Long before the tents were standing, the pronto pups were frying or the iconic green benches were set up on the lawn, volunteers and staff were hard at work putting this year's Gladstone Camp Meeting theme, In Community, into action.
One of the early decisions made this year was to increase collaboration between the Spanish and English camp meeting programs, including unified graphic design, a shared theme and more cross-communication between media outlets, attempting to remind everyone that, while we may speak different primary languages, we are all part of the same Oregon Conference community.
On July 13, 2023, Spanish programming kicked off with a Latino food festival, complete with free food, live cultural and Christian music and lots of activities for kids. The event packed Holden Center Plaza with people laughing and enjoying the amazing food together.
Old favorites like Reptile Man returned for both English and Spanish services, and many gave their hearts to Jesus through baptism during both weeks. Other community partnerships included a health fair which connected participants to local health resources, offered massages and more during Spanish-language days.
During the English-language days of camp meeting, Gladstone Family Fun Run/Walk returned, as well as the Red Cross Blood Drive and local community service projects hosted by Oregon young adults and youth departments.
Leading the Plaza Pavilion English services each night was Karl Haffner, former Walla Walla University Church lead pastor, who shared powerful messages around the idea of being created for community, and how that shows up when we relate to our families, our faith and our neighbors.
In Holden Center, Kevin Wilson— known widely on TikTok as “the chai guy” — Andrews University digital and social media coordinator, explored the intersection of creativity, mission and community.
Other notable events included a special veterans recognition service and the recognition of Vancouver Spanish and Hood River Spanish Churches as they moved up from company status.
Additionally, Don Livesay, former Oregon Conference president, and his wife, Barbara, were recognized in the official naming of the Livesay Boardroom in the Oregon Conference office. Al Reimche, former Oregon Conference president, was also recognized in the naming of the Reimche Chapel.
As Oregon Conference looks toward the upcoming year, plans include a major construction project of a permanent outdoor event venue where the temporary Plaza Pavilion is built and torn down each summer. An artist’s rendering of the project was set up at the back of the main pavilion during camp meeting as a sign of what is to come.
Perhaps more important are the plans to continue to grow healthy, Christ-centered relationships with each other and their neighbors as they go about the upcoming years of mission, fellowship and service in community.
See photos of this year's camp meeting at orad.us/CM2023Photos.