Oregon churches find new ways to help local needy

94% of Oregon churches provide resources to assist people who lack basic necessities.
By Betsy Maynard,
Oregon Family Council

Times of economic hardship tend to encourage creativity.  West Salem Foursquare Church is working to creatively partner with social organizations to meet needs they see around Salem.  This is not new for the church – helping people with practical needs is an emphasis of church life that dates to the earliest days of Christianity.

In 2004, the church also founded an Adopt-A-Block program called the Dream Center, with the motto of “Love them until they ask why.”  Through the Dream Center church members visit certain blocks every Saturday, helping with neighborhood cleanups, and practical needs.  When they realized that many on their adopted blocks lacked adequate primary and preventative healthcare, the church began a twice a month medical clinic at a local school.  Through a working relationship with Walker Middle School, church members also offer a variety of youth activities at the school on Saturday mornings.

A group of West Salem Foursquare members wanted to do what they could to help the consistently homeless and mentally ill they saw in their neighborhoods.  Focusing their efforts on Marion Square Park, the church’s James Ministry provides survival gear, clean socks, resource guides, and meals to hundreds of individuals.

These kinds of practical assistance to people in need are a regular part of Oregon church life.  In research recently conducted by the Oregon Family Council Education Foundation, it was found that 94% of Oregon churches offer help to people in need.

In many instances, churches work in partnership with other community or government agencies to help meet needs.  Members of New Song Community Church in Medford help organize and staff church services at the Jackson County Jail to help inmates develop a connection to God and their community.

New Song Community Church also provides a complete and nutritious breakfast to underprivileged individuals and families every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Along with the meal, they present a five-minute inspirational thought for the day and strive to give each individual attending the meal the “respect and dignity that they deserve.”  Members of the congregation are active in youth mentoring and every Christmas the church delivers boxes of food to families who might not otherwise have a holiday dinner.

These churches are just two of the 94% of Oregon churches who creatively address the needs of individuals and families in their community.  Many churches offer food assistance, clothing, temporary housing and emergency financial assistance to cover utilities or rent. Survey respondents also listed a variety of other examples of practical help, including assisting single parents with oil changes and vehicle repairs, providing Christmas gifts or school supplies for underprivileged children and assisting the families of deployed soldiers with yard and home maintenance.
Oregon churches are good neighbors – looking out for both the spiritual, and the practical needs of those in their community.

— This spring, the Oregon Family Council Education Foundation conducted a research survey to learn more about how churches are involved in lives of those in their congregations, and the wider community.  You’ll find the introduction here.

— Want to see the complete survey results today? Visit Oregon Family Council

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