One of the exciting things that has happened over the past couple of years has been the growth of collaborative efforts throughout the faith community. A number of these working partnerships have been focused on service to our public schools. At SPN we've helped raise awareness of these opportunities and provided tools and resources necessary to expand such efforts.
The Church of North Portland is one such example. Organized just 4 years ago, this group of churches and pastors serving in the St. John's area of Portland have banded together to increase their ministry presence in the community. This group officially organized as a 501 (C3) non-profit called "All One" and is actively involved in multiple avenues of outreach. They gather twice each month, once for fellowship and once to work on ongoing collaborative efforts. The Vision Statement of All One clearly states their purpose: "We exist to exhort and mobilize the church in North Portland to serve the community."
In the spring of 2013 SPN sponsored a highly successful Pastor & Principal gathering in the North Clackamas School District. At the annual "Faith Leaders" gathering with Superintendent Matt Utterback, in September that year, we suggested that this group of motivated leaders might want to meet on a regular basis to work on such collaborative ministries. They modeled themselves after "All One" in North Portland and, over the past year, "All One – North Clackamas" began tackling multiple projects within the district, such as: "Backpack Buddies," homeless students, "Lunch Buddies," "Bus Buddies," mentoring, school supply drives, and several more.
The success of our very first Pastor & Principal gathering in the Beaverton School District, in December 2012, helped create the momentum for what has now become a twice yearly gathering of faith, business, and non-profit partners serving in the district. While over 120 pastors and principals gathered for that first meeting at the District office in 2012, now over 300 district partners join together twice a year to see how they can work together to serve the families of Beaverton.
Many other similar collaborative efforts are taking shape in Gresham, Hillsboro, Oregon City, Vancouver, and other surrounding areas. The power of what we can do "together" is truly remarkable. SPN is committed to being a catalyst to bring folks to the table. Our role as a "neutral convener" between the school districts and the local faith community has been, and will continue to be, a key to launching such efforts. Thank you for helping us spread that message throughout the metro area.