Portland, Oregon: "Jesus' Favorite City"

reaching across the city

Earlier this week the USA Today ran an article on the unique relationship that has been formed between Portland churches, the Luis Palau Organization, and the City of Portland. It is something all of us in Portland have seen play out in the last decade into what is now an extremely rare relationship; it is definitely a one-of-a-kind relationship considering what Portland is typically known for.

The article is titled “Evangelism 2.0” and it speaks to the new and changing way Christianity is being presented through the joint effort of these 3 groups in what is being called “Seasons of Service.” Here is an excerpt of the article:

Let’s be clear: America’s evangelicals have long served the needy, and in all parts of the country. What is new and different about the Season of Service, though, is the participants’ emphasis on “preaching” through idealistic action rather than pious words, and their partnership with the progressive politicians who run City Hall. Weren’t evangelicals supposed to condemn liberal politicians rather than work with them?

As it turns out, this Portland story is chock full of stereotype-busting subplots. The most intriguing of all might be the way the Season of Service has thrust the area’s evangelicals into partnership with Sam Adams, who last year became the first openly gay candidate elected mayor of a major American city.

On multiple occasions, Adams has represented city government at Season of Service events held at theologically conservative churches packed with evangelical pastors. Judging from the culture-war rhetoric of recent decades, one might expect the evangelicals to give the mayor the cold shoulder — especially after a well-publicized sex scandal made him an even more tempting target. Yet Adams has never received anything but a warm welcome.

(Read the full article here)

Not all that surprising, there are many that disagree with this expression of Christianity and form of evangelism. One person commented on the article by saying, “Christianity is at its best when its believers tend to their own front porches and not those of everyone else’s.” So clearly this isn’t necessarily a widely accepted expression of faith in Christ.

Yet I can’t help but smile when I read all this.

(Illustration by Alejandro Gonzalez, USA TODAY)