07 Apr

BARNETT TO RETIRE AT THE END OF AUGUST

RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … “What I will miss is the people,” Ed Barnett said.

The conference office staff was stunned and is still absorbing the news of the announcement made by Ed Barnett, RMC president. On April 6, at the end of their first in-person staff meeting of 2021 Barnett told his staff he is planning to retire on August 31.

Barnett met his partner in ministry, Shirley, while at Pioneer Valley Academy, but their ministry together didn’t begin until February 1979 when they graduated from Atlantic Union College. “She was an RN and I had a theology degree,” he reminisced. After 42 years, Shirley still looks forward to traveling to do ministry together. The Barnetts plan to move to Florida in September to spend more time with their children and grandchildren and when possible, continue his pastoral ministry.

Barnett has served in several conferences in many ministerial positions, including the Minnesota Conference as president. His introduction to the Rocky Mountain Conference began when he served as the senior pastor of Denver South church in the early 2000s, and as RMC president since 2014.

Barnett says he feels comfortable retiring knowing the Rocky Mountain Conference is strong and will continue to advance God’s Kingdom. He often points out to being blessed by God with “generosity of our members as they continue to build the mission of the church.”

“I would like to think that our members know they have been loved and we have tried to do everything we could to help our schools and churches care for people.”  Barnett would like his legacy to be the knowledge he encouraged on how to grow healthy churches and have open conversations in the church about the quality of Christian life, “where Jesus is at the center of all we do.”  Barnett said what is the most important for our churches is bring back our missing members.

Gary Thurber, Mid-America Union Conference president and former RMC president, commented on Barnett’s decision to retire:

“Ed Barnett is one of those rare people who, no matter what task he has to do, excels. People of RMC have first-hand experience in watching him as a pastor as he skillfully and lovingly led the Denver South church for many years,” Thurber said.

“Ed also has a gift as an administrator. Everyone who worked for Ed both in Minnesota and RMC when he served as president, loved him because of his wisdom, kindness, and passion for mission,” Thurber added. “He will be missed greatly by our Mid-America Union team here in Lincoln and I know [he will be missed] even more by the friends he has made in RMC. We wish Ed and Shirley much joy in this next step of their journey.”

For lifelong friend and ministry partner, Brighton church pastor Wayne Morrison, Barnett’s passion for leadership will be missed. “I have had the privilege of working with Ed in two conferences and he truly is a godly leader. Ed is able to be both a friend and a leader, always encouraging, and a steady example of leaning into Jesus. Some may think of golf as his passion, but more than golf [his passion is] evangelism, Christian education, and sharing the love of Jesus in all aspects of church and social interactions! Ed, congratulations, my friend, you will be missed!”

For Diane Harris, newly appointed RMC director of education, she is having a hard time adjusting to the news, “every time I think about it I start crying.”

“Harris adds, “I have known Ed for many years.  As my pastor, he dedicated my oldest daughter, then baptized her many years later. As my conference president, he has been an incredible supporter of Adventist education and his leadership and ministry will be greatly missed.”

Barnett’s leadership and friendship are valued by many, including Rajmund Dabrowski, RMC communication director, who Barnett asked to serve in RMC in 2015 after his retirement from ministry and move to the Rocky Mountain  Conference.

“What will stay with me after Ed retires, is his honesty, openness, and total commitment to the Good News of Jesus Christ. He inspired me by his reaction to every issue of the RMC quarterly magazine Mountain Views and often said, ‘Keep the conversation going. There is no topic off limits in this church.’”

The authentic love and kindness he displayed will be remembered by many co-workers.  Following the announcement, many left the meeting stunned and trying to understand what will come next. Jessyka Dooley, assistant youth director, is refusing to accept the news. For them [the youth department], Barnett’s legacy means support in bringing youth to the leadership positions in the conference and in the churches.

“Ed is going to be deeply missed! Our youth ministry team has been lucky to serve in a conference where the president is so incredibly supportive of relevant ministry,” Jessyka Dooley, expressed.  “Ed goes above and beyond as a leader because he truly cares for the people he serves in the Rocky Mountain Conference. I’m truly thankful to have worked with, and even gotten to play a round of golf with, the one and only Ed Barnett!”

One of Barnett’s final messages to RMC members is a message that has been at the foundation of his life ministry. “Jesus is coming soon! Make Jesus the center of who you are and how you fulfill His mission,” Barnett said.

The RMC Executive Committee will be meeting with Thurber over the next several months to pray and begin the search for Barnett’s replacement.

–RMCNews; photo by Rajmund Dabrowski

01 Apr

CELEBRATING 35 YEARS OF ERIC NELSON’S RMC MINISTRY

RMCNews – Littleton, Colorado … Conference office staff gathered with Eric Nelson’s family on March 31 to celebrate Nelson’s 35 years of ministry in RMC and to bid him farewell as he moves on to a new chapter of life–retirement.

Limited by large gathering restrictions, the celebration wasn’t limited in the tears, laughter, and appreciation for Nelson’s dedication.

The group enjoyed walking down memory lane as Lonnie Hetterle, former RMC director of education, hosted the hour-long event, which included a video from Nelson’s 93-year-old mother recalling Eric’s passion for ministry at a young age and Craig Carr, former RMC ministerial director reminiscing on working alongside Eric for many years. Former pastoral colleague, Steve Schwartz, who worked with Eric at Campion while they were students, sent a letter reminiscing on their dozens of years in the ministry in RMC, and Nelson’s 3-year-old granddaughter stole the show by wishing her grandpa congratulations on his retirement.

Online comments by individuals blessed by his ministry quickly flooded the chat screen.  “Pastor Nelson, you were a real blessing for Vivien and me during our time in Colorado. Thank you for your wisdom. Thank you for always being there for us,” Ruddy Vivanco said.

Hozho Nahasdlii Nizhonigo remembers Nelson’s support for La Vida Mission. “Thank you for giving your life to the church. We are recipients of God’s blessings through you. Thank you for your love and support to La Vida Mission. You are one of Heaven’s greatest gifts to us.”

Bible worker Harold Alomia recalls the first time he met Nelson. “It was 2003. I had landed in Farmington NM. There was a town-hall event, and the RMC administration was in town. Eric was there and was friendly and encouraging to this unknown kid from Peru working there as a Bible worker.”

“Over the years, Alomia continued, “Eric has been a presence in my ministry–a friend, a mentor. He was supportive, caring, and firm when needed during my time in RMC. Eric, thank you for your care and for your ministry. You and Jerene are a blessing and it’s a privilege to have looked up to you as a leader.”

As the event drew to a close, George Crumley presented Eric and his wife, Jerene, a small financial gift of appreciation from the Rocky Mountain Conference. Ed Barnett, RMC president, becoming emotional at times, closed the event by thanking Eric for all the support, mentorship, and friendship over the many years.

Eric expressed his appreciation to those who had gathered, saying he was trading in his work hat for his cowboy hat. He shared how he will miss the daily work, but that he is committed to staying connected to RMC as a church member.

–RMCNews; photos by Rajmund Dabrowski

 

23 Mar

STATEMENT ON TRAGEDY IN BOULDER, COLORADO — WILL THIS EVER END?

RMCNews – Denver, Colorado, March 23, 2021 …The Rocky Mountain Conference is mourning with the community of Boulder after a senseless act of violence claimed the lives of ten individuals, including a law enforcement officer.

We mourn for the families whose mother, father, partner, grandparent, or child had their life snuffed out due to evil that played out in what is supposed to be a safe public space—a grocery store.  We mourn for the workers who will ever be traumatized by what they witnessed. Finally, we mourn for the shooter’s family as their lives have ever been changed by the devilish act of one individual.

Responding to the tragic events of Monday, March 22, Geoff Patterson, senior pastor of Boulder Adventist church, addressed the faith community of Boulder by email. “Our hearts and prayers go out, first for the families that tonight are bereaved, next for our law enforcement community that has lost one of its own, and also for all of our friends and neighbors who have been shaken by this tragic event.”

The Boulder church is responding by providing support with members available to listen and pray with those in need. “If anyone needs specific prayers, our prayer line is available at 877-793-7729. You may call and leave a voicemail, or send us a direct text. Our prayer team is standing by. In addition, our pastors are available to talk if you wish for them to contact you,” Patterson added.

Adventist Community Services is mobilizing and awaiting instructions from the State of Colorado on what assistance they can provide the community.

“We have had too many of such tragedies in our communities,” said Ed Barnett, president of Rocky Mountain Conference. “Will this ever end? We long for the day when violence will cease to exist and when there will be no more tears, pain and death.”

Patterson prayed “Lord, there is sickness in this world, and this time it has struck in our town. Grant us strength in this difficult hour. Amen.”

–RMCNews

 

 

18 Mar

IN MEMORIAM: FAITHFUL TILL THE END – STEVE GILLHAM (1947-2021)

[Updated Friday, March 19 at 6:45 a.m.] RMCNews with Dorie Panganiban – Farmington, New Mexico … La Vida Mission is in mourning. A mighty warrior of God and a stalwart of faith is fallen. Pastor Steve Gillham, a retired minister and director of La Vida Mission, lost his battle with cancer on Wednesday, March 17, at the age of 74.

Dorie Panganiban, La Vida office manager recalls Pastor Steve and his devotion to the work of the church while battling physical illness. “Illness may have taken a toll on him and defeated his physical body, but his spiritual body was kept from the evil of this world and remained pure and strong and victorious until his last breath.”

Pastor Steve, who served several churches in Oregon and the Rocky Mountain Conference, had been battling cancer for many years, but that didn’t slow down his passion to reach the Navajo nation with the gospel.

Pastor Steve began his RMC ministry in Wyoming serving Douglas, Wheatland, and Casper churches where he gave spiritual leadership for 11 years and played an important role in Mills Spring Ranch. “He was an integral part of Mills Spring during his time in Casper.   The Upper Room, above the shower facility, he built as a connection to Jesus and the Disciples time in the upper room,” Liz Cornett, Pastor Steve’s daughter recalled.

After serving many congregations in Wyoming Pastor Steve moved to Colorado to serve many districts including Alamosa, Monte Vista, Cortez, Dove Creek, and Nucla.  He also served as coordinator of Cowboy camp meeting.

“He was the coordinator of Cowboy camp meeting for many years and looked forward every year to seeing friends, singing together and worshipping in God’s nature,” Cornett added.

Eric Nelson, RMC vice-president of administration, recalls his friend with whom he became acquainted in college. “I had the privilege of attending Walla Walla College with Steve. After college, we served together in the Oregon Conference. We then had the privilege of sharing our ministry in Rocky Mountain Conference together. We worked and prayed together as we served the Lord in our given churches.”

“On a personal note,” Nelson added, “it was always a joy for our two families to visit together and share memories. This will surely be missed.”

Pastor Steve’s friendship was also special to Panganiban. “My husband and I and our little family will terribly miss him, although I feel that I will miss him more as I remember the many times and occasions of meetings in his office or my office or in the board room, the long phone calls when he was traveling, talking and discussing challenges and opportunities for ministry at the Mission, the joy of working together for the Lord in this place,” she said.

Pastor Steve will be remembered for his time and investment in La Vida Mission. “Upon retirement, he was invited to take leadership as director of La Vida Mission,” Nelson explained. He has done a wonderful service [and has] blessed the mission with good solid organization and direction. It is a much stronger institution because of his work. His passing will impact the mission greatly. He will be missed for his godly example and service and for his outreach to the Navajo Nation,” Nelson said.

Panganiban added, “He will surely be missed by everyone at the Mission who has known him and his friendship and leadership. The void and vacuum that he has left can only be filed by the grace of God.”

His latest venture, described as visionary, was to assist Adventist World Radio in creating a Navajo language radio station at the mission to broadcast the Good News of Jesus to the nation. Back in August 2020, Pastor Steve commented, “You see, we have been having this dream of winning the reservation for Christ.”

Working on the project was Allen Steele, former vice-president of AWR. “Steve was an integral part of our Navajo radio outreach to bring the Gospel to this largest Native American Tribe.  A man of vision, he quickly took on the challenge of establishing a radio production studio at La Vida to bring God’s message to the Native community that he loved,” he commented.

“Steve Gillham’s support and expertise in devising ways to make the Adventist message attractive to the Native tribes will be greatly missed as we work toward accomplishing the dream he had for this very important project,” he added.

A memorial and celebration of life service will be held at La Vida Mission on March 19.  He is survived by his wife Carol and four children–Stephanie, Liz, Angela and Stanley.  A celebration of life service will also be held on Sabbath, March 27 at 3:00 p.m. at the Casper church where he served as pastor for 11 years.

Liz Cornett remembers a special time when the family would depart after spending time together.  “Whenever we parted, he would always gather us together in a circle, clasp hands and in unison say, ‘May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.’”

“We will carry on the legacy of a faithful, godly life that you have left us,” expressed Panganiban. “We will persevere like you till the end. I believe with all my heart that you can boldly say, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.’”

–RMCNews; photo by Rajmund Dabrowski

16 Mar

GLACIER VIEW RANCH MEMORIES WANTED

By RMCNews – Ward, Colorado … Everyone has a story to tell, and Glacier View Ranch wants to hear your summer camp story, and more.

The RMC youth department is seeking to continue putting the puzzle together of GVR’s history. Ella Jean Albertsen, Campion church member, has been working hard to compile heaps of history about GVR which has been lost over the years through various transitions.

The history of GVR is important according Jessyka Dooley, assistant youth director, “This is something every youth director/camp director would love to do, but rarely has the time for. I’m in awe of her [Albertsen’s] passion for GVR over the years,” she commented.

Glacier View Ranch exists as a space for people to gather and to explore ideas, adventure in beautiful places, ignite passions, summit mountains and moments, engage in relationships and connect with God.

“The RMC youth team is always in awe as they hear the stories and memories treasured by those who have experienced GVR in all of its beauty,” Dooley said. “We are humbled by our past and how God has always carried us through. We are passionate about our future and where God will take us from here.”

Each memory holds a piece of the puzzle that is Glacier View Ranch from where it has been to where it is going.

The youth department is asking those who have information, stories, or photos about Glacier View Ranch to contact them via email. They are hoping to fill some gaps especially around the years 1950-1970. You can send your piece of the story to Ella Jean Albertsen, researcher for the project [email protected] and Jessyka Dooley [email protected]

–RMCNews; photos by Rajmund Dabrowski

16 Mar

COLORADO SPRINGS SOUTH CHOOSES ONE OF THEIR OWN TO HELP LEAD THEM

RMCNews – Colorado Springs, Colorado… During a March 9 meeting with the Colorado Springs South church members, Eric Nelson, vice-president of administration for the Rocky Mountain Conference, presented the name of Lucas Lujan for their new part-time associate pastor. The church voted unanimously to accept the proposal.

Lujan, already a member of the congregation, is well-known and loved by many in the congregation and has been leading the church outreach ministry, Nelson commented.

“The last thing I could have seen myself doing in life was serving God in the church, but now, it seems, the only thing I want to do is serve God in the church,” Lujan said.

The congregation has supported Lujan through the years as he has experienced real-world issues, according to Nelson. “It has been very encouraging to me to see how the church has supported Lucas through the years as he has grown in his walk with the Lord,” he said.

“I’ve met and talked with Lucas and he has shared with me his journey with the Lord. It has been a thrill to see him grow in his desire to serve the Lord and [to see] his faithfulness. I look forward to his fulfilling this role and expect God will use him in a mighty way,” Nelson added.

Jack Bohannon, retired minister, commented on Lujan’s devotion to the church.  “Lucas Lujan and his wife, Asbury, are devoted to each other and are both hard workers in the church.”

Lujan is expanding his knowledge through the Lay Pastor training classes and is expected to begin serving as associate minister in March.

“If Christ is with me on this journey, I have every right to be confident in Him. I am telling the truth: I was a great sinner; however, He is a great Savior!” Lujan shared.

–RMCNews; photo supplied

11 Mar

RMC YOUTH CURRICULUM ENERGIZES LOCAL CHURCH YOUTH

RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … Time to live fully alive is the theme of the recently released Bible study curriculum for teenagers, produced by the RMC youth department.

The lesson study is unique blend that allows the student to “go through the whole thing, or just use the pieces you need for that week. Read it on your phone or print it out to take notes, whatever works best for you,” Jessyka Dooley, assistant youth director explained.

The curriculum addresses life issues which youth are experiencing.

“The teens are struggling with a lot of stress, anxiety and depression. I thought that this might be a helpful for them to start a relationship with God on their own. They also can discover how to help themselves and others around them with God’s help,” Gabriela Dominguez, Denver South Hispanic church member said.

Vanessa Alarcón, Boulder church Faith Engagement pastor, reflected on the curriculum, “We had a great lesson on the meaning of our life on earth and living through Christ mixed in with some fun activities.  I am looking forward to continuing this conversation throughout the year with my youth.

Fully Alive curriculum is available in English as well as Spanish which is appreciated.

“I felt God speaking to me while I was translating these devotionals and it was moving to know that others would have that same experience in their native language. I am proud to support a department that is doing what they can to bridge the gap of language to reach the many Spanish-speaking members of our constituency,” Alarcón said.

The youth department is working on their next set of lessons which they hope to be released soon. They are working on making the curriculum available in book form.

If you are interested in downloading the lesson please visit https://www.rmcyouth.org/devotions

–RMCNews

04 Mar

LITTLETON CHURCH TUBING GETS PASTOR FLYING

RMCNews – Fraser, Colorado … Littleton youth and families gathered at the church the afternoon of February 28 to make the long trek to the Fraser snow tubing hill where hours of endless fun and high-speed activities awaited.

The event, planned by Pastor Chris Morris, was a refreshing change of pace for the 40 participants who have missed the free companionship of life before Covid.

Each flying run down the hill in chaotic formation was followed by a return trip to the top via the “magic carpet.”

During one walk back to the magic carpet, the Littleton group found themselves approached at high speed by another cluster of tubers.

While the younger members rushed out of the way, Pastor Andy Nash attempted to leap over the tubes. Instead, his feet were clipped, and he flipped upside down, landing on his head. Nash said he remembers his daughter Summer saying, “Are you okay, Dad?” followed by “Look out—here comes another group!”

“We saw the tube hit Pastor Andy,” said Cheryl Bierbaum, Littleton church member. “He was vertical with his legs in the air totally off the ground. My husband said it looked like a stunt trick out of a movie and an impressive 360 flip.”

The church awaits the next fast-paced outing: roller skating. What could possibly go wrong?

To view video of some of the fun had please click here.

RMCNews; photos courtesy of Littleton’s Facebook page

02 Mar

FRONT RANGE YOUTH JOINS FOR FRISBEE GOLFING

RMCNews with James Murdock–Aurora, Colorado … A group of youth and young adults from the Boulder, Denver South, and LifeSource churches gathered in Aurora, February 28, for fellowship and a friendly game of Frisbee Golf.

What began as a physically-distanced pizza lunch soon turned into a dash to bundle up before setting off for the Bird’s Nest Disc Golf Course, still covered in six inches of snow from a prior storm.

For some, the gathering was an experience that has been tremendously missed during the pandemic.

“It had been a long time coming for many of our local church youth groups, and on a frigid Sabbath afternoon in February, we finally scheduled a time to come together to begin rebuilding the bonds of fellowship that had been divided during the COVID era,” Murdock, associate pastor of the Boulder church said.

For a majority of the group that gathered, Frisbee golf was a brand-new form of recreation, so the announcement that the activity would not be remotely competitive was an easy request to oblige. The goal for the day was not to count strokes or revel in who could hole-out with precision; instead, the purpose of the event was to create a space where community could thrive once again in-person.

Shanked drives became reason for laughter rather than ridicule. Missed putts drew encouraging words to motivate one more try rather than drawing snickering and levying judgment. More often than not, the stories after their rounds had concluded dealt more with how much fun they had throwing snowballs than the score.

After spending time on the links, the groups of wind-whipped and frigid “frolfers” returned to the parking lot to exchange their muddy discs for a cup of cocoa and a cookie to thaw them momentarily before retreating to their vehicle where heat awaited.

One question lingered in the air before we waved goodbye–“When are we doing this again?”

RMCNews with James Murdock who is the associate pastor of the Boulder church; photos supplied

24 Feb

PERSONNEL CHANGES VOTED BY RMC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … Personnel changes at the Rocky Mountain Conference were among the agenda topics discussed during the RMC Executive Committee meeting on February 23. Ed Barnett, RMC president, expressed his appreciation to Eric Nelson, vice-president for administration, for his many years of service in the conference. “This will be the last time Eric Nelson will be meeting with us, since he is retiring at the end of March. Eric will be missed by me personally, and by many church members, ministers and educators,” Barnett said.

The committee voted Doug Inglish, director of Planned Giving and Trust Services to become the new vice-president for administration. Mary Lynn Green, associate of Doug Inglish, was voted to replace him as the new director of the department. Inglish and Green will transition into their new roles effective April 1.

In the President’s Report, Barnett expressed gratitude to members of the church for their faithfulness in giving during 2020 as it was “a tremendous blessing during that difficult year.” He also shared that Colorado Springs Central church had 44 baptisms in 2020. “God is richly blessing Mike Maldonado in his ministry and church,” he said.

Campion Academy principal, Don Reeder reported that the school has had to shut down several times due to COVID. However, enrollment remains strong at 139. The committee was informed that Campion Academy is considering the sale of approximately 17 acres that are not contiguous to the campus. This will be referred to the Property and Trust Committee for further review. Funds from the potential sale will be used to build up the school’s endowment fund.

Diane Harris, recently appointed director of Education, shared that “all of us need to show our support for our teachers by emails, texts and gestures of appreciation. They are working so hard,” she said. Harris welcomed Paul Negrete as the new associate education director. Negrete has occupied multiple roles, including head principal for the last 11 years at San Gabriel Academy in Southern California. He will join the department on July 1.

Reporting on finances for the fiscal year 2020, George Crumley, RMC vice-president for finance, said the conference total tithe was $17,383,356 and the base tithe which does not include windfalls, amounted to $16,993,817. “Total tithe was down by 4.35% when compared to 2019, which was a large windfall year, and base tithe was down by just .03%. Because of the faithfulness of our members and special appropriations from Mid-America Union and the North American Division to assist during COVID, the conference showed an unaudited gain of $339,867,” Crumley said.

In view of the gain, the committee approved a proposal of a special appropriation to return $197,000 to schools and academies. This will help them with their financial challenges faced during the COVID pandemic. Following the vote, Harris expressed appreciation for the committee’s support of education ministry in RMC. Seventy thousand dollars will be shared equally between Campion Academy and Mile High Academy. The elementary schools will receive $3,000 per full-time conference teacher with a cap of $25,000 per school.

Additionally, the 2021 revised budget was voted. “It is a balanced budget, but at this stage, does not include a July 1, 2021 cost-of-living pay increase for workers,” Crumley said.

In his final report about current state of pastoral positions in RMC, Eric Nelson stated that the following positions were filled:

  • Boulder’s senior pastor is Geoff Patterson from the Forest Lake church in Florida;
  • Golden, Denver West and Lakewood Fellowship will be covered by Nathaniel Gamble;
  • Leadville will be covered by John Davidson, Cañon City pastor;

He also shared the following open positions:

  • Castle Rock is seeking a part-time minister;
  • Colorado Springs South is also seeking a part-time pastor;
  • Campion is searching to fill an assistant pastoral position.

Assisting conferences with filling pastoral positions, the North American Division will begin posting pastoral positions on a central website in the near future, Nelson commented.

It was voted that Montrose Hispanic company be designated a fully-recognized church.

The committee voted that RMC will use the title “vice-president” only for the two executive officers–vice-president for administration and vice-president for finance. Departments will use the title “director.”

Doug Inglish informed the committee regarding trust accreditation for the recent Property and Trust audit which resulted in RMC receiving the highest rating possible: A-3. “This means that future audits will be on a three-year cycle. We appreciate the work of the Trust Department team that enabled this to happen,” he commented.

Following the meeting, Ed Barnett commented: “It is obvious that God is blessing around the conference and yet we always face challenges as well. I praise God for the faithful members that we have.”

–RMCNews

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