Portland Religious Sites
First Congregational United Church of Christ, established in 1891, has a 175-foot bell tower built in the style of Old South Church in Boston. The church was built in the Venetian Gothic style and features stained glass windows from the Povey brothers, who were known for their stained glass in the Pacific Northwest during the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. A church bell, weighing 2,500 pounds, rings during Sunday services. In Fellowship Hall is a nonprofit art gallery featuring different artists every month. Tours of the church are available.
First Christian Church was founded 131 years ago and features 118 stained glass windows from the Povey brothers. The 20,000-square-foot church features a dome-shaped front and a painted labyrinth on the floor of the multipurpose room. Tours are available.
Italian-American immigrants were involved in the religious community of St. Philip Neri Catholic Church, founded in 1913. They helped finance the chapel, school and today’s basilica-style church, which finished construction in 1950. The church is renowned for its acoustics and serves as a prime venue for musical performances. St. Philip Neri was known as one of the best scholars of his time and was canonized as a saint in 1622.
Augustana Lutheran Church, founded in 1906, began as a Swedish Lutheran congregation for immigrants. The church started as Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Augustana Congregation of Portland and was only a wooden building. In 1950, its current brick building was built. Services and Sunday school classes have used English instead of Swedish since 1932. The church has been actively involved in the community, such as leading the War on Poverty. Every August the church has Summer in the City, an annual outdoor festival with food, crafts, music and games. In late November is the Intergenerational Advent Festival, with Advent treats and crafts for Christmas. The church unveiled its centennial time capsule in 2007—it contained a 1906 letter advocating for women’s rights to vote on church affairs.
The Grotto, the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, is a 62-acre Catholic shrine and botanical garden with fir trees, rhododendrons and other plants. Our Lady’s Grotto, at the heart of the shrine, is a rock cave at the base of the 110-foot cliff. At the center of the shrine is a life-size replica of Michelangelo’s Pietà. The Grotto also has the Chapel of Mary, a gift shop, religious art, gardens and a panoramic view of the Columbia River Valley, Mt. St. Helens and the Cascades. Retreats are available. The first mass was held in 1924. About 200,000 visit every year.
One of the oldest buildings in the Pacific Northwest, Old Church, built 1883, is now a historic site. Its pipe organ was the first in Portland. Its Gothic architectural components feature arches, a tower and buttresses. The interior has iron Corinthian columns and has a capacity of 350. The windows were created by the Povey brothers. Stop at a weekly lunchtime concert.
Oregon Jewish Museum has exhibits that display the history of early Jewish immigrant groups to the area. Group visits are welcome.
Old Scotch Church in Hillsboro, about 15 miles west of Portland, was founded in 1873 by Scottish pioneers, who brought over the stained glass that can be seen in the windows. Built in a Gothic Revival style, the white church features an octagonal steeple and side buttresses. The church has a handcrafted cross in the chancel, which was made from a dogwood tree that grew in the cemetery. There is a memorial tribute to the Scottish settlement Glencoe. The church bell, brought to the church in 1926, is still used for Sunday services. Buried in the church’s cemetery are many of Oregon’s pioneers, including Joe Meek, the first U.S. Marshal in the Oregon Territory.
See “Best of Portland” through Portland Walking Tours, and view Portland’s artwork, parks, bridges, trains, fountains and the waterfront. A guide will inform groups about early and modern Portland. Take the all-day “Oregon North Coast” and see the coastal cities Seaside and Cannon Beach through Pacific Northwest Sightseeing Tours. Groups will take in shopping as they overlook the ocean. The all-day “City of Roses” stops include Lan Su Classical Chinese Garden, The International Rose Test Garden and Japanese Garden. “Columbia River Gorge Tour” also is a day long and includes five year-round water falls, Old Columbia River Gorge Highway and Bonneville Dam and fish hatchery.
Take a ride, available June through September, in the 35-passenger Outrageous Jet Boat and visit Portland’s bridges on the Willamette River, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area or Historic Astoria.
Visit the oldest museum in the Pacific Northwest, Portland Art Museum, and see the outdoor sculpture court and historical interiors. The museum has 42,000 objects in its permanent collection, which includes American, Asian modern, contemporary, Native American and Northwest art.
At the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, five halls have hundreds of exhibits and displays. Sample activities include experiencing an earthquake, being a part of a lab demonstration, taking in a movie in the OMNIMAX Dome Theater and touring a submarine. The Oregon Zoo has a variety of animals from all over the world, including birds, monkeys, giraffes, tigers, bears, rhinos and hippos. Summertime offers a concert series.
Visit Portland Saturday Market, open weekends March through December, and see one of the largest arts and crafts market in the U.S., accompanied by live music. Taste foreign culinary delights at the international food pavilion.
Discover a part of Portland’s history at Pittock Mansion, soaring 1,000 feet above the city skyline in the West Hills of Portland and offering a view of rivers, mountaintops, forests and bridges. The mansion symbolizes the change in Portland’s history going from a small lumber town to a city and has 23 storied rooms.
Portland offers a variety of religious sites and fun activities for religious travel groups.