Oregon Conference Holds Quadrennial Constituency Session

On Sunday, Sept. 20, Oregon Conference delegates converged in Portland Adventist Academy's gym for the 56th quadrennial Constituency Session.

These 489 officially registered delegates overwhelmingly re-elected officers: Al Reimche, president; Dave Allen, vice president for administration; Jon Corder, vice president for finance; and John Gatchet, vice president for education.

Delegates also confirmed the Nominating Committee's choices for new executive, financial review, and constitution and by-laws committees.

This session was made far more efficient by the use of an electronic voting device to collect and tally the votes, which in turn were displayed within seconds on the screen.

Conference leadership encouraged time for discussion on several important issues. At one point, delegates broke into small groups to identify ideas and directions to move the churches and conference forward. Reimche indicated these suggestions would be addressed by the new executive committee at its first fall meeting.

In the weeks prior to the constituency session, conference administrators held a series of town hall meetings to discuss a proposal to change the conference legal status. They explained how current unincorporated structure provided inadequate protection for the personal liability of employees, volunteers and board members for board decisions.

At the session, delegates looked carefully at this proposal to change the conference's status from an unincorporated association to a nonprofit religious corporation. After discussion and some clarification of issues they overwhelmingly approved this change.

During the past four years, Oregon Conference membership has grown from 33,479 to 35,346, with an average of more than 970 baptisms per year. Growth has been most evident in Oregon's Hispanic Adventist communities, evidenced in the addition of four new Hispanic churches. Other positive approaches to growth include churches, such as Bend and Rockwood, who are finding new ways to reach their communities. Better Life Broadcasting Network is also bringing Adventist television programs to more and more communities throughout the conference.

The current financial challenges throughout the country have also been felt in the Oregon Conference. The conference downsized staffing by more than 25 full-time equivalent positions. Conference leadership has endeavored to accomplish this as much as possible through retirements, and careful reorganization.

"These past few months we've had to put on the brakes," Reimche told delegates. "And sometimes, we need to do that.

"But we don't win races by stepping on the brakes," he added. "We also need to step on the accelerator; we need to move forward so that we can finish this race.

"I believe that God is calling all of us to be part of this great commission. And I ask that you join us in moving forward with haste to accomplish God's work."

Featured in: November 2009