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Life today is often unkind to church attendance, and some churches are selling off land...

DAVID F. ASHTON - The steps needed for Sellwoods Immanuel Lutheran Church to sell this lot have been approved by city officials. The property on which one church sits will become a townhome development, and a parcel of another church's land may soon be up for sale.

This is according to land use approvals issued in early in April by the City of Portland Bureau of Developmental Services (BDS).

One approval was of the plan for Christian Science Church redevelopment of 5736 S.E. 17th Avenue in Westmoreland, creating 23 lots on which townhomes will be built – a story previously covered in detail by THE BEE.

And, according to Sellwood Moreland Improvement League (SMILE) Land Use Committee Chair David Schoellhamer, the Bureau has also approved a "conditional use change" for property owned by Immanuel Lutheran Church, in Sellwood at 7810 S.E. 15th Avenue, between Lambert and Bidwell Streets.

"It's our understanding that this change was to remove [one of its five lots] from conditional use, to be able to sell it," explained Schoellhamer. That lot consists of an open area, east of their parking lot, along Lambert Street, which currently is a grassy area with a play set.

"The SMILE committee did not take any position on the Immanuel Lutheran Church conditional use change," Schoellhamer added. In both cases, parishioners have commented to THE BEE that declining attendance had been the motivation for making the change. The Westmoreland church congregation has reportedly been given more time to continue meeting at the 17th Avenue address, despite having sold the property, since construction of the townhome development is not yet imminent.

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