Steve's View from the Trail


When I was growing up our family vacation every year was a week or two of camping as a family. We would load the car up with tent-camping equipment and head off to one of Oregon's beautiful lakes.

One year we planned to go to Elk Lake (the one up on Century Drive out of Bend). As we headed over Mt. Hood, the car radio reported that it was to be cold and rainy in central Oregon for the coming week, so my Dad decided we would head further south along Hwy 97 until we found better weather. By the time we got down to about Chiloquin it was apparent that the best weather was going to be along the south Oregon coast. We headed back across the Cascades, making a brief and slight detour to drive the rim road and spend one night at Crater Lake. The next day we headed on over to Honeyman State Park on the south Oregon Coast, where we spent a very wonderful family week together.

It sure wasn't a direct route. Anyone tracing our movements on a map would suppose we didn't know where we were going. They would have been right. But we did know what we were trying to accomplish, and it wasn't a geographical location, it was a family experience.

I wrote in our last newsletter about my assignment to the "56" district. This month I'm writing to you about my assignment, instead, to full time ministry in congregational development and redevelopment. So, I'm not moving to Boise after all, and I'm not superintending the "56" district after all. Anyone looking at the process that has brought us to this current plan might assume we don't know where we're going. They might be right. But we do know what we're trying to accomplish, and it isn't a particular structure or a stable system. What we are trying to accomplish is a faithful mission.

There is a view of organizational and individual health that defines it primarily in terms of predictability and stability, but I'm not sure that is a good measure of the mission we're in. Try tracing Jesus' ministry on a map of Palestine. I think that the mission is something we need to lean into, and when you're leaning, you are inevitably a bit off balance.

So, here we go. We know what we're doing - we're seeking to be faithful in the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. There are going to be twists and turns in this journey as the weather changes. We can live with that. In fact, I doubt we can live without it.

On the road,

Steve Ross
Rev. Steve Ross is the Director of the Oregon-Idaho Conference Vital Church Project. Previously he served as Assistant to the Bishop for the Oregon Trail District.