Irrigon Church Celebrates 30 Years
Oct. 9 seemed months away to be planning our 30-year anniversary celebration of the Irrigon Adventist Church reopening. After weeks of phoning, letter writing, advertising and searching the Internet, as many former members as possible were located. Shirlene Stahl designed and printed the invitations which were sent out to approximately 185 members, former members and pastors.
It was surprising how quickly the time passed as we were involved with planning the program, the meal, decorations, and making contact with the invitees. Joy Lancaster made all of the boutonnieres and corsages for all the anniversary celebration participants. There were also ribbons for the charter members. An “In Memory” panel was made with most of the pictures of those who had passed away and listing the names of those for whom there were no pictures. There were also pictures of the current active members. The specially designed bulletins had a list of the charter members as well as the current membership.
During the past 30 years, there have been seven pastors. Gerald Schulze, senior pastor at Hermiston, and Floyd Mohr, Walla Walla extern, were the first to lead out with the church. Mohr took most of the leadership until his graduation, and we considered him “our pastor,” even though he was still a student. These pastors were followed by Gunnar Sjoren (passed away in August 2004), Buddy Kruger, Loren Fenton, J.R. Stevens (passed away in October 1995), Darayl Larsen, and Fred Christensen.
It was a thrill to have the sanctuary filled with our church family. For some it was the first time that they had worshiped in this sanctuary. Their memories included the much smaller church on the corner a couple of streets over. There were even a few who had been members of the original church which was organized in 1948 and closed in 1972.
During the Church Alive, Joel Stahl presented the Christensens with roses and a friendship basket as a token of appreciation in honor of pastor appreciation month. After church, a meal was served family-style to approximately 150 guests.
Music was a large part of the afternoon meeting following the dinner. Prior to a history of the organization of the church, we were honored to have greetings from the town mayor, Linda Fox, who affirmed that each of the churches in the area had an impact on the community. Max Torkelsen II, Upper Columbia Conference president, presented the afternoon message.
The opportunity to meet and worship together with so many friends reinforced the fact that no matter how far the distance or length of time of separation, we are still family.