A Vision for an MWF Hub in Portland!
by Eric Conklin
This week's guest author, Eric Conklin, lives in Portland, OR with his wife, Mira, and their son, Auggie. While they both work in community development, Mira is leading a Missional Wisdom Launch & Lead group in the Portland area, and Eric is helping the MWF Portland hub come to life.
We are excited to be a part of the development of something ancient and new in the city of Portland. As my friends in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) have reminded me, this coming year will mark the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran reformation. We are seeking to learn what re-formation God is up to in the Portland region.
Speaking to the ecumenism that is breathing new life into leadership development in Portland, the community that we and three of our friends are forming in the northeast Portland neighborhood of Cully will be anchored to two neighborhood ELCA Churches(Salt and Light Lutheran Church, out of the Leaven Community, and Luther Memorial Church) with Eric’s secondary deacon appointment supported by the Rose City Park United Methodist Church. This community is forming in a duplex directly across from Hacienda Community Development Corporation-sponsored low-income housing for immigrants primarily from Latin American and African countries. With a Rule of Life as a guide, the intention is to share space and life rhythms, including meals, spiritual practices and gatherings, mutual care for our rented property, and to intentionally build relationships with neighbors, especially those who are on the margins. We will practice cultivating inward and outward relationships, will practice hospitality, justice, and interdependence with our neighbors and will explore how our individual and community vocations call us daily to live with intention where we are. As we grow in our practice as community, we dream of enough space to invite others in, to learn and be formed by being community.
Furthermore, we are in conversation with 3 healthy United Methodist Churches who have parsonages that are not being used by their pastors and whose congregation has a vision and capacity for re-seeing Jesus in their neighborhood. One of those churches, Fremont UMC, already has the three main ingredients for making this a reality: pastoral commitment, church members who want to live in community, and available property! Our work in the Missional Wisdom Foundation will be to ground this growing group in their relationship with God and with one another and provide financing, training, and education to sustain the local ministries for the long haul.
What we see and why it's important the Missional Wisdom Foundation be here:
The partnerships that we have already experienced in northeast Portland have been extremely fruitful. In this city, people of varying household incomes are rarely encouraged to engage with one another, and racial inequality takes the forms of neighborhood gentrification and isolation toward non-urban communities outside of Portland. It is increasingly difficult for many low to middle income families to imagine how they will stay within the city limits. In addition, people of all life experiences and backgrounds experience isolation and separation, and we see real, person-to-person community at the neighborhood level as a way to create a new narrative. Rooted in love, if we can learn to truly see one another, to hear and know one another's stories, to lift up the gifts that are already present and listen together for the ways the Spirit is already at work where we are, we can be transformed and transform. Through the building of relationships with neighbors, we can act together to powerfully create the kind of community we all dream of, neighborhood by neighborhood.