Interesting church in Portland for Christmas?
December 18, 2005 10:18 PM   Subscribe

My wife (who was raised Buddhist) wants to go to a church on Christmas day. As it happens, we'll be in Portland, Oregon on that day. Having been raised Jewish myself, and being away from my home city, I haven't a clue as where to go.

I figure we might as well make it a new experience, so I was thinking about either an African-American church or a cable-tv-style evangelical kind of place. Or something completely different. Any suggestions?
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu to Religion & Philosophy (22 answers total)
A lot of churches wil have a Christmas Eve service or Mass, generally at 11pm or Midnight. I don't know about other denominations, but in Roman Catholicism, it's one of the most elaborate Masses of the year.

St Mary's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Roman Catholic) will probably have a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. I recommend that highly just for the event, and not just because I'm Catholic.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:02 PM on December 18, 2005

I don't know anything about HOW to find one in the area, but if you can find a Greek Orthodox service to attend, do so - the ones I've been to are full of drama and energy that I've not seen in Christmas services elsewhere. I ought to note that years of being forced to attend Catholic Midnight Mass services could have dulled any appreciation I might have had for the event that spinifex23 recommends (but, yeah, if you're going to a Catholic service, make it Midnight Mass)
posted by bunglin jones at 11:06 PM on December 18, 2005

Check out The Bridge. Awesome people, and very welcoming. They are currently promoting a hoodie drive for the homeless, just to give you an idea of what they are about.
posted by Geektronica at 11:10 PM on December 18, 2005

Ship of Fools is a terrific site for church-finding. It's a thinking person's Christian website, basically and it rocks hard core. You can browse the churches described by their Mystery Worshiper or make an account and ask about a church and folks will be very happy to help you.
posted by By The Grace of God at 2:20 AM on December 19, 2005

keep in mind a lot of cable-tv-style evangelical kind of places will be closed.
posted by deafweatherman at 2:37 AM on December 19, 2005

A Guide to African American Heritage & Culture:
The heart of the community is the Albina district. [...]

Get swept up in the passion of a gospel choir at one of the numerous African-American churches in a neighborhood where churches and civic organizations have always been the glue holding this strong community together.
posted by pracowity at 4:00 AM on December 19, 2005

Greek Orthodox won't be celebrating Christmas on December 25. Orthodox Christmas is always roughly two weeks after that.
posted by zadcat at 5:18 AM on December 19, 2005

Why not try the First Unitarian Church of Portland--Tradition ( since the 1860's) and truly embracing of diverse beliefs. I would imagine both of you will feel very comfortable. The address is: 12th & Main, at 1211 SW Main. It can be easily located on the internet--I do not know how to post links.
posted by rmhsinc at 5:18 AM on December 19, 2005

The newspaper will usually have listings of times for services, and maybe descriptions of special Christmas services. I love Christmas music, so I sometimes go to a church with a good choir, preferably Gospel.
posted by theora55 at 5:29 AM on December 19, 2005

You don't want to go on Christmas day--you want to go on Christmas Eve, preferrably one late at night. Many United Methodist Christmas Eve services have a candlelight service that is really cool. I'd strongly recommend that.

the service on Christmas Day will be bland in comparason--for a lot of churches, it's just another Sunday.
posted by lester at 6:17 AM on December 19, 2005

Try a nondenominational one if you can find it.

Too bad you aren't on my side of the country, I'd invite you to mine. We're open!
posted by konolia at 6:22 AM on December 19, 2005

I'm actually with konolia on this one. My family goes to a non-denominational (but quite fundamentalist) Protestant church, and the Christmas Eve service is the highlight of my time with my family over Christmas - and this despite my atheism.

It's a big blowout where I see all my childhood friends, the lights are shut down and the congregation all sings Joy to the World while holding one thousand candles aloft (the church seats 1000). Afterwards everyone retires to the Fellowship Hall for punch and crackers while meeting each other again for the first time since last year. It rocks.

Not sure about Oregon specifically, but Christmas Eve services - even in fundamentalist spots - tend to be especially ecumenical.
posted by Ryvar at 6:40 AM on December 19, 2005

The Unitarian Church does have both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. We went there for a while when I was a kid and it's the only church or denomination that has not made me uncomfortable, both in terms of the people at that particular church and in terms of the faith itself.
posted by librarina at 7:19 AM on December 19, 2005

Another vote for the late Christmas eve service; I used to go when I was young, and it was always more interesting, involving and generally happy than a normal service. But perhaps that was because we were allowed to stay up late? Hmm...

@zadcat: Doesn't that depend on whether they observe the "old calendar" or the "new calendar"?
posted by Chunder at 7:24 AM on December 19, 2005

Well Catholic Mass often qualifies as different for people raised in a protestant culture (which is to say most people who only associate christianity with what they see on T.V.).

You can check out here is the result for Portland OR

If you can swing it I would recommend attending mass at the cathedral. The seat of the diocese will be in full (and glorious) regalia. This is generally quite a sight. As a bonus it looks like the cathedral in Portland has some very nice 140 year old stained glass.
posted by oddman at 7:29 AM on December 19, 2005

If you enjoy the music, see if you can find a church, possibly an Episcopalian cathedral, singing the Messiah. Mass is traditionally held late night on the 24th and runs into the early hours of the 25th. It is an experience not to be missed. You may need to buy tickets.
posted by bonehead at 9:04 AM on December 19, 2005

You shouldn't have to buy tickets to Midnight Mass*. However, get there early for a good seat.

However, if there's a Messiah singalong, then that'll require tickets.

*Midnight Mass sonetimes isn't held at Midnight, but 11pm or even 10pm. If you find a church you're interested in, call them up and ask when their Masses are held.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:07 AM on December 19, 2005

Oh yeah - the Messiah singalong would be a seperate event, outside from Mass.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:08 AM on December 19, 2005

Once a year, I take Mrs. Wine and the little winos to the 1st Presbyterian downtown (1200 SW Alder Street). It's a beautiful church with spires and very good traditional music. It has Xmas eve service at 5, 9, and 11 pm. All services have music, but the last has a brass quintet. Xmas day service (with carol singing) is at 10 am. If you plan appropriately, you can begin or end your evening with dinner at Jake's, around the corner (share the smoked appetizer platter [the small should suffice], a bowl of chowder, and a bottle of bubbly). What a Christmas!

If you're looking for an evangelical "mega church" (which usually has high-end production values), you'll need to head out to Lake Oswego or the 'burbs (e.g., Clackamas, Beaverton, Tigard).
posted by GarageWine at 12:50 PM on December 19, 2005 [2 favorites]

TV style: New Beginnings
Methodist Christmas Eve candlelight: First United Methodist
African-American: People's Bible Church (the Pastor is one of the best men I know, but have never been there myself). 503-288-0117

Other Portland churches, try Mission Portland.
posted by karmaville at 1:32 PM on December 19, 2005

I allowed my agnostic self to be dragged to a Portland burb megachurch for Christmas Eve quite a few years ago and I was utterly and completely unimpressed. My uneducated advice would be to either go full throttle Catholic Mass or hit the Unitarian Church, which is also downtown on the streetcar line and not too far from downtown dining. (PS Dress warmly, bring chains... we're having a freakishly cold December over here.)
posted by Skwirl at 5:35 PM on December 19, 2005

PS... There is a well-known Greek Orthodox church in SE Portland that has an awesome greek fest.
posted by Skwirl at 5:38 PM on December 19, 2005

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