Hi. My name is Josh and I hired myself onto the Staff Team at Christ Church: Portland. Pastor Adam seems cool with it —- probably because I’m a volunteer and I don’t get paid… yet.
I joined in a year or so ago - we moved to Portland from Florida a few years back and it took us a minute to land at Christ Church. I joined in at the church when they were clearly in a season of massive transition - they often talked about it as a rebirth. We now call this season “Chapter Two” - because we’re looking forward to the next season that is already happening.
We call this new season “Chapter Three,” and I want to take a moment to recognize what yours and others generosity has already done to create space, right here and right now.
I recently shared during our Sunday gathering my story and asked people to take a moment and look around the room. We've got around 100 people in the room Sunday to Sunday and there are always another 100 that call Christ Church their church when they’re not there on Sundays. Pastor Adam always worries about attendance numbers but I like to tell him not to worry about it - we live in Portland and there are a ton of good reasons why people don’t go to church. Plus, we’re really just getting started in some ways.
The space you've made, your generosity in sustaining this community, the volunteering so many do to give it life - you are the reason Christ Church found it's footing in Chapter Two.
I'm not sure I could count how many of you I talked to and heard you say, “I thought I'd never walk into a church again.”
One of our community members told me a couple weeks ago that she can't believe she gets to volunteer at a church.
There's at least one person in the room every Sunday that spent years interning and earning a degree only to be fired from their first job at a church after coming out. I think he's closing in on two years on staff with his next church, and he's doing great.
I was having dinner with a few folks from the community this summer and we couldn't even come up with words for what Christ Church means to us. What it felt like to walk in and be included. How it suddenly seemed like we weren't completely off the deep end that there were other people having so many of the same thoughts we were having.
Could God really? Would God really?
For me, it took a community like this where there was safety and inclusion and support before I could really embrace my true self, having avoided it most of my life.
It's acts of generosity that maintains a church where this kind of acceptance and embrace can happen.
This is Christ Church at our most basic. Inclusion means that every single one of us belong - and that God is using this community to encourage us and to shape us as a make-shift family journeying together.
That's why we put so much time in to planning Sundays, why we volunteer with the kid's classes, why we make mission commitments on houselessness and race, and why we give. Because if everyone belongs we need to make room, pitch in, and do our part, participating near and far as community.
We've only seen what's happened so far - the beauty of generosity is in the vision of what's possible. What if we could reach more people with this old, old story, this good news that they are accepted and loved by a God who is for us, not against us?
What if we had the opportunity to provide support and a place to feel safe for people who have been shut out from spiritual community? We want to explore all the potentials wrapped up in the story we're writing together, because I know that my favorite city in the whole world is full of people who need that space we're holding for them - and that's why I give.
I hope you can join in, too, with a monthly gift. We know for some that might be $10 a month - and for others that might be a few hundred dollars a month. I’d be so happy if you could give what you can today. Go ahead. Click that blue link. That's why we put it in there like that!
Thanks so much.