OCW: 50 Years

Celebrating 50 Years with Oregon Christian Writers

by Mary Hake, Former OCW President

In 1963 a small group of Christian writers banded together to support and encourage each other in their writing. This was the start of what has become a large organization with international outreach, our own Oregon Christian Writers. Helen Kelts founded OCW and served as its first president (1963–64) as well as a later term (1969–71). Some names current members will recognize have been part of the group since its early days, including Marion Duckworth, Stan Baldwin, Sally Stuart, Birdie Etchison, and Gail Denham. All of them have filled the office of president, with Stan holding it three different times (1965–66, 1976–78, and 1988–90).

Thanks to OCW, I was approached by an editor who asked me to write for their important Christian journal. I have already had my first article published with them, for which I am so grateful to God.  – Sonia G. Roy, London, England

OCW’s founding documents established three annual one-day conferences, to be held in various locations around the state: fall in Portland, winter in Salem, and spring in Eugene. Marion Duckworth recalls when the entire group met in one classroom. For years, OCW’s meetings were often held in churches. As the membership grew, OCW partnered with Christian colleges to host its conferences in exchange for their students attending free. Now most venues charge for holding an event there. In this decade we have had up to 200 attendees at a single conference and have outgrown some facilities.

Our annual summer conference was the dream of former OCW presidents Kristen Ingram and Debbie Hedstrom Page. The first one was held in August 1989 at Canby. The conference then moved to Aldersgate Conference Center at Turner and later to Western Baptist College (now Corban Unjiversity) then Canby Conference Center before returning to Aldersgate the past two years. Every summer conference has drawn editors from major Christian publishers and now includes agents too. Best-selling authors have been among our summer conference speakers, including Francine Rivers, Melody Carlson, Angela Hunt, Lisa Samson, and Bill Myers. OCW strives to bring members top-quality teachers and publishing VIPs to assist writers in their craft and ministry.

Before I became a member of OCW, I as an unpublished writer. I now have 421 published works, which includes 27 book compilations/anthologies. Thank you so much. Attending your conferences really does make a difference. – Member Charles Herrel, Portland

Because 2013 is our golden anniversary, each of our conferences will include something special in celebration. A team is working on collecting memories, photos, and items from OCW’s 50 years. We want to make a “traveling collage” to have at each conference in 2013 and produce a memory booklet.

We invite you to share memories from OCW’s past and how OCW has blessed your writing through the years. What books or major articles have you published because of OCW? Please pass along this call-out to those who used to be part of OCW and encourage them to attend our celebrations and to share their memories. Oregon Christian Writers will also be launching a multi-genre writing contest, with awards to be given at our summer conference in August.

Send memories and photos to Julie Zander at memoirs@chaptersoflife.com or bring them on February 16 from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. to the Jantzen Beach Red Lion Hotel lounge in Portland (site of our 2013 summer conference). You may also bring items to our winter conference, March 16 in Salem. Julie will have her scanner at both locations, and we will have a display table at each conference. Let’s make our 50th the niftiest!

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