The best feast ever in Salem – Our 50 year anniversary!

Fifty years ago, some Salem friends gathered for a conference with brother Bratlie, who had travelled from Norway to meet new contacts on the westcoast of USA. This September, the anniversary was celebrated with a grand feast.

Text: Rosemary Love – Photo: BCC Salem / BCC Seattle

For the children and grandchildren of this small group of friends, who is now counting more than 400 persons, the anniversary started with a video about the first pioneers who in the 1840s left behind their former lives to travel to the West Coast of America. They faced tremendous hardships, and the journey was long and tough. It took great determination in the face of seemingly impossible odds. Many didn’t make it. Those who did reach their destination had to build homes soon after they arrived and plant crops before the winter set in. They were brave and worked hard because they were gripped of the reward. In this same pioneer spirit, the early friends who met Sigurd Bratlie in 1967 began their journey to build the church in Oregon.

Kåre J. Smith was present, and thanked those that had been along from the start. Photo: BCC

The pioneers that went before us

The stories of the American pioneers reminded us of the forerunners we have in the church. In 1934 Johan O. Smith wrote to Elias Aslaksen: “The churches round about the country are flourishing and bearing fruit. In Denmark, too, the seed is springing up and growing day and night. It has been sown in America. We can rejoice over all this. And what does the future hold? Our children and grandchildren will continue to sow the seed. The children in the church will continue to bear fruit and seed far into the future.”

One of the first contacts in Salem was Monrad Grannes, who labored faithfully and tirelessly for many years in hope that God would raise up a church in North America. He would often say “Time is short! Use it well.” Grannes also understood the importance of participating in the international conferences at Brunstad, and encouraged his friends in Salem to go to Norway and spend time where members from many countries were gathered to hear the preaching of the same gospel.

Many friends worked at length to put Salem’s story together through pictures. Pictures showed the first generation as well as the large influx in the 1980s, of those who were longing for a new life. On display was Monrad Grannes’ first wire recorder from 1950. He was early out in putting technology to use, and sent a counterpart to Norway so they would record meetings and conferences and send them back to him in the U.S.

The historical storyboard with its different displays was an interesting experience for many. Grannes old wire recorder can be seen in the background. Foto: BCC

LaFaye Engle was one of the first from Salem to meet Sigurd Bratlie and was grippet by the words she heard. The storyboard showed memories from the first years. Photo: BCC 

From the first ones to those who bring forth the next generation

Kåre J. Smith was together with us for the celebration, and sent special thanks to those who had been along from the beginning. He also said that the gospel of His Son was the greatest thing God could give to mankind. Now there is a large group of friends in Salem. It all began, however, with a few lowly people sitting together in a living room. The development that has happened inside these persons have happened through the gospel of His Son.

After a gripping song by some young mothers, Smith used the opportunity to encourage the ones who nurture the coming generation. To bring up children with care and love is one of the greatest things you can do. Those who do this with loving hearts are unspeakably valuable persons, both in the church, as well as in their communities and country.

Next generation: the children impressed us with playful and energetic performances on stage. Photo: BCC 

A variety of musical contributions

There were many festive musical performances this night, and one of them was a medley written by local, creative persons and beautifully performed by the youth in Salem. The House Band added a very festive and jazzy element to the evening, and then there was the song and dance by the children, who was incredible. Electronic music provided a great beat as the children twirled and spun on stage with great enthusiasm and excitement.

The Salem choir also song “Arise and Work,” written specifically for the 50th feast. The song spoke about coming into the work of drawing the hearts of the children with warmth and true care. The gospel preached in the church binds us together across the countries, reaching all the way from Brunstad to the Westcoast of the USA.

It is as we sing “It was grace from God the entire way”. We are thankful for the days behind us and have a great anticipation for the days ahead.

The House Band provided music through the whole evening, and did a fantastic job. Photo: BCC