Grace United Reformed Church (Portland): Sitting On The Edge Of The Volcano

“Honestly, the physical presence of protests and related violence feels as distant to most of my congregation as it does to you,” he told [Christian Renewal]. “However, we are seeing and experiencing disturbing results on a daily basis. The impact on our conversations and relations. The impact upon small business and community development. Not just the virus. But Covid-19 plus Protests plus Violence. Not a good formula for measurable success.”

“However,” he adds. And in the however, there is hope.

“We believe that there is an amazing opportunity for the Gospel.” He continued, “This may sound cliche, but we have used this as an opportunity to reinforce the basics of our faith and practice. When faced with BLM neighbors? We talk about Genesis 1 and what it means for humanity to be equal image bearers., LGBTQ friends? We remember ‘male and female he created them,’ Genesis 2, and God’s design for marriage. Social justice? We rehearse the warnings of prophets (for example, Amos 5), the justice God requires, and what he graciously gives throughout the Gospel…. This reinforcement begins on the Lord’s Day, and the Consistory actively calls the congregation to carry it on via family devotions throughout the week. In other words, we don’t default to politics but theology.”

When asked how his church, practically, was attempting to be a voice and a witness in the community, Pastor Oeverman said, “Our longstanding prayer is for the liturgy of the Lord’s Day to shape our life throughout the week. We aim for Sunday to be the hallmark of our ministry and it has been throughout the virus and the protests. In a place like Portland, consistent AM and PM services is very, very unique…..

John Van Dyk and Rev. Steve Oeverman, “Sitting on the Edge of the ‘Volcano’—Portland’s URC Sees An Opportunity,” Christian Renewal, 7 (October 3, 2020).


    Post authored by:

  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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One comment

  1. Very, very encouraging.

    Shining as lights in the midst of a dark and perverse generation.

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