Welcome to SunnyCity!

The busy little town isn't on a map, but it really exists ... in a city park, in Portland, Ore. It's only three years old and has SunnyCity ever grown. Here, children love running, jumping, singing — even praying.

At the Visitors Center on Friendship Alley visitors are issued passports. At City Hall, Mayor-for-a-Day Andre Wang, real-life attorney and member of the North Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee, stamps passports and gives suggestions for the stash of "sunnymoney" for the nearby toy store.

The Portland Fire and Police bureaus and the Multnomah County sheriff have stations along Hope Expressway. Adventist Medical Center and Dr. Jon, the dentist, see patients.

At Graceland Plaza children receive grace; at Portland Adventist Community Services they share Christian love; at the Commission for the Blind, they serve the unsighted; at Project Patch, they work out family issues; at SunnyCity Library, they hear stories and go to church in the little SunnyCity Sanctuary. On Joy! Joy! Joy! Avenue visitors attend Portland Adventist Elementary School and Portland Adventist Academy and then grab a snack at Delicious Island, SunnyCity's food court.

On this sunny August Sunday, nearly 120 energetic members from the Sunnyside (Ore.) Church and a team of 40, who have been praying day and night for two weeks, host the city for a day. Jonathan Russell, assistant pastor, leads singing while Scott LeMert, senior pastor, prints more passports and Shirley Allen, associate pastor, aids the children's ministry.

In all, the population is officially 800 junior citizens, plus brothers, sisters, moms, dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles, making the actual population closer to 2,000.

After the sun sets on SunnyCity, phone calls are made, cards and emails sent, home visits conducted, and children welcomed to quarterly KidsAlive@Sunnyside Church services. Some even join Adventurers.

Tour's over. But SunnyCity's Son shines forever!

Featured in: December 2011