Congregational Thriving

Our Vision

Our Congregational Thriving program expands upon the Institute for Pastoral Thriving at Portland Seminary by developing a deeper level of vitality for the church in Oregon. The Institute is focused on being formed after the model of Jesus and being commissioned for God's work for the world. This work motivates the primary aim of the Institute, for churches to more effectively:

  1. Recognize and adapt to the changing social and cultural contexts
  2. Exhibit clarity of mission
  3. Cultivate Christian practices


Below is our 2021-23 cohort of 11 congregations that have received our Thriving Congregations micro-grant. Each of these congregations has received up to $15,000 to help them in engaging, acknowledging, and adapting to their social and cultural contexts. The heart behind these micro-grants is to assist congregations in strengthening their minstries, promoting a thriving culture and community, deepening relationships with God and extending their impact. 

Pastor Daniel

Pastor Daniel Lee

Bethel Korean Presbyterian Church, Beaverton

"With the Thriving Congregations Grant, we want to promote healthy, intergenerational relationships in the Korean American community by providing opportunities to serve, learn, and grow together. First, we want to plan events where multigenerational Korean Americans can meet together and build relationships with one another. Secondly, we want to facilitate training and educational opportunities for Korean American Christian in today’s spiritual, political, and social climate. We plan to hold four events in total, two larger scale events: one focused on training and learning what it means to be a Korean American in today’s world and one summer picnic event. The two smaller events will be a series of service opportunities and a series of workshops designed to introduce topics relevant for second and third generation Korean Americans. This project seeks to promote healthy, intergenerational relationships in the Korean American community by providing opportunities to serve, learn, and grow together." -  Pastor Daniel Lee 

Pastor Jennie Harrop

Pastor Jennie Harrop

Cedar Creek Church, Sherwood

“Cedar Creek Church intends to bring the peace, hope, and love of Jesus Christ to the wider Sherwood community with a twofold project: (1) The Garden –We will beautify an unused acre of property in front of our church, creating a garden area that is open to the community for retreat and reflection.  (2) The Amphitheater –We will build a rustic outdoor amphitheater on an unused acre of property on the backside of our church, creating space for the community to host events and intentionally gather together. We will invite various community groups such as the Boy Scouts, the YMCA, neighboring churches, and Young Life to help us craft an outdoor stage and bench seating that will one day overlook Cedar Creek Trail through the woods below.”  - Pastor Jennie  Harrop

Pastor Kenji Yokoi

Pastor Kenji Yokoi

Japanese International Baptist Church, Tigard

"Our primary ministry is to reach the Japanese population residing in the Portland metro area with the message of the gospel. We are planning to invest it into further developing the existing children and youth ministries at JIBC so our youth and children will love Jesus with all their heart, mind. soul and strength, preparing them for a lifelong faith. As a pastor and parent of young children, I want more than anything else for my children and the children in the church to walk with the Lord faithfully, living their lives for Jesus Christ who loved us and died on the cross for us so that we could be forgiven our sins, reconciling us to God and imparting eternal life to anyone who believes in Jesus Christ. Our desire is to see our youth and children fall in love with Jesus and live their lives serving Him."  - Pastor Mitch and Kenji Yokoi 

Life Change Church building

Life Change Church, Portland

"One important component of Life Change Church’s mission is to build strong leaders. Our goal is to promote holistic health that focuses on nurturing and nourishing their emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.  We will accomplish our objectives by facilitating and creating relational learning opportunities through bi-monthly leadership gatherings, providing great resources, conducting an annual retreat, and two seasonal celebrations.  In addition, each leader will work in association with one of our project team members to develop their own holistic growth plan.  Prayerfully and pragmatically, we believe our  Holistic Leadership Plan  will cause Life Change Church to realize healthier leaders."  - Pastor Mark and Marla Strong

Pastor Rick and Pastor Emily

Associate Pastor Emily Nelson, Pastor Rick Russell

Mountain View Free Methodist Church, Redmond 

“Our community faces growing disparity between high and low income households, with a rapidly increasing cost of living. We have discerned a passion and calling within our congregation to be part of addressing the broader causes of homelessness. The greatest needs we discern are leadership development and a structure for loosely organized service providers. MVF will empower an existing, nascent community network that focuses on poverty alleviation. We will coordinate leadership development opportunities and help provide structure by hosting gatherings and facilitating networking. We will identify volunteer leaders from among our congregation and our partners for further training in leadership and community development.” -  Pastor Rick Russell 

Newberg church building

Newberg First Presbyterian Church, Newberg

“We believe that this Thriving Congregations Grant Proposal will help us fulfill our mission, core values, and vision as a congregation. This grant will particularly help us with mission engagement in Newberg enhancing the health of our congregation and benefitting our mission partners.The two mission partners are George Fox University, a local university in Newberg within walking distance of our church, and Remnant Initiatives, a ministry that support former prisoners reentering society in Yamhill County. We wish to do three community outreaches and one retreat in partnership with these two mission partners. The goal of these community outreaches is to build a strong relationship between these two mission partners and our church family which will enhance the thriving of our congregation and the health of our Newberg community.”  - Pastor Chris Murphy 

Pastor tom and Jody

Pastors Tom Hux and Jody Becker

Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Salem

“The goal of this Thriving team is to help to reclaim a congregational identity for Our Savior’s Lutheran church (OSLC). We believe, as image bearers, the movement toward a renewed identity and that of a specific image, will help to foster a unified vision; an image that will inspire the congregation in mission and outreach and lead OSLC into a new season of ministry. We will plan and execute commercial interiors of our church to represent the welcoming environment we desire to provide. We also will create a task force that focuses on developing our online presence, specifically with worship, so that OSLC will promote a renewed identity on a digital platform- not previously utilized.The hope of our team is that OSLC will build on the legacy of being a healthy congregation in Salem and will move forward to a new season of growth.”  - Pastors Tom Hux and Jody Becker

Pastor tom and Jody

Pastor Nicole Cade

Valley Christian Center, Lebanon

“We envision creating 10-16 Gathering Groups in the Mid-Willamette Valley that are on mission together, meeting either in homes, workplaces, or third spaces for the purpose of the Great Commission. These groups are mobilized by our current cultural crises, speaking the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the face of uncertainty. These groups will also create new spaces for community in our church and in our broader communities.”  - Pastor Nicole Cade

Pastor tom and Jody

Pastor Mike Dean

Imago Dei Church: Eastside Campus, Portland 

“It is the mission of Imago Eastside to bring restoration, healing, and celebration to its community and neighbors in the name of Jesus.  In order to be better equipped in this effort, grant funding will be utilized to make some much needed upgrades and refurbishments to live streaming technology, the gymnasium and kitchen spaces in order to adequately serve the needs of a community that is under-resourced and feeling increasingly disconnected.  In strategic conjunction with these upgrades, a portion of grant funding will be allocated for the training and development of key leaders within the church body over the next two years, equipping them and mobilizing them to respond to the various needs of the surrounding community.”  - Pastor Mike Dean

Pastor Eli Castillo

Pastor Eli Castillo

Iglesia La Cosecha, Portland 

“Our vision is to come alongside Latino families in our area to help them thrive in their professional and personal lives. Our goal is to work within our multicultural community, specifically reaching youth and young adults. We desire to create a space for at-risk and refugee youth to be part of a broader community of support and to help them assimilate to their new climate. For our young adults, we will facilitate space to learn navigating U.S. word and culture, with language and vocational skills. At large, this will build a healthy community of support for our families to thrive.”  - Pastor Eli Castillo

Pastor Eli Castillo

Pastor Ale Volasco

Tabernacle de Oracion, Portland 

“Our goal is to support families in our community who are experiencing crises. We will specifically work with couples/marriages who are struggling in their relationships and youth who are at risk. We will create opportunities (classes, activities, events, etc) for each of these groups so they can experience healing and restoration. We will specifically work on two projects, which we’ve named: “Restoration for Marriages” and “Youth in Plentitude.” Families are the basis for community, and the basis of God’s Kingdom, and our heart is to reconcile family and support youth.”  - Pastor Ale and Salvador Nolasco