By Stan Beerman, as told to Dick Duerksen
Elder Stan Beerman retired from his position as assistant to the president of the Oregon Conference on April 30, 2022. His wife, Gloria, will retire this summer. Though retired, they are, and will be, still active in our Conference – speaking at churches, inspiring Sabbath School leaders, sharing new discoveries from Scripture, and identifying feathered friends.
Recently, Oregon Conference StoryCatcher, Dick Duerksen, got a chance to sit down with Pastor Stan Beerman to talk about his many years in ministry, his mentors, and what he plans to do with his retirement.
Stan: I pastored for 27 years in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. I even accepted the job of pastor back in my home church of Brewster, Washington where some of the older folks were like my second parents! Actually, they wanted my wife, Gloria, to come and teach school in Brewster. But, since they also needed a pastor, I got to come along. I felt like a kid again, you know, and though it was a bit frightening, we spent 8 ½ really good years there.
Much of what I have done as a husband, father, and pastor has been driven by a text in Proverbs 3:5. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.
When the church asked me to work in the Oregon Conference office, it was to be the Family Life director. I accepted the position because liked doing family and pre-marital counseling. It turned out to be a good fit. I spent most of my time in that position on my knees talking to God. It was obvious that people’s problems are far bigger than anything I could solve. That helped me realize I had to depend totally on God.
In reality, most of my life has been spent learning to depend totally on God. Maybe that began one day when I was a teenager. Once I had gotten myself into a problem that I couldn’t get myself out of. I was at the point of such despair that I went into my bedroom, threw myself down on the bed, and I said, “God, I am not good. You're gonna have to take control of my life. Please forgive me and start me off new.” That was a tangible moment where I felt the total forgiveness of God. I ran out of the bedroom and did somersaults in the living room.
When I was in college, the girls’ dean invited me to join her Bible study group. We prayed a lot for the Holy Spirit to come and bless us that year, and sure enough, the Spirit came. I was so excited that I talked about it all over campus! That’s when I switched my major from physical education to theology.
I love studying the Bible, and since I had a minor in biblical languages at Walla Walla University, I have tried to hold onto at least some of the skills in Hebrew and Greek. Knowing some of those words has enriched my understanding of the Bible and driven me to my knees again and again, especially when I’m reading Psalms or the Gospels. I have a deep passion for studying and discovering new things. That seems to help my sermons too.
Dick: Tell me about a few of your mentors.
My mother. She always encouraged the best in me.
My father. He was a laidback carpenter, a man who loved wood and taught me to touch wood softly and feel its grain. He also taught me to chop wood and enjoy the warm smell of a fireplace.
Phil Schulz. Phil was a teacher in our church school in Brewster, Washington. “I’m on fire for God,” he used to say. Then he set out to light the same fire in me, to make me passionate about loving and serving God. He was “devotion” on the go, a Bible student who was always sending me a new book, or a new quote, or challenging me to give more to God.
Ted Winn. Ted was my academy dean. He encouraged me, gave me responsibilities that I didn’t deserve, and then counseled me, challenged me, encouraged me, and empowered me to succeed.
Walt Meske. Walt was my college dean. I worked for him as a resident assistant in the dorm, and he became a special mentor. I watched how he did things with people and saw he was true blue, honest, compassionate, trusting. He was kind with people and trusted them. He inspired me to want to be like him.
Malcolm Maxwell. Malcolm was my Greek teacher at Walla Walla and my guidance counselor and career guide. His support, his firm kindness, his transparent honesty, and his directives have been key in my life.
Don Gray. Don taught me about evangelism. He was obsessed with it and thought everybody else should be too. He would call me at seven in the morning and say, “Stan, get up. We’re going to go out visiting today.” Don taught me how to visit people, kindly.
These folks, along with my wife and my kids, have taught me how to see possibilities where I had not seen them before, and showed me how to sense God’s moving in lives around me. Some taught me courage, others reminded me that there is a value in “process,” and many have shown me the value of honoring others.
When we moved to Roseburg, there were a lot of different birds in our yard, and I started wondering what they were. Both Gloria and I started in “birding.” Gloria and our son Aaron are much more involved than I am, but I’ve been developing a pretty good “Life List”, especially birds from Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, California, and the other western states. We have over a hundred species in each of those states. As well as Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. We’ve become fanatics about birds.
Recently I was walking along the Clackamas riverbank down by Baker’s Ferry Road, looking for birds early in the morning, and I saw an envelope that had apparently fallen out of somebody's pocket. I picked it up and saw there was a name on it. This is a letter someone was going to send, I thought to myself. Wondering if there might be an address inside, I opened the envelope and found a signed check made out to the person for just over $7,000! Well, I didn’t have the address of the person who was to get the check, but I did have the address of the sender! No phone number, just a name and an address. So, I carried the envelope home, put the check and envelope in a bright new white envelope, and mailed it to the sender’s address. “Seven thousand bucks, I thought. She’ll be glad to get it back.”
D: Did you hear back from her?
S: No, I didn’t put my address on it. I didn’t do it for a thank you.
Now that I'm retired, I want to do a lot of the kind of work they do at Portland Adventist Community Services (PACS). You know, hands-on helping people, especially with construction, where I can interact with people while helping them. That’s my dream for the coming years.
We wish Stan and Gloria many years of helping people, adding birds to their Life Lists, and enjoying time with friends and family!
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