Al Walker from the Modoc Klamath Tribe (center right), performs a ceremonial dance for rain Thursday night along with pastor John David Gomez at the Jerusalem Center Church in Medford. [PHOTO BY LARRY STAUTH JR.]

Rain dance participants celebrate downpours

The three dozen people who showed up for a rain dance at the Jerusalem Center Church on Thursday evening were ready to dance — to show thanks for long-awaited rain showers that doused the Rogue Valley earlier in the day and to make a desperate plea for continuing rain to offer some reprieve from devastating wildfires.

Services at the Mace Road church in Medford were led by pastors John David and Gaylene Gomez who called for the rain dance earlier in the week and commissioned help from the Klamath Tribal Council.

Klamath Tribe chairman Donnie Gentry, Klamath Tribe members Cobby Shadley and Aaron Gentry and Modoc Klamath member Al Walker led several dances, followed by some two dozen of those in attendance dancing and singing in the aisles of the tiny church.

Gaylene Gomez said the services a way for church members to worship through dance and focus on the desperate need for rain in the region.

“We Just got back from Portland, and our beautiful Multnomah was on fire. People’s houses were burning all around there, and people were checking into the hotel we were staying at because their houses had burned,” she said.

“We called for this rain dance as a way to worship with our dance and a way of saying we love him so much we would say, ‘I love you and would dance for you and sing for you ... We have been praying and people are praying all over the state for rain right now.”

John David Gomez said reports of fire resources maxed out led him to call for support from area tribes.

“I heard one of our firefighting commanders on the front lines of these fires had said, ‘There’s no more manpower we can put on the fires and there’s no more equipment we could solicit,' ” he said, noting that manpower was not the lone hope for extinguishing the fires.

“The rain is coming. I heard it rained in Klamath County today, and I hope it rains in Josephine County and in Douglas County and in Jackson County, too. We can’t do this without God’s mercy. We need his help!”

Most places in the Medford area had recorded from a tenth to two-tenths of an inch as of Thursday evening, with the official reading from the Medford airport at 0.12 of an inch. Grants Pass recorded 0.11 of an inch, and Illinois Valley recorded 0.83 of an inch. In western Siskiyou County, where most of the complexes are, rainfall ranged between a quarter to half an inch.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at

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