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Rivercrest dinner going on 60

Tim Curran

Volunteer cook Ed Meinig fries potatoes at the annual Rivercrest Community Church traditional Sausage Dinner held last month.
“Hmmm ... condiments.” Some of the more than 300 diners hit the condiment bar before being seated.
Serving desserts to go along with the Traditional German Sausage Dinner are volunteers Patti Laughlin, left, and Josie Hart.
“Welcome,” said the sign in the Rivercrest Community Church basement, site of the Traditional German Sausage Dinner, and the church’s annual fundraiser since 1948.
Volunteer servers are, from left, Betty Lightfoot, Pat Slater and Betty Overby.
The annual Rivercrest Community Church Traditional German Sausage Dinner held last month fed and delighted the neighborhood, serving hundreds of dinners to fans of German cooking. Begun in the late 40s by members of Zion Congregational Church (renamed Rivercrest Community Church when the congregation relocated to its current location on Northeast 148th Avenue in the early 1960s) on Northeast 9th Avenue and Fremont Street, the Traditional German Sausage Dinner is Rivercrest’s largest annual fundraiser.

At its original location, the church only had room for 125 people, so tickets (over 700) were sold for a specific seating time, feeding people in shifts.

As the dinner grew in popularity, the church used other venues around Portland to accommodate and serve over 1,200 people. The traditional dinner attracted not only churchgoers and neighbors, but people of German ancestry from other neighborhoods in and around Portland.

All the food, including the sausage, was made from scratch. In the beginning, and for years, organizers and volunteers used the kitchens at The Repp Market and Bihn Market on Northeast Union Avenue (MLK Jr. Boulevard now) to make the sausage, the Repp and Bihn families being members of Zion. Now with kitchens on church premises, dozens of volunteers gather to make the meal.

The menu has remained the same for the last 60 years: German Sausage, fried potatoes, coleslaw, green beans, homemade bread and dessert. The meal is served family style. Desserts are prepared in the homes of different congregation members and brought to the dinner. Traditionally held in late September or early October, the event brings the congregation and neighborhood together.

Rivercrest members are already looking forward to and planning for next year’s exciting, tradition-filled community outreach project.

Rivercrest Community Church is a nondenominational Christian Church located at 3201 N.E. 148th Avenue. For more information about Rivercrest Community Church or how to get involved in the next Traditional German Sausage Dinner, call church secretary Shari Austero at 503-254-4400.

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