I chose to work on the Cascadia megaregion next because it is considered one of the least religious areas of the country. This place also offers the greatest missional opportunities on the US/Canada Region.
According to Pew Research Religious Landscape Survey (2014), less than half consider belief in God very important in their lives in the states of Washington (44%) and Oregon (45%). Only three out of ten residents attend religious services per week in Washington (30%) and Oregon (29%). These numbers are only gain significance in light of the projected population growth of this area.
The largest cities on the U.S. part of this megaregion are Seattle (#18 704,352) and Portland (#26 639,799), according to 2016 U.S. Census bureau estimates. If the populations of Tacoma (211,277), Bellingham (87,574), and Olympia (51,202) are added to Seattle, the population around Seattle rounds out at just over one million (1,054,405).
According to the website Statistics Canada, Vancouver has a population of 2,280,695, or more than half of the population of the province of British Columbia, and twice as many as the Seattle area. BUT, this is only two-thirds of the projected population increase by 2050.
Population in the Cascadia megaregion will increase by an estimated 3.5 million people by the year 2050, or three times the current population of the Seattle and vicinity. Using the metric of one church per 10,000 people, there will need to be 350 more churches just to keep up with the population.
Nazarenes have been present in this area for over a century. All of the work in this area is organized into three districts: Oregon Pacific (OP), Washington Pacific (WP), and Canada Pacific (CP).
The earliest organized church still active today is Ashland Gracepoint on the Oregon Pacific District (1905). There are actually 15 active churches in this megaregion that are more than a century old!
Of the sixteen churches over 100 years old, only one has been closed:
Ashland Gracepoint (OP), Portland First (OP), Monroe (WP), Everett First (WP), Seattle First (WP), Bellingham New Beginnings (WP), Marysville (WP), McMinnville (OP), Salem First (OP), Tillamook (OP), Newberg (OP), Portland Moreland (OP-closed), Canby (OP), Countryside (OP), Portland Rose City (OP), Ridgefield (WP)
What happened in the 1960s and 1970s? The troughs are pronounced in these decades.
One of the more interesting statistics is related to churches that were started but not organized.
88% of churches started but not organized were eventually closed (100 out of 125).
This is the first of several blog posts about Church of the Nazarene Presence in the Cascadia megaregion.