First Friday Program Provides Spiritual Home at AMC

February 12, 2016 | Shelby Seibold

When Steve* was discharged from Adventist Medical Center (AMC) in Portland, Ore., in early December, he had no idea how soon he would return to the hospital — in good health. “I can’t believe that I was a patient at this hospital last week, and now I’m here praising God,” he said just days after his stay.

Steve returned to AMC for First Friday, an evening program that the hospital hosts on the first Friday evening of every month to provide a spiritual home for patients, community members and employees. The program, which launched Dec. 4, offers music, testimonies and prayer time for those who might not be comfortable attending a traditional church service or whose work schedule makes attendance difficult.

“Our goal is to create a safe atmosphere to be able to connect these people to a church on their own time,” says Terry Johnsson, AMC Mission Integration executive director. “That’s why we’ve partnered with area churches.”

The partnerships First Friday leaders have developed with Adventist churches across the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area are key to the project. “When someone wants to connect with a church, we’ll be able to recommend one in their community where a team will be ready to nurture and welcome them,” says Johnsson. “Then they’ll know someone at the church from the beginning, someone to invite them over for Sabbath lunch.”

The new outreach also allows the hospital to become involved in the spiritual health of the community. “We love to be able to connect with people when there’s not a health crisis,” says Joyce Newmyer, president and CEO of Adventist Health's Pacific Northwest region. “Our mission calls us to care not only for people inside our hospital walls, but also those outside — whether they are sick or not.”

Newmyer has been involved in the development of First Friday since Johnsson joined AMC administration in 2015. She even sings and plays the piano in a praise and worship band led by hospital administrators who provided the worship music for the first program.

“The attendees were blown away to see the CEO of the hospital leading praise and worship in the community,” says Johnsson. “It really shows a high level of involvement from administration.”

By the end of the evening of the first event, a total of 254 people had come to worship — double the amount estimated by project leaders. Since the service takes place in the hospital facility, the program is easily accessible for patients and employees. “People were coming in scrubs at the end of their shifts to join us in praise,” says Johnsson.

“What a great way to welcome the Sabbath,” says Newmyer. “We cannot wait to see where God takes this. We started with 250 people — what’s next?”

*Patient name changed for privacy