Congregations Weather the Storm

When a wind storm whipped through the Northwest in mid-December and knocked out electricity in many areas, Adventist church members congregated on Sabbath morning in cold buildings to gain a warm blessing.

Church services fell into four basic categories: church without electricity; church with electricity; church cancelled; and church delayed.

In Federal Way, church members used candles and sat near the windows during their church service on Sabbath morning, reported church member Gaylene Wolkwitz of Auburn. Church attendees kept warm with emergency blankets, coats and hats. Similar scenes were repeated in area churches.

Electricity was initially out at the Adventist church in Enumclaw. By Sabbath morning, electricity had returned, and the church proceeded with Christmas brunch and a drama performance of “The Missing Jesus” by the Taproot Theatre, a professional drama company based in Seattle.

“Our Christmas brunch is always well-attended,” said Cathryne Cassingham, of Auburn, who helped prepare the brunch. “It was extra special this year because many people needed a warm breakfast.”

Along with their Bibles, many Adventists without electricity and hot water in the Chehalis area brought their shower gear to church to use the on-site showers. Jonathan Fetrick, associate pastor, reported that services proceeded as normal.

Church leaders in Burien decided to cancel a Friday night concert and Sabbath morning services as many members are elderly. “Even if there is power, the senior citizens in our congregation complain about the cold,” said Joyce Moore, wife of pastor Bob Moore. “We regularly provide blankets in each pew for the church ladies.”

Auburn Adventist Academy Church cancelled the annual Christmas vespers concert produced by the academy’s music department, postponed Bible study classes on Sabbath morning, and proceeded with the second planned concert performance. The concert ran as scheduled with no lights, no organ, no public address system, more than 500 people in attendance, lots of goodwill, and steaming cups of hot chocolate following the service.

“We were hunkered down in our blankets and coats,” said Keith Hallam, academy principal. “We may have a cold building, but we sure have a warm congregation.”

“Communities really pull together when they are all affected by the same situation,” said Doug Bing, Washington Conference vice president of administration. “I saw people sharing their blankets with other families who didn’t bring one to church. Other families invited their friends and neighbors to enjoy a hot meal. Some families even opened up their homes to allow Auburn Academy students to get a hot shower. This is what community is all about: working together for a common cause.”

February 01, 2007 / Washington Conference

Heidi Martella, Washington Conference communication intern