By Midge Pierce

Mt. Tabor’s living room needs your help. As it marks its 125th birthday, the storied Presbyterian Church midway up Belmont Street that is a coffee house, learning center and spiritual haven faces more than a million dollars worth of repairs.

Urgent building needs include a new roof, furnaces, fire and electrical system updates plus parking lot repaving and other items.  Projected expenses total some $1.2 million in capitol expenditures according to Finance Committee member Carl Neidhart.

To offset expenses, Congregants and TaborSpace staff and volunteers are planning a November 18 community-wide soiree.

The fundraising dinner and silent auction event is intended as both celebration and wake-up call that Congregants alone can no longer maintain the many needs of a landmark building that serves as a defacto community center.

Mt. Tabor Presbyterian welcomes some 3000 plus people through its doors for classes, coffee and renewal every week. In the absence of a city-funded community center in inner SE, the 36,000 square foot building hosts job training classes, music, art and healing workshops, community events and the popular Bell Tower Coffee House, recently cited by Portland Monthly as one of the City’s best, with its stained glass windows, soaring wood beam ceiling and well-loved burgundy armchairs.

Mt. Tabor Presbyterian has become a shared responsibility of the neighborhood, according to TaborSpace volunteers, Congregants and the church’s nonprofit partners.

Issuing a call for help at a Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association meeting, Alexa Heinicke, church volunteer and grant writer, called the facility a neighborhood hub that is an architectural treasure.

“We can’t do this on our own. It will take all of us in the Mt. Tabor neighborhood to come together and invest in this historical icon and community asset.”

She requested assistance procuring auction items, serving on committees, buying tickets and sponsoring tables.

“TaborSpace is truly a collaboration between church and community. All those who enjoy it are asked to contribute what they can,” added Cecile Pitts who procured $500 in seed money from the Mt. Tabor Neighbor Association, who pledged to match the next $500, and issued a call for neighbors to “open their pocket books to support this great community resource.”

In secular Portland, where many churches face financial shortfalls, a village-wide effort to fundraise can be an opportunity to expand community says Pastor Carley Friesen.

Tickets cost $35 for the historically-themed birthday held on the anniversary of the church’s founding and replete with period costumes and possibly an historic “living history” reenactment if enough volunteers step forward to participate.

The November event will join ongoing fundraisers such as Friday morning concerts for kids and the Bell Tower Concert series that resumes this fall the first Wednesday of every month.

On the first Sunday of every month, a 10 am family service welcomes youngsters. Last month services were held under a circus tent featuring juggling, balloon art and messages of kindness.

Most Sundays, the church holds three services including 9 am coffee and provocative discussion around bistro tables; a traditional sanctuary service; and a contemplative Night Prayer featuring choir arrangements by composer Jim Day and opera singer Jena Viemeister. Pastor Friesen says the church has drawn neighbors together for more than a century.

“I rarely go to a Portland event without someone indicating a connection to Mt. Tabor Presbyterian Church.”

When the doors of TaborSpace and Bell Tower Coffee opened, Friesen says the building became “a living room for neighbors again, the way it was always intended to function: as a church and community center.”

In addition to TaborSpace and church activities, twenty nonprofits rent Parish House space at below market rates.

TaborSpace Director Josh Pinkston recently designed a colorful logo depicting three spires, a trinity representing the church, its Parish business partners and TaborSpace coffee house, event spaces and activities for all ages.

Pinkston adds that MTPC provides a sense of community that “is increasingly rare.”

For information on how you can help contact: carley@mttaborchurch.net or josh@taborspace.org.