Adventist Medical Center’s Annual Celebration of Thanksgiving

January 08, 2017 | Kristi Spurgeon

Autumn in Portland, Ore., offers many reasons to give thanks — the return of the rainy season, hot drinks, generous spirits, good music. For each of the past eight years, Adventist Health in Portland has joined in this giving spirit by hosting a free Celebration of Thanksgiving concert to thank the community for 120 years of placing their faith in Adventist Health.

“It’s becoming a traditional kick off to the holiday season and this year's concert was truly a blessing,” says David Russell, Adventist Health Portland president and CEO, who founded the event eight years ago.

Like the year before, the Nov. 19, 2016, concert began with a praise and worship singalong led by the Adventist Health Praise Band, made up of hospital team members and executives. “How many hospitals do you know with their own praise band?” joked Terry Johnsson, the evening’s master of ceremony, to the crowd of more than 2,000. Johnsson, who is Adventist Health’s executive director for mission integration, extended an invitation to the executive teams of the other health systems in Portland, challenging them to a sing-off.

Then the evening moved into a full concert by Grammy-award winning musical guest Laura Story. Among the biggest blessings of the night was a beautiful rendition of her chart-topping song “Blessings.”

Story rearranged her tour schedule to make room for Adventist Health’s community-based concert at the invitation of Johnsson, who has worked with Story for many years. The mission of Adventist Health and its desire to give back to the community through this special concert helped the event rise to the top of Story’s priorities.

Though she’s worked with other hospital events, Story had never had a hospital’s administrative team join her and her band before a concert to pray the event would touch the community and help spread the good news about Jesus Christ.

Story loved the hospital's participation and commitment to mission. Unlike her previous Portland concerts at Memorial Coliseum and Moda Center, the Adventist Health concert was free to the employees, volunteers and community members who support the mission of Adventist Health.

Though the concert tickets are free each year, Adventist Health invites attendees to bring donations of nonperishable food to support the community. About 3,500 pounds of food was collected this year for the Portland Adventist Community Services (PACS) food pantry.

“This year we also asked concert goers to consider donating a pair of warm socks for the Portland Rescue Mission, and we were completely blown away by the response,” says Russell. “I was able to deliver a dozen large bags stuffed with 2,800 pairs of socks to the homeless in our community who desperately need warm feet in the winter.”

The Celebration of Thanksgiving concert is just one more way Adventist Health partners with the community to spread the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. And that’s another reason to give thanks in Portland, no matter the season.