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And on the Seventh day... it was actually Saturday

David Crockett grew up in a Christian family in Northern California. He was not born on a mountain top in Tennessee, and as far as we can tell has never been to the Alamo. What he has done is made a life of working in his family faith, the Seventh-day Adventist Church. by: POST PHOTO: NEIL ZAWICKI - David Crockett was a carpenter for 15 years before going to college and becoming an Adventist pastor in 1985.

Formed in 1864, its founding members had been Millerites, a product of the revival movement in early 1800s America. In fact, the Seventh-day Adventists, as Protestants go, are a relatively unified group. This is to say that members from a collection of other churches, from Baptists to Quakers to even Catholics, merged to form the church. As the name suggests, there are some small differences between Adventists and other orders.

“We have more in common with Protestantism than we have differences,” Crockett said. “The main difference is that we keep the Biblical Sabbath and a physical, audible coming of Jesus.”

What he means is that church for an Adventist is on Saturday, which the Bible identifies as the Sabbath day. Also, the physical, audible coming of Jesus is a departure from what Crockett calls the “secret” return of Jesus, which is told in the form of The Rapture, a story found nowhere in the Bible, describing the spiriting away of thousands of believers in the last days. The Rapture is an invented scenario, meant more as a concept than a reality, and Crockett and his church take the literal predictions of scripture as their word.

“We believe in grace through faith,” he said. “We are a very Bible-based church. We accept the Old and the New Testament.”

One way Crockett and his church are the same as others is in the contemporary condition of church attendance. He acknowledges that fewer people are coming to church, and that Oregon is second only to Connecticut for low attendance. With that knowledge, Crockett gives his take on the relevance of the church in modern times.

“One of the primary things is that when we come together to worship, that we try and minister to the whole person,” he said. “Whether they are a year or 95 years old, we keep going back to the scriptures and say, ‘Here’s what God has in store for us.’”

Crockett’s main message is that there is more to life than the world has to offer.

“There’s more to life than capitalism and materialism and all of the isms,” he said. “What we say is that the wisdom of man doesn’t satisfy. But the lack of attendance tells us that we have a big responsibility and an opportunity to share our faith in such a way that it’s appealing, and that people would want to enjoy some of the joys and the peace, and to somehow get rid of the stereotypes that religion is attached to.”

Crockett said a lot of the negative stereotypes are the product of the churches themselves. Further, he emphasizes the efforts of his church to reach the community.

“We want to minister the way Jesus did,” he said. “We have health classes that are offered to the community, we do a meal each week that is open to the public on Tuesdays called Food for Folks. Also, we just started a community garden. We just try and have things that are a benefit to people. We’re interested in things that are more than just help for their spiritual life.”

While Crockett himself was raised an Adventist, he spent a part of his youth a little less than devout.

“I was born into a Christian home,” he said. “I had a mom and dad who had a strong faith and made sure at home we always had prayer on a daily basis. But I did what a lot of young people do when I got to be a teenager. I can’t say that I rebelled, but my faith got lukewarm.”

After a little more than a decade as a carpenter, Crockett went to college, earning a theology degree from Union College, an Adventist school in Lincoln, Neb.

“The Seventh-day Adventist Church actually has the second largest parochial school system, second only to the Catholics,” he said.

When he graduated in 1985, his first gig was in Wichita, Kan., where he was associate pastor.

“It was a neat experience,” he said. “It was a fairly large church and there were three of us. I learned that school didn’t really equip me to go out and minister.”

Crockett said what he has learned is that being a pastor requires many skills.

“You have to become a counselor, you have to become a grandpa, you have to become a disciplinarian,” he said.

Speaking on faith, Crockett agrees with Immanuel Lutheran Church Pastor Kevin Fenster that God is not a measurable thing.

“I think Kevin is right, God cannot be quantified,” he said, “but we do believe that he has given us enough through his word to be able to know him as much as our finite minds will allow us.”

Crockett takes it a step further, saying that people look for the rules in order to better understand their path.

“Most kids, growing up, they would rather know where the lines are,” he said. “They may not like where the lines are, and they may rebel, but they want to know where it is. Through those guidelines, we can have peace and we can have joy and we can have hope.”