Since 1994, Christian organizations across the United States have celebrated October as Clergy Appreciation Month – or, maybe more commonly, Pastors’ Appreciation Month. While throughout the year we may think about some of the ways our pastors have cared for and inspired us, Pastors’ Appreciation Month is simply a reminder to make those thoughts known.
Pastors’ duties span an incredible spectrum of times, places, and responsibilities. Maybe you’ve been visited by your pastor when your life was in turmoil. Maybe you came to them with doubts and questions about your faith. Or maybe you have, like I have, had your sleeves rolled up alongside your pastor serving in community service projects or your local food bank. Whether you were visited in your hospital room by them, or simply return each week to be led through biblical life lessons in their church services, each of us is only one of the many people finding ourselves under the care of our own local church pastor.
There are 134 Seventh-day Adventist Churches in the Oregon Conference and nearly 37,000 members! Some churches are so big that they need multiple pastors to share the various duties and minister to as many of their congregation family members as they can each week. Some churches share a pastor with others, and their pastor’s time is divided between multiple different areas. Every congregation and area is unique, and that means that pastors have to be adaptable in their duties, schedules, and even their state of mind!
As I reflected on the incredible amount of ministry work done by Oregon Conference pastors each week, I wanted to hear from some local church members about what they appreciated about their pastors, so I reached out and asked. Here’s what a few people told me:
CJ Anderson belongs to the Cedar Creek Seventh-day Adventist Church in Woodland, Washington – one of the northernmost churches in the Oregon Conference. “Pastor Marty Jackson and his wife, Connie, have been faithful fixtures of the Cedar Creek, Woodland, and Hockinson churches for nearly two decades,” said CJ. “During that time, they have helped our congregations grow – both in number and in closeness and fellowship. From providing fillable sermon outlines to encouraging member-led ministries, Pastor Marty creates a culture of involvement and encouragement for everyone who walks into one of his churches.”
Penny Ammon, an elder at the Pleasant Valley Church in Happy Valley, Oregon, said of her pastors, “I most appreciate in each of our pastors – Kessia Reyne-Bennett, Greg Phillips, and Emily Ellis – their quiet humility in the midst of such challenging times. I appreciate their dependence on prayer and their collective willingness to be led by the Spirit in the daily shepherding of our church family. What a gift, we appreciate each of them!”
Anna Lee, a member of RoC Fellowship church in Portland, shared that she loves her church and their pastors. “I appreciate Pastor Chris Chong immensely,” she said, “He nourishes our congregation with his sermons and creates a community environment at church. RoC Fellowship has doubled in size since his pastorship. It’s no doubt that God is working through him! His progressive outlook and humble heart has been a tremendous blessing to us all. Pastor Jonathan Yoon is our fearless youth leader at RoC. His youth leadership has been over the top – from small groups and Bible studies to outreach activities – he has attracted the youth to gather together in Christ. I am so thankful for his diligent and consistent leadership for our youth!”
Nancy García, a member of REMIX Adventist Church, shared this: “There is plenty to appreciate about pastor Sam Moreno. I could talk about his sermons, his well-crafted presentations, his love for board games, or about all the activities he plans to create fellowship and build community in our church. But what I appreciate most about pastor Sam is his constant, tireless encouragement to look for God. Whether it’s at board meetings, from the pulpit, in sabbath school, or in one-on-one conversations, his focus will always be looking for God.”
We are so grateful for each and every pastor ministering here in the Oregon Conference. Pastors’ Appreciation Month is an intentional time to recognize all of the many things we love about our pastors year-round. Living in such a busy and chaotic world, it can be so easy for us to go through the years without telling our pastors how much they mean to us! So, if you haven’t shared those things you’ve been thinking about with your pastor yet this month, this is your reminder to tell them. You never know just how needed your words of encouragement might be!