A Supportive Community

A number of elements helped contribute to the effectiveness of the band. Foundational was a supportive community at its very heart. Known initially as the Highway Missionary Society, and later as the Servant Community, this intentional Christian community shared in common the missionary vision that characterized Servant’s ministry. The tireless efforts of those left at home, or on the slopes maintaining the tree planting business, or those on the road crew who traveled across the country an exhausting two hundred plus days each year, all contributed in immeasurable ways through financial support, spiritual focus, and emotional encouragement, to the vision that kept us on the road. Our life in community together was our anchor and our joy, the heartbeat that offered a glimpse, however human at times, into God’s eventual kingdom.

The beginning: Larry, Lorna, Jim and Sue, Sandie and Owen, Victoria 1975

Paul and Lydia, Brian, Larry and Lorna, Vancouver 1977
San Francisco, Golden Gate Park 1978

Life for the band and community was nomadic those first few years, and after a brief sojourn in San Francisco in 1978, the group finally settled in Grants Pass, Oregon in April of 1979, where we bought property and began to crystallize our vision of a missional community base. Home was twenty-five acres of beautiful land located in a valley along the Applegate River. The pastoral setting included an old farmhouse, a barn, small A-frame cabins we built by the river, and a building to house our office and childrens’ school. A three-acre garden, a small orchard, and various animals rounded out the rural experience.

Home Team
The home team ran the day-to-day life that made community possible. Many good souls used their gifts to build structures, plant gardens, repair vehicles, plan and cook community meals, lead worship, teach children, and create a life together. Coming home we would find rest and center ourselves again for the next tour. It was this shared life that fueled us, the common vision, the solidarity, the hope for a kingdom come.

Some community members at home spearheaded our relief work, taking in Vietnamese and Laotian refugees that were flooding the U.S. Others took trips to Honduras to build housing for refugee resettlement. Some worked in local nursing homes caring for the elderly, or other places were service was needed.

Our community enjoyed a host of creative gifts: musicians, vocalists, artists, poets, writers, sculptors. We were graced with gifted friends and teachers for our children which created an idyllic life for them. Memories of the land include many hours of “king elephant”, often by a campfire, tubing down the Rogue River and endless worship gatherings that focused us away from difficulties and onto the One we loved.

HMS Logo art by Bruce Wright
Brocks, Oregon 1979 / Farmhouse 1981
community wedding, 1980
community meeting, 1980
community meeting, 1981
Julie and Susie
Herb and farmhouse
Alan building
refugee family
Paul with refugee boy
community children
Lydia and Dylan
Maura and Laura
Amy and Jeff
Keith and Rich
Terry and Paul, booking the band
folk dancing
community children

Booking and Management and Support.
Always pushing the band and our music out into the public sphere was Servant’s energetic, management-booking team, Jim Palosaari and Paul Jenkinson whose endless energies were committed to connecting the band to an ever-widening audience. Jim’s theatrical background provided the larger vision for the band and his personality provided the momentum. Paul’s tireless efforts kept the band on the road some 200+ dates each year for over a decade.

Others contributed in significant ways through concert promotions and administrative support. Eric Odell (who would later join the band) kept Servant's songs charting in the CCM Top 40. The creative department was run by Jenny Haas. Still others managed the community’s finances, juggling the many daunting demands that were part of our life together.

Treeplanters and Tubers
The community developed work we could do together, and the key focus involved reforestation. Both young men and women, the treeplanters, gave so much on those slopes, living a rough outdoor camping experience in the mountains of the western states. Forging deep bonds through hard work and a shared life together for months at a time, they were changed in the midst of God’s beauty and the challenges they faced there. We often said they were the true disciples, surrendering themselves for the greater cause. Many times a planter was taken out by a horrendous case of poison oak, or some other injury. The finances theses young men and women sacrificially donated to the community was truly our bread and butter for many years. We are indebted to their efforts.

treeplanters with band
treeplanters with band
treeplanters on site
treeplanters at camp
treeplanters ready to work
Steve and Doug
Keith, Jeff, Les
Rob and Boon

The Road Crew
While on the road the band traveled with a great crew who grew extremely close over the years. Without the friendship, sacrifice and service of these and many others there would be no story.

John Jenkinson was an integral part of keeping the show on the road, covering road management responsibilities and front of house sound engineering. When not on the road, John contributed to studio recording as well. John's wife Susie (Sawatsky) traveled as part of our family on tour helping in so many practical ways, most importantly nurturing our children when we were not available due to sound checks or promotion.

Lori Martens, Rob's wife and Gary Summerbell were the mainstay of the lighting crew for most of our years. Both were exceptionally hard workers; Lori was a real trooper and added life and laughter to our years on the road, and Gary was one of the most creative spot operators ever. When we could drag him away from his treepalnting buddies, Keith Warner also was a significant help as a lighting tech for a number of tours. In the final season of Servant we met Matt Lemmon who joined us on the road in the lighting department. When the band came to an end Matt purchased our lighting system and started his own lighting company. He lives in Nashville and still runs True Light Productions if you need lights contact him at He is awesome.

On other tours we would augment the show with additional multimedia such as Sam Smith and Heavy Light Productions. Sam filled a huge screen behind the band with an incredible background of larger than life slides/photos. On another tour, Floyd Rollenstadt designed a laser light show. A great tech, Casey Townsend, toured with us and added the amazing laser images that danced behind the songs. During the song Thank God, the laser offered a dramatic effect of the heavens opening over the crowd. The laser lights beaming and moving were breathtaking.

A number of different folks helped with merchandise, wardrobe, and talked with folks after the show about the community. Laura G., Herb and Lynn Fredricksen and Doug Taylor come to mind. Randy McDonald—bus driver and mechanic, spent many sleepless nights, repairing the bus and truck often at the worst hours under the most undesirable circumstances—like outside in the freezing cold. Conway Hendricks drove our truck for a spell and was a welcome addition. A hardworking, solid guy who also ran the stage monitor mix on the side. Every time a semi on the highway passes with the company name Conway on it we think of him.

Susie and Owen
Lori and Rob Martens
John and Gary
Greg Strom
Conway and Tim
Laura and Arlene

Photos: S.Cowper, C.Briscoe, community members and unknown

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