squareone logoSquareOne Villages in partnership with First Presbyterian Church in Cottage Grove was just awarded a $500,000 Housing Improvement Grant by Lane County for the development of Cottage Village, a 13-unit tiny home project. I partly write this to celebrate their faithfulness and commitment. Three trinitarian cheers for them!

I also write this because their success seems largely tied to a growing trend in our mainline Christian churches:

Mission these days is not done for the community,

but in partnership with the community.

That first got imprinted on me about twelve years ago when I was serving Eastminster Church in Northeast Portland. I remember distinctly the first couple of years as the church made attempts to revitalize their ministry by a number of initiatives that were FOR the community. The thought seemed to be “If we provide the right program FOR the community, people will come.” Remember the “if you build, it they will come” mantra that guided many of our assumptions around church growth?

I also remember very distinctly the moment when Eastminster made the shift from for-thinking to with-thinking. Blessed with four empty classrooms and an unused one-acre lot they offered to partner WITH the community in putting these spaces to use in a way that would best serve the needs of the neighborhood.

eastminster gardenAfter three years of unsuccessful attempts to provide meaningful ministries FOR the community, the switch to with thinking produced a 60-bed family homeless shelter during the coldest six months of the year and the ¾-acre Eastminster Community Garden mostly used by newly arrived immigrants from Asia and Africa. It was all done in partnership and only took eighteen months. Eastminster had the room, but the city had the funds, and various non-profits had the volunteer and staffing capacities.

This is a very simple and blogpost. If you are a small congregation with limited resources please don’t feel like you have do it all on your own. Don’t get caught in the trap that God expects you to be the sole source of providing ministry FOR the community.

Just look at this list of partners that Cottage Grove Presbyterian Church and SquareOne Villages is working with. Look at the diversity. Notice how much they represent your community and your neighbors. Discover how much our religious mission also resonates with the mission of the people around us.

Study this list and give thanks for the many people, agencies and groups who are willing and delighted to partner with us in ministry.

  • Aprovecho Sustainability Education Center
  • Arbor South Architecture
  • Banner Bank
  • Blackberry Pie Society
  • Beds for Freezing Nights
  • Be Your Best
  • Chapman Family
  • Coast Fork Watershed Council
  • Cottage Grove City Council
  • Cottage Grove Area Habitat for Humanity
  • Edwards Mother Earth Foundation ($100,000)
  • First Presbyterian Church
  • Ford Family Foundation
  • Geomax Engineering
  • King Estates Winery
  • Meyer Memorial Trust ($200,000)
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church
  • Parent Partnership
  • Presbyterian Women ($100,000)
  • Resilience Permaculture Design
  • Rowell Brokaw Architects
  • South Lane Mental Health
  • Studio-E Architecture
  • Sustainable Cottage Grove
  • Team Cottage Grove
  • The Healing Matrix
  • Trinity Women in Ministry

​You don’t have to do it alone.

The community is waiting to partner with us.

All we need to do is dream and ask.

Thank you, Cottage Grove, for your faithful witness.

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