God is painting a new picture of ministry within the Oregon Conference. He is uncovering a long-held truth for the success of His mission through our church.
Delegates at the 1901 General Conference session concluded that the primary purpose of Adventist schools was to “serve the mission of the church — spreading the good news of redemption.”1 They realized that our schools could reach a wider audience and establish a presence in some communities not effectively reached by traditional evangelism. In 1880, Ellen White had declared they "would be one of the greatest means ordained of God for the salvation of souls.”
What happens when a local church wakes up to this vision — that they are in possession of the best possible evangelistic tool, their local school? Many within the Oregon Conference have recently had such an awakening.
When Al Reimche originally became Oregon Conference president, he was impressed with a dire need for churches and schools to build partnerships in ministry. Some of our churches had begun to resent the cost of their local schools. Some schools had lost sight of their primary purpose. However, God’s hand began to peel back some old varnish. His new splashes of color are starting to appear in many corners on the canvas.
Conference administrators and a team of pastors and teachers are pursuing a new vision: “Together as One.” Here are some of the new colors of this vision beginning to radiate throughout Oregon.
Every Child Deserves to Know Christ
The water was a bit brisk on Valentine’s Day in February, but Taleigha Schnoor only felt the warmth of committing her life to her new best friend, Jesus Christ. After receiving a full scholarship to come to Milo Adventist Academy in Days Creek, Oregon, Taleigha’s heart had been consistently impacted day after day as she was exposed to friendships, worships, biblically centered classes and caring staff members.
Taleigha was not the only one to receive this rare opportunity of a full-ride scholarship. Shortly after beginning this school year, the education department was approached by a local donor with a passion to provide more opportunities for children to receive an Adventist education. This generous person offered to fully fund any kindergarten, first-grade or ninth-grade student who had not previously attended an Adventist school. This wonderful offer helped 39 students to join Oregon Adventist schools this year. Thirty-nine more hearts were given the opportunity to be daily impacted with the hope of living forever with Jesus in a world made new.
This continued needs-based scholarship is being offered again this coming school year to new incoming kindergarten, first-grade or ninth-grade children to attend our Adventist schools. Along with that, the donor will continue to sponsor this year’s 39 students as needed. You may contact your local principal or pastor for more details.
School Debts Paid in Full to Pursue Ministry
Complete shock radiated from the faces of the principal, pastor and board chair as the reality of the presentation registered. During the April board of education meeting, Riverside Adventist School in Washougal, Washington, was informed that their entire school debt had been paid. “This changes everything!” cried Heidi Kruger, Riverside’s principal. “This money will allow us to focus on the mission of teaching with the purpose of getting our students ready for heaven.”
Riverside was not the only school. In March, the Oregon Conference received an amazing donation that paid in full the debt from any school that owed money to the conference. Joan Oksenholt, Lincoln City Adventist School principal, exclaimed, “It is as if our shackles have been taken off.” For some schools, this means breathing room to acquire much-needed updated materials. For other schools, it is simply being able to keep their doors open. This relief is also felt in each of the constituent churches, which in many cases give beyond their regular subsidy amount to help keep their schools running.
It all happened because of God’s movement on the heart of an anonymous donor. After much thought and prayer regarding the state of our church across North America, the donor concluded he needed to start in his own backyard. He approached Al Reimche and Gale Crosby, Oregon Conference vice president for education, with an offer impossible to refuse. Paying off debt, giving each school a clean slate, would be the first step in helping churches and schools get back to a vital partnership of church mission.
Together as One — Ministry Summit
“This is the most significant movement impacting the work in the Oregon Conference that I’ve seen in my 18 years of ministry here," shares George Gainer, a pastor and member of the ministry summit team, after listening to Reimche and Crosby share their vision for ministry together. The summit team of pastors, teachers and a student created the following mission statement:
God has promised! We will not die. We will not give up. We will not grow weary. We will rise TOGETHER AS ONE in boldness and urgency, spreading the good news of redemption.
To urgently ignite passion for this purpose and initiate team building, a donor is covering the cost of bringing this summit team together August 16–18. It will be the first step taken to unite the ministries of church and school. We covet prayers from around the Northwest and beyond that walls will be broken down, that God’s Spirit will reign supreme, that our Oregon team will emerge as ONE in Christ.
Ripple Effects and You
We have seen miracles almost daily. One church in Oregon that had not been supporting its local school recently felt called to do so. They sent a check to the school for $5,000. After asking the pastor why the church gives so much money to their local school, another pastor responded, “Oh, I’m sorry, don’t you know? We own a school!”
What about you? Will you join us in ministry? Will you help build the bridge that can save the eternal life of another child? Pick up a brush, and let God show you what part you can paint.