The original church building was built in 1892 as a wood structure on the corner of 55th and Belmont. That building was moved down to the corner of 55th and Stark in 1910 to make room for the stone structure which now stands in its place, and on its original foundation. In 1929, the building was expanded and the Parish House was added to give the Sunday School program its new home. The Russell Wing was added for classrooms (downstairs) and offices (upstairs) in 1965. From the first, the buildings here were funded by community and congregation and were intended to be used as worship and community space.
Over many years its fortunes have ebbed and flowed, as have all communities. After 100 years of a vibrant and bustling congregational life, things began to diminish. Parts of the building lay empty much of the time, most of the doors remained locked except for Sunday morning. The building itself fell into disrepair, which led the congregation to become re-energized around a re-building program at the turn of the millennium. The restored structure continued to look for the new life which would make its home here, while the congregation continued to shrink. The warm, stained-glass-lit space on the southeast corner had become an elegant storage room, which smelled of dust. But from the dust, seeds of a new vision began to emerge. This could be a space for gathering again, as it was intended in the beginning.
As a step on the journey toward this new life, we opened our doors to the community again on June 23, 2009 with the grand re-opening of the Bell Tower entrance on the corner, long boarded up, to a newly renovated coffeehouse and community space: Taborspace. Months later, the Parish House Partners – small businesses and non-profit groups – began to take up residence. These were folks who needed space in order to do their work of healing, creating, teaching, serving, and caring for the earth. Their purposes found a home in this space created to do exactly these things. So now we are three streams in one river – Congregation, Taborspace, Parish House Partners – together in the task of making peace and community real and tangible on the corner of 55th and Belmont in SE Portland, Oregon.
Taborspace is a welcoming space that hosts over 3000 guests every week. People come to enjoy a warm cup of quality coffee, served by coffee experts along side barista volunteers who are acquiring a high level of free job training; to sit and study, visit, work, or just rest in the inviting stained glass light of the Copeland Commons; to attend a class, gathering, or appointment in one of our 12 affordable event spaces; or to meditate, light a candle, or silently pray in the solace of our intricately beautiful Sanctuary.
All of this is the result of a conversation that began in 2008. Pastor Carley of Mt Tabor Presbyterian Church was reading about how 19th century monasteries were the neighborhood gathering place of their day and wondered why that couldn’t be done today. With the devoted and outstanding work of Lauren Moomaw (founder of Revive Community Commons), the conversation between neighborhood and church began to make manifest along with a vast number of individuals who value connectedness, inclusion, and safety within community and has now grown into a vibrant and diverse active community gathering place. The conversation is still going!
The bell tower doors on the NE corner of 55th and Belmont were opened in June of 2009 to welcome Taborspace’s new Coffee House. The original chapel was transformed into a large inviting common space, the historic wings of the church building were quickly filled with creative, educational, and healing activities.
Taborspace has come a long way and we are still committed to the original concept of cultivating a collaborative community space. We are deeply grateful for the community that has formed and is still forming in the midst of this conversation. We believe that life is better together and we are extremely fortunate to see this being lived out every day.