[Posted December 17, 2021]
Last month, the Rev. JJ Crow, local resident and Pacific NW native, became the pastor at the Hillsdale Community Church. In her previous position as associate pastor at Cedar Hills United Church of Christ she worked with Sunday school, families and children.
The Hillsdale church is a congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a U.S.-based Protestant church. Crow's official title is "designated term pastor." A position introduced in the past ten years or so, the designated term pastor is initially appointed for a three-year term. At the end of this period, pastor and congregation decide whether to convert the position to a lifetime term.
Crow grew up in the UCC, in a community north of Seattle. UCC is known for its open and affirming beliefs and commitment to social justice, she said.
Already familiar with the congregation through a friend who was pastor there, Crow was excited by plans already being explored by the Hillsdale church to expand activities and repurpose some of its resources.
"The sanctuary has amazing acoustics and a beautiful pipe organ," Crow says, and would be a great venue for musical events. Under a plan currently being considered, that space as well as others in the church could be rented out for meetings or other events, similar to Taborspace at Mount Tabor Presbyterian Church in SE Portland. Hillsdale Community Church already shares its facility with P'Nai Or Portland, a Jewish Renewal congregation.
Also proposed is a Climate Café that would provide education on locally sourced organic food and serve donation-based lunches . "It’s all part of a dream to make ourselves more relevant to the community around us," says Crow. "It's all very exciting, and it’s my job to help the congregation bring those ideas to fruition."
The church holds regular services as well as activities of general interest to the broader community.
In addition to being a pastor, Crow is a yoga instructor and teaches donation-based yin yoga classes on the first Sunday of the month at 4pm in the sanctuary.
She is also a member of a community called Eagle Spirit, which holds a women's Lakota-style council drum on the second Saturday of the month. All women who want to come and learn how to sing native songs and how to sit around the drum are welcome. Also in conjunction with Eagle Spirit, the church will hold a Zoom event on the third Sundays of December and January showing filmed talks in the "natural way" series by native elders. Discussion will follow the presentations. Email Crow for more information on the women's drum and the link to the Zoom event.
The Rev. Crow joins the ranks of several women faith leaders in Hillsdale, including the Rev. Dr. Sarah Sanderson-Doughty at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Bonnie Stewart at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, and Rabbi Hannah Laner of P'Nai Or.
Have we missed any other women leading local faith institutions? Let us know.