07 Jan


By Jon Roberts – Denver, Colorado … In the first Rocky Mountain Conference office staff meeting of 2021 Eric Nelson, vice-president for administration, closed the meeting with a statement that many in the office are still absorbing: “As of April 1, I will be officially retiring from service at RMC.”

Nelson has been serving RMC in ministry for the last 35 years, including many years at Campion and Campion Academy. Prior to his service in RMC, he was youth pastor in Oregon.

Life-long friend and colleague, and former RMC pastor Steve Schwartz reflected on Nelson’s ministry and work ethic, “I am so grateful for what Eric Nelson does. Since, as students, we worked together on a Campion Academy maintenance crew, until his recent years as RMC vice-president for administration, his work ethic is clear. With God-inspired wisdom he has multiplied his talents through the years to become, I believe, RMC’s single greatest human resource.”

Others who have work with Nelson for many years echoed Schwartz thoughts.

“Eric Nelson is a man who has worked faithfully at striving to show Jesus to all who come under his influence.  He is patient, caring, compassionate, and strives to see the best in everyone and in all situations.  As you might guess when an individual is in an administrative capacity there are sometimes decisions that must be made that are not easy.  I can guarantee, from watching him behind the scenes, that his decisions are made only after much time in thought and prayer and with the very best intentions,” Lonnie Hetterle, former RMC director of education said.

Church members from Nelson ministry time in the Western Slope recalled the many who were touched.

“Pastor Eric Nelson served for a period of time on the Western Slope as the Assistant to the President.  During that time, he and his wife Jerene served as the connection between the Western Slope and the Conference Office.  God used Eric & Jerene’s ministry to touch the lives of the Rocky Mountain Conference members in this area,” Arlene Rushold, Grand Junction church member remarked.

Nelson in his statement to office staff explained his decision.

“We intend to move north out of Denver, but remain close to our family who live in Longmont, Judah, (my nine-year-old grandson) said, “I wish Gramma and Grampa lived next door and we could just walk to their house.” We may not live next door, but close.”

RMC President Ed Barnett commented on the announcement, Pastor Nelson has been a pillar in our conference for 35 years and will be greatly missed.  Eric has been a good friend of mine since 1999. The last seven years we have worked side by side and I have loved working with him.  He is a godly leader who has been a tremendous blessing to me and our conference.  Eric and Jerene! We are glad that you will be retiring in Colorado so we will see you from time to time.  May God richly bless your retirement.”

Nelson’s integrity is one of the aspects many will remember.

“His integrity has been built in relationship after relationship. And his faith and competency are augmented by friendliness, a sense of humor and love of fun,” Schwartz commented.

Gary Thurber,  former RMC President, now president of Mid-America Union Conference, commented, “Eric is one of the finest Christian men I have ever worked with. He Loved the Lord, his family, and his church. Probably no one knows more about RMC than him. He was a joy to work with!”

Hetterle added, “Even behind closed doors, Eric embodies the challenge found in Phillipians 4:8 as his thoughts and words always are “true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of a good report”.  Jesus Christ is our only true example but I consider Eric Nelson a very worthy example of a true Christ follower.”

Nelson concluded the statement address his colleagues with, “Thank you for blessing me with the opportunity of working with two of the greatest fellow officers that I have served with.  God has blessed us with Ed Barnett and George Crumley.  To all of the staff, Jerene and I count you as lifelong friends and will not be far away.  May God bless you all and this great conference in the future.”

The RMC Executive committee will be meeting over the next few months to choose an interim VP for Administration to fulfill the remaining term of Nelson.

Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant

16 Dec


By Jon Roberts– Littleton, Colorado … On a cold Sabbath morning with snow in the air, the Littleton Church gathered safely together to welcome Christmas by sharing their gifts of talents.

Chris Morris, associate pastor of youth and worship, worked tirelessly preparing a special program, accurately titled Littleton Family Christmas that all could enjoy.

“Christmas is more than giving and receiving gifts from one another. It’s about truly receiving Jesus as our gift, and then bringing Him our gifts and talents. That’s what was on display at Littleton Sabbath, and it was inspiring,” Morris said.

One by one, they came to the front, some with violins and trumpets; others serenading the congregation with their voices.  The action stopped for a moment as the congregation rejoiced in a special Christmas-season baptism as Heaven joined the crowd in celebration.

Morris told the story of “The Gift of the Magi” in three short parts to remind all of the meaning of the season.

Those who gathered enjoyed the many aspects of the program.

“We enjoyed hearing the variety of Christmas music and messages from people we don’t often see up front,” Daniel Warner, church member said.

Candy canes were available for everyone and the reason behind the candy canes was made clear by Alise Weber, pastor of children and families, during the children’s story.

“Every parent wants their children to focus on the true reason why we celebrate Christmas.  The birth of Christ!  Sharing the story of the candy maker, who made candy canes to point children towards remembering Christ first, reinforces that,” Weber said.  “The white shows the sinless nature of Christ, the peppermint symbolizes the spices the wisemen brought, the shape of the candy cane emphasizes that Jesus is our good shepherd, and the red shows the blood he spilled for us all.”

The morning was full of moments to recall during the year ahead, but no one will forget that a 10-month-old named Sully won the hearts of all with a presentation of the Little Drummer Boy.

The crowd left not only with their hearts filled with joy and celebration but with a special invitation to return next week for “O Little Town of Littleton,” also known as the Bethlehem Experience, a 30-minute outside celebration filled with laughter, gifts, animals, and a glimpse into a 2024-year-old cave that seems to hold some importance.

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photos by Alise Weber

10 Dec


By Jon Roberts – Denver, Colorado … As COVID cases continue to rise throughout the Rocky Mountain Conference and the world, public health is still at the center of all COVID policies.

In an email to pastors, Eric Nelson, VP of administration stated, “In a web conference with faith leaders on December 7, Governor Polis’ office shared that churches in Colorado are being moved to the status of “Critical” or essential services. This classification changes slightly the limitations on our church attendance from what they have been in the recent past. The lightened restrictions will only apply to worship services–not potlucks, prayer meetings or other gatherings.”

For all levels of “Critical” services, the limits on attendance are 50% of capacity. The Conference is adding that the limitation of attendees should not exceed 100 since the virus is peaking rather than diminishing. “Caution is still required since we want to keep our members and community safe while not overburdening our hospitals and health care workers,” Nelson said.

New restrictions were placed into effect in Wyoming also. “It is my understanding that Wyoming’s governor recently published a statewide mask mandate. This is due to the increase of cases in the State of Wyoming. Wyoming pastors will need to confirm that this is applicable to their county and affects churches directly,” Nelson added.

With cases increasing, RMC administration is urging all members to exercise caution throughout this holiday season and wanted to remind all members of the safety protocols in effect for all churches in RMC.

“Still in effect is the mask mandate, social distancing of six feet, and hand sanitation. We also recommend [that] online services be available to our higher-risk members,” Nelson stated.

In concluding, Nelson wanted to stress the following point, “Please do not take undue liberty with this lessening of restrictions. We still need to be careful and cautious.”

–Jon Roberts is RMC media/communication assistant; photo by iStock

03 Dec


By Jon Roberts – Denver, Colorado … Scheduled for February 8-9, 2021, the annual ministerial retreat weekend at Glacier View Ranch, will transition to a virtual event due to the current pandemic situation in the Rocky Mountain Conference. A recommendation to hold it via Zoom was made and accepted at the ADCOM meeting in late November, according to Mickey Mallory, RMC ministerial director.

“With the current uptick in the virus and the failure to see any significant changes in the current COVID protocols two months from now, I felt it was best to move to a Zoom format,” Mallory explained.

Disappointed by the lost chance to fellowship and network together, Mallory has confidence the online meetings will give that opportunity yet.

“By now, our pastors have learned to make the best of the online platform. While it does not provide the opportunities that we would have face to face, it still gives us a chance to see each other and hear how everyone is coping,” Mallory said.

Shayne Vincent, Casper, Wyoming district pastor expressed disappointment in hearing the news, “These meetings are a source of encouragement and comradery as it is often the only opportunity to get to know one another. It will be missed.”

The mission for the yearly retreat, taken from 2 Peter 3, hasn’t changed: “To inspire and equip pastors with tools that they can use to help their churches and communities grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 3:18

The theme for the 2021 retreat, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ,” will feature Michael Harpe, NAD stewardship director giving a seminar titled “Stewarsdhip, Revolutionary Generosity & Life Management”, and Dr. Ranko Stefanovic, Andrews University seminary professor will be sharing some practical tips on how to interpret and teach the book of Revelation with Jesus Christ as the central focus.

Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant

02 Dec


By Jon Roberts – Denver, Colorado … “I have often said that the title PLAY NICE in Your Sandbox at Church has to be among the dumbest titles you have ever heard. Do we really need a book that tells Christians they ought to get along with each other?” Ron Price wrote in the introduction of his latest book.

Price, an RMC executive committee member from Farmington, New Mexico, and conflict resolution author, recently released his third book in the series Play Nice in Your Sandbox.

His latest book deals with conflict resolution at church and between one another as believers.  This topic shows some believers running and hiding, pretending conflict doesn’t exist, while others use membership transfers to solve conflict instead of dealing with the root issue.

Ed Barnett, RMC President, in a forward to Price’s book, wrote, “As I read this book by Ron Price, I thought to myself, “It would be nice to buy a copy for every member. Ron has a great sense of humor and just the right mix of quotes, both from the Bible and other writers, to make the book interesting and enjoyable. He really gets to the bottom of the issues in getting along at church.”

As Price explains, this book is not typical as it is designed to be read in sections instead of all at once, very similar to other self-help books.

With sections titled: Pray, Pray, Pray; Love Yourself as You Love Your Neighbor; Choose to Remain Civil and Christlike; and Embrace Conflict as Opportunity, there is advice for resolution and healing of the majority of conflicts that exist in churches and between members, though it may not solve the debate between green and blue carpet. Each chapter concludes with a challenge, as well as advice on going deeper with the subject matter covered.

The need for this book was very clear for Price.

“As a mediator for over 30 years, I’ve seen my share of disputes and disagreements. In my humble opinion many of these situations were unresolvable, while many others I felt could be resolved or even prevented from ever having occurred. Disputes in workplaces and at home are understandable, but disputes in churches between children of the same God,” Price said.

It was not only addressing the issues at church, but also an offer to training church members in conflict resolution. “While most people say they dread conflict, most have never been trained or equipped to prevent or resolve differences they will have with others. That belief drove me to do my part to help people be more confident in their ability to address conflict in a mutually-satisfying manner. I like to say that while conflict is inevitable, damaged relationships are optional,” Price added.

PLAY NICE in Your Sandbox at Church can be found at many of your online retailers including Amazon.

–Jon Roberts is RMC media/communication assistant; Photo by Jon Roberts

16 Nov


By Jon Roberts – Lincoln, Nebraska … Spring break–the week many college students look forward to, a chance to unwind and relax before facing the final weeks of the academic year, is the latest victim to the never-ending COVID situation.

Instead of a week-long break in March, Union College will have seven vacation days scheduled throughout the semester, many on Friday or Monday, giving students a three-day weekend.

“This will give our students and faculty time off from classes, but encourage everyone to stay close to campus in order to limit the spread of coronavirus and ensure the health and safety of our campus community,” explained Dr. Vinita Sauder, president of Union College.

The decision, according to a statement posted on the Union website, is simple.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country, Union College plans to continue implementing the pandemic policies in the spring that have helped keep coronavirus infections to a minimum on campus this semester.”1

Students are expected to begin the second semester on Monday, January 11. 2021.

–Jon Roberts is RMC media/communication assistant; photo by Rajmund Dabrowski


11 Nov


By Jon Roberts – Denver, Colorado … As the pandemic worsens in the Rocky Mountain region, the precautions in place to keep our teachers and students safe are working as schools remain open for in-person education.

The education department is monitoring the ever-changing coronavirus situation closely.

“As this pandemic changes and progresses, we certainly cannot predict the future, but are doing our best to keep students, staff, and families safe while striving to provide the very best learning possible,” Lonnie Hetterle, VP of Education, said.

Classes have continued with minor changes.

“All our schools have continued to operate in person with a few minor exceptions and only for smaller groups. Brighton Adventist Academy has a group of students attending classes virtually, but they will be coming back to the classroom in just a couple of days. Mile High Academy has also had students attending virtually, but none of the schools have had to move to total online learning for all their students,” Hetterle stated.

As our schools race toward the end of the semester, Hetterle is hoping that they remain open for in-person education.

“This is certainly a changing time, but we are promised that the Lord changes not, so are we also trying to change not,” Hetterle concluded.

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photo courtesy of Mile High Academy Facebook page

10 Nov


By Jon Roberts – Denver, Colorado … In a Zoom conference on Tuesday, November 10, the administrative committee of the Rocky Mountain Conference convened to discuss the alarming spread of COVID-19 infections and the impact the current surge is having on members and churches.

Committee members are closely monitoring developments across the region as county health leaders are taking precautionary steps to slow the rapid spread of the disease.

In an email to pastors, Eric Nelson, VP of Administration said, “Unfortunately the numbers in Rocky Mountain Conference are increasing alarmingly. We have had a number of staff and pastors who have tested positive or their spouse has been diagnosed with COVID.”

“As a result, we want to take every precaution to ensure the safety of our staff, pastors and churches,” Nelson added.

In Colorado and New Mexico, there are mask mandates and RMC is asking all members to wear face coverings while at church. If you are uneasy with wearing a mask or have a health condition which makes you unable to wear a face covering, please consider joining meetings virtually to protect not only your own health, but also the well-being of your church family.

Currently in Colorado, the majority of our churches are in counties where the Colorado Department of Public Health has declared “Level Orange” restrictions because of the rapid spread of the disease, which limits crowd size to 25% capacity or fifty individuals, whichever is fewer.

RMC is urging all members to remain vigilant as we are facing challenging times in our fight against coronavirus. If you are in a high-risk category or have a compromised immune system, please join worship services online.

“I ask all members to make prayer for all of our pastors, staff, and members who are battling this disease a priority and that God will comfort families who have lost a loved one to this virus,” Ed Barnett, RMC President said. “I look forward to the time when we won’t have to worry about COVID or any other contagious disease.”

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant.

05 Nov


By Jon Roberts — “You’re the devil,” were the last words uttered by someone I had looked up to, had helped, and who was supposed to be a leader. This was the conclusion of a boiling situation within the church I attended. The leadership was looking to shift away from identifying with Adventism and moving toward an inter-denominational identity.

Leaving the congregation behind where I had been a member for ten years, I spent the next four years blaming this individual and becoming very bitter. The bitterness overflowed into my conversations. It was killing me from the inside and I was, by definition, “going through the motions” of being a Christian.

I was unaware of how much Jesus was blocked from this portion of my heart until one Sabbath I became overwhelmed with anger when this individual walked through the doors of the church I was then attending.

How dare they invade my safe space. I was engulfed with unholy anger and I knew I had to act. I had to become like Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was my duty to defend this safe space from a person who, in my mind, was the scum of the earth and had caused major hurt.

After worship, I left feeling very bitter and angry–not at myself or the individual, but at God. Why would He allow this person to come to my safe zone? I knew I was in the right in this matter.

In the coming weeks I, like Peter, slowly reflected on the events which had played out and the portion of my heart I had refused to allow Jesus to enter began to open up to allow God’s love to flow in. Through prayer and much thought, I came to the realization that I could never expect to have a heart like Jesus if I couldn’t bring myself to forgive this individual. And I knew I had caused some of issues between us.

The following Sabbath, I took the hardest forty steps of my life, each step becoming easier and easier as a deep sense of peace overcame me. This journey, which took a minute to walk, but four years to initiate reached its climax when I blurted out, “I need to ask for your forgiveness. We didn’t end right several years back and I hope you can forgive me for the words I said.” There, I said it. Silence. Then tears began to flow as the response, far different than I expected, reached my ears, “No, please forgive me. I was in the wrong.”

Restoration and healing happened. At once, the bitterness I had been holding on to, melted from my heart and God’s love filled me.

The lesson learned was clear. We can’t become fully alive in Jesus and become an effective tool to reach our community with the love of Jesus without letting go and opening those secret corners of bitterness in our hearts.

Is there a forty-step journey you need to take?  When you trust and allow Jesus to inhabit your entire heart, the first step may still be hard, but it is doable because Jesus walks next to you  and the peace and love of Jesus Christ is in you.

–Jon Roberts is RMC media/communication assistant

29 Oct


By Jon Roberts – Ward, Colorado … After being evacuated from Glacier View Ranch, staff spent the majority of the week rejoicing even while cleaning out refrigerators and freezers of spoiled food.

GVR staff was forced to abandon the place where they work and minister to the multitudes as two wildfires erupted near the camp. They spent the following days with uneasiness and uncertainty about the fate of the camp as wildfires ravished the nearby communities.

As soon as Dan Hansen, director of camp ministry, received word that it was safe to return, he and the staff made their way toward the camp unsure what they would find.

Upon arrival on Friday, October 23, they were thankful to find the camp untouched by the fires.

“The camp itself was not harmed by the fires, but the power was off most of the time we were evacuated, so we had a tremendous amount of cleanup from refrigerators and freezers, but we were blessed that all of our equipment came back on. We still have a way to go, but we thank the Lord each day for the protection of the camp and our staff as we made multiple transitions,” Hansen said.

GVR staff are thankful for all RMC members who remembered them as they faced these hardships.

“With heartfelt gratitude, we want to thank our members and those we serve at GVR for all of the prayers and well wishes during this time of the wildfires in this area. We are so grateful for the support of our administration and the youth department for continuingly lifting us up. Again, thank you for keeping us in your prayers, and we’d love to see you at GVR in the near future,” Hansen said.

The recent snowfall has helped with fire-suppression efforts; however, fires continue to burn near Estes Park and the surrounding community.

“We are thankful that Glacier View was spared from the wildfires; however, our hearts are saddened at the loss of many homes and the livelihood of Glacier View’s neighbors.  I urge all of our members to continue to pray for those still being affected by the wildfires, many of whom are our church members,” Ed Barnett, RMC President said.

Jon Roberts is RMC media/communication assistant; photo by Dan Hansen

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