A message from Dana Allin, Synod Executive How are ECO churches doing? This ques...
Cedar Creek Church – Thriving for our Community
By Rev. Dr. Jennie A. Harrop
Pastor, Cedar Creek Church, Sherwood, OR
In June 2020, Cedar Creek Church was approved alongside 11 other Oregon congregations for a $1 million Lilly Endowment Grant titled “Thriving Congregations” that is designed to promote diversity and ensure that local congregations and communities are thriving. In 2020 and 2021, the 11 other pastors and I met regularly to dream, draft, and revise site-specific grant applications. The first funds were released in 2022 ($15,000 per church), and we have been approved for an additional $15,000 in 2023. As the grant closes out in 2024, we hope to receive a final $5,000 for a grant total of $35K. Much of the blessing in this process has been getting to know the 11 other congregations of varying denominational affiliations, ethnic background, and size. The Thriving Congregations leaders pull us together as a team at least twice annually for full days of professional development, good food, and good fellowship.
Our Cedar Creek Church project kicked off in a tangible way on October 22 of this year when we hosted an all-day Cedar Creek Mural painting party. Congregation and community members were invited to come for free food and an opportunity to paint-by-number on our wall space that is about 20-feet by 60-feet. It is on the backside of our Ministry Center (the former Sherwood Public Library building, which speaks to my English professor soul!), and will be visible from the newly opened Cedar Creek Trail, a paved trial for pedestrians and bicycles that meanders through two miles of Sherwood woods and will eventually connect with a 22-mile trail connecting multiple small towns in the area. On October 22, we had from age 6 to 90 helping as each was given a small container of paint, a brush and roller, and instructions to paint any spaces labeled with their number. We finished about 2/3 of the work that day, and others have gathered in the weeks since to finish a single coat (plus many double coats) across the entire mural. Our artist, Mark Augustin (who will become a Covenant Partner with his wife Metra next month), plans to complete secondary coats and paint all visible white lines a charcoal gray so the entire image looks like stained glass. He will continue working as weather permits, with a goal to be fully finished by Summer 2023.
To continue the grant project, we will install a Prayer Garden on the front one acre of our property that will be open to public use (with meandering paths, drippy foliage, and benches for contemplative space) and a rustic Outdoor Amphitheater on the back acre of our property, also open to public use. Because the grant money is earmarked for community gatherings rather than construction supplies, we are leaning into these projects with all faith in the Lord. For the mural, for example, the paints, general supplies, and scaffolding were all provided by donors. We hope to continue with similar community-building all-hands-on-deck gatherings for the Prayer Garden and Outdoor Amphitheater as well.
Another fun project that we did was to improve a rather boring pale gray wall at the back of our stage area with beautiful Douglas fir and cedar planks. With one person selecting wood pieces, another cutting, another holding the pieces in place, and me on the electric drill, we managed to finish the project in just 4 hours. It was fun to see the congregation’s excitement the next Sunday!
We are a small church, with about 50 regular attenders, and we are excited to see the energy these projects are bringing to our congregation. This past May, we welcomed 7 new Covenant Partners, and we are ushering in 7 more Covenant Partners this December — exciting!
Want to learn more? Check out the Cedar Creek Facebook page here:https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100081047246094