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A casual luncheon chat focuses on faith

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By JOHN FORTMEYER, CNNW publisher

Photo by COEISHA WALTON

PORTLAND — Traditionally, the featured speaker at the annual Christmas event of Portland Business Luncheons stands on a platform and gives a very sincere, but well polished, presentation to hundreds of attenders.

But for last month’s gathering, standing in front of the crowd wasn’t expected of Katy Spangler Crane.  Instead, the Dec. 13 program took the form of a casual chat, with Crane seated and fielding questions from local pastor and author Tony Kriz.

The format worked well for Crane, who admitted during the talk to some advance nervousness about sharing before so many at the Oregon Zoo’s Cascade Crest Banquet Center.

“It’s just amazing to be here, because I love you guys,” said Crane. “I was really, really scared.”

She needn’t have been, because she was definitely among friends. Known for decades as a leader and mentor in the Portland business and faith community, and also as a mother and grandmother, Crane is much admired for impacting lives for Christ. During the luncheon, she encouraged all in the audience to develop a daily intimate relationship with the Lord.

“He yearns to be in communion (with us),” she said. “For me, it’s just being open.”

The purpose behind Portland Business Luncheons is to  develop relationships within the business community focused on carrying out the greatest commandment: loving God and loving each other. At each monthly luncheon, a speaker shares their faith story.

Crane grew up on the east side of Portland, graduating from Cleveland High and then on to Lewis and Clark College, where she met her husband, Doug.

Crane started her nursing career in what was then the new Burn Center at Emanuel Hospital.  After a difficult time in the early 1980s for their marriage, she moved on from nursing to join Doug in the family business, where she designed and produced educational curriculum to help companies transform their corporate cultures.

Crane later became involved with Friends of the Children, a non-profit that works with at-risk children, matching professional mentors who guide children from first grade until they graduate from high school.

After this the Cranes felt led to move to Washington, D.C. for a brief time. While there, they say, they experienced Jesus in a fresh way and it changed the trajectory of their lives.

Active at Cedar Mill Bible Church in west Portland, Crane and her husband — who are now in their 48th year of marriage — also host a community group focused on Jesus and His teachings every Thursday night at their home.  The popular Jag Night started more than 15 years ago with a group working on a 1967E-Type Jaguar.

Although raised in a very churchgoing family, Crane said she nevertheless “missed the whole Jesus thing” growing up. “I don’t ever remember talking about the Bible.”

It wasn’t until adulthood, during the crisis in her marriage, that Crane desperately sought hope and found it in a close walk with God as revealed through Scripture.

“The Holy Spirit has informed and guided my life in so many amazing ways,” she said.

Crane said she has found God to be an ever-present guide, comfort and provider.

“It’s fascinating, because right when I need Him … He just plants it,” she said.

Describing Crane as a “spiritual cousin to a lot of us,” Kriz commended Crane for reflecting Christ to so many.

“Katy is an influential person in this city,” he said. “Many have experienced the love of God through her.”

For more information on Portland Business Luncheons, go to pdxlunch.com