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Two years after devastating fire, Portland church finds new home at Gresham church

Eric Bahme and Brad Makowski

GRESHAM — Eric Bahme isn’t reticent to speak of his appreciation for Brad Makowski.

“You can just say he’s the greatest pastor in Portland,” quipped Bahme, pastor of Eastside Church, about the leader of a Gresham church who recently solved a two-year dilemma for Bahme and his congregation of about 130.

The long search for a permanent home for Bahme’s church, which lost its Portland building to a huge fire in March 2010, ended May 1, as Eastside accepted Makowski’s invitation to use New Beginnings Church, 3300 N.E. 172nd Place in Gresham, in a unique shared arrangement.

Long known as Eastside Foursquare but now informally called simply Eastside, the church meets in the new site 7 p.m. Fridays and 8:30 a.m. Sundays. To allow that, New Beginnings, with about 1,500 weekly attenders, adjusted its schedule of services to 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 and 5:17 p.m. on Sundays.

“Plus, they essentially gave us the keys to the building and said, ‘Hey, let’s act like one church,’ ’’ said Bahme. That is indeed happening, with some sharing of staff and programs. “We are still two separate entities, but for all purposes one church,” said Bahme.

Also, Bahme, who is nationally known for pairing the church and business world with his “Mission Based Entre-preneurship” model, will help New Beginnings in the long-range development of its 26 acres of property.

“We’re looking at what could possibly could go in there,” said Bahme, who prior to the fire led his church in operating a motel at its previous location. “We’re looking at educational or sports uses, a YMCA campus look for the property, or hotels. We need to determine what is the best and highest use of ministry there.”

Bahme said New Beginnings is an answer to prayer. During the past two years, Eastside checked out about 70 potential new locations, and made offers on 12 of them. All 12 fell through.

But while other local churches gradually stopped asking how Eastside was doing, Makowski persistedwith contacts and a strong friendship developed that led to the partnership.

“They literally have been the arms of Christ,” said Bahme. “I have never experienced a greater de-gree of welcoming, love and support.”

As the humble recipient of Bahme’s commendations, Makowski simply says that it’s all for Jesus and His Kingdom

“We just want to be Kingdom builders,” he said. “It’s bigger than a name or a ministry.”