On Wednesday morning, Portland Mayor Sam Adams, Luis Palau Association President Kevin Palau and Pastors Rick McKinley and T. Allen Bethel met with members of the city’s civic and faith communities at city hall to discuss the initiative. “No Portlander is more vulnerable that the victim of underage sex trafficking,” Mayor Adams said to the congregated leaders. “The fact that [this] unusual partnership has come together…sends a message and underlines for Portlanders how important it is that they get involved.”
Last year, the faith community raised $45,000 as a Christmas gift to the city. This donation was leveraged with civic and county funds to create the state’s first short-term shelter for underage victims of sex trafficking. At Wednesday’s meeting, Palau unveiled a new objective for the upcoming holiday season. This year, funds gathered from the Advent Conspiracy , an international movement that encourages families to participate in giving to a worthy cause in place of purchasing gifts, will be split evenly between two local organizations, the Sexual Assault Resource Center (SARC) and Janus Youth Programs . Both non-profits work directly with underage victims.
Multnomah County officials Jeff Cogen and Diane Mckeel, along with approximately 40 pastors of key churches, attended the meeting to express their support and enthusiasm. “It was such a blessing to see so many friends in the Christian community standing together with civic and county leaders to say ’this is a need that we can meet in the name of Jesus Christ,’” said Palau. “It’s a thrill to be part of what God is doing in Portland.”
Pastors and officials alike praised the “unusual” partnership of church and local government in the proudly progressive city and acknowledged the need for more collaboration. “Your gift to our community comes at a time when local governments have been struggling with continuous budget cuts that have forced us to make very difficult choices about how we preserve our community,” said Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen. “We’ve done terrific work, but I think we all know that what we’re doing is just beginning to see what the possibility is.”
For more information about this year’s Advent Conspiracy project, visit www.portlandchristmasgift.org.
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