When July 2022 came to a close, it marked the end of an era in the Oregon Conference, and in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. After six and a half years in the Oregon Conference, Dick Duerksen has retired to spend more time with the people who matter most: his family.
Duerksen’s career has spanned 52 years as a pastor, teacher, administrator, ambassador and communication expert, yet his legacy is his passion to see beauty in the world, and share it with thousands through story or the lens of his Canon camera.
The stories have shaped us. We’ve heard it said that Duerksen tells stories a little like Mr. Rogers did. Meet the person. Hear their heart. See the world a little clearer, because you saw it through their eyes. That kind of storytelling is a gift. It’s a gift born of time, patience and the ability to walk up to anyone and start a conversation. It’s a gift that captivates our imaginations and leaves us with an indelible picture of God’s heart before we even realize what is happening. It’s a gift that has made the Oregon Conference a better place.
The photos have inspired us. The ones captured because the photographer was up before the sun or outlasting the moon. The ones caught after traveling hundreds of miles, just to be in that spot at that time when the light plays among the leaves, the shadows all but flee and the handiwork of God is incomparably revealed in one perfect moment.
Duerksen’s eye for photography will continue to inspire us through the collection of photos that adorns the Oregon Conference office walls. Next time you’re in Gladstone, stop by the office and see the photos: contest winners and others curated by Duerksen himself. Take note of the waterfalls, the waves, the sunsets and the petals that bring light, color and the unmistakable touch of the Creator to the halls and walls of the office.
The enduring image is of a man with hand to beard, head-cocked in thoughtful contemplation of a challenge of the day. Finally, as the silence lingers almost too long, his voice breaks through. Yet instead of long-winded explanations sometimes expected of preachers, wisdom emerges in concise, pithy, profound language of a man who knows God, sees people and knows that God loves people. And that’s enough.
Duerksen and his wife Brenda aren’t going anywhere. They’ll still be around the area when they’re not chasing stories, pursuing a perfect example of Divine creativity splashed across the landscape, traveling the world or experiencing the moments their hearts crave with the people they love most.
Join us as we pray that the Duerksens may experience all of the richness of God’s presence that they so faithfully shared with all of us.