Package nine cracker-jack Pathfinder teams with a host of leaders, parents, grandparents and friends, and you've got the recipe for the North Pacific Union Conference-wide Pathfinder Bible Achievement event.
Such was the case, Sabbath, March 12, at the Oregon Conference Holden Convention Center in Gladstone, Ore., where nine Bible Achievement teams successfully passed area and conference level events and were on hand for their union-level "exam." The question on everyone's mind was: Which of these teams will get a chance to make it to the big time — the North American Division-wide finals, held at Andrews University in April? Instead of collegiate basketball's famed "March Madness," this was more like "March Gladness."
According to Tracy Wood, Oregon Conference Pathfinder director and event coordinator, the NPUC event rotates each year to one of the four host conferences. Alaska and Montana teams do not currently participate at this level.
This is a collaborative affair. Each Pathfinder team of up to six members sits in a circle and is assigned a judge and scorekeeper from another team — to ensure fairness. The "supreme court," a panel of four judges, sits up front, with final say on questions that come up during the afternoon. The nine teams occupy the center of the room, while Pathfinder leaders, family members and friends line the outside.
Al Reimche, Oregon Conference president, paced the sidelines, proud of what he saw. "This activity is about teamwork, not competition," he says. "It draws our children into the Word — not just about facts and figures, but into real depth, understanding the context and culture of the Bible."
The nine teams faced 90 questions on this afternoon — some required multiple answers. The spirit of the event was: Everyone roots for everyone. In fact, it was structured so any team scoring within 90 percent of the top score would also be awarded first-place status.
In the end, seven teams placed first: Cascade Eagles, Colville Cougars, Lynwood Spanish Falcons, Newport POV Wildcats, Moscow Palouse Hills, Pasco Cherokee Lady Braves and Pleasant Valley Panthers. The Riverside Chinooks took second (within 80 percent of the top score). The Eagle Golden Eagles, who traveled all the way from Idaho, held on for third place (less than 80 percent of the top score). Third place? "Not a problem," insists Steve Manning, Golden Eagles director. "We want Scripture in our hearts and minds, and this makes it fun. We'll be back."
By April, six first-place teams achieved the final step in the Pathfinder Bible Achievement program — a trip to Andrews University for the North American Division event. A seventh team from Moscow, with Amtrak tickets cancelled due to flooding, took the quiz at the Spokane Valley (Wash.) Church and faxed their answers for judging at Andrews with the rest of the teams. In the end, they received first place along with Upper Columbia's Colville and Newport teams, and Washington's North Cascade team. Second-place certificates were given to Oregon's Pleasant Valley team and Upper Columbia's Pasco team. The Lynwood (Wash.) Spanish Falcons, in their first year with a Bible Achievement team, received third place.
This year the study focused on First and Second Corinthians; next year's focus will be Isaiah.