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​The anniversary celebration of the College Place Village Church’s 125 years of ministry — the last 50 at its present location — began Friday night, Aug. 31, 2018, and continued through Sabbath, Sept. 1. It climaxed a project that began two years ago to refurbish, restore and renew the current structure in preparation for this historic event.

Groundbreaking for the current facility took place March 3, 1968. A Friday night communion service on Dec. 20, 1968, celebrated its completion.

Recently highlighting how God has blessed our church with His choice of senior pastors through the years and how He affirmed the Village Church on that wonderful 50th anniversary Sabbath this year, one longtime member commented, “I would like to point out the amazing way God orchestrated the three former pastors’ sermons on Sabbath morning. Our first speaker was Dave Thomas, who gave us a very clear picture of a pilgrim, one chosen by God, with Abraham as an example. He called us to give ourselves to the pilgrim life. Lee Venden built on this solid platform as he shared his testimony of a life dedicated to going wherever God called him and the ups and downs of his and Margie’s answers to those calls. Then John Bradshaw took us through the final stages of our pilgrimage with the beautiful rewards and realities of being children of God.”

Village Church’s youngest and newest music ministry team, Rejoice Trio, featuring pianist Tobin Kearns and violinists Hannah Schafer and Eliana Kearns, presented music throughout the weekend.
Others of our talented musicians included Tammy Sharon, Bill Dickerson, pianist of Handpicked fame; daughter/mother duo Clarissa and Renita Carlin; and Ladies’ Praise, featuring Becky Greenlaw, Debbie Smart, Sheilah Meharry, Becky Thompson and Karen Margart accompanied by Deanna Miller. This group has blessed us with their music for more than 30 of these 50 years, and participants have often included pastors’ wives.

The Men’s Quartet featured our choir director, Terry Koch, choir director; Bruce Toews; Steve Walikonis, pastor; and Jim Forsyth. The quartet was accompanied by Don Harral on the trumpet as well as the Village Brass, featuring Harral, John Stafford, Duane Anderson, Dale Pettibone, Jim Edwards, Jerry Bobbit, Gail Bobbitt and Sarah Palmer. Their music  has also enhanced our worship time for many years, even though musicians have come and gone.

Joining these musicians during the 9 a.m. Sabbath service were Jack Carico and Dan Busby with a piano and banjo duet. A choral octet accompanied by Terri Koch included Terry Koch, Ruth Millard, Bruce Toews, Claire Knipe, Marlene Lovenguth, Jim Forsyth, Tammy Sharon and Walikonis. A vocal solo by Melissa Bradshaw rounded out the musical part of the celebration.

Featured speakers were current head pastor Jeff Kinne on Friday evening, along with former pastors speaking on Sabbath morning. A potluck picnic at nearby Fort Walla Walla Park provided the Sabbath noon meal.

At 3 p.m. Sabbath we were treated to a review of Tell the World, a new feature-length film about our Adventist pioneers. Lynelle Ellis, Walla Walla University associate professor in the cinema, religion and worldview department, interviewed Kyle Portbury, Southwestern Adventist University (Keene, Texas) associate professor of cinema presentation, director of the film and the only Adventist personally involved in this remarkable enterprise.
Although for a number of years our pastoral staff has included theology majors from Walla Walla University as pastoral interns, Matt Axford was the only former intern able to attend this celebration. Now pastoring the Brewster and Chelan, Wash., churches, he came with his wife, Grace, and son, J.L., who were with him during his internship here, plus the two little girls who have joined their family since he left.

The weekend closed at 5 p.m. with former pastors and their spouses/families introduced by Kinne sharing memories of their time at Village Church and stories of God’s leading, followed by a watermelon feed in the Village Church courtyard.
We praise God for His leading during Village Church’s 125 years of ministry and pray for His blessing as we continue until Jesus comes.

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