Primetimers Journey Along the Lewis and Clark Trail,
Discovering Natural Wonders and Exciting Ministries
by Mike Jarvis
Through the Primetimers program, United Methodists over the age of 50 come together for a time of education, mission service, and faith-filled reflection. From May 22 – 27, twenty-three older adults from across the United States gathered to participate in the Primetimers event “Exploring Your Faith with Lewis and Clark.” Mike Jarvis of Woodbridge, Virginia was one of the participants of this event at the Alton Collins Retreat Center in Eagle Creek, Oregon. He shared this reflection on his experience:
My wife Deanna and I had been looking forward to our Pacific Northwest adventure for some time. We were excited to learn about the Lewis & Clark expedition, engage in service work along with the local Native American population, visit a part of the country we had never seen, and make some new Christian friends.
Each day began with morning watch and devotion at 7:30 am in the retreat center chapel—a beautiful building in the deep woods with one entire wall of windows looking out into the trees. It was breathtaking and a great place to worship God and His creation.
Throughout the days of the event, we toured many locations where Lewis & Clark had been. We went to Astoria, Oregon, where from the top of one of the mountains is a great view of the Columbia River and other tributaries that Lewis & Clark had traveled. We also drove to the saltworks where Lewis & Clark got their salt by boiling ocean water until it evaporated and left the salt.
Most evenings we had special activities, such as a speaker who portrayed one of the men on the expedition, one of our leaders who portrayed a female author of the day, and a film on the contributions of Sacagawea. Many of the activities were optional. We could participate in all activities or take some time for resting or reflection.
Two of the days during the event we went into downtown Portland to the Wilshire United Methodist Church/Native American Fellowship where we met Pastor Lois Wagner. With over 250 tribes in the Portland area, Wilshire UMC has been working with the Native American Comprehensive Plan to develop its Native American ministry.
We learned that the church was working to design landscaping to incorporate native plants, to give the church an aesthetic welcoming to a variety of persons. At the church, we had a presentation by a woman who was an expert on “naturescaping,” the idea of using plants natural to the area when doing landscaping. We spent a couple of hours weeding and trimming plants and small trees, working alongside the Trustees Chairman of the church. The transformation was remarkable. From our time together came the idea that the church’s Welcome sign in the yard could include one or more Native American words for welcome. We agreed that this church is certainly living up to the United Methodist Church theme of “open hearts, open minds, and open doors.”
The highlight of the event was the final evening when we had a special dinner featuring authentic foods from the time of the Lewis & Clark journey. Peggy Lutz, a food historian, hosted the dinner as if it was from Thomas Jefferson’s own kitchen as he sent Lewis & Clark on their way West. After dinner we had two special guests, internationally acclaimed Native American storyteller Ed Edmo and his autistic son John. Ed showed us a film and shared with us several stories. He also noted that, unlike many churches in the past, he and Native American friends found Wilshire United Methodist Church to be a welcoming place. John played Native American songs on his drum and sang.
Prior to our Primetimers experience, Deanna and I were commissioned by our Pastors, Larry Thompson and Denise Bates of St. Paul UMC. They told us to go forth “with passion.” I think we did just that. We had a wonderful experience, learning a lot about Lewis & Clark’s expedition and the Native American culture, working a little, and meeting great new Christian friends. We had seen some of the most beautiful scenery in America—the Columbia River Gorge, beautiful falls, as well as Mts. Hood, St. Helens, and Rainier—the absolute grandeur and majesty of God’s creation on display. The trip was a true blessing for us that brought us closer to God, an opportunity for which we will always be grateful. Praise God!
The Primetimers program is open to persons 50 years and older interested in
experiences with intentional educational forums, mission service opportunities,
and faith-filled reflection. For more information on the Primetimers program,
visit http://gbgm-umc.org/vim Information on the 5 Primetimers events to be
offered in 2006 will be available soon.
Date posted: Jul 15, 2005