love, laugh, listen

Welcome to Relational Ministries

At relational ministries, we believe communication and human connection are the keys to a happy and functioning team and a strong witness for Jesus. Do you clash with a co-worker, a fellow church member or with someone you love? Or maybe you want to take the next step in mentoring and build a stronger team? Check out our materials below, and then come to a seminar. Learn the Bible-based principals of different communication styles, active listening and strong relationships, and open doors to new and deeper levels of connection.

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Skills we teach

Understanding Different Brain Styles

Our foundational seminar. It’s so much easier to resolve conflict, and communicate effectively, if you understand your audience. Early Adventist Ellen G. White knew how important it was for Jesus’ followers to understand and work through our differences. She wrote that “Harmony and union existing among…varied dispositions is the strongest witness that can be borne.”

In the Understanding Differences seminar, you’ll take a test to learn how your brain style affects your communication in church, at home, at work and during conflict situations.

Comparing your test results to the results of your friends, family, and coworkers might shed some light on things they do that rub you the wrong way. Explore the rough patches in your relationships in a safe, relaxed environment and gain tools to deal with conflict positively. Plus it’s just a lot of fun to learn what’s going on inside your friends’ brains.

Gary’s detailed research, and his decades of experience as a life coach and mentor, fill this seminar with deeply helpful insights, and the laughter and interaction make sure it’s never boring. If your church wants to start a journey to healthier relationships, this seminar should be lesson number one.

Visit the seminar section further down the page, or contact us, to book a session on Understanding Differences, and laugh your way to a healthier church, workplace and family.

Listening to Understand

What’s one of the most important communication skills out there? Say it with me: Active Listening! We all know that listening matters, but still it’s not always easy.

As James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” That’s easy to say, but tough to do. Thankfully, the Relational Ministries team has a few tips to make it easier.

Join Gary for a relaxed and enjoyable boost to your listening skills. Learn techniques to keep your mind from wandering while you listen, practice the type of questions that keep people talking and discover how to listen for the heart of what others are telling you.

Use your understanding of different brain styles to hear the deeper meaning behind others’ words, and find out what a difference it makes to feel truly heard. The Active Listening seminar is a must to develop solid discipling skills and make your church a welcoming place.

You can learn more about Active Listening and other sessions on our seminar section below, or contact us to book a seminar at your church. This seminar should come after a class on Understanding Differences.

Asking the Right Questions

Have you ever noticed that some people just feel safe to talk to? They listen well, but they also know just what to say so you feel comfortable sharing your story. Jesus often healed people’s bodies and souls with just a touch and a few carefully chosen words.

Adventist pioneer Ellen White wrote: “Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’”

Follow in Jesus’ footsteps and learn to speak to others in the language of their brain, instead of yours. Learn to read body language, and be someone others can confide in. After taking this seminar, and practicing to master this skill, you’ll earn more opportunities to counsel, heal and serve others.

Gary’s stories of setting people at ease in the tensest of situations will keep you on the edge of your seat, and the lessons you learn will radiate like ripples through your church and community. If you want your church to be a warm, welcoming, and safe place, this skill is essential.

Go to our seminar section, or contact us, to schedule an Asking Questions class, and take a giant leap towards the oasis of safety that you want your church to be. This seminar should come after a class on Understanding Differences.


Jesus was very clear on the importance of forgiveness. Parables like the story of the ungrateful servant teach us that forgiving others is way more than a good idea – it’s one of the most important things we can do. Ephesians 4: 32 tells us to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

Jesus was very clear on the importance of forgiveness. Parables like the story of the ungrateful servant teach us that forgiving others is way more than a good idea – it’s one of the most important things we can do. Ephesians 4: 32 tells us to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

But how do we truly forgive each other, and not keep digging up past wrongs? And more than that, what happens we’re the ones who hurt someone else. Accident or not, we should ask for forgiveness to bring healing. What’s the best way to find reconciliation?

As someone who has helped couples, coworkers, families and churches heal their differences for decades, Gary Parks is uniquely qualified to teach a class on giving and asking for forgiveness.

In this seminar, you’ll learn how to listen to someone you’ve hurt, asking them to describe their pain so they can feel truly heard. Then you’ll learn to humbly ask for forgiveness and bring healing. You’ll also learn to give forgiveness - to describe how you’ve been hurt and rely on God’s help to help you grant what you may not feel you have.

This seminar is a very special way to bring healing, and learn to pass it on to others. Don’t miss out.

Visit our seminar page for more information, or contact us to schedule the very special seminar. This seminar should come after a class on Understanding Differences.

why do

relationships matter

As followers of Jesus, we know our mission. He told us to “go and make disciples of all nations” to baptize them, and teach them his commands. The official mission statement of the Seventh-day Adventist church declares that we should “make disciples of all people” and lead them to “unite with His remnant church.”

But how do we lead others to Jesus? When friends, coworkers, or strangers look at you and me, do they see someone happy? Someone who loves everyone? Does your life make people want what you have? As Adventist Pioneer Ellen White wrote, “Harmony and union existing among men of varied dispositions is the strongest witness that can be borne that God has sent His Son into the world to save sinners.”

Even secular organizations, like the tech giant Google, are realizing how much impact relationships can have. The Washington Post reported that although “Google originally set its hiring algorithms to sort for computer science students with top grades,” research actually showed that, “among the eight most important qualities of Google’s top employees, STEM expertise comes in dead last.” As it turns out:  

The seven top characteristics of success at Google are all soft skills: being a good coach; communicating and listening well; possessing insights into others (including others different values and points of view); having empathy toward and being supportive of one’s colleagues; being a good critical thinker and problem solver; and being able to make connections across complex ideas. Read more

After this study, Google changed its hiring practices to prioritize these qualities, hiring workers with strong soft skills like listening and conflict resolution. The Oregon Conference Relational Ministries department wants to help churches master these same soft skills.

Every human soul who steps through the door of an Adventist church should want to stay and be loved. People should be so deeply impressed by the loving, balanced, and mature people that they meet in Christ’s family, that they’ll want to learn more about Jesus.

Does this sound like your church? If so, wonderful! Come help our department spread the good news. But if your church isn’t quite there yet, don’t worry. Our department is designed to mentor churches as they grow toward that goal. Browse our site to see a list of the soft skills we teach, and check out the events calendar to catch a live seminar with Director Gary Parks. We want every church, in Oregon and beyond, to be a safe place for everyone.

Even secular organizations, like the tech giant Google, are realizing how much impact relationships can have.
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Gary’s seminars are a fun-filled and deeply insightful way to learn information that you may not hear anywhere else. Call Gary at (503) 850-3500 to learn where he is scheduled to go next, or invite him to give a seminar at your church based on one of the skills we teach.

We are here for you

Our Team

Contact one of our team members at (503) 850-3500

Gary Parks


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Terrie Griebel

Coordinator, Women's Ministries and Singles Ministries

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Jane Nicola

Administrative Assistant

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additional ministries

Relational Ministries has a team of coordinators and volunteers that assist in additional ministry events including Women's Ministries, Prayer Ministries, Men's Ministries and Singles Ministries. You can learn more about each of these ministries below or visit the calendar and filter for the ministry of interest or search.

Women’s Ministries

Women’s Ministries upholds women as they develop unique, God-given qualities.

Women’s Ministries is just what the words imply—a ministry to women. Women’s Ministries is here to equip women to effectively use their unique abilities to share Jesus’ love with the world around them. We encourage continued spiritual growth through prayer, Bible study and redemptive outreach to change lives one heart at a time.

Available resources at the Conference office include a library of books, videos and equipment free of charge. A list of qualified women is available to speak at your church or Women’s Ministries events.

2019 events

Women’s Ministries Leadership Retreat

March 22 – 24, 2019
Best Western Agate Beach Inn, Newport, Ore.
“Anchor Christ” in Your Leadership
Keynote Speaker – DeeAnn Bragaw

View more details and register for this event

Women's Tea

In July @ Gladstone Camp Meeting
Gladstone, Ore.

Keynote speaker: Hyveth Williams

Oregon Women's Retreat

October 4 – 6, 2019
Holden Convention Center, Gladstone, Ore.

Keynote speaker: Hyveth Williams

View more details and register for the event

View Women’s Ministries events on the OC Calendar. Choose “Women’s Ministries” under the Filter option.

Prayer Ministries

Oregon Prayer Conference  |  March 29 – 31, 2019
Keynote speaker: Paul Dybdahl

This annual event allows participants to have the opportunity to be inspired, motivated and challenged to a deeper relationship with God through developing a vibrant personal prayer life.

Learn more and register

Coordinator: Pastor Greg Middlestetter

Asst Coordinator: Tawny Sportsman  |  541-367-4913

“Satan dreads nothing but prayer … he laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.”

Samuel Chadwick - 19th century English preacher

Men’s Ministries

Oregon Men’s Summit  |  May 31 – June 2, 2019
Keynote speaker: David Schwinghammer

A team of guys from all over the Oregon Conference are hard at work to make 2019 the best Men's Summit ever. The event will include activities such as excavating into the Bible, 3-on-3 basketball tournament, no-spin knife-throwing, survival skills (spiritually and worldly), birding, photography and archery to name a few.

Find out more and register for the upcoming Oregon Men's Summit May 31 – June 2, 2019.

Volunteer coordinators: Rick Syfert and Jerry Bowers

Singles’ Ministries

Welcome! We are dedicated to keep you informed of Oregon Conference Singles’ events which can be found on the OC Calendar. You can also join us on Facebook.

Other sites or events that may be of interest include:

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Pro Tip!

Use the Filter feature to select events by ministry in the OC Calendar.

Upcoming Events

Click the FILTER button below to view specific ministry events.