Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ

KMUCC News & Events

Photo: (c) iStock.com / SunnyGraph (image #695671848)

Photo: © iStock.com / SunnyGraph (image #695671848)

News and events information from KMUCC and the wider community.


Photo: © iStock.com / Janine Lamontagne (image #9086577)Coming Soon!

Save your styrofoam from the holidays for the KMUCC Green Team all-church collection on Sunday, January 19, 2020. Plastic #6 is also included with styrofoam. We will collect and then deliver it for redistribution.

Photo: © iStock.com / andreusK (image #1029169532)
What a rich full November we have ahead of us. A month for celebrating, for raising spirits and funds with our fall musical showcase; a month for looking back at the merger that created Kairos-Milwaukie UCC twenty years ago from our two precursor congregations. A month for giving thanks for all the saints that have gone before and brought us to this day. And a month for looking forward with anticipation!

There is an old story about a holy man, a monk, whose meditation and prayer were so deep and profound that many younger monks longed to be in his presence for prayer. He was indeed a holy man. He was also a cat owner. And his cat loved to follow this kind and gentle man everywhere he went – even into the chapel where she would wind her way around and around him, purring loudly and vying for his attention as he sat to pray. He was able to sink into deep meditation assisted by her purr but the novices who flocked to him were so distracted by her that in deference to their needs he finally tied her to the altar one day. She didn’t like it a lot, but she got used to it and day after day allowed herself to be constrained so that eventually it became so much of a habit that when they entered the chapel she would go directly to her spot under the altar and wait patiently while the wise old man tied her up. Years went over, novices came and went, and finally the old man was gathered to his ancestors and his body was laid to rest. A few years later his beloved cat also died, and her small body was laid beside his. Immediately afterward, the monks said, someone will have to go into the village to get a new cat! Our prayers cannot continue without one – we’ve always had a cat tied to the altar. It’s …. tradition!

I wonder if you have traditions which were created to protect or transmit something of value, but which have become so much “the way we do things” that you don’t remember why you do them. (Like the woman who always cut the end off of a roast before she cooked it, because that’s the way her mother did it. Never realizing that her mother would have preferred to cook the whole roast but couldn’t because her pan was too short!)

I wonder if we as a community have any traditions whose “why” we don’t know? I wonder if there are traditions that we have that someone new to our community might find as opaque as tying a cat to the alter before settling in to pray?

I invite those of you who have been part of his community for a while to participate in a thought experiment over the next few weeks: As you arrive at church imagine you are here at KMUCC for the very first time. What do you notice? What do you see and hear? What do you notice about the way we sing and pray and talk together over the course of the morning? Is there anything you’ve always wondered about but never asked, and now it’s been so long you just take it for granted? If you are newer to Kairos: What makes you feel welcome? Is there anything that makes you feel nonplussed, unwelcome, or left out?

As we give thanks for the life of Southwest/Kairos UCC and Milwaukie UCC and our life together as Kairos-Milwaukie, I invite you to consider what old traditions shall we cherish? What new traditions shall we explore?

KMUCC Building October 2019In November 1999, two United Church of Christ churches – one originally housed in a SW Portland college basement and the other with a century-long history in Milwaukie – merged to become the Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ.

Sunday, Nov. 24, 10 a.m. to noon, the community, friends and families are invited to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of becoming one church. The service and coffee hour will feature reflection, special music, food and – of course – cake.

Kairos-Milwaukie United Church of Christ makes its current home at 4790 SE Logus Road, but the original Milwaukie building was at SE 32nd and Van Water Street. The Milwaukie church’s history reaches back to 1892, when 14 local residents formed the First Congregational Church of Willsburg; this neighborhood later was renamed Ardenwald. One farmer donated his entire crop of strawberries at one of many fundraisers that led to breaking ground on the first church building.

The Southwest Portland part of the church began as SW United Church of Christ in 1984. Members first met in the Lewis & Clark College Chapel basement and moved across the street to the Franciscan Renewal Center in1985, where they met in the gymnasium. In the mid-1990s. the church changed its name to Kairos United Church of Christ and shared space with a Presbyterian church on SW Virginia Street.

The two churches began worshipping together and discussing a merger in 1998. “The merger of our two churches has been a great help to the entire community,” says Gary Salyers, Kairos-Milwaukie UCC member who was instrumental in the merger and chairs the 20th-anniversary celebration. “We have accomplished many missions and helped many people. We also have developed many new and special friendships through the years.”

Rev. Richard Skidmore was the new church’s original pastor. After his retirement, the church elected Rev. Jeanne Randall-Bodman as pastor in 2016. Rev. Randall-Bodman says, “When I was first called to KMUCC, I wondered if the seams of the merger would still be visible. However, through the leadership of Pastor Rick Skidmore and the work and will of all the parishioners, the two precursor congregations are not merely stitched together side by side but woven into one joyful, loving, welcoming community.”

See also the articles Milwaukie UCC Church History and Kairos UCC Church History for more about our beginnings.

Photo: (c) iStock.com / Anegada (image #13056811)First Congregational Church of Willsburg...Ardenwald Community Church...First Congregational Church of Milwaukie... Milwaukie United Church of Christ...Kairos - Milwaukie United Church of Christ. Through five name changes, one move, 24 ministers and 127 years our church has come to 2019. 

Willsburg, Oregon, September 19, 1892. "We the undersigned, for the glory of God and for our own Christian profit and for the Christian well-being of our community, do hereby agree to unite in forming the Congregational Church of Willsburg: the pubic organization to be effected as soon as the necessary arrangements can be made." Signed by fourteen local resident land owners.

Prior to a $500.00 grant from the Congregational Church Building Society in New York, a fund was started by donations of money from folks throughout the community and by fund raising dinners, programs and events - the first of which, in the summer of 1892, was a strawberry festival for which one farmer donated his entire crop which was harvested by neighbors from miles around. Commitments of time, talent and treasure were given and the cornerstone placed at the dedication of the Church at SE 32nd and Van Water bears the date 1893.

The need for more physical space for our growing community prompted a move in the 1950's. On October 2, 1960, our new building at 4790 SE Logus Road was dedicated by a repetition of words in the original document,"...for the glory of God and our Christian profit and the Christian well-being of our community...." Several charter members participated in this service as did Governor Mark O. Hatfield. We have had our ups and downs, our strengths and weaknesses, but have never lost the dream and spirit of the original fourteen. The varied style, personality, theology and dedication of the ministers who served us brought us to this date determined to find the best ways to witness to our love of God and our love of neighbors - wherever in the world they may be.

Prior to our merger with Kairos UCC the Milwaukie Church did many missions. Food, clothing and money was donated to the Clackamas Service Center. Betty and Bill Martin led this service for many years. A team served lunch at the Milwaukie Center once per month for several years. We sponsored 150 refugees from Cambodia and Viet Nam during the 1960's and 1970's, helping set up families with a place to live, furniture and what was needed to establish a home. Vera McDonald led this effort. Land was donated to build the Swan House as a residence for men with HIV-AIDS. Lee Burleson led this effort. Donation of land for a second house was also made for women with young children who needed a safe place to live. Our Church was used by Samoan friends as a worship site, and we enjoyed worshiping together until they bought their own Church.

We ran our own Logus Road Preschool for 25 years. We now are home to the Cedar Tree Preschool which continues to share our space. Jeanie Salyers led and still leads the Two Cents A Meal mission for our combined Church. Over 60 organizations and our youth for camp scholarships have benefited from this mission. Several thousands of dollars have been donated to other charitable organizations to help them with their work with those in need. See also the missions the Kairos Church brought with them that we continue to share today. We are an active Church that tries to bring peace and justice to our world.

Originally written in 1978, updated 2015 and 2019. Original author unknown.

Photo: (c) iStock.com / Anegada (image #13056811)After 3 months of prayerful thought and discussion the organizational meeting of Southwest United Church was held on October 24,1984. 28 persons transferred their membership from Hillsdale Community Church to our forming church. Rev. Eugene Ross of the Central Pacific Conference, UCC met with us. The group voted to incorporate as Southwest United Church and seek membership in the Central Pacific Conference, UCC. Roberta Martin and Lola Raz were incorporating officers and Marcus Wood provided legal advice.

The opening prayer following our organization was spoken as follows:
“This is an important day for those of us gathered here, Our Father. We feel humble; some of us are full of fear and trembling: there have been many individual prayers lifted up for guidance and understanding. Now we come before You intending to form a congregation dedicated to unbounded spiritual growth, to open worship and Christian fellowship, to the freedom to be unsure about our individual faith and knowledge, yet willing to put ourselves on the growing edge through new exposure and experiences that would help us to better know You, and to try to translate our growing faith into Christian outreach, teaching, and mission which goes beyond us as individuals to care deeply about the oppressed, the less fortunate, the cause of peace (personal, among persons, or among nations), and to implement the gospel through action and deed. We humbly beseech Your guidance, Your patience, Your understanding. We are thrilled at this opportunity to grow. We are aware that it will be a struggle. We accept the responsibility always knowing of your love, forgiveness, and guiding spirit. In Jesus name. Amen”

At our first congregational meeting lead by President Don Robertson on November 4, 1984 the congregation voted an intent to name Rev. Richard Skidmore as our interim and Organizing Pastor effective January 1, 1985 with the understanding that he would be on sabbatical at Harvard Divinity School until May 15, 1985. Rev, Walter McGettigan, retired UCC pastor, was selected as our worship leader until that date.

Our first worship services were held in the small chapel in the basement of Lewis and Clark chapel. We moved shortly to the gymnasium at the Franciscan Renewal Center. Len Stoffer was instrumental in obtaining most of our furnishings and equipment.

At the Fall Conference Assembly of the Central Pacific Conference at Forest Grove October 25 and 26, 1986 our church was publicly welcomed in the membership in the United Church of Christ.

During the ten years we rented space we had a great relationship with the Sisters of St. Francis at the Center. We set up a "sanctuary area" and "classrooms" in the gymnasium. However, when the Archdiocese was considering selling the Center property, we renewed our search for a more stable location. During this period the congregation voted to change its name to Kairos United Church of Christ.

Our next location was at the Trinity Presbyterian Church on SW Virginia Street. Some shared worship, fellowship and Christian education activities occurred during a period of at least a year with St. Mark Presbyterian and Trinity Presbyterian. The final mutual decision was that each congregation would maintain its own individual identify and programs.

Word came that the Milwaukie United Church of Christ was considering a search for a congregation that would share its space with the possibility of a merger. The Kairos Church council decided to explore this possibility. After many meetings and living together for a year, a vote was held October 17, 1999 by both congregations to proceed with the merger. Thus, with prayer and thanksgiving we come to today.

Kairos brought several lasting mission projects. Under the leadership of Mary Anna Stoffer a Walk-A-Thon raised funds for Transition Projects supplying housing for seniors. Mary Anna and Len Stoffer also provide leadership in the support of Human Solutions Christmas Store which supplies clothing and gifts that parents can choose for their children at Christmas. For years Kairos has provided a dinner meal once per month to men at Hoyt Street Shelter. This service continues with the combined efforts of all of us. Working together as a united Church we continue to make a difference by helping others in our ever-expanding community.

Written 1986, updated 2019. Original author Don Robertson.

I don’t know how it is for you, but as the days grow shorter and chillier, my inclination is to draw my attention homeward and inward.  To cook things that take a long time, to start books that are long and rich.  To clear out a little clutter and make a cold weather nest out of our home.

Photo: © iStock.com / andreusK (image #1029169532)This year in particular, as the news on the tv, radio, and above all social media is keeping my anxious attention riveted on Washington, DC, my homeward instinct seems to be especially strong.  I find myself alternating between two extremes:

  • Obsessively reading every article, listening to every podcast, and watching clips of every press briefing while refreshing my twitter feed to make sure I don’t miss anyone’s “hot takes” on all the latest developments….
  • Turning off the tv and radio, ignoring the paper, and using my phone only to access the library app so I can listen to novels, preferably ones written in the 19h century. 

Now this may be simply autobiographical - but I suspect I am not alone.  I suspect that many of us are in the same yo-yo pattern of absorption with American politics and rejection of the news altogether. 

Neither of these extremes seems to me to be an especially helpful way to navigate life. Both strategies keep our minds off the rest of the world.  And while our country is embroiled in its own political storm, meanwhile the rest of God’s world goes on, with news both distressing and hopeful.  In the midst of a climate crisis, hundreds of thousands of young people across the globe are rising up to seek a response. Terrible and frightening things are happening in Palestine and Yemen and people of every faith are working for peace.  Scientists are making breakthroughs in cancer research, artists and musicians are creating works of great beauty and meaning, historians are discovering new things about the human past.   Meanwhile, “the world offers itself to our imagination.”  

As summer gives way to fall, as the storms of politics and of our own lives entice us to turn inward, I encourage you to embrace the inwardness the season invites but then to turn outward beyond your own doors, beyond your own neighborhood, beyond our own country.  As we come to the table for worldwide communion, I invite you to join me in praying for the world: for allies and friends; for those we call our enemies, and for that day when we know we have no enemies. 


Photo: © iStock.com / marekuliasz (image #18715913)Happy Anniversary KMUCC

It hardly seems possible that this November 20 years will have passed since the members of the Kairos UCC Church from SW Portland and the Milwaukie UCC Church voted to merge.  United we have done many missions to help others and have thrived as an active congregation.

On Sunday, November 24th, during our regular service time and at a special coffee hour we will celebrate our merger and time together through reflection, special music, special food and cake.  Please plan to be here and bring friends and family.  10:00 AM to 12:00 noon.