Camp Berachah near Auburn, Washington, is a beautiful spot, with meeting halls and cabins arranged amidst sun-dappled trees. But once each year it becomes even more inviting when more than 1,000 eager Adventists converge from all points of the Northwest and beyond for the annual North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) Regional Convocation.
This year’s event, held May 15–18, was the 38th such gathering. Coordinated by Alphonso McCarthy, NPUC vice president for regional affairs, and his assistant, Pattric Parris, the convocation’s theme centered on “My Jesus — Hope and Wholeness.”
Those in attendance represented a cultural diversity but predominantly came from 14 regional churches around the Northwest: Anchorage Community Church; several from the Seattle, Washington area including Breath of Life, Emerald City, Ethiopian Group, Lighthouse Christian Fellowship and Maranatha; Tacoma/Lakewood, Washington area churches such as Love of Life/Voice of Hope, Mount Tahoma and Open Bible Fellowship; Pasco (Washington) Ephesus; West Central Multicultural in Spokane, Washington; and the Oromo, Sharon and Your Bible Speaks congregations in Portland, Oregon. As usual, a contingent also came from the greater Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, area.
The convocation’s adult program featured some of the finest speakers across the country. Debleaire K. Snell, senior pastor for the First Church in Huntsville, Alabama, presented the Sabbath morning sermon. G. Alex Bryant, North American Division executive secretary, gave the main Friday evening message. Other featured speakers included Ron Sydney, pastor of the 24-Seven Ministry Center in Bellevue, Washington, and Alonzo Wagner, Center for Creative Ministry consultant.
Music throughout was coordinated by Mark Francis, a music ministry consultant from Washington, D.C. Francis observed the powerful spiritual nourishment of the combined music and preaching during the worship service: “We’re going to get fed so well,” he exclaimed, “we’ll have plenty of leftovers to take home.”
Young adults and youth attended meetings designed just for them, with speakers such as David Richardson, Walla Walla University vice president for student life and mission, and Pam Proudfit, a chaplain at Adventist Medical Center in Portland, Oregon.
Workshops throughout Friday and Sabbath included presentations on Bible instructor training, health, media ministry, music, leadership and even funeral planning.
This annual convocation is truly a camp meeting for black Adventist members. But skin color is not an automatic measure of culture. This event, as Elwood Reid, Sharon Church elder observes, increasingly mirrors the multicultural nature of many regional churches. “I’ve been at the Sharon Church for more than 20 years,” he says, “and we now have, more than ever, a wide variety of nationalities represented.”
But unity in the midst of diversity found the gospel message clearly on center stage. And there at Camp Berachah hundreds of members from all different cultures and walks of life celebrated their unity in Jesus’ message of hope and wholeness.