22 Oct


By Jon Roberts – Littleton, Colorado … “God is the One,” was the message presented by three young preachers to the Littleton congregation, highlighting the value of all generations, especially the youth.

Coinciding with the ongoing sermon series, “Will You Fight the Good Fight?” based on 2nd Timothy, three young people presented short messages on Chapter 2 of the book.

“These young fighters didn’t just speak today. They powerfully preached 2 Timothy 2 verse by verse,” Andy Nash, lead pastor at Littleton said. He went on by calling them modern day Timothys referring to the biblical Timothy’s young age when he preached the gospel.

Speaking on 2 Timothy 2:14-18 Gabriel Fisher, a high schooler, shared how God is the one who changes us from the inside out. He used the parable in Matthew 7 which tells us not to judge others before we change ourselves.

Mitchell Nudd, a middle schooler, used an illustration of a fine china place setting to illustrate the message that God is the one who makes us into instruments of fine silver and gold, based on 2 Timothy 2:20-21.

In concluding the sermon time, Sydney Litchfield, a college student, explained that whatever you fear, God is there to pour His love into you. Referring to 2 Timothy 2:22-24, Sydney gave life examples explaining how she remembers her grandfather’s favorite saying in church, “big heart, little heart,” meaning God has the big heart and we have the little heart and He pours His love into our heart.

The congregation listened intently to each of the presenters, showing affirmation and appreciation by applauding at the end of each presentation.

Addressing the congregation at the conclusion, Russell Palmer, worship leader at Littleton said, “Wasn’t it a blessing to hear from our young people? Our leaders of our church, the young people, will lead the way.”

“Will You Fight the Good Fight” concludes on November 7 with Nash preaching on the final chapter in 2 Timothy, and Sydney’s grandfather from Tennessee will present a joint youth Sabbath School. His topic: “Big Heart, Little Heart.”

Jon Roberts is RMC media/communication assistant; photos by Andy Nash

08 Oct


By Jon Roberts – Denver, Colorado … In a presentation filled with tears and laughter, Lonnie Hetterle, VP of education, announced to RMC employees during their monthly staff meeting on October 6, his desire to retire at the end of December.

Holding back tears, Hetterle struggled to read the statement recalling the past 25 years of education in RMC, while staff listened in shock trying to absorb the news. He moved to his present position as RMC superintendent of education after serving as RMC assistant superintendent of education from 2001 – 2003.  Prior to joining the conference, he worked at Mile High Academy where he served as principal for many years.

“The Book of Ecclesiastics gives us the guidance that for everything there is a season and a time,” began Hetterle in his statement to the staff. “What it does not do, nor can do is interpret the specific season and time for each of us individually.  That is something that each one of us has to prayerfully and, with counsel and input, make for our own individual lives in specific situations.  Just like I thought I would never be 66 years old, I also never dreamed that my time as VP of Education for the Rocky Mountain Conference would ever come to an end,” Hetterle said.

Educators across the conference were notified via email Tuesday afternoon of the pending retirement.

Staff at Vista Ridge Academy were surprised at the news of Lonnie’s retirement. “Lonnie has been part of our Academy from the beginning when the idea of a new school took root over 15 years ago,” said Sandy Hodgson, Vista Ridge Academy principal. “We have been blessed by Lonnie’s contribution to Adventist education in the Rocky Mountain Conference and know that this next phase for him is well deserved. Congratulations,” she commented.

When Michelle Velbis, Springs Adventist Academy principal heard news “I started crying. When I began my teaching career, Lonnie took a chance on me and hired me without any previous experience. Through the years he has mentored, inspired, and empowered me to become a better teacher and a better human being.”

Hetterle explained his decision to leave in the middle of the academic year saying, “It is always better, if possible, to be hired by someone who will be your boss than to be hired by someone who then leaves.  If I leave this upcoming January 1, the new individual will be able to be involved in all of the new hires for the 2021-22 school year.”

The accomplishments made in the education department by Hetterle were quickly recognized and applauded by many.

“Lonnie has been a tremendous blessing to our entire conference. He has done a fabulous job of letting our teachers know that they are loved and supported. He will be missed and always loved for the great job that he has done,” Ed Barnett, RMC President commented.

Pastor Barnett explained that Conference administration will begin to search for a replacement soon. He asked all RMC members to keep the search process in prayer as they seek God’s guidance in filling this important role.

“At any school that I have been at, Lonnie has always been willing to give clarity, wisdom, guidance, and would even play basketball with a troubled teen to make a connection. I cannot fathom the RMC without him. At the same time, I know my friend needs to do what’s best for his health and family,” Velbis stated

“I am proposing to retire from my position December 31, 2020, but certainly never from ministry.  May God bless Rocky Mountain Conference abundantly is my prayer,” Hetterle concluded.

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

07 Oct


By Jon Roberts – Lincoln, Nebraska … Union College COVID precautions immediately went into effect after a number of students tested positive for COVID-19.

The COVID precautions implemented after Covid tests for some students came back positive include quarantining students who have been in “close contact” to those who contracted the virus and isolation for those who tested positive.

The College acknowledged the cases on campus with a Facebook post on Tuesday, stating, “Though Lincoln’s numbers keep rising, Union’s COVID-19 cases have remained consistently low compared to other colleges and universities (currently, four students are in isolation and nine in quarantine). We are praising God for seeing us through so far, and praising our students for making good choices. Please continue wearing your masks, distancing responsibly and getting your daily health screenings.”

According to the Union College website, twelve students have tested positive for COVID-19 since classes resumed in August.

No other information is provided on the condition of those who are currently in isolation and recovering from the virus.

Those students who test positive “are moved to an isolation room where they have their own bathroom. Village students and employees [who test positive for the virus] must stay off campus. For residence hall students, meals are delivered three times daily and laundry service will be provided,” Union’s COVID-19 website states.

Union College continues to provide free testing for all students, faculty, and staff to ensure students are kept safe.

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

26 Aug


By Jon Roberts – Sterling, Colorado … Some fifty individuals gathered on August 22, to support Don Lopes, Jr. as he was ordained to the gospel ministry.

The ordination service received a different look, with all the precautions in place due to the pandemic, however, the message and recognition of God’s calling on Lopes ministry was evident.

Lopes recalled how he was called to the gospel work, “I was baptized in the eighth grade and my pastor, Steve Huey asked me to be involved, right away, in preaching, and deacon work. For the next four years (1993-1997) I would attend Upper Columbia Academy (UCA).   Throughout my years at UCA, I planned to be a pastor.  When I came home for home leave, pastor Dan Knapp would remind me that God has a great plan for my life.”

“After graduating from UCA, Lopes enrolled at Southern Adventist University. “After spending a summer abroad, I decided to continue my theology degree in the Philippines at Mountain View College, where I graduated in 2003,” Lopes added.

After pastoring in Washington and Idaho, Lopes continued his studies at Andrews University. In May of 2017 Lopes was invited to join the Rocky Mountain Conference as associate pastor of the Fort Morgan, Sterling district.

Lopes father, Don Lopes, Sr. shared with the ordination service participants in person and online that his son, when he was growing up had a beautiful smile. “If you know Pastor Don, you will know that smile is still evident today.”

Wayne Morrison, pastor of the Brighton church, shared that he believes that smile comes from a close walk with Jesus.

A lifetime mentor of Lopes, Dr. Colin Dunbar, was honored to give the ordination address via livestream.

Lopes commented that he will remember three points from Dunbar’s address, “the call of God must be seen in how I represent Him, the call of God must be seen as I proclaim a peculiar message and the call of God is seen in my growth as a Christian.”

“It is my goal to continue to grow in these three areas,” Lopes said.

Ed Barnett, RMC president, was among the Conference leadership participants and offered the prayer of dedication while colleagues extended their hands to bless Lopes and his family as they continue the ministry of Jesus.

–Jon Roberts is communication/media assistant for the Rocky Mountain Conference; photo by Jed Dart

20 Aug

Community outreach brings new students to Adventist school in Grand Junction

By Jon Roberts — Grand Junction, Colorado … Community outreach is at the center of the education experience at Intermountain Adventist Academy (IAA) in Grand Junction, Colorado as it opens for the new academic year.

Adventist education has a strong presence among the community in Grand Junction. Classes at Intermountain Adventist Academy began on August 12 with 32 students enrolled, including five community children. The five families had a specific reason to send their children to IAA.

IAA head teacher Joel Reyes explained, “We have two (families) that are coming from public school. For them, when (education went) via zoom last year, in their opinion, the public-school system was a disaster for basic education. They were pretty impressed with what we did and how we handled it. They are afraid (of the results of another lockdown) and they would rather be with us.”

Outreach opportunities exists for pupils of IAA.

“There’s a Catholic community service here that has an outreach program for the homeless. They have daily lunches, and free laundromats for them. We’ve volunteered in the past with them.  The Catholics are wonderful,” Reyes added.

While the current pandemic has made volunteer opportunities nonexistent, hope exists that the school will once again be able to give back to the community.

“I’m trying to work something (with) the local Parks Department because I want to find something outdoors where student can distance,” Reyes said.

Educators are facing unique challenges in teaching while a pandemic ravishes the nation.

“It’s hard to stay apart. It’s hard to listen to kids read from six feet away even though they’re trying not to talk too loud,” Jami Simpson, 2nd – 4th grade teacher said. “The masks. We try, but they don’t always (stay on). I do wear mine. They don’t last that long on the kids.”

Temperature checks are performed on students each morning, and those students who wish to attend without wearing a mask are kept away from the others.

With 17 students in 5th – 8th grade, IAA moved the classroom to the fellowship hall of the Grand Junction Church while the gym was being retrofitted with audio absorption boards to maintain social distancing. Having a classroom in the church brings its own unique challenges, including moving all the desks and teaching materials against the wall after school on Friday and arriving early on Monday to re-assemble the classroom.

–Jon Roberts is communication/media assistant for the Rocky Mountain Conference; photos by Rajmund Dabrowski

**To view a video of the first day of class for IAA please click here

Pictured is Joel Reyes
04 Aug


By Jon Roberts – Ward, Colorado … Three months of planning and hard work concluded on the evening of July 30 when the newest attraction at Glacier View Ranch, a pump bike track named Shredders’ Pump Track was dedicated.

Without campers at GVR this summer, it was possible for improvements and enhancements to be made. Nathaniel Sanches and Camden Griggs, summer camp staff, using the extra time, worked to fulfill a dream they had for an empty lot that had been reserved for growing dirt.

Working tirelessly during this time, they made what seemed like endless early-morning trips down the mountain to buy supplies at the local home improvement store. The cheers and smiles from the 25 individuals who gathered for the dedication showed these two young adults that their efforts were well worth it.

The pump bike track that they created is an obstacle course of ramps, rocks, and small mounds intended to challenge the most avid mountain biker.

Shredder’s track will not only be an exciting feature at GVR camp, but will invigorate the mountain bike program.

“It is going to be a great part of our mountain biking program. For the more advanced riders, we will use more of a single-track area,” Jessyka Dooley, Rocky Mountain Conference assistant youth director said. “This is a great area for kids with zero bike experience or with a lot of bike experience that they all can enjoy.”

The uniqueness of the track gained the attention of the Mid-American Union Conference youth director, Roger Wade who flew in from Lincoln, Nebraska for the event.

“I need to let the young people know that the church backs them, supports them, especially in a time when they are asking what the church is about–are we important? Is this important for us?” Wade commented. “I’m hoping to take the idea of giving our young adults the opportunity to show their skills, because the passion is not just with the pump track concept, but with the other things that they may be able to do and be able to give back to the church to make their offering to the community and to our young people a greater one.”

When exploring different improvement ideas to focus on this summer, they realized that the pump track was a component that was needed and could benefit future camp programs.

“We have a mountain biking program already. We have invested in bikes and we have invested in a place to store the bikes, but we didn’t have a great location on the property to teach kids how to use the bikes in a way that was skill appropriate and fun, other than riding around on the road,” Kiefer Dooley, RMC youth director said. “This was something that would work to expand the program that we already had going. In a way, that now gives the kids something that is going to challenge them, but is actually staged in levels from novice to expert so they can be building skills in mountain biking.”

The designers and creators of this experience added unique features you won’t find elsewhere.

“Wooden teeter totter is unique; you don’t see that at too many bike parks,” explained Nathan Sanches, creator of the track. “We made it out of old gears and rods. We used a lot of natural features including the railroad ties. Everything here is natural, except for the berms. The wooden berms are cool because they are super sustainable objects. The rock skinny we built– you don’t see at a lot of places. The suspension bridge is unique. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one at a bike park before,” Sanches said.

“I hope campers will leave with bumps and bruises, because with that, a staff member will help them out.  The staff teaching them different mountain bike skills and connecting with them is what it is all about,” Sanches said.

Speaking on how the pump bike track plays an important role in the Christian values GVR stands for, Dooley commented, we want to create spaces for our staff to connect with campers in a meaningful way.  We create spaces and opportunities to have meaningful interactions with our kids. Inside the conversations, we show the youth the love of Jesus through our actions and words. The programming shows them the message that Jesus cares about you; Jesus loves you; Jesus wants you to be part of the community. That vision has not been lost in this new addition; Dooley explained.

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication and media assistant with additional reporting by Rajmund Dabrowski; photos by Rajmund Dabrowski

27 Jul

Littleton Church Holds Safe VBS for 55 Children

By Jon Roberts – Littleton, Colorado …The Vacation Bible School Rocky Railway program pulled into the Littleton station on Monday morning, July 20. For a week, 55 children from many metro area churches, and 25 volunteers forgot about the stress of living in an upside-down world and came together to enjoy music, skits, fellowship, and learning about Jesus.

The event, held mostly outside due to local restrictions, kicked off with friends from church and school talking, waving, and catching up on the most important items in their lives: computer games, sports, and the latest happenings with other classmates and family.

Even in a 2020 pandemic world, the message that Jesus’ power pulls us through was at the center of VBS at Littleton church.

For many, this was a week where they could feel like a normal kid and forget about Zoom classes and isolation and enjoy things coronavirus has stolen from their life since March.

“With so many kids experiencing a summer that looks and feels different from previous years, it has been nice to plan and host an event that brings back some normalcy for our youngest members,” Alise Weber, VBS director and associate pastor of children’s and family ministry at Littleton said. “With our church opening back up at half-capacity, I saw no reason that we couldn’t host a VBS if safety guidelines were in place.”

The safety measures taken didn’t go unnoticed. The second day of VBS began with a Littleton police officer walking around the church to ensure that restrictions by the Tri-County Health Department and Governor Polis were being followed. Based on inquires from curious neighbors, the city of Littleton sent an officer to check out this unusual gathering in 2020. The officer gave Littleton the all-clear and complimented them on producing a safe atmosphere for the attendees.

Weber explained the extensive safeguards taken. “To ensure the safety of our kids, we spent a lot more time outside. Normally our kids are only outside for the game station, but they are spending more than half their time outside. We did the opening and closing exercises, the game station, and snack time all outside. The family units are usually mixed within different groups, but this year, we kept family units together in groups. At the start of the program, each child was given a bag in which to carry their own materials to avoid the passing of material. Activities in each station were altered to promote social distancing and also to minimize the transfer of materials from person to person. Of course, masks were worn inside. Our youngest crew members wore masks as they traveled from station to station inside and, of course, our attendees, 11 years old and older, wore masks inside.”

The event was a group effort among all the pastoral staff. Chris Morris, associate pastor, helped with music, while Andy Nash, lead pastor, led the opening and closing program every day. The many volunteers from the audio / visual team, station leaders, crew leaders, and worship leader Russell Palmer were recognized on Sabbath as VBS concluded with a celebration at outdoor church.

“The theme of our VBS program this year was Jesus’ power will pull us through,” said Weber. “I think that is a message all of us, old and young, need to be reminded of during these uncertain times. I hope that each child leaving our VBS program will know and feel the love of Jesus Christ. As they develop their relationship with Jesus, knowing that Jesus will help them through anything they may face ahead is a true treasure.

“It’s been so special to have our church alive with the sounds of children this week—outdoors and indoors,” said Nash. “Pastor Alise Weber has done a wonderful job leading a safe and joyful VBS.”

Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photos supplied.

21 Jul


By Jon Roberts – Lincoln, Nebraska … In the month of August, students and professors will return to the campus of Union College. However, they will be resuming their academic year under a new normal for colleges. Several students from the Rocky Mountain Conference territory are currently packing to make the 500-mile drive to Lincoln, Nebraska.

For the administration at Union, the decision to move the rest of spring semester to remote learning was a decision that was difficult, but necessary in March 2020 under a developing pandemic.

Likewise, the choice to resume normal operations, as much as possible, was a hard choice to make, while also ensuring that students, parents, and faculty are safe to resume the educational program.

Nebraska has been somewhat spared the brutal destruction of the virus; however, with students attending from across the United States, the chance of a student bringing an unwelcome visitor to Nebraska is high.

“Although my three young adults are returning to school in an area where the COVID-19 impact is fairly low, I still have some concerns. Union College is a small school, but there are students returning from everywhere within the United States. There is that possibility of a student bringing the coronavirus on campus,” Chanelle Watson, parent of three juniors from Denver, Colorado explained.

“I am confident knowing that the school has protocols in place to protect its student as best as it can. Having faith in the school minimizes my concern,” she added.

“I am not worried about my daughter’s health because she is perfectly capable of social-distancing, wearing masks, and sanitizing as needed,” Kelly Waller, parent stated.

But she is “worried that we will get her moved and settled and she will have to unexpectedly return home, which will be heartbreaking to her.”

Jefferson Gibson from Denver is a junior at Union. “I will not be overly concerned when all the students return to campus, but I will be cautious and continue to practice social distancing and wearing my mask when necessary as I do now,” he commented.

The decision to resume close to normal operations came as students were looking for socialization to restart.

“I am excited to return to Union. I will be a junior theology major this coming semester and I miss the traditional in-class learning. I miss leading out in the small Bible study groups. I also miss interacting with my friends and look forward to catching up with them…safely,” Gibson added.

Union has implemented some safety measures to ensure safety from the deadly virus.

Addressing the current situation with the college’s new academic year under pandemic, Vinita Sauder, president of Union College commented on the college’s webpage, “We are committed to holding in-person classes this semester and making sure our students and employees stay safe.”

“Keeping everyone safe and healthy requires that we all work together. We have a plan in place that gives us all a role to play in staying well and making sure Union has a successful semester on campus,” Sauder said.

Union has released several protocols for students and faculty that can be found here.

The disruption of normal classes has been difficult on students. “I did not anticipate the drastic change caused by COVID-19 until students were asked not to return to Union College, causing the Spring semester to be transferred to online learning. The change forced me to learn differently. It took some adjusting, but I would prefer in-class learning than online learning. I personally believe that Union professors add a special touch to learning,” Gibson said.

Union has moved the end of the semester to before Thanksgiving and returning for second semester in January.  This will help with any travel restrictions that state governors may impose.

“The travel restrictions and mandatory 14-day quarantine has caused me to rethink travel plans. For example, COVID-19 impacted my summer plans of traveling with the Literature Evangelism program. Due to Union College making the semester shorter, it is anticipated that not much traveling will be done throughout the semester. Until things ‘settle down’ I do not plan to travel much,” Gibson concluded.

With an ever-changing landscape on COVID-19, parents are taking the situation day-by-day.

“I am not even thinking about semester breaks because everything will change multiple times before November 24, 2020. We have no real plan if she does have to return home; we will take it as it comes. Not my usual style of handling things, but planning more than a week in advance right now is pointless,” Waller stated.

The college experience is one that many young adults look forward to and experiencing this during a pandemic is something that the students will remember, and they will be better equipped to face the uncertainties of this world.

“I don’t really have an emergency plan in place. If my children have to return home due to COVID-19, that is fine. If I have to pick them up from Union, I am prepared to do so. If Union goes back to online studies, the children are prepared,” Watson commented.

–Jon Roberts is communication/media assistant for RMC; photos by Rajmund Dabrowski and Ryan Lindbeck – Altitude Motion Media.

20 Jul


By Jon Roberts – Denver, Colorado … Thirty-one thousand pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables were distributed July 16 to the Denver community in a multi-church effort.

LifeSource Adventist Fellowship, in partnership with World Vision, was able to provide free produce to their neighbors.  As word began to spread throughout the neighborhood of the free giveaway, a long line of cars formed before 10 a.m. when the distribution began.  Volunteers gathered names and email addresses of community members to keep them informed of future hand-outs, and every individual could choose as many 20-pound boxes as they wanted.

Area churches were also given the opportunity to pick up as much food as they wanted to take back to their home church to distribute among their members and their local community.

Also partnering with LifeSource was True Life Community Church, which recently moved to the LifeSource campus.

“We want to work together. We want to give back to our community.  It’s all about these people coming through [for those in need],” David Nicodemus, True Life church member commented.

“We’ve seen a lot of people coming through where it is the last bolt holding that car together.  You know there is a very serious need when we tell them it is free, but they can take as much as they want to give to their neighbors, and people get really excited,” he added.

The containers included bags of potatoes, oranges, apples, onions, grapes, peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes.  The gratefulness of the community for this service was evidenced by their smiles and many thank-yous as their vehicles were loaded by fifteen volunteers from LifeSource and True Life.  Members of the community even volunteered to help make the distribution go smoothly.

“It is a huge blessing to help out and give to the community, and it is a great way to get to know your fellow church members.  It builds community strength. We’re stronger together,” Jennifer Biddulph, LifeSource member commented.

“We got to live out portions of Scripture, and I am encouraged, challenged, and hopeful for our future as a church as we continue to stand in the gap for our community through the service that was modeled to us by Jesus Christ,” Seth Day, associate pastor of LifeSource stated.

The pallets of food were donated to LifeSource and they will continue to pass out cases of produce every Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  at their Denver location through August.  If your church is interested in reserving cases to give to your community members, please contact Seth Day at [email protected].

-Jon Roberts is communication/media assistant for RMC; photos by Jon Roberts

16 Jul


By Jon Roberts  — Cody, Wyoming … “’Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight.’  I believe those words today ought to be near to the heart of us (all).” With these words Ed Barnett, RMC president, opened his challenging message for the attendees of Wyoming virtual camp meeting on Wednesday morning, July 15.

With an acknowledgement of the vast diversity present in the Rocky Mountain Conference, current affairs affecting the nation were at the center of the online messages. From COVID-19 to recent protests against racial division, which also took place in Casper and Cheyenne among other communities, were addressed in a series “How Jesus Treated People”.  Examples of Jesus’ love and mission were given in the context of who we are as Seventh-day Adventist today.

“We as Christians ought to be living out God’s love for all people,” Pastor Barnett, stated.  “Prejudice comes in many different forms. Sometimes we think it is only about an issue of color.”

He went on to state prejudice comes not only in color, the wealth of an individual, their gender, or any other differences.  Barnett stated we need to learn to treat others as Jesus treated individuals.

The RMC president shared personal experiences growing up in a mainly Caucasian background and then having to face diversity when his family moved to a multi-ethnic portion of the country his junior year of academy.  He shared the challenging obstacles he had to overcome and the different cultures he was exposed to.

The message continued with the story about the Samaritan woman at the well, sharing how she was not only judged because of her gender, but condemned by rumors in the community. She had to wait till the noon hour to go to the well to avoid being seen by the community.  Barnett explained how Jesus didn’t ignore the woman or show prejudice against the woman’s circumstances, but instead engaged her in a life-changing conversation.

“Jesus set a high standard for each one of us.  As His disciples today, we must love as He loved.  We cannot allow prejudice to be part of our lives,” Barnett challenged. “If you have a prejudiced thought in your mind or in your life, go to God and ask Him to cleanse your life of any prejudice that He can find.”

Attendees left with an understanding of how to live out, as Seventh-day Adventists Christians, the great commission of Jesus in loving everyone no matter what.

To view the entire message please click here.

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

1 4 5 6 7