What few people know is that this epic weekend had been in the making for years. In 2011 Mike Fassbind and I took a handful of disciples, friends and family up to this mountain for some hiking and fellowship (see photo of the 2012 group at right). It was such a rewarding experience that we decided to invite other disciples and friends from all over the Northwest. Our vision was to build unity among the singles in the Northwest region of churches and to create an opportunity to worship God out in his creation.
The weekend kicked off on Friday night as people rolled in and set up camp with tents and hammocks amidst the buzz of fellowship. We gathered around a large campfire as the evening set, singing hymns and praying together. As the night continued, so did the fellowsip, over-roasted s’mores, games, and strolls under the vast canopy of stars.
Various hikes were planned over the weekend, led for all levels of fitness with the signature hike being the trek up to the “Camp Muir” base camp. At an elevation of about 10,000 feet, you get a close-up view that few visitors to the park ever see: hanging glaciers, towering seracs, yawning crevasses, and thundering rockfall as the ridges of ash and breccia high above, melt and crumble in the heat of the sun.
After our hikes we came together for dinner. Meals were prepared by volunteers from the various ministries who were inspired to use their gifts to meet the needs of the group. The meals were a highlight of the weekend with gourmet dishes like blueberries pancakes from scratch, create-your-own omelets, and BBQ tri-tip sandwiches. We digested our delicious meals while we shared stories and experiences of how God had and was moving in our lives. We enjoyed more worship with the help of Ben Sweeny from the University Church of Eugene. Overall it was a night of growing deeper in our friendships and of inspiration as we saw the Holy Spirit in the lives of those around us.
The next morning, after a relaxing fire and breakfast together, we walked to an amphitheater located at the center of the campgrounds and had yet another opportunity to worship and praise God. Our voices filled the arena and drew the campground hosts and other campers in to worship with us. We were blessed to have Richard Medellin of the LA International Church of Christ, lead our hearts in communion and Mick Connors of the Seattle Church of Christ preach a powerful lesson on sanctification.
We concluded the weekend with a traditional group photo:
Check out some more photos here: Mt. Rainier Camping Trip Photo Album
God truly blessed our time together, and each year seems to get better and better. Our hope is to share our passion and provide an environment for fellowship and worship. God has used these weekends to change lives, make disciples, reach out to our friends and family and grow us in ways we never imagined. Many have stepped up and used their gifts and talents to serve the body of Christ. We are excited to see how God will use this event in future years, and we invite you, brothers and sisters from churches all over the world, to join us as we worship God together on Mount Rainier. Tickets for our 2017 event will be available beginning October 1, 2016.
Here is some feedback we received:
Thank you so much for all the hard work and planning that you put into this weekend. It was so incredibly encouraging to see the way that both you and Mike worked together to serve the singles from all over the NW. Your heart to share what you love (camping, nature and s'mores in an ice cream cone) is inspiring. Hope you were just as encouraged as I am and I'm sure everyone else was (Philemon 7) -- Carleen N.
I had such a remarkable time with brothers and sisters in the Northwest region of our worldwide church. I'm truly inspired by the deep talks shared, connections made, and open loving hearts of the brothers and sisters I met. I'm so grateful for God's Kingdom and for faithful friends/instant connections that inspire me to keep running the race. A spiritual investment is never an investment wasted. -- Amber Raquel
What an amazing hike at Mt. Rainier! Love me some waterfalls! Not enough words to express what a great weekend this was with so many dear friends! -- Kerry Day
What a great weekend of camping out at Mt. Rainier! I'm so grateful for all of the planning that went into this great annual trip with the PNW churches. I enjoy living in the Pacific North West so much! -- Victoria Watters
Thank you so much for all your hard work to organize the Mt. Rainier camping trip! I'm so grateful for all the time and effort you put into making this such a great event! I had a great time and look forward to going again next year! It's amazing to see how God has used your interest to really impact a bunch of people! Thanks Justin! -- Stacey Zimmerman (see her blog about the trip)