Two photographs taken inside the Gladstone Campground, a Seventh-day Adventist property in Oregon, United States, were among the images featured by the New York Times in its coverage of Oregon wildfires.
Taken by Kristina Barker for the newspaper, the photographs show the dense smoke in the air at the campground. In one of them, a man drives his tractor on a camp road. In the other, a person walks in the midst of the smoke-induced fog.
Leaders of the Oregon Conference church region organized the Adventist campground into a Clackamas County evacuation site when it became clear the fires would soon affect area residents. In a Facebook post, Oregon Conference president Dan Linrud said the site was thought of as a place of refuge for neighbors escaping the fear and devastation of wildfires.
At the same time, Linrud commended the “amazing work” of Oregon Conference staff and volunteers, as church leaders provide regular updates on the situation on the ground.
“We are very happy for some RV [owners] that are able to return to their homes,” Linrud wrote. “There is still a great need. We may be receiving an additional 40 to 60 RVs as other evacuation sites are closing. Please keep praying. We still need more volunteers for specific roles.”
Linrud thanked those who continue to serve evacuees displaced by wildfires. “Our staff and volunteers continue to be awesome!” he wrote in a recent Facebook post. “Every day lunch and supper are served to campers. There are kids’ programs. And there are community meetings for the campers, who continue to be highly appreciative of the service they are receiving.”
Church members and leaders commented on the tremendous impact the Adventist Church’s decisive action to open Gladstone Campground is having on other people and how well they think it reflects on the church. “God is using His children to help others in the time of need. Hallelujah,” wrote Lorrie Wescott.
Suzanne Schuld wrote that she is so proud of and thankful for what the church is doing under these circumstances. Moe Stiles seconded her thoughts. “This is church. This is the body of Christ in action,” she commented. Azure Hills pastor Tara VinCross agreed. “This is the church at its best,” she wrote.
The effects of what the Adventist Church is doing will have long-term positive consequences, Facebook user Adele Sunken emphasized. “It is something that evacuees will always remember,” she wrote.
Linrud thanked all those supporting the work on the ground, including Oregon Conference Children’s Ministries director Shirley Allen.
“The children of wildfire evacuee families camping at Gladstone have games, toys, and activity packs provided by area members and churches,” Linrud wrote. He added that the newest Oregon Conference pastor, Katelyn Weakley, and her husband, Ben, have been at the camp and played games with some of the kids, in addition to visiting campers.
“I am grateful that God has enabled our Oregon Conference to be the compassionate heart, hands, and feet of Jesus in serving our hurting community,” Linrud wrote.