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Revive Us Again

Revive Us Again

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A comeback at Relevant Church in Jacksonville, Oregon, has happened in part thanks to its pastor Brian E. Steller, whose father, Larry, earlier led the congregation for 17 years.

At the age of 7, just after Larry took over as pastor, Brian first sensed God calling him to ministry. However, he didn‘t realize the location would be in Jacksonville until several years after he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Pastoral Ministries in 1994 from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. Brian attended the church as an adolescent and youth before going to college.

Initially, Steller, 51, served elsewhere. He spent a couple of years as children’s pastor at Redmond Assembly of God in Washington. Then he went on to become associate pastor at Mount Hood Christian Center in Gresham, Oregon. In 1998, Steller became senior associate pastor at Westgate Assembly of God in Salem.

While on staff at Westgate two decades ago, Steller accepted a call back to the church of his formative years: Relevant, then known as Calvary Church. Executive Boyd S. Powers informed Steller that the Oregon Ministry Network (OMN) planned to close the church unless Steller consented. Calvary Church — which had 400 regular adherents at one point when Larry Steller pastored there — had dwindled to a handful of attendees.

By 2008, attendance had rebounded to 200 average attendees on Sunday morning, spurred in part by a large youth group gathering. However, because of a lack of discipleship and the absence of a children’s ministry, an exodus began in 2012. Steller ended up physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted.

On the suggestion of the church board, Steller took a 9-week sabbatical in 2012 and received counseling provided by the OMN. During his rest, Steller found renewed energy to focus on his health, an outline for congregational outreach, and plans for building renovations.

Deacon Brian Roberts says the church started making more of an impact with the implementation of a brightly painted kid’s ministry and construction of a coffee area.

“We wanted to present God’s timeless presence in a relevant way,” Roberts remembers. The name change to Relevant Church occurred in 2020.

Steller is an OMN presbyter, and also serves as a chaplain on the fire department in Jacksonville, a town of 2,900 residents. With refocused priorities, the church now has an average weekly attendance of 125.

Between his and his father’s leadership, the Stellers have pastored the church for 37 years, half of its existence. Jacksonville, a bedroom community of Medford, is a historic gold rush town, the site of deposits first discovered in Oregon in 1851.

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