Alright, so this was the second year in a row  that I went to the Oregon Men’s Weekend. Before I go into some of the details about this weekend, I would like to comment a little on some of the key differences between this year and last year, briefly:
Different location, just south of Corvallis.
Fewer people attending
Fewer scheduled events, with more free time
The theme for this year’s event was the same theme as the GCE , which was “Creating an atmosphere for growth.” This particular theme was brought out in some striking ways throughout the weekend (although, to be honest, some of the speeches this morning, at the close of the event, were not all that good, or all that closely related to the theme). Included in the thematic references was the opening message from Mr. Walker, which talked about a program that UCG is doing that had at least some relationship to what we were doing in seeking to encourage leaders in the local congregations of Oregon (five of which were represented, if you count Portland as being in Oregon, even if we meet in Vancouver, WA). For the sermonette on Sabbath, the fellow who organized the event this year talked about creating the wrong kind of atmosphere for the wrong kind of growth–namely for Athlete’s foot. Few people seemed to focus on the elements I discussed, in which personal growth can lead to larger organizational growth through personal example and family growth.
An event like this has a lot to offer. There is scriptural conversation between godly men, there is encouragement as well as a challenge for people to be involved and to set a good example for their family and brethren, as well as conversations about areas of difficulty and challenge. There was camping (although some people stayed at nearby hotels) and those of us who were willing to sleep in tents formed a group that was pretty similar to last year (there were three people here this year who had not been there before, while the rest of us had been there at least one time. It was a good chance to get to know people from other congregations in the area, to wrestle with problems of communication and to talk about issues of common concern. Our table, which featured a mix of people from a variety of age groups (from teens to 70’s), did particularly well in the game that involved a backseat artist giving directions to someone who was drawing. That was pleasing to me, that we got about half of the answers first before any of the other teams.
As for the rest of the weekend, there were very few activities that were scheduled. Mr. Walker gave an excellent introductory address. The Keynote address from Mr. New was also very well done, and Sabbath services were excellent, and rustic. After that the next scheduled activity was the group activity. Many people looked at a certain group of passages like 1 Corinthians 12 and Luke 12, which was very intriguing, and the rest of the services went well, especially the food. Like last year, the focus was on practice rather than mere theory, and there was a lot of conversation about what would be necessary to encourage people that this is a worthwhile activity, especially given the way that so many people appear to be so unwilling to commit to involvement at services and service to others in the congregation and the local community (which was a pleasant area of emphasis). Although I will be tired tomorrow, and glad to sleep a bit more comfortably tonight, it was certainly a worthwhile weekend that provided a lot of food for thought, although perhaps next year there should be at least another scheduled event or two to better fill the time with useful application-oriented events.
 See, for example: