Why are we here?

Sunnyside exists to inspire a community of people to a life transformed by Jesus.

How it all began

Curious about the history of the Adventist church? Read these interesting articles about how it all began and how we got to here.

what makes a seventh-day adventist?

Are you new to the Adventist church? Or an old-timer who wants to brush up on our beliefs? You can read about the 28 fundamental beliefs that make Seventh-day Adventism unique here: 

How it all comes together

Interested in getting more involved in the nuts and bolts of Sunnyside? Anyone is welcome to participate in our church business meetings held monthly. For more information about how the local church structure is handled, check out this link: 

Church structure

Want the bigger picture? Check out these articles and videos on our world church structure.

our staff

Welcome to Sunnyside! Take a few minutes to get to know our pastors. They love to meet with new friends and old, so feel free to reach out. You may even find yourself at a fun Portland restaurant having a wonderful conversation.

pastor mark witas

lead pastor

Mark Witas is the lead pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church. His passion is revealing the loving character of God and fostering a healthy church community. He loves sharing the message of God's character through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as taught in the gospels. Mark helps to lead the direction of the church, pointing to God as our strength to impact our world right now for His Kingdom.

pastor kara johnsson

associate pastor

Pastor Kara is passionate about building communities who experience God’s Kingdom now: sharing life together and being a blessing in the wider community.

Originally from Australia, I joined the Sunnyside team in March 2016. I am married to Dr. Terry Johnsson and love the adventure of a life journeyed with God. I also love jogging along the river. You’ll often find me in the kitchen baking delicious treats for my church family and friends.

pastor juan fresse

associate pastor

Pastor Juan joined the Sunnyside team in June 2017 as the family ministries pastor. 

I previously served in the Ontario and Arkansas-Louisiana Conferences for over ten years. My wife, Elizabeth, and I have been blessed with five children; Alyssa, Juan II, Michael, Azariah, and Joshua. I enjoy biking, hiking, running, working out, and a variety of sports. My favorite food is a Puerto Rican dish called arroz con gandules.

pastor dave allen

associate pastor

Pastor Dave is husband to Shirley, father to Sheldon and Chantelle, Darren and Michelle, and grandpa to Kayla, Ethan, Zara, and Jessie. Recently retired, Pastor Dave served as vice president for Administration in the Oregon Conference for over nine years after being the senior pastor at Sunnyside Adventist Church.  Before coming to the US, he served in a number of leadership positions in the Southern Africa Union (SAU), including president of Helderberg College, an Adventist institution in Somerset West, South Africa, president of the Cape Conference of Seventh-day Adventists for three years, and a number of other leadership roles within the conferences of the SAU. Pastor Dave recently accepted an invitation to pastor part time at Sunnyside.

rosie bixel

office administrator

Rosie has extensive experience in office administration and business operations. It is her goal to make the pastors’ jobs easier and to make the church operations as efficient as possible. You will find her in the office eager to brighten your day.

I am a native of the Northwest, and enjoy all that the state of Oregon has to offer- from the coast to the mountains to the dryness of the east. I have owned multiple businesses and now consider it a privilege to be supporting a wonderful church. I love spending time with my children and grandchildren, gardening, reading, sewing, baking and cooking, camping, and any water-related activities.

our sunnyside history

In 1893 Portland Central, the first Seventh-day Adventist church in Portland, opened its doors at NE 11th and Everett. This church became known as the “Mother Church” because as it grew many of today’s Portland SDA churches that separated from it. The church that was to become Sunnyside spun off in 1925 with 278 charter members. They met for one year in a rented Methodist church at 35th and E Yamhill and began construction of their own facility. In February 1927 the congregation moved into a church of their own at SE 43rd and Washington, built by an Adventist contractor named Biastock who was the brother of charter member Evelyn Reynolds. The new location was in the SE Portland neighborhood called “Sunnyside” thus the church’s name.

The organ prelude for the dedication service of that church was played by Mrs. E. E. Rippey, the benediction was offered by Elder J. A. Rippey. Those two service participants were the mother and grandfather respectively of current Sunnyside member Dr. William Rippey.  Also current Sunnyside members are Dr. Wm. Rippey’s children Wesley and Linda (Rippey) Henry. One pastor of note at the 1st Sunnyside church was Sunny Liu. Some of you may have a vinyl LP record of Pastor Liu’s fine tenor voice.

By the 50th anniversary in 1975, the growing congregation needed a new, larger facility with more room for children’s Sabbath School classes, church social functions and parking. The first relocation site chosen included the Glendoveer Golf course, but the neighbors objected. 2nd choice was the present site at 10501 SE Market St which proved to be an excellent option as it is adjacent to both Portland Adventist Medical Center and the Walla Walla University School of Nursing Portland campus.

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