Area Annual Church in the Park

Hundreds of Eugene, Springfield and Pleasant Hill, Ore., members gathered with their lawn chairs at Day Island Park on the Willamette River on August 9 for an outdoor worship service.

The Springfield Church coordinated the worship service, while the Eugene members worked the sound system and provided music. Pleasant Hill members took up the offering and provided some special music. Recently retired Junction City pastor, Elden Walter, and his wife Judy blended their voices for a special number. Father and son, Gene and Rick Syfert, touched hearts with their voices. Springfield’s worship team led the song service.

The details of the days’ worship were arranged around Chuck Burkeen’s sermon theme of Staying on Ship complete with props of rubber raft, paddles and songs of taking refuge in God during storms. The children’s story featured Lane County Search and Rescue on water safety. With friendly faces all around, green grass under foot, quiet river waters flowing near by and blue sky above, it seemed as though members were more like contented sheep in green pastures than ones in trouble, but everyone appreciated the message knowing that God gives calming times between storms.

After the service, people lined up for a turn at the heavily laden potluck tables.

The high point of the day was the river baptism of seven candidates. Burkeen baptized Kayla Summers, Levi Toebe, Matthew Wilson and Mike Parmenter, to all of which he gave bible studies and baptismal classes.

Toebe was so determined to be baptized that Sabbath in the Willamette that he left Big Lake Youth Camp for a brief visit to enjoy the ceremony. Summers’s beaming parents were realizing the rewards of sending her to Emerald Christian Academy and Sabbath School. The other two new Springfield members were admitted hard core “lost men” when they found Christ and were turned 180 degrees from lives of confusion to peace and joy.

Newly appointed Eugene pastor, Greg Middlestetter, had the privilege of baptizing Bill Rose and Sha and Amber Lewis. Middlestetter and his wife, Shirley, were grateful to be included in the reaping of the rewards of others' outreach.

The annual gathering met the goals of enjoying worship in God’s creation, fellowship and mingling of the area churches, and providing an inviting environment for visitors.

October 01, 2003 / Oregon Conference