It's always great to take a step back to reflect on how God has moved in our lives and blessed the ministries to which He has called us. It is equally enjoyable to then step forward and celebrate those blessings and rejoice alongside those who have joined us along the journey, and those who have tracked a similar path.
That is what Oregon Conference Pathfinders did on May 21, 2023, as over 500 Pathfinders and staff gathered at Lane County Event Center in Eugene, Oregon, for the annual Pathfinder Fair.
After the pandemic, many Pathfinder groups had either closed completely or had reduced in size. In Fall 2021, there were less than 20 clubs still active in Oregon Conference.
Last year many clubs began to reorganize and reconvene, allowing the conference to end the year with almost 25 active clubs. The 2022-2023 Pathfinder year ended with 37 active clubs in the conference, 33 of which were able to gather at the Pathfinder Fair.
Being part of a Pathfinder ministry is not always easy. It involves not only a love and passion for working with young people, but a sacrificial commitment.
It requires individuals willing to give week-to-week and sometimes entire weekends to provide wholesome personal growth opportunities for young people — mature Christians willing to provide healthy intergenerational mentorship to these young people as they journey through life searching for spiritual meaning and understanding.
The conference is grateful for these men and women who have committed and responded to this calling. It is thanks to them, by God’s grace, that celebrating another Pathfinder year in Oregon Conference has been possible.
Many clubs made the fair a weekend event by camping in an area park or at Emerald Christian Academy, enjoying various trails and outdoor activities on Sabbath.
Fair activities began at 10 a.m. on Sunday with the Pleasant Valley color guard starting it all. Nate Hellman, Oregon Conference associate ministerial director, shared a message on the year’s theme, Let’s Go, based on John 20:21.
Though various people were recognized during the fair, one recognition in particular stands out: The group of 25 Pathfinders who were baptized during the Pathfinder year. After a few words of encouragement, Gemedi Geleto, Oromo Adventist Church pastor, had a special prayer for them as they were surrounded by many conference pastors.
When opening ceremonies concluded, Pathfinders participated in various marching competitions and over 30 different activity options they could enjoy with their club friends, all while making new friends.
As part of the closing ceremonies, Pathfinder directors were recognized for their hard work this past year, and challenged to a friendly game of tug of war.
Oregon Conference looks forward to God opening even more doors next year and inspiring more people to take on the challenge of leading a Pathfinder club.
Next year the international camporee is in Gillette, Wyoming (previously Oshkosh, Wisconsin), and the conference hopes to provide as many young people as possible the opportunity to attend.