This weekend we will celebrate 140 years as a church in downtown Portland. We have a rich history of compassionate service among the poor and sick as well as training and outreach for young people in this community. To this day, we continue to love and serve our neighbors in this great city!
Our beautiful building is now positioned in the heart of downtown Portland, but when it was first built it was surrounded by large, Victorian homes on its quiet, suburban corner of SW 12th & Clay. The freeway wasn’t background noise, and sermons and Bible studies were conducted in German.
Behind the historical records of our church, there are countless personal stories of the people who have crossed the threshold of Grace Bible Church in the last century. Even now, our church continues to fill with people who have stories to tell—and every one of us does.
The chance of any of us meeting in our regular lives is slim. We all live, work, and recreate in different corners of this city, and yet we have crossed paths at Grace Bible Church. On Sunday mornings we stand shoulder to shoulder in those well-worn pews, worshiping God together.
That is what I love about our church. I have friends I would never have met if it weren’t for one Sunday or another at Grace. And imagine—our small church in Portland is just a slice of the great Church that belongs to Christ—across all time and borders!
We all have stories to tell of how we came to this particular church and what God is doing in our lives today. We also have stories we wouldn’t think to tell of our interests and quirks and weekly routines.
Though we often have opportunities to meet new people over coffee or lunch at the church, it takes time, and sometimes guts, to really know others and let ourselves be known. In addition, there is so much noise in the world; it’s easy to think the details don’t matter anyway.
But we believe that the details of our lives matter to God.
Since God cares to know about his children, it stands to reason that we should care, too.
What if our church was made up of people who knew the commonplace as well as extraordinary details about each other? What if we formed relationships of interest in one another that reflected the care God has for each one of his children?
You probably don’t know that Pastor Ken’s go-to comfort food is warm vanilla pudding, or that I have an aversion to playing board games. I doubt Brian Martin has ever told you about the summer he biked across America, and you probably didn’t know Jackie Bailey is about to embark on her second volunteer tour with Mercy Ships in Africa.
When we learn the background details about each other, we start to form bonds of familiarity that lead to genuine concern for one another. We also catch a glimpse of God’s creativity and his immense love for people! He took time to make us just as we are, and he is actively making something beautiful with the whole story of our lives.
This week I had the great privilege to spend time with Jackie Bailey before she embarks on that second volunteer trip with Mercy Ships. We both shared bits of our stories, and we connected over a common desire to use the resources God has given us to make a difference for others.
On Monday, I will post some of what Jackie shared about her previous experience with Mercy Ships and what she will be doing with them for the next eight months. You are going to love hearing about it! In the meantime, be sure to join us this Sunday as we send Jackie off with our love and prayers, and don’t forget to celebrate with us in the Fellowship Hall–140 years and still going in downtown Portland! I hope to see you there.