Friday, March 30, 2007
By KELLY ADAMS Columbian staff writer
During a weekend of services at the Living Hope Church last month, the Rev. John Bishop announced that a special collection would be taken.
The money brought in during the 21 services at five campuses would be used for Easter. Bishop, thinking the total would be about $20,000, said the amount would determine where and how the holiday would be celebrated.
The collection ended up being $100,000, enough to rent Portland’s Rose Garden.
For the first time, an Easter Sunday service will be conducted in the arena. The facility has a capacity of more than 19,000. More than 4,000 people have already registered online to attend.
Registration is not required, and anyone is welcome to attend, Bishop said. Church leaders are already expecting up to 10,000 for Easter Sunday.
The church, founded 10 years ago, now has a membership of 6,000 with an average weekend attendance of 5,200. Living Hope offers 12 services at five sites. Crossroads Community Church, another of the larger Christian congregations, has about 5,000 members.
Last year, the church expanded to include five campuses on Easter Sunday. During that weekend, 8,000 people attended.
Living Hope is an independent church that offers contemporary worship, Bishop said. They also offer “spontaneous baptisms” for people who answer the call to become Christians.
“They get up right there in their clothes and get baptized,” he said.
Bishop, the senior pastor at Living Hope, plans to have pools on hand on Easter Sunday. He hopes to perform a record number of baptisms that day. In the last two years, more than 2,000 people have been baptized at Living Hope.
His philosophy is every service of the year should feel like the holiday.
“Jesus rose from the dead; that ought to be celebrated every single week,” he said. “This is not about Living Hope. We just want to see people cared for, to see them come to a relationship with Christ. When the day is over, the most important thing is that lost people are found.”
Kelly Adams can be contacted at 360-759-8016 or e-mail at email@example.com.
If you go
What: Easter at the Rose Garden.
When: 11 a.m. April 8, Easter Sunday.
Where: The Rose Garden, 1 Center Court, Portland.
Cost: Free admission, free parking and free gift bags for children. The service is open to the public.
Information: Call 360-944-3905 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.