On February 23rd, the Oregon Conference Executive Committee was scheduled to meet for the first time in 2023. Snow, ice, and traffic gridlock in the Portland-area kept the committee from gathering in-person, but the elements couldn’t stop the meeting, which quickly pivoted to Zoom. On the agenda: receiving reports from 2022, approving a new budget, and investing in the future of Gladstone Camp Meeting.
Membership on the Rise Again
Vice President for Administration Kara Johnsson shared a year-end membership report. Over 600 people joined the Oregon Conference membership via baptism or profession of faith in 2022. Another 257 joined through transfers. More sobering, nearly 400 members died in 2022. Overall, Oregon Conference ended the year with 36,598 members, an increase of 47 members. While growth is modest, it does reverse a two-year trend of membership declines.
2023 Budget Approved
Vice President for Finance Brent Plubell shared a finance report and presented a balanced budget for 2023. In 2022, tithe returned by Oregon members nearly equaled budgeted projections of $34.6 million. In 2023, the budget is based on a projection of $35.1 million total tithe returned. With employment and health care expenses projected to rise by 5-10% over 2022 levels, Plubell noted that the finance team will consistently be looking for ways to trim expenses throughout the year to keep the budget on track.
Gladstone Pavilion Project
Later in the agenda, the executive committee approved a meaningful investment in the future of Gladstone Camp Meeting.
Since the Gladstone Park property was purchased by Seventh-day Adventists in late 1920s, the centerpiece of the grounds has been the main pavilion. This meeting place has seated thousands, while hosting internationally renowned Adventist speakers. For decades the pavilion has been covered by a tent, erected days before the event and struck immediately following. In 2022, that tent almost didn’t arrive.
Last year, the contractor providing the tent was nearly two (2) weeks late in erecting the structure. At issue was the availability of a crane operator and laborers that were required for completion of the work. The delay required that volunteers and contractors preparing the stage, technology, and seating worked nearly around the clock to complete their tasks before opening night. Setup that normally took 20 days was completed in six (6)! While the work was completed, the strain on all involved was palpable. Throughout the week, it became clear: this schedule is not repeatable.
At the conclusion of camp meeting, the tent contractor informed Oregon Conference that they did not intend to accept another contract for this tent in 2023. It was, they said, their last year of serving this event. The event team went to work seeking bids from at least 15 other event companies. Ultimately, only a small number of contractors could even provide the 20,000 square foot structure we require. Meanwhile, staff researched other ways of providing shade to the seating area of camp meeting, including purchasing awnings, tents, sunshades or buildings.
Months of research led to a decision point:
• Rent a tent from out of state for a three-times-higher rental rate (over $100,000).
• Build a pavilion permanent shelter.
With the help of Shearer Construction (Battle Ground, Wash.), conference administration explored options for building a shelter on the site. Ultimately, the plan calls for a prefabricated steel structure with open sides that will fit the same 20,000 square foot footprint used by the tent. Initial development work with city officials reveals a path toward a successful building project.
“We are always focused on missional effectiveness. I’m excited about the potential of this pavilion,” commented President Dan Linrud. “Not only will it meet the needs of Gladstone Camp Meeting for decades to come, it will also create opportunities to host other events throughout the good-weather season. God has blessed us with this beautiful campus. This addition will provide one more way that we can use the campus to benefit the entire community.”
Project Cost & Funding – An Unanticipated Blessing
The project is expected to cost less than $2.5 million. The estimated budget includes:
• Development, permitting, and construction.
• Permanent, weather-proof PA and lighting systems.
• Electrical upgrades to support Gladstone campus needs.
The plans call for the project to be financed with a $2 million loan from the NPUC revolving fund, as well as up to $500,000 cash-on-hand.
The Bible reminds us that before we even ask, God has plans to answer. The Pavilion Project plan reveals this biblical truth once again. As conference administrators were laboring over the question of how to pay for this project, an unanticipated blessing arrived.
Several years ago, Gladstone Park land was used to develop Somerset Lodge, a community for senior living. In exchange for this investment of land, the Oregon Conference received a 50% stake in the business of Somerset. Since then, income from the property has been used to maintain and enhance the Gladstone Park campgrounds. In the next month, Somerset Lodge will finish paying off its own mortgage. This means that almost immediately, the income from Somerset Lodge will increase enough to cover the entire loan payment…and then some.
Before the need was articulated, God had a plan to provide.
With the executive committee’s unanimous vote in favor of the project, development and planning kick into high gear in preparation for construction. Most likely, the new Plaza Pavilion will be inaugurated at Gladstone Camp Meeting in 2024. In the meantime, camp meeting staff are making plans to address the needs of the 2023 event. Please join your conference family in praying for a smooth development process as we invest in the future of Gladstone Camp Meeting together.
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