In February 2006 Ron and Lori Clark felt a stirring to lead a church that had a heart for the oppressed and those seeking God’s love. Having spent 8 years as the preaching minister for the Metro Church of Christ in Portland, Ron and Lori knew that God was leading them away to a different ministry. God had blessed them with a larger church, a doctorate degree, adjunct position at a seminary, and publishing career. However, Ron knew that God had not called him to be a pastor but an evangelist. In February 1986 at a church in Missouri the elders of the church had laid hands on him and commissioned him to the work of an evangelist. The past 20 years of ministry were exciting but Ron and Lori knew that God needed more. Living in one of the most unchurched cities in the United States kept confirming this call and restlessness. Portland also has the highest “unaffiliated” rate of people who love Jesus, but choose not to be part of a practicing community of faith.
In Febraury 2006 Ron, Lori, Nathan, Hunter, and Caleb attended a discovery lab for Kairos Church Planting. Dr. Stan and Gena Granberg had encouraged Ron and Lori to pray because they felt God had a new church in mind for them. Thinking they would go to Seattle Ron and Lori were confirmed to be gifted in this ministry and asked to prepare for the final strategy lab in June 2006. Ron resigned as preaching minister April 9, 2006 without funding and beleiveing that God had called them to start a new church in Portland. Three days later Ray Webb, Park Plaza Church of Christ Mission’s leader (Tulsa, OK), called Kairos with a problem. Their elders had asked the congregation to give for missions to which the church responded with a $200,000 excess. Now the task lay with finding more missions to support.
A wonderful relationship has continued between Kairos, Agape, and Park Plaza. In September 2006 15 adults and children began meeting in the Clark’s home with a vision to reach downtown Portland. Brad and Dana Barbarick (both college professors) and their three children, Jeremy and Jeanese Poole, Glynda Crownover, Kawika and Lisa Lyons, and the Clarks began dreaming and praying for this church to publicly launch Easter 2007. Four home communities began as our outreach expanded and became our points of contact with the community and for benevolence. God opened the door as Lincoln High School was chosen to be our location for Easter worship. By Easter 2007 the team had grown to 25 and launched the new church with 108 people. The next week we met with 30 people. Since then Agape has grown to over 100 people and 15 home communities, sent out two church plant teams, and had five interns become ministers in other churches and areas of ministry. We have also had members active in county and state wide agency leadership positions and provided thousands of hours of service to the community and other non-profit organizations. Discipleship has been shown through men and women leaving the streets and finding housing, women leaving prostitution, and abused women finding freedom from their abusive partners. Young couples have joined this vision to serve in Portland and raise their children in a church seeking to become “friends of sinners and tax collectors,” like our Master. In addition to this eight new water wells have been drilled in India and Haiti due to our partnership with Living Water International.
Currently we are seeking couples to intern for two years and plant new churches.
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Agape continues to be a church that is trying to fulfill the original vision for God.
- We will focus on outreach and bringing Christ to those who look for him–rather than keeping the saved saved.
- Our emphasis will always involve starting new churches, home communities, and sending people out to do ministry–rather than keeping house in the church.
- We will practice Agape love to our communities, neighbors, and fellow humans–rather than finding ways to judge and withdraw from our neighbors.
- Our worship will be similar to the home churches that existed in the Bible–simple, inviting, and empowering.
- Our ministry will be seen during the week–rather than during Sunday mornings for two hours.
- Our role is to empower all people to do ministry and let God lead them to reach others.
We hope and pray that you will see our core values of Agape, Relationship, and Empowerment in our ministry to Portland and our world.
At the Agape Church of Christ we are committed to bringing the Gospel of Jesus to Portland Core Values: