The Expanding Ministry of Heart 

One of the more beautiful results of lockdowns and the pandemic life has been fresh creativity and the birth of something new. You may have seen these kinds of changes in your workplaces, schools, and churches, and we’re experiencing that here at Heart too! 

The ministry of Heart has existed for over 30 years by serving post-abortive women in Portland and beyond through transformative healing communities. When the pandemic hit, Heart was forced to go online, but so did the rest of the country. As a result, Heart groups began to naturally expand to include women from surrounding states. Now that our community is opening up again, Heart has resumed meeting in-person, but online groups will continue as they provide us a platform to reach even more women, both here in Portland and around the country. 

While Heart has changed and adapted to this cultural moment, we also are very aware that hundreds of women in our churches are grieving the loss of life through other forms of pregnancy loss. We want to continue to adapt to needs around us, acknowledging pregnancy loss in all of its forms. To lean into this space, the Heart ministry is dreaming about what it would look like to provide soul care for women who grieve the loss of a child through abortion, miscarriage, and those who place their child for adoption. Each situation carries a specific and unique grief, a grief that Jesus sees and hears, and we as a ministry team desire to minister to women in these sacred spaces of grief and loss. 

This is a space that First Image and Heart have longed to step into, and while the careful implementation of this kind of growth will take time, we’re excited to see how God will lead, provide, and expand this ministry. 

If you are interested in stepping into this space with us, either as a participant or a volunteer, I invite you to join a special mailing list, just for those interested in the miscarriage ministry. Request updates at first-image.org/miscarriage. 

Jesus was no stranger to grief, foretold even as a man of sorrows. We are learning how to grieve well, and we’re excited to share the journey with you. 

Crystal McGowen
Heart Director 


About Crystal

Before I was Director of Heart, I was a counselor at a local Christian counseling office, but I also have several years of experience working in international missions and faith-based non-profits. I have a MA in Human Services Counseling, and I’m currently a working towards a MA in Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Direction at Portland Seminary. 

I’m passionate about helping women navigate the path to forgiveness, seeking to provide a holistic approach to spiritual and emotional growth. Working at First Image provides ample opportunities for both, and it’s a joy to see lives transformed through the ministry of healing and reconciliation that the Lord brings through the Heart program. 

Crystal and her husband, Clint, have been married for 17 years and have two children, Callie and Tara. They attend West Hills Covenant Church in SW Portland.