Last Friday, October 21, nearly 200 nonprofit leaders, pastors, artists, journalists, and college students arrived at Imago Dei Community in southeast Portland to hear stories of Christian engagement in one of the country's least-churched areas. An evening of celebration and creative strategizing, the launch of Christianity Today's Portland coverage featured documentary film, interviews, and the spoken-word poetry of Texas native Garret Potter (above).
Andrea Cook, president of Warner Pacific College, and Ben Sand and Anthony Jordan, who head up the Portland Leadership Foundation, began the evening by introducing Act Six, a unique scholarship program that trains underserved teens to serve the city. Imago pastor Ken Weigel then spoke about the church's new partnership with Multnomah County around the issue of sex trafficking. "We want to bless the good work the city is already doing on this issue instead of coming in to take over," said Weigel. The City team premiered its documentary film about Shoshon Tama-Sweet, executive director of the Oregon Center for Christian Voices, and the costs of long-term commitment to fighting sex trafficking. Potter performed two poems he had written for the evening, receiving a standing ovation.
The evening ended with table talks on where attendees see shalom in their city, and what they need to continue pursuing it in their respective spheres of influence. Attendees also became among the first to read the brand-new November issue of Christianity Today magazine, which features three articles on Portland's Christians.
"Bringing people together to engage on what God is doing is always helpful," said Paul Louis Metzger, director of Portland's Institute for the Theology of Culture: New Wine New Wineskins, who attended Friday's event. "I would love to see CT continue to build momentum in Portland (as well as sustained efforts in other cities) for the sake of encouraging, exhorting, and equipping the body of Christ in its missional engagement."