At St. James we understand that we are never done learning; God continues to reveal Himself to us and to the world, and we are committed to understanding and developing our faith and our spiritual connection. At St. James we offer various types of educational programs for both youth and adults year round.

All programs and groups listed below are open to everyone; please join us!


St. James Lutheran Church Scholarship Program

In September 2022, two St. James members were awarded financial scholarships as they pursue their undergraduate goals. We are pleased to show our support during this school year. This ministry has been in place at St. James since the 1990s and thanks go to our committee members Charlotte Cook, Josh Peters-McBride, Mary Ellen Isensee, Sue Hammond, and Pastor. Applications will be received again next summer in 2023.


Sunday School (Children & Youth)

Sundays Sept.-May, 11:00am-12:00pm

Sunday School is for children under the age of 16. Sunday School meets every Sunday during the school year (we take a break for summer vacation.) The Sunday School program is developed by volunteers and contains music, a Bible lesson that relates to the Sunday’s Gospel text, and an activity each week. Children in the Sunday School program actively participate in worship 4-5 times a year and donate all of their offerings to global development efforts with the ELCA. Vacation Bible School is typically offered in the summer, in conjunction with other neighborhood churches.


Children’s Sunday School Events at St. James:

From October–December, the St. James Sunday School will be hosting three special events for children. Mark your calendars!

October 30th: Exploring The Season of the Soul with crafts and stories related to Dios de los Muertos and All Saints Days.

November 20th: Join in some guided activities for children about the importance of thanks and gratitude. Activities include the children creating “Gratitude Trees” to share with their loved ones.

December 18th: All we need is love and Christmas cookies right? On this day we will have a special event decorating cookies that represent the holiday season we enjoy from Thanksgiving to New Years.


Open Space (Adult)

Sundays Year-Round, 11:00am-12:00pm

Open Space takes place most Sunday mornings in the Main Sanctuary of St. James Lutheran Church. All are invited to attend and listen, participate, learn, grow, and share as we develop a stronger sense of our individual faith and also who we are as a community of believers in our world today. Topics range from biblical study to current events, social issues, and information session about local organizations. Open Space is a safe environment where all questions and viewpoints have the right to be heard respectfully.


NOTE: Open Space returned on September 18th, 2022 and we continue with an exciting series of educational events for adults. Be sure to join us after coffee hour! Sunday School classes for children have also resumed. Children can join their Sunday School teacher after coffee hour. Interested in leading an Open Space? Contact the front office for more info.

October 2nd: Making Change – The Art of the Protest. Tour of the Art Museum Exhibit with Paula Carlson.

October 9th: The Times They Are A Changin’? A Reflection on the Art Exhibit with Mandy Ellertson.

October 16th: South Park Blocks Update by LaJune Thorson.

October 23rd: Tour of the newly renovated St. James Building by Council.

October 30th: Lutheran World Relief with Jamie Lennon.

November 6th: Alternative Cosmology: The discovery of a construction of paradise under the pyramids of Central Mexico with Friedrich Schüler.

November 20th: Richard Bishop (docent at the Oregon Historical Society) presents “Wide Open Spaces: Snapshots from the Oregon Trail.”

December 11th: Staff from the PSU Landing will present on their houseless ministry — a shelter for college students who would otherwise be homeless while trying to attend Portland State University. St. James recently gave them an emergency $10,000 from our Endowment fund. We support The Landing along with First United Methodist Church in Goose Hollow. Join us.

January 8th, 15th, and 29th, 2023: Join us on for our adult education series on Barbara Campbell’s book Worldly Wisdom & Foolish Grace: Lessons from Abraham’s Tent. For these three Sundays in January we will be joined by author and Presbyterian pastor Barbara Campbell who will lead a discussion on the similarities between the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Drawing from her interfaith experience at St. Mark Presbyterian with P’nai Or Jewish Renewal Congregation, Campbell writes that all three Abrahamic faiths teach “compassion, generosity and nonviolence” and puts “foolish grace” up against “worldly wisdom” while asking us to choose “which road to take.” Join us for this exciting education event in Pioneer Chapel following Coffee Hour.

February 5th: “One Solution for the Houseless” presented by Scott Ellertson. Voters recently passed a tax called the Supportive Housing Services Tax. Come and hear about how this program is working.

February 12th: ELCA Report: “Preaching and Teaching with love and respect for the Jewish People” presented by Steve Portnoy. The ELCA has declared that “it is our duty and joy to extend God’s love, grace, mercy, and justice to all those who are made in the image of God and to the whole of creation.” To that end they have released a guide titled “Preaching and Teaching with Love and Respect for the Jewish People.” Join us for Open Space as Steve Portnoy takes us through this document.

February 19th: “Changing Face of the Park Blocks” presented by guests LaJune Thorson and Anne Draper. As residents of downtown Portland the proposed changes to the Park Blocks may impact our church life. Come hear about what is proposed, happening, and how it may change downtown.

February 26th: “What we don’t know about Mayan History: Four Golden Ages” presented by Friedrich Schüler. Learn about this ancient civilization’s culture and religious foundations from congregant and Historian Friedrich Schüler.

March 5th: St. James Ministry Fair.

March 12th: Update on the Emanuel Hospital Displacement led by Mandy Ellertson.

March 19th: Spring Break (No Open Space)

March 25th: Spring Break (No Open Space)

April 2nd: Presentation by Esther Portnoy on Church World Service, leading up to the Portland CROP Hunger Walk on April 30th.

April 9th: Easter Coffee Reception. No class.

April 16th: Watch TEDx Video and engage in a dialogue Tedx Topic – Climatarian, flexitarian, vegetarian, vegan: Which diet is best for the planet? by Mark Maslin.

April 23rd: Presentation on St. James Field Trip to Eloheh.

April 30th: Our ministry with Emanuel Hospital – Chaplain Jill Rowland.

May 7th: The Education Committee is happy to host artist Susan Schenk. Susan’s work is currently on display in the Pioneer Chapel and we are fortunate that she will provide us with insight into her work. The session will be held in the Pioneer Chapel (as opposed to the sanctuary). She will not only share thoughts about her process, she will guide us through a demonstration. For more information on Susan Schenk go to her website at

May 14th: Mother’s Day (No Open Space)

May 21st: We are looking for someone to present on May 21st. Contact Mandy Ellertson if you have an idea or topic.

May 28th: Memorial Day weekend (No Open Space)

NOTE: Our Open Space adult classes have concluded for the program year except for occasional events this summer.