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Embattled longtime Newberg city councilor hospitalized with rare auto-immune disease

PMG PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - More than 40 people gathered before the Public Safety Building on Monday evening for a candlelight prayer vigil for embattled councilor Denise Bacon.

(Editor's note: A second prayer vigil is slated for 8 p.m. Friday at the Newberg Public Safety Building)

A large group of people gathered before the Public Safety Building on a warm Monday evening in a prayer vigil for Denise Bacon, the longtime Newberg city councilor who entered the hospital in early September with a potentially life-threatening illness exacerbated by the onset of Covid-19.

The group of nearly 40 individuals — ranging from police personnel to fellow councilors, friends, professional associates and city officials — gathered to offer prayer and well wishes for the embattled Bacon, 55 and a stalwart of the City Council for more than 13 years since first being elected in November 2008.Bacon

At Mayor Rick Rogers' suggestion, the group linked arms and heard a prayer offered by an American Legion chaplain. "We ask that you heal Denise and bring her back to us as a whole person," he exhorted.

Those gathered held small candles during the vigil, held before the building where Bacon has gathered with fellow councilors for years. She drew the praise of close allies as well as those who had only served with her a short time.

"She has been incredibly kind and generous to me," said City Attorney James Walker. "She has made it very clear her love for her family, the love of this city and this community. I just admire her so much and so it's my prayer that a God of healing would bring healing to her and pray that she would recover, and God's peace would be with her, God's comfort will restore her."

As a microphone was passed to those assembled in a circle before the city building, prayers for the stricken councilor were numerous and heartfelt.

"Dear God, just as I know you can hear us today, I know that Denise can hear us today …," Rogers said, adding "I fully and faithfully believe, as all of us do here today, that you will bring her back to us."

At the insistence of one attendee, who said her voice was weak because she had just endured surgery and needed the help of the crowd, they sang a few verses of "Amazing Grace."PMG PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - The vigil included prayer, singing and testimonials in support of the longtime city councilor.

Word of Bacon's illness first became publicly known in early September via a Sept. 9 Facebook post.

"On my way to St. Vincent's (hospital)," Bacon wrote. "They think I have pneumonia, so they want to make sure I'm okay since my doctor is out of town. One week my lungs are healing and the next week I get a million tests. Auto-immune diseases rock."

A follow-up post on Sept. 14 appeared more dire: "I need lots of strength right now!"

Elise Yarnell Hollamon, a fellow councilor and one of the organizers of Monday's candlelight prayer vigil, explained on a social medial group's page the plight of her friend.

"Denise has a rare autoimmune disease that she has fought valiantly these last few years," she said. "She has come down with post-COVID pneumonia and her lungs are battling to recover."

Hollamon shared a link to a GoFundMe account to support Bacon (https://bit.ly/3DDLUyM). About $4,670 had been raised by Sept. 23. The ultimate goal is $50,000.

"Our dear friend, advocate, active community member and city councilor, Denise Bacon, is currently fighting for her life in the ICU right now," Hollamon said. "We need to rally around the Bacom-Moore family, like Denise has rallied around Newberg and rural Oregon families for years. She is the caretaker for her elderly parents, who moved in with her husband, Chris, and her a couple of years ago."

Funds, according to the GoFundMe website, will go toward providing in-home care for Bacon's parents so that her husband, Chris Moore, can attend to his wife; medical expenses the family will incur as she recovers; household upkeep and flying Moore's sister to Newberg so she can support the family.

Becky Wallis, one of the co-organizers of the event, said Bacon is in stable condition in the hospital and that her prognosis is unknown.

Wallis praised her friend's drive to bring healing to a community that has seen a lot of strife over the past decade.

"She is the one true bridge builder in this community," she said. "When everyone else leans out, she leans in.

"She has an innate drive for servitude. She's a Rotarian that lives by the Four-Way test in the most real way possible. Her life experiences and interactions with leaders and community members all over the country have shaped her vision for what our society needs to grow and thrive."

On Sept. 23, Wallis posted on Facebook that Bacon is in critical care at the ICU.

"There have been improvements, but we need more love prayer and words spoken over Denise to get her through the next hurdle," Wallis wrote.


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