michael’s was that other home: a place to be known, and safe, and seen.
Chris credits this sharing of stories and experiences with strengthening the congregation’s willingness and ability to embrace resilience, which the vision process identified as a core value. Resilience is a necessary characteristic for a congregation that continues learning how to engage its bilingual and multicultural makeup.
During Lent this year, the church offered introductory Spanish lessons, creating an opportunity for English-speakers to take steps in vulnerability and courage. In her commitment to be the rector of the entire church body, Chris has spent significant time developing her Spanish skills and learning about Latino culture, determined to overcome her own discomfort and fear of looking foolish while modeling humility and a willingness to engage in spite of the mistakes that inevitably happen in cross-cultural relationships.
Building Beloved Community is a long process that The Episcopal Church symbolizes with a labyrinth, and St. Michael’s experience bears out the reality of this metaphor. Throughout many twists and turns, coming to this 25th Celebration of the Misa is a recognition that the English- and Spanish-language speakers of St. Michael’s are deeply committed to God and to each other.
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.
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.