Image Credit: Michael Blackburn

Educators and Pastors Gather for Together as One Convention

More than 350 pastors, teachers and staff from across Oregon Conference met at Columbia Riverfront Holiday Inn at Jantzen Beach, Jan. 8–9, 2024 for the first in-person Together as One convention since 2020.

Beginning in 2015, Together as One is an annual event focused on building collaborations between local Seventh-day Adventist schools and churches in Oregon Conference. Recognizing the need for rest and rejuvenation after several challenging years, the theme this year was “Replenish.”

Oregon Conference leadership kicked off the event with exciting news — the introduction of Ron Jacaban as Oregon Conference’s new vice president for education.

Speakers throughout Together as One included David Ferguson, lead pastor of Crosswalk Chattanooga in Tennessee; K’dee Crews, a clinical psychologist who shared the importance of emotional intelligence in spiritual leadership; Ben Lundquist, who led a plenary session focused on Mike Foster’s book, The 7 Primal Questions, and explored how childhood trauma informs our adult behaviors; and Dustin Young from Andrews University's International Center for Trauma and Care.

Breakout sessions included a church growth strategy workshop for pastors with Oregon Conference and North Pacific Union leaders, a teen mental health workshop and other workshops that explored topics like literacy, math and professional learning communities. Worship music was led by Josh Withers and a group of local pastors each day. 

For many pastors and educators who have joined the Oregon Conference team over the past few years, this year’s Together as One convention was the first time they’ve had the opportunity to attend.

“This is my first time attending Together as One,” shared Shéila Marday, Milo Adventist Academy vice president for finance. “What I like about this is getting the chance to know other people who work in different areas of Oregon Conference. The breakout session that focused on teen mental health and thoughts of suicide really helped. I want to bring this knowledge back to our school and be able to better help our students.”

Michael White, Woodburn and Molalla pastor, was also attending for the first time. “I am really enjoying Together as One,” he said. “It’s a great location and a great chance to get everybody together, but I’m enjoying the content as well. The framework presented during our morning session was something I’m really looking forward to discussing with more people. I already sent it to my wife!"

"I just really appreciate the honest look at where we are and where we can go," White continued. "Yes, there are some challenges, but there’s a lot of hope and a lot of opportunities, too. I’m glad I was able to come.”

Featured in: March/April 2024