A Century of Service

This year we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the North Pacific Union. When the union was organized on February 19, 1906, comprised of Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Montana, Alaska, Hawaii, and also British Columbia, there were more than 5,000(1) members with an annual tithe of $63,000. Walla Walla College had an enrollment of 200.(2)

Initially located on the campus of Walla Walla College, the headquarters moved to Spokane, Washington, where newly elected president, W.B. White and staff would have their offices. Within a year the office moved back to Walla Walla where it remained until it was voted to move to Portland in 1944.

At first glance, that seems like a long, long time ago, and it was. But when I look at the GLEANER’s At Rest section, I am quickly reminded that many of our saints passing away now were alive most of those years. And, as incredible as it may seem, according to our membership records list there are a number of Northwest members alive today who were born before 1906. These include people like: Ray Fowler of College Place, born 1905; Raymond Yelick of Battle Ground, born 1904 and Faye Bear of Lewiston, Idaho, born 1901.

As these people can testify, God has blessed His church during the past century. We now have over 90,000 members. Tithe has increased to $79,000,000 in 2005. Walla Walla College has an enrollment of 1,942. We’ve had enough challenges to keep us humble, and we’ve had enough success to keep us grateful.

During this year, the GLEANER will look at the fascinating story of our Northwest church during this century. Not only through facts and figures, but also through the stories and the lives of our faithful members. There are people who had struggles like ours and, yes, some victories, too. I believe you will be fascinated, encouraged, inspired and challenged as together we celebrate this century of service.

It should be noted that at the February 1906 session of the newly constituted North Pacific Union, delegates voted an “object” that today we would call a mission statement. It reads: “The object of this conference shall be to unify and extend the work of the everlasting gospel throughout this conference and the mission fields of the world.”

Today we mourn the fact that Christ has not come. Many of our loved ones have been laid to rest. And we have not finished our work. We are still on this earth. Yet, we can take courage in the fact that through all these years our “object” has not changed. We have been faithful to the purpose for which we were organized!

Yes, the flame still burns.

(1) Records vary.

(2) Includes lower grades.