Rockwood Church Celebrates 40 Years

January 19, 2015 | Mike Jones

Rockwood Adventist Church celebrated its 40th anniversary Sabbath, Oct. 18, with a joyful remembrance of its past and a probing look toward a tentative future.

Many former members showed up, including three former Rockwood pastors: Gary Rustad, Reed Qualley and Mike Jones. Each took part in the festivities, with Rustad preaching. Among those providing music for the morning service were Wanda Vaz and Norman Schwisow.

During the afternoon service, a tribute was given to the late Ralph New. New spent 35 years designing, building and maintaining Rockwood’s pipe organ. Special music for the celebration included Caleb Leim, Barbara Specht, Donna Jones, Tammy MacPhee, Joyce Hill and Brent Summaraga.

Gene Heinrich, current Rockwood pastor, citing several generations of members who are missing, warned of an uncertain future for the church unless it can learn to “translate the gospel into the language of the 21st century.” He said the church’s challenges include serving a multi-ethnic community where 70 languages are spoken, poverty reigns and gangs roam the streets.

Planted in 1974, the Rockwood Church grew from 34 to 889 members in less than 15 years. Rockwood is currently the most ethnically diverse neighborhood in all of Oregon with a high concentration of refugees from all around the globe. Attendance on Sabbath mornings at Rockwood averages just under 200.

Mike Jones