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Rain fell on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday before Portland, Oregon's CityFest, an open-air, family-friendly evangelistic festival in downtown Waterfront Park. On Friday, August 22, skies cleared and temperatures rose into the 80s. An estimated 180,000 people thronged the park over two days, listening to Christian music and preaching, and enjoying a variety of activities.

Such attendance at an evangelistic event was notable in one of America's most liberal and least-churched cities; more surprising was the support of openly gay Mayor-elect Sam Adams, who offered warm greetings from the platform. "Regardless of our differences, we have come together," Adams said. Corporate sponsors had signed up too: Wells Fargo, KeyBank, and the Portland Trailblazers, among others.

At a Friday press conference, Adams noted the "odd combination" of a liberal city with evangelist Luis Palau and the faith community. "Here's to odd combinations. May they continue perennially." He said that the physical and social problems of Greater Portland were beyond the resources of city government alone.

The impetus for this odd harmony had been happening all summer. Season of Service united Portland-area churches around five community concerns: homelessness, the medically uninsured, public schools, hunger, and the environment. It drew 25,000 volunteers for projects civic leaders had selected. The two-pronged approach to witness—service matched with proclamation—united churches all over the area and prompted unprecedented support from community leaders.

The festival celebrated Season of Service by offering a potpourri of food, music, and youth-oriented activities for a racially diverse crowd. Christian musicians Kirk Franklin and Chris ...

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Servant Evangelism
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November 2008

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