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Where Portland Church Planters Fear to Tread

Where Portland Church Planters Fear to Tread

MaryLou and Rusty Bonham, founders of Springwater, commit to the forgotten Lents neighborhood.

"If we can't find a way for God's peace and justice to show up among us goofballs," Rusty says, "how can we presume to be able to be God's agents of peace and justice in Lents?"

Here, at the end of the line #14 bus, urban faithfulness is far more mundane than the savvy, conference-friendly ideas I usually see from church planters.

Perhaps this glorious mundane is the true challenge and opportunity that church planters like the Bonhams offer others. Perhaps the future of the church has less to do with ancient-future technique and postmodern turgidity, and has far more to do with families joining the homeless to give away sandboxes to neighbor kids.

Brandon Rhodes is the husband of Candice and a doctoral student at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, where he is studying the impacts of automobility on North American churches. Brandon is applying this research as a Grassroots Storyteller and Field Guide with the Parish Collective.


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Displaying 1–5 of 15 comments

Cora Potter

March 06, 2012  7:49am

Brandon, you of all members of the Springwater Community are the last person I would expect to use the kind of sensational hyperbole that I see in this article. It gives me a lot of pause and makes me question the direction that Springwater Community is taking lately- and Second Stories too.

Nick Christensen

March 05, 2012  11:10pm

"Brandon - You describe a bombed out hulk of a neighborhood that nobody would ever dare visit after dark. That's funny, because the neighborhood I live in is vibrant, friendly, safe and overcoming long-held and untrue stereotypes. It's no paradise, but it sure as hell isn't what you described."


November 22, 2011  4:55pm

Charitas, read what they said about messianism in context. They're not talking about guarding against Jesus as messiah, they are guarding against the urge to go into a place with a lot of issues and see ourselves as miniature messiahs to everything that hurts the neighborhood. This community is doing a lot of cool stuff and harboring a lot of conversations. It's sad to see the amount of vitriol expressed towards it in these comments. As somebody involved in a faith community a couple miles down the road, I'm glad to know those mentioned in this article and to see the work they are doing.

Jeffrey Allen

November 15, 2011  12:56am

Thank you for this article. It is good to remember that the church not only has a function toward those outside the fold, but it is charged with ministering to those who are being perfected in Christ's image - that is to say, those of us who profess faith in Christ. Springwater, and similar groups who are faithfully attending to the King's business, have helped me to draw near to Christ, to live within his grace, and to encourage me to participate in kingdom activity. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to experience God's grace through your faithfulness.

Diane Fowler

November 14, 2011  8:24pm

I was so delighted to read this article about Rusty & Marylou, our friends from 1979 in Goshen, Indiana, where we attended the same church and helped facilitate their wedding. I'm not at all surprised by their ministry to "the least of these," after knowing them as sincere followers of Christ way back then.


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