Providing Safe and Welcoming Spaces In Our Building
When St. Mark’s last expanded our building in 1967, the education wing was added to meet the need of classroom space for our Sunday School. As you all know, our congregation and neighborhood had both changed in the last 50 years. St. Mark’s is now addressing those changes and meeting the needs of life in 2016. Our building used to be very busy on Sundays, with 3 services and a large Sunday school. We did have a pre-school but with the exception of the many women’s groups, the building was not in use during the week.
Today, our facility is active 7 days a week. There are 3 services on Sunday, opening our space to Pastor Andrew’s congregation and a hispanic congregation.
We now provide space for a Montessori Preschool which operates Monday thru Friday. On days when Portland public schools are closed, one of our members hosts a magic camp which provides fun activities for children who are in need of a safe place on these days.
St. Mark’s is a meeting place for 3 different Narcotics Anonymous groups. One meets Tuesday evenings and is one of the oldest and largest in the city. The other groups meet during the day, Monday thru Saturday. We now have 2 girl scout troops meeting on Fridays. The National Railroad Society continues to meet monthly. Portland Chamber musical group practices weekly in our sanctuary.
One of our basement classrooms has been converted into an office for Oregon Faith Roundtable Against Hunger. Another room provides space for a retired pastor to set up his long arm quilting machine which is too large for a space in his home.
Many of these groups do not have funds to pay rent required in for profit buildings. We are living out our mission of “servants of Christ the servant” by allowing them to use our building, In exchange many of these groups assist our congregation to supplement their building use monetary contribution. For example, the weekday NA group moved those heavy tables from upstairs to the basement for our rummage sale. They also periodically clean our grounds of trash. Our new girl scout troops have plans to assist the clothing closet and food pantry. Portland Chamber often provides music for special services.
Our building is now alive 7 days a week, not just Sundays. We look forward to making more connections with our neighbors. St. Mark’s continues to be a light in SE Portland. All of this does put a strain on our building and as it ages, upkeep and repairs are needed. As we address stewardship, funds and volunteers are important to maintaining and improving our facility both for our members and the many groups who call this building home.
- Sally Durham