Case Statement

Goal

Raise $355,000 over three years with large and small donations for the congregation and friends of the Ainsworth United Church of Christ (AUCC)

Specific Improvements

Funds raised will go towards:

  • Paying off our loan in order to expand church activities to the Burnham House for offices, gathering space, education and comunity outreach
  • Replace flooring of lower level multi-use community space in main church buliding
  • Freeing the AUCC to grow as a debt-free congregation

Campaign Effects

Funds raised from the Freedom to Grow Campaign will add attractive and functional space to enhance and grow youth education, provide better facilities for church and community gatherings and strengthen programs that support peace, justice, equality and basic human rights for all.

Who We Are

In the early 1980s, the members of a small, African-American congregation and the members of a small, Caucasian congregation had an audacious idea: why not join forces to form a larger, stronger congregation that was open to all cultures and races? Many meetings and much organizing later, the Ainsworth United Church of Christ (AUCC) was born in 1985.

Through the sometimes tumultuous years that followed, the AUCC remained true to that visionary beginning and the enduring faith of the Evangelical Reformed congregation that constructed the church building in 1936. The AUCC congregation added “open and affirming,” in October, 1996 to multi-racial and multicultural, welcoming all regardless of sexual orientation. In addition, the church is a Just Peace, Jubilee and accessible congregation.*

The AUCC today is one of the few multicultural and open and affirming congregations in the country, a model for what is possible on Sunday, often called the most segregated day of the week. Each Sunday, the church is a joyous, rainbow cacophony of children, young couples, elders and people of all descriptions worshipping and fellowshipping together. The church has become a powerful force for peace, human rights, justice and the shared love of Jesus Christ in Portland and beyond. It is busy just about every day and night with church programs and community gatherings, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and the only drop-in day center in the area for HIV-positive individuals.

The LIFE Campaign, 2005-2008

Seeking to expand its presence and mission with the broader community, AUCC took a leap of faith in 2001 and purchased the residential property just west of the main church building, called “The Burnham House.” The vision was to utilize the house to accommodate church offices, and provide for gathering space for both the church and wider community.

In 2005, AUCC began the three-year LIFE capital campaign. The goal was to raise funds for the building an elevator, to make restrooms accessible, contribute to the Central Pacific Conference’s WOW campaign (to enhance Conference camp facilities), promote church development, and to pay off the Burnham House loan.

Although the campaign did not reach its total financial goal, funds raised and a low-interest wrap around “Cornerstone Loan” from the national United Church of Christ enabled the church to finish the campaign’s top priorities: construction of the long-desired elevator to access all three levels, accessible restrooms, two-thirds of the commitment to the conference campaign and payments on the loan for the Burnham House.

For a decade, the congregation has been faithfully repaying its loan while renting Burnham House, looking forward to the day when it can OCCUPY the house for its envisioned ministries and mission endeavors.

A New Opportunity to Grow

In November 2012, after months of faithful and diligent visioning and planning, the congregation approved engaging in a capital campaign to move into its future. The “Freedom to Grow” campaign is another step along the long road to freedom and justice. We propose to raise funds over the next three years to pay off the Cornerstone Loan in full, and to occupy Burnham for the purposes for which it was purchased more than a decade ago.

By paying off the Cornerstone Loan, the congregation will be free of debt and will enjoy the freedom to support and strengthen its current and future ministry and mission. By paying off the loan and occupying Burnham House, Ainsworth UCC creates a place of welcome and hospitality for its members, its neighbors and wider community. By paying off the loan, the congregation bears witness to God’s energizing, empowering and embracing Spirit, calling the congregation into greater faithful response to the needs of its life and the life of the community and the city.

Alongside the goal of occupying Burnham House in this campaign effort is the need to replace and upgrade the flooring in the lower level of the church. Well-worn over the years, the flooring is now a health and safety concern as well as an aesthetic concern. In addition to being Ainsworth UCC’s fellowship center and youth space, the lower level provides a home for the HIV Day Center, the Lesbian Choir, and a multitude of community groups offering forums, training and celebrations.

Our goal is to raise $355,000 in gifts and pledges. Pledges may be paid over three years, and every dollar raised goes towards our stated goals of continuing to build and enhance this special church. We affirm the faithfulness, spiritual support and generosity of Ainsworth UCC’s members and friends. Together we move with vitality and hope into the future, with the freedom to grow!

* The General UCC Synod defines “just peace” as the “interrelation of friendship, justice, and common security from violence.” The pronouncement calls the church to a vision of shalom rooted in peace with justice and placed the UCC  General Synod “in opposition to the institution of war.”

* Jubilee congregations pray for global economic justice, deepen the communities’ understanding of the debt issue, and take concrete action for debt cancellation for all impoverished countries.