|Volume 9, Issue 6||
|Members of the church gathered in the pasture for the groundbreaking in 1963|
Members searched for land, and found a four-acre plot on Saltzman that was being used as a cow pasture. The following month, the Conference approved the purchase of the site for the new church and a house nearing completion in Terra Linda for the parsonage.
After originally planning to name the church after Cornell, the congregation eventually chose the name of Christ Methodist Church. They planned to meet in the recreation room of the Sunset Swimming Pool until their church was built, but the acoustics were awful, so they started meeting at the Leedy Grange Hall. Members of the church recall, "scurrying and maneuvering to convert the Saturday night square-dance setting to the Sunday morning church setting." The first meeting, on September 22, 1963, was attended by 88 people, 54 of whom had already signed the charter.
|This photo of the model shows what the church looked like before all the additions.|
One of the original parishioners was Leonard Uppinghouse, a contractor. He chaired a committee to oversee the building process. Charles Colburn, another member of the church, was chosen as the architect, and he produced a lovely mid-century modern (back then it was just called "contemporary") design incorporating wood surfaces, vaulted timbered ceilings and natural light. This building is now the chapel, and is used by a Korean congregation, among other groups.
When the building was nearly finished, in December 1964, an early cold spell hit Cedar Mill. The congregation had been planning to hold their Christmas service at the Grange, but the cold had damaged the old building's plumbing and the hall was flooded. The Methodists decided they could have their service in the nearly complete church building, so scaffolding and saw-horses were covered in cedar boughs, folding chairs were brought from Camp Magruder, and a decorated fir tree completed the holiday celebration.
In 1968, a merger of the Methodist Episcopal Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church formed the United Methodist Church, and the Cedar Mill church was renamed Christ United Methodist Church.
|The sanctuary is a flexible space that can be used for services, receptions and other activities|
There was no public kindergarten in Oregon until the late 1980s, so Christ United Methodist Church (or simply Christ church) began offering a program to the community in 1964. An education wing was added in 1967 because the program had outgrown the available space. In order to support the growing adult, children and youth ministries, an additional education building was constructed and opened in the fall of 1994.
Through the years the church grew in members, programs and outreach ministries. By the mid-1980′s it became clear the congregation had outgrown the existing space and plans were developed for a new kitchen, offices, and rooms. They begin conducting worship services in the new facilities (Memorial Hall, also called the Nave) on a regular basis.
The church building is used by numerous community groups. Some of them rent space, such as Kindermusik, American Guitar Academy, and Yu Fang Chinese School. Others are given free space. Girl and Boy Scout troops meet there, the Oregon United Korean Church, a new branch of the Cedar Mill Garden Club, the Westside Zen Circle, and several others.
The church building is also home to two separate preschools. A Child's Way Preschool is a secular school that has about 300 students. They rent their section of the building. The Christ UMC Preschool offers a Christian morning-and-lunch program to about 40 kids, and occupies a different section of the building—it is a sponsored activity of the church. They will be offering three-day summer camp sessions to children up to age 8. The large playground is shared by both preschools, and is open to the public when the schools are not in session.
The Community Garden was first established in the 1980s. It is now run by Becky Lovejoy. Church members and others in the community sign up for spaces and share in the expenses. The site will be part of an "eco-tour" later this summer.
The church also owns the property containing two rental houses to the east of the parking lot. At one time, there was discussion of turning it into a park and other community space, but currently there are no specific plans.
|Pastor Strobel enjoys working with children|
But of course a church is much more than buildings. Brett Strobel, who has been Pastor of CUMC for about five years, says, "The role of any faith community or church in the larger community is multifaceted, and Christ Church is no different.
“First, we are not afraid to talk about the reality of the sacred, the numinous, the ethical and the sublime. We are a Christian community, which means that we strive to shape our attitudes and lives to the life, teachings and example of Jesus Christ—such as being open, engaging, passionate, and compassionate—open to everyone, regardless; passionate about justice in its various forms; and compassionate to those in need. Stemming from this is the role that we, along with other faith communities, play in being a conscience for our community. Our faith makes us sensitive to the vulnerable and disenfranchised. This is expressed in our various opportunities to learn, share and serve.
“Christ Church facilitates opportunities for people to meaningfully connect with God and with others in manner that is authentic, enduring and based in mutual trust, care and friendship. There are many different forms of communities available to people in our society, but our church offers a depth, breadth, trust and tradition that is hard to find in these other communities. We are blessed to have people nine weeks old to 90+ years old who interact with each other in rich ways.
|An ongoing food collection lets church members support the less-fortunate|
“Third, the people in our area live high-powered, fast-paced, frenetic lives. They have a lot of stress factors and pressures in their lives. We are faced with so many pressing complex issues today from cultural pluralism, biomedical ethics, politics, technology, science, global ecology, world economy, justice, violence, despair, responsibility, freedom, and the array of human spiritual experiences. Christ Church provides a place where they can get some grounding and put it all into a healthy perspective. A part of this is being able to ask the really big questions of life—questions of meaning and purpose. We do this at CUMC.”
Members of the church are involved in numerous projects promoting social justice. These range from regular collections of food for the Oregon Food Bank; over 100 pounds a month of clothing and household items that are collected and donated to the Western Farm Workers; ongoing involvement in Habitat for Humanity and yearly participation in National Rebuilding Together—this April over 40 volunteers turned out to clean, repair, paint and clean up the garden for a disabled senior in need; meal deliveries for Loaves & Fishes; and many more activities that help the less-fortunate in the community.
They partner with Aloha United Methodist Church for the “ReKindle Youth Ministry” that offers activities for teens. They're currently raising funds for a MidWest Mission Trip that will send participants to work in Chicago, helping inner-city low-income families. There's also a special Sunday School for Junior and Senior High students on Sundays at 9 am.
|The chapel is used by the Oregon United Korean Church and other groups. It is popular for weddings.|
Senior men and women each have their own groups that meet regularly. They had been meeting together as the CHUMS group, but that ended this month because most of the members were in their 80s and 90s. The Singles Lunch Bunch continues, as does the Prime Timers who keep up a long tradition of following the Great Decisions discussion series.
Music has always been an important part of Methodist worship. CUMC Music Director Jeff Kaufmann, who also performs with local jazz groups, initiated the Rave in the Nave performance series that has brought many local artists to the community. He's taking a break from that after the end of this season, but it may return. There's a choir, a handbell group, a youth praise band, and regular solo performances as part of the weekly church service.
Elaine Ledbetter runs the office of the organization. She grew up as a Methodist in California and moved to the area and became a parishioner in 1985. She joined the staff six years ago and because of her increasing responsibility, she was named Executive Director. She handles all rentals, public inquiries, and supervises the repair and maintenance staff. She says she enjoys her work because, "I actually like to go to meetings!" She works with numerous "teams" of church volunteers who meet regularly to manage all the varied aspects of church operations, including Stewardship, Education, Technology, and Finance.
The church has a computer network, and a new and sophisticated audio-visual system including a projection system in the Nave that can project images across the big room even in daylight.
|Elaine Ledbetter keeps the many activities at the church coordinated.|
The church website (cumcpdx.org) is maintained by volunteers and is very complete and informative. Elaine notes that, "We have a lot of high-tech workers in our congregation so we get plenty of help on technical issues." Elaine also sends out weekly newsletters to the membership and the community and sends an updated calendar every month.
Sunday services during the summer are at 9:30 am and last about an hour. The church is open daily, and the public is welcome to come in and explore the facilities. Visit their website or phone 503-646-1598 for more information.
Published monthly by Pioneer Marketing & Design
PO Box 91061
Portland, Oregon 97291