Oregon Conference History

Adventist doctrines were introduced to our state when Isaac D. Van Horn arrived in the Pacific Northwest in 1874. He had first lived and worked in the Walla Walla Valley of the Washington Territory. He held meetings and organized churches at several eastern Oregon locations such as Milton, Weston, Pendleton, and La Grande.

In May 1876, the Isaac Van Horn family and his assistant—Alonzo T. Jones (a recent convert who had been serving in the army)—moved to the Willamette Valley. Their first evangelistic meetings in what is now the Oregon Conference was in Oregon City. They next went to Salem and held meetings. On January 14, 1877, they officially organized the first church in the Willamette Valley—Salem. From there more and more churches and companies formed in response to the great Advent truths.

In 1902, the portion of Oregon that lies west of the Cascade Mountains and south of the Columbia River became the Western Oregon Conference with Francis M. Burg serving as President. Further organization came in 1910 as several southwestern Oregon counties separated to become the Southern Oregon Conference. In 1920, the Western Washington Conference decided to close its two academies (Mt. Vernon and Battle Ground) and start one centrally located academy in Auburn. However, the members in southwestern Washington refused to close their academy; they left the Washington Conference to join the Western Oregon Conference. In 1932, the Southern Oregon Conference rejoined the Western Oregon Conference, for economy’s sake, becoming known as the Oregon Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Oregon Conference Organization
Today the headquarters for the Oregon Conference is located in Gladstone, just outside of southeast Portland. A four-person administrative team serves as the leadership of the conference: the president, the vice president for administration, the vice president for education, and the vice president for finance. Each member of Administration is elected to a five-year term at a business meeting known as a constituency session. Representatives from each Adventist church and school participate in these sessions and their opinions and votes help to direct the Oregon Conference until the next constituency session four years later.

In addition to Administration, the conference also has department directors who provide leadership and organization in specialized ministries such as evangelism, family life, and community service. And last, but most certainly not least, there is a dedicated support staff that works in tandem with Administration and with the directors to provide high quality, efficient programming and services for the local churches.