Oregon Conference Executive Committee Wrap-Up
By Al Reimche, Oregon Conference President
Now that Thanksgiving is over….” How often we hear those words being said by those around us as we all look forward to the holiday season beginning with Thanksgiving. This phrase is usually followed by a statement filled with anticipation and excitement as people look forward to the next month of preparation and celebration.
As we celebrate this season, I’d like to suggest that “Thanksgiving” should never be "over." Thanksgiving is a word that is past tense, present tense, and future tense. We are grateful for all that God has done for us. (Does this ring a bell? ‘We have nothing to fear for the future unless we forget what God has done for us in the past.’) We are filled with gratitude for His daily blessings, and we are asked to continually praise God for His blessings as He bestows them on us. We have so much to be thankful for, both personally and corporately. I want say a special thank you to all of you who supported our family this past month as we laid my mother to rest. It meant a lot to know we were being prayed for by so many; the flowers, cards, and notes also assured us of your love.
The Oregon Conference also has so many things to be thankful for. At the end of October, the Executive Committee, along with our Lay Advisory members from around the Conference met to address directions and decisions as well as hear reports of God’s goodness experienced the previous months.
The ongoing results of camp meeting were shared, including the story of an individual who has shared the Sabbath morning message with a number of co-workers and friends. Motorcycle camp meeting, though small, was also talked about, along with the stories coming out of a motorcycle ministry outreach in Prineville. Over 700 pieces of literature were shared from just one of the locations and friendships were created that could go on forever. Our media ministry direction was also discussed, with information being shared about some new opportunities that are opening up some of the obvious media outlets for ministry.
This was the first Executive Committee where our new treasurer, David Freedman, was present and able to give the financial report. Though he gave an excellent report, we are still challenged by the fact that for the past two months tithing in the Conference has dropped slightly from the previous year. However, we have been successful in lowering our expenses to an amount slightly below the projected budget. This has been a blessing even though the economy continues to impact the work here in the Oregon Conference. Even with the tithe being reduced, we are continually amazed and blessed by the faithfulness of God’s people.
Discussion took place as we looked at some of the expenses that continually rise, seemingly without our control. An area that continues to grow is the medical expense budget. A decision was made to raise the employee contribution rates slightly, starting next July. However, the raise was contingent on a potential salary increase and was also adjusted so the employees that are participating in the Conference's Wellness Program would not be impacted.
In line with the reports shared at the beginning of the committee, we have formed a media board to oversee a more targeted approach to impact our ministry in/to the large metropolitan areas of our conference. Oregon and SW Washington have very high percentages of individuals who indicate no religious affiliation. This means that some of the traditional methods of reaching out are not as effective as we would like them to be. Without losing the effectiveness of these “tried and true” approaches, the committee elected a group of individuals to find a path to reach the “unreached” with the Good News. This committee will give direction and creative support to our Communication Department as they explore new ways of reaching our communities and cities.
Finally, though not part of the Executive Committee, I want to invite you to two premier ways of experiencing the reason for Christmas. At least two areas in our Conference are involved in reintroducing Christ back into the Christmas season. Follow the Star begins this weekend at the Gladstone Conference Center and runs December 3-5 and 9-11. Journey to Bethlehem happens December 9-11 in Kelso-Longview. Both are beautiful opportunities for you to share your hope with family and friends. (You can learn more about these events on pages 6-7.) Have a blessed Christmas and remember that Thanksgiving is an ongoing state of the heart.