A church with a view

Mt. Hood is framed by framing as it is lifted into place on the new The Dalles Seventh-day Adventist Church being built on Veteran’s Drive.

Pastor David Woodruff is taking some guff from his congregation about having to compete with a breathtaking view from the sanctuary of the new Seventh-day Adventist Church being built.

Located near the Oregon Veterans’ Home, the church will have a window wall in the sanctuary that takes in the sweep of the Columbia River and The Dalles, with Mt. Hood as a backdrop.

“People have teased me quite a bit about that,” Woodruff said. “’How are you going to keep people’s attention?’ Well, I’m going to have to up the level of my preaching skill, I guess.”

Dave Cox, a member of the congregation and a retired electrician and the volunteer project manager for the new church, said of the west-facing window wall, “there was discussion on the building committee: Did you come to worship and listen to your preacher or did you come to worship and look at Mt. Hood? And we decided both, we wanted to do both.”

The walls, windows and roof sheeting of the 9,100-square-foot church were recently built with the help of the Maranatha Volunteers International North American team, a group of skilled volunteers who build churches and schools.

They and local volunteers spent most of June on the work. Woodruff said “we’re very grateful to this organization, Maranatha Volunteers International,” for constructing the building with local help.

Cox said the Maranatha volunteers are mostly retired, with an average age of early 70s, and one volunteer was in his 80s.

“These guys are really talented and have worked in the industry or worked for Maranatha for quite some time, so they’re pretty good at it,” he said.

The foundation and underground work on the nearly seven-acre site was done almost two years ago. There were significant cost overruns for that portion, and the church had to do more fundraising to get to the next step, Woodruff said.

So far, the small congregation has raised close to $700,000. The next phase is to complete the interior of the church and finish the parking lot, Cox said.

Hopes are to complete it within the next year or two, Woodruff said.

The church was at 10th and Pentland until a sewage backup flooded the basement in 2012. It immediately moved to its small school and gym at 3339 E. 13th St. The church will still use the school site for big events because the fellowship hall at the new church is smaller, Woodruff said.

He said 40 percent of the congregation are ethnic Samoans, “and they have big events. When they have a funeral or wedding, it’s a big event, like 200 or 300 people.”

The school is not currently used and local students attend the Adventist School in Hood River, he said. “We would like to eventually open our school there again,” he said.

The church has been raising $6,000 to $8,000 a month for the project, but Cox said that now there’s a visible building onsite, he hopes fundraising will get a boost.

The roof itself is scheduled to go on in August, Cox said.

The congregation has had bake sales, bottle drives, car washes and benefit sales to raise money, Cox said. “We’re at about the halfway point as far as fundraising for our building project,” he said.

In July, a new benefit sale will open at the church’s community service center, at its location at 3339 E. 13th St.

Last year, the congregation came up to the site to watch the fireworks. They plan to do the same thing again this year, and are inviting neighbors to join them.

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