Orleans church celebrates 50th anniversary
Last spring the Orleans church celebrated its 50th anniversary with a gathering that — for many — felt like a family reunion. Nearly 90 current and former church members, community friends and alumni from its one-time elementary school attended the special Sabbath reunion on April 14. Many returned the next day for a pancake breakfast and games.
During the course of the weekend, people shared how the church had impacted their lives. “I loved raising my four children in the Orleans church because of all the love the church family had for my kids,” said member Shelley Slusser.
Member Jill Maxwell experienced similar feelings. “This church is amazing! So very loving, kind and accepting of everyone,” she said.
During Sabbath school, charter member Roger Williams shared how the congregation has ministered to the community over the years. Witnessing opportunities have ranged from building a new house for a family who lost their home in a fire, to taking a plate of food to the attendant at the local waste disposal site on Sabbath afternoon.
“The church has always welcomed me,” said community member Mavis McCovey, who attends the church. “I have many friends here that also believe heart, mind and soul in a living God.”
During the homecoming, more than $900 was donated to help kids go to Redwood Creek Camp. A major ministry outreach for the Orleans church is the Redwood Creek Campership Program, which assists needy families in paying the fee for the annual weeklong Adventist summer camp located in Humboldt County.
The speaker for the Sabbath morning worship service was Bruce Preyer, who taught at the Orleans school and, after retiring, served as the church pastor. He was true to his preferred format of telling stories to deliver his message rather than preaching a sermon.
As they gathered together to celebrate the anniversary, many who attended the Orleans reunion had great hopes for the church’s future, including 6-year-old Casey Quinn, who said: “I hope that the church will have 100 plus 1,000 new people!”
Orleans Church History
The history of the church began when several Adventist families moved to Orleans in the early 1950s. They held worship services in various locations, including an Episcopal church and a dance hall. In 1957, Lloyd and Mary Downs leased a piece of land on the western bank of the Klamath River to the Adventist company, and the founding families constructed a church building. On Sabbath, March 31, 1962, the Orleans company formally became Church #91 of the Northern California Conference, with 36 charter members — including three current church members: Roger and Lonnie Williams and Marilyn Atteberry.
The church school started in 1959 with two children. After others enrolled the next year, the students began meeting in the back rooms of the church. Construction on a separate school building was almost complete when the local public school burned down during the Christmas flood of 1964. The school district rented the church school for about a year, and the rent monies completely covered the material costs of the new building. The school educated students for many years, but as the local logging industry declined, people left the area to find work, and the school closed in 1991. The church still uses the building as a fellowship hall, for community services and Vacation Bible School.
- Jennifer Shaw on 22 Oct 2012We started going to Redwood Creek in 2007. The first year I think there were only 3 children from Adventist homes, 2 of which were mine. My boys were a bit nervous around the unfamiliar, unchurched kids. My youngest son came to me saying "I don't think you want me... read more