A prominent Woodstock church expands the ways the community will be able to use it as a community space

BECKY LUENING - Vestry member Bill Habel and Rector Andria Skornik show THE BEE the All Saints Episcopal Church sanctuary, which is to be the venue for a series of community music events organized by the Woodstock church beginning in April. A representative from All Saints Episcopal Church Vestry, Bill Habel, attended the February monthly meeting of the Woodstock Neighborhood Association (WNA) to announce the start of something new at the Woodstock church – a non-religious neighborhood concert series, aimed at strengthening local community. The music program is just one aspect of a larger space-sharing project the church is developing, called "The Commons" – similar to "Tabor Space" at Mt. Tabor Presbyterian Church on S.E. Belmont Street.

In that vein, All Saints will be producing a series of low-cost, high-value neighborhood music events, to be scheduled primarily on Friday and Saturday nights, and accompanied by sales of food and beer and wine (to be consumed in the dining hall). Some shows will be held in the church sanctuary (which has good acoustics), and others outdoors – perhaps in the fenced yard space. As a nonprofit venture, admission prices will be kept low, with "no one turned away". Many attendees of the WNA meeting agreed it was an appealing idea.

There is a Gandhi quote, "Be the change you want to see in the world". One reason the church's leaders, including Rector Andria Skornik, decided to organize a concert series is that they see music as a positive force that has the potential of breaking down barriers, whether generational or political.

They hope these concerts will bring together people of differing ages and backgrounds with a variety of viewpoints, and that once people get comfortable with each other socially, they might start talking to each other, and thus begin to narrow the gaps and heal the divisions perceived to exist in our society.

Though a number of details have yet to be worked out, the concert series is beginning to take shape, and the first show has already been scheduled – an evening Portland Chamber Music concert slated for Saturday, April 26. This show was arranged through the church's connection with The Rev. Joshua Kingsley, an Episcopal Priest who serves as a Board Director for Portland Chamber Music, a nonprofit seeking to make chamber music accessible to all.

In the spirit of cooperation, the folks at All Saints have also connected with Stan Davis, a retired engineer who volunteers with the Portland Folk Music Society, which has been producing concerts at the Reedwood Friends Church on S.E. Steele, as well as with Bob Howard at Artichoke music, a nonprofit venue that hosts a great variety of music shows on Powell Boulevard. All are enthusiastic about collaborating, by sharing know-how and connecting All Saints with performers.

At least one Bluegrass group has expressed an interest in doing an outdoor show come summertime. And All Saints is lucky to be in close proximity to Woodstock Wine & Deli, Otto's Sausage Kitchen, and other nearby businesses, where food and drink for the shows might be sourced.

All Saints Episcopal Church already supports local community through weekly homeless feeding and the sponsorship of a Free Dental mobile service. Recently a mobile portable shower and clothes-washing unit supplied by The Harbor of Hope was engaged to provide weekly opportunities for houseless folks to "clean up" and receive new clothing from the Mustard Seed shop at the church. In addition, the church currently rents space for school activities and parenting classes – as well as such nonprofits as Al-Anon, the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, and the Portland Bicycling Club. Keep an eye on THE BEE for additional coverage of "The Commons" project as it develops. In the meantime, if you are involved in the music community, and would like more information about scheduling a performance at All Saints Episcopal Church, please call 503/777-3829; or send an e-mail – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.