Intellectuals and urban planners find Portland, Ore., intriguing. They’re traveling from around the world to observe the culture and makeup of this living laboratory where church planter Sean Benesh lives, breathes and bikes.
“Portland is both a cultural anomaly as well as the front edge of where the American city is heading,” he said.
Sean describes his city as progressive, weird, hipster, artisan and bicycle-friendly—it boasts the title of Bicycle Capital of America. Portland’s focus on these man-powered vehicles affects its artisan economy as much as its bohemian culture. The bicycle is a way of life for many and a primary mode of transportation for hipsters, who travel Portland’s more than 400 miles of bicycle lanes, boulevards and cycle tracks.
Sean, like many others in Portland, wears multiple hats. He is not only a published author and church planter/urban missionary, but he also has served as an adjunct professor at two seminaries, is pursuing a PhD in urban planning at a local university and is a bicycle tour guide.
His “moonlighting” work involves leading tourists on two wheels around downtown Portland, where he shows them its culinary scene and artisan economy. Meanwhile, his position as director of the Epoch (pronounced epic) Center allows him to introduce people to Portland as well as help them develop a theology of the city through urban immersion.
In September Jet Set participants will get to hear from Sean, who hopes they “develop a framework and understanding of the nature of cities (and) cultivate a theology of the city.
“Every city has a story to tell … (and) reveals how we are to go about embodying and proclaiming the Gospel,” Sean said. “With the city’s progressive culture intermingled with creative urban planning … Portland is a great living laboratory to study missiology and learn how to be a missionary to our own culture.”
Learn more at the Portland Jet Set page.