Over the next couple of weeks, we will be sharing a number of stories of churches whose life together embodies some facet of Slow Church. We hope these stories will stretch your imagination about what a Slow Church looks like.
Salem Alliance Church
(Salem, OR — Where John’s parents are members)
My (John’s) parents go to Salem Alliance, a large Christian and Missionary Alliance church in downtown Salem, which is about twenty-five minutes from my town of Silverton. Not long ago, Salem Alliance had the opportunity to buy a choice piece of land on the outskirts of town. Moving there would have made it easier, in terms of parking and larger facilities, to accommodate its growing congregation. But Salem Alliance made a bold decision. They decided not to move the church but instead to reaffirm their commitment to their struggling Grant/Highland neighborhood. They used money from the building fund to buy a piece of property across the street from the church, and they built what is now called Broadway Commons, a gorgeous forty-seven-thousand-square-foot space that includes clinics that offer free medical and dental care to the uninsured and underinsured; meeting rooms open to the community; the Broadway Life Center, which provides quality yet inexpensive educational and vocational opportunities for families in the neighborhood; professional office space; an outdoor plaza with a waterfall and an amphitheater; a prayer center called The Upper Room; and Broadway Coffeehouse, the best coffee shop in the whole city, a place where the craftsmanship of coffee is taken seriously, though never at the expense of hospitality. True to its name, Broadway Commons is a place where very different kinds of people come together. In the words of John Stumbo, the former pastor of Salem Alliance, Broadway Commons was to be “a place where church, commerce and community come together for the common good.”