This dissertation addresses the need for expanded collaborative partnerships among churches in North/Northeast urban Portland, Oregon, in meeting the increasing community needs and how their congregational distinctiveness could hinder or support intentional collaboration. Since leadership provides the infrastructure for transformative action in the community, the study focuses on attitudes regarding relational cooperation among local congregational leaders to discover those factors that may hinder or support better collaboration. Relational unity is a necessary component of engaging the community collaboratively by local congregations and the success of my dissertation depends on strengthening relationships with church and community leaders.
Interviews with eleven senior pastors in urban Portland provided invaluable information on relational unity that was analyzed using Thematic Analysis. Literature and attending interactive community meetings were other sources of research data. The research data clearly shows that leaders have a desire to serve the community, but their responses are more crisis-oriented moves, reactive than being proactive. Congregations unite in prayer and other worship, but individually attempt to meet the needs of the community, which leads to duplication of effort and ineffective use of resources. The principal conclusion is that individual and congregational spiritual formation is the primary issue preventing effective intentional collaboration among local congregations in service to the community. This dissertation describes several ministries that have resulted from this project.