Sweet Home Celebrates a Rededication
On Sabbath, June 10, 2017, about 170 people joined together to celebrate the rededication of Oregon's Sweet Home Church. Dan Linrud, Oregon Conference president, was the guest speaker. Former pastors Charles Burkeen, Dick Hall and Walter Wandersleben also participated in the service. The Carpenter Family and BAKE 4 from the Albany Church provided the music for the special occasion.
It truly was a day to give thanks to God for His leading and providing during the Sweet Home Church’s remodeling of the entire interior of their church facility. In the winter of 2015 the Sweet Home Church board began exploring the need to replace the carpet of the church. While some carpet had been replaced a few years ago, most of the carpet was the original carpet from when the church was built in the late 1970s. Although the carpet needed to be replaced it was a huge project for the small church to undertake.
At one time the Sweet Home Church was full, but in recent years, as more members died and as the local mills shut down, causing people to move away looking for work, the membership continued to decline. In 2016 the average attendance was around 20.
With such a small group of people and limited resources the idea of replacing all the carpet and repainting seemed impossible. But the board remembered the story of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River, where the path forward was unclear until the priests put their feet in the water. With that in mind the Sweet Home Church family voted to go ahead with the project in stages as God provided the funds and the labor to accomplish the task.
A few months into collecting funds for the new carpet, Betty Wilkinson (a longtime member of Sweet Home) died, leaving her estate to the church. Though God had provided the funds to cover the project, the manpower was still lacking. Again the question was asked, “How can such a small group of people do such a big project?”
God quickly answered that question. In June 2016 several people began to move into the Sweet Home area. Some came from Portland, Ore., others from Alaska and some from Lincoln City, Ore. The average attendance went from 20 just a year ago to now an average attendance of 40.
When Lebanon, Sweet Home’s sister church, heard of what Sweet Home was trying to do, many of their members came over to lend a helping hand. They boxed up hymnals and tithe envelopes, hauled pews and ripped up carpet. Within one day all the sanctuary and Sabbath School rooms were empty. It never could have happened without the two churches working together. The Sweet Home members feel incredibly grateful to God for how He provided both the funds and the manpower to give the inside of their church a much-needed makeover.
As the Lebanon and the Sweet Home churches gathered together to celebrate God’s blessings, Linrud challenged the church members to move forward and to keep working together as a team in the greater task of sharing the gospel with their community.