By: Cynthia Reynolds, Building Use & Neighborhood Ministries Coordinator
Once upon a time, in another church, not so long ago or far away, a congregation was asked: "If 'St. Swithun' suddenly disappeared, who would miss it?" We sadly realized that, aside from two Twelve-step groups and a very small day care, nobody would even notice. We had a large building with many rooms, but no tenants, because we had neither planned for nor cultivated relationships with our neighbors.
A few years ago something called "emergent church" came onto the ecclesiastical radar, and "church without walls" became a buzz phrase. Congregations with small, shared, or nonexistent buildings were reminded that they could still be effective, which is very true - check out Riversgate and Missio.
Without going into a "one ministry model does not work for all" discussion, I am here to tell you that if a church has a building, especially a large one, it is a great blessing and a wonderful ministry tool. Building and ground maintenance, repair, and improvements are as important as filling the food pantry barrel each week. Meeting space with parking is hard to find as well as expensive; St. Andrew's receives at least one inquiry every day!
Our building ministry has paid off in revenue, but more importantly, in goodwill toward our Mission of connecting with Christ and each other in order to serve our neighbors. More often than not, we practice this with the help of our physical plant.
If St. Andrew's suddenly disappeared, who would miss it? Here is a list of our current building users who would reply "We would!"
AA SW Hills
AA Women in Recovery
Active Stars Cheerleading
American Cancer Society Relay for Life
Bear Cub Den 254
Boy Scout Troop 150
Choral Arts Ensemble
City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services
Cub Scout Pinewood Derby
Eagle Scout Courts of Honor
Eliason School of Music
Emma Downing Cello Lessons
Joseph Woodhull Piano Studio
National Charity League
Nick Fontana Music Studio
Portland Gay Volleyball
South Indian Classical Vocal performance & banquet
SW Little League
Vermont Hills Family Life Center
Villages NW Board