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The refuge for 18- to 30-year-olds recruiting support as it transitions into independent nonprofit ministry

SETH GORDON - The Hillside Inn was established four years ago as a home for young adults in transition or in need of respite. The endeavor is funded by and operates under the umbrella of Church of the Vine (formerly Hillside Fellowship), but is looking for new church partners to help it transition into a standalone nonprofit ministry.

In four years as director of the Hillside Inn, Sean Flannery said it has become clear that the sense of community that it provides to the prodigals that it serves -- young adults 18 to 30-years old who are in need of respite physically, emotionally and spiritually -- is crucial to their success in becoming self-reliant individuals.

That community comes in many forms, including social bonds created by living together at the Inn, but also with outside partners like Northwest Fresh Seafood, which has employed eight residents and innkeepers.

Flannery said that the Inn just hasn't been as effective for those who have taken refuge there but haven't engaged with others and created those connections, which is why he considers community to be the secret ingredient to the Inn's success so far.

Fittingly, Flannery also believes that community, specifically the church community in Newberg, will be the key to the Inn's financial viability moving forward, as it seeks to move out from under the umbrella of Church of the Vine and become an independent and self-sustaining nonprofit ministry.

Flannery attempted to kickstart that transition last week by pitching local pastors on the idea of becoming partners and supporters of the Inn at a meeting of Newberg Ministerial Association hosted at Church of the Vine.SETH GORDON - Church of the Vine priest Sean Flannery shares about the Hillside Inn during a Newberg Ministerial Association meeting last week hosted at Church of the Vine. Flannery, who serves as executive director of the inn, is recruiting support from the broader church community in Newberg to help the inn become a self-sustaining and independent nonprofit ministry. 

A big impetus for the move to independence was the addition of a new Inn director Carrie Adams in August. Flannery's full time job has been always been with Church of the Vine (formerly Hillside Fellowship) and his role as director of the inn had always been voluntary.

The addition of Adams, a former school teacher at C.S. Lewis Academy and Westside Christian High School, freed him up to serve in more of an executive director role and created an opening to make the transition to a free-standing organization with the potential to grow and evolve.

Flannery is not only seeking financial support for the Inn, but also church leaders to serve on a board of directors that will ultimately take on many of the duties and functions of his current role.

"The visionary leadership is not something I can hold on my own," Flannery said. "It has to be shared."

At the NMA meeting last week, Flannery and Adams explained how the Inn works, including how it plays a role in addressing the homelessness and housing crisis in the area by catering to the "precariously housed." That refers to the population of folks who are not overtly homeless, but are couch surfing or doubling up with others in order to keep a roof over their head. Flannery pointed out that the precariously housed were identified as the single largest group in YCAP Annual Point in Time homeless count in 2017.

Pastors also heard moving testimony from the mother of a current resident and two former residents, who shared how they felt lost before the Inn helped get their lives on track. Part of that help comes in the form of graduate school interns from the George Fox University social work program, two of which will fulfill their clinical placements at the Inn this year.

Adams is a member of Chehalem Valley Presbyterian, which has already lent support by granting her a $1,000 monthly stipend through the end of the year. Pastor E.C. Bell also attended the NMA meeting and came away impressed.

Bell saw value in what the Inn provides and real promise as an organization that local churches could get behind.

"I'm encouraged to hear the stories from the mother and the two young men," Bell said. "It's clear they're doing some valuable work. As they figure out exactly what they will look like and what they'll stress, in this next three month period, I think there is a real possibility for it to be formed into a very useful nonprofit for a particularly needy demographic."

Bell said that when it comes to housing and homelessness, it's a good thing that the Inn is focused on just one population because the problem is so big and interconnected. He believes the next few months will be very important as Flannery figures out exactly what form the Inn will take as an independent organization, but is optimistic other churches will be interested in becoming partners.

"I look forward to seeing what it will become," Bell said. "It's a certain kind of growing pain to move from a one-church-run ministry that's under the umbrella of a church into a broader nonprofit."

Religion briefs

Informational event on Measure 105

Unidos Bridging Community will host an informational meeting about Oregon Measure 105, which would repeal the state's sanctuary law, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 at First Presbyterian Church. Speakers will include Unidos Executive Director Miriam Vargas Corona, PCUN Policy Director Ramón Ramirez, First Presbyterian Church Pastor Chris Murphy and Newberg Mayor Bob Andrews.

For more information, call Vargas Corona at 503-583-6126 or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Trunk R Treat at Joyful Servant Church

Joyful Servant Lutheran will host its Trunk R Treat event for families at 6 p.m. Oct. 27. All are welcome to partake in the activities, including hot dogs, games and face painting.

For more information, call 503-538-0475.

Harvest Carnival Oct. 27

Grace Baptist Church will host its Harvest Carnival neighborhood and community outreach event -- including fun, food and games for the whole family -- from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 27.

For more information, email children's ministry director Diana Enkelis at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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