26 Oct

RESPECTING AND LOVING ONE ANOTHER EVEN THOUGH WE DISAGREE

RMCNews … The nation and the world are divided when it comes to the health crisis called COVID. The nearly two years of living with this disease that has claimed many lives, left children orphans, wrecked financial status, and cost countless jobs, have left us divided. Is there even a middle-of-the-road when it comes to this situation?

It is essential to distinguish the pandemic as a health issue, and not a spiritual one. It is also important to remember that everyone has strong beliefs, and we are called to love our brothers and sisters even when we might strongly disagree with them.

Recently NewsNuggets reached out to RMC health ministry director, Rick Mautz, to discover how the health ministry department is approaching this health crisis while remaining neutral on masks and vaccinations while respecting individual choices.

“The first point I want our members to understand is that I am the health ministry director for all of our members. I care about your health and the personal choices that you make regarding your health practices. The health ministry department and the Rocky Mountain Lifestyle Center will always try to give you the most accurate and science-based information that is available,” Rick Mautz commented.

“Personal choices and freedoms, while following the laws of the land, are vital for every member” Mautz states.

“I believe strongly in the freedom of each person to make their own health decisions, which might involve getting a vaccination or wearing a mask in public places. However, I also believe that it is our Christian duty to follow the laws of the land unless it requires us to violate a biblical principle. Civil authority is there for the protection of our community members, and according to Scripture, is to be honored, whether we agree with it or not.”

He recognizes that there will be a time when following civil laws will not be possible because it violates the Ten Commandments.

“There will come a time when civil authority will pass laws and mandates that will violate God’s laws, and we must ‘obey God rather than man.’  But to rise up against laws that do not go against God’s laws just because we disagree with them is to give unnecessary trouble before its time.”

Mautz cautions members on only researching or listening to one side. He encourages everyone to be open-minded to the viewpoints of others.

“For any issues that arise, we need to study carefully and be open-minded on each side of the issue, making a prayerful decision that you believe God would honor. Studying only one side of any issue develops tribalism, which usually makes it difficult to be kind and loving to those holding a different view. It would have been impossible for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to fall on the early church if they were not willing to listen to other views and to allow the Holy Spirit to bring about unity amid multiple views.”

Mautz believes the division the world is facing is preparing the church and God’s people for earth’s final chapter.

“The health issues we are experiencing may be a dress rehearsal for practicing these principles necessary for the latter rain and the development of a people that reflect the character of Christ. Not because we have no standards and have no opinions, but that we are willing to listen to each other and willing to change when reason and the facts lead us that way.”

As a corporate church in North America, when it comes to these issues, members have guidance. Concerning vaccinations, COVID vaccinations, as well as others, the church states that there are no religious exemptions according to the Seventh-day Adventist faith (see https://www.rmcsda.org/north-american-division-position-on-requests-for-religious-exemptions-to-vaccine-requirements/ ).

RMC has asked all pastors to follow the local, county, or state health guidelines for mask mandates, social distancing, and capacity limits.

Mautz has a standard for all members to follow on issues that might divide us, “Whether I agree with your position on health and your health practices or not, I will defend your right to your opinion.”

–RMCNews; photo courtesy of Pexels

19 Oct

MINISTRY AT THE CENTER OF MISSION FOR NEW RMC VICE PRESIDENT OF FINANCE

By RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … Darin Gottfried joined RMC as vice president of finance at the beginning of September, bringing with him more than 13 years of experience in accounting and budget management.

Transitioning from the Kansas-Nebraska Conference where he served as vice president of finance for the last six years, getting to know the members of RMC is a priority for Gottfried in the coming months.  He wants to fellowship and socialize with the congregations. “I want to get to know people and spend time with them on Sabbath,” remarked Gottfried.

“I’m hoping I can see what works and get an understanding because I know the Western slope, the Front Range, and Wyoming–they’re all going to do ministry differently. It’s finding out the best way to [support them financially] in each of those areas, whether that’s schools, pastors, or evangelism.”

Ministry is at the center of Gottfried’s mission and focus. “My intent as treasurer is to set aside reserves as required by the North American Division, and then everything after that should be spent for what it is given for. We’re not here to hold tithe money. We’re here to spend tithe for what its purpose is, and that’s ministry happening in the conference. Every penny that comes in beyond what we have to keep in reserves by policy needs to be spent in ministry. My goal is always to find the best way to do ministry in our conference, and that looks different everywhere.”

The new treasurer is going through piles of documents left for him by George Crumley, former RMC vice president of finance. It will take him a while to grasp the treasury needs of the Conference. But what gives Gottfried hope is RMC’s long history of being fiscally responsible in not only building up reserves but also in the spending of available funds to support ministry building on the foundation George Crumley left.

He is concerned about many issues affecting the members of RMC and the country as a whole.

“Times are changing, laws as far as employment get harder every year, tithe often struggles to keep up with inflation. And that’s always a concern as well as how we can continue to do the same ministry when the value of the dollar is decreasing.”

However, the main concern for Gottfried is how to get the best ministry out of funds. “What works on the Front Range may not work in Wyoming. How do we adjust and reach those areas? How do we interact with those different cultures and meet them where they are.”

He wants members to know that the conference is doing well financially, considering the challenging situation the country is going through. “Tithe is up 13.83% over last year; Rocky Mountain Conference Advance is up 4.93% for the first time in four years. I want to say thank you for generously supporting RMC and the ministry that is happening,” Gottfried said.

–RMCNews; photo by Jon Roberts

14 Oct

RMC EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEETS NEW PRESIDENT AND TREASURER

RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … It was a special day for members of the Rocky Mountain Conference Executive Committee during their bi-monthly meeting October 12 as they met RMC’s new leaders, Mic Thurber, president, and Darin Gottfried, vice president of finance.

Thurber expressed his joy at meeting members of the Committee and shared the challenges that he and his wife Jana met while relocating from Lincoln, Nebraska to Denver. In the President’s report, Thurber took the opportunity to update the Committee on his immediate plans for settling into his new position.

“I don’t have a regular report because I am yet to get acquainted with the Rocky Mountain Conference family,” Thurber said.

As anticipated, the meeting’s agenda centered on the state of finances in RMC. Gottfried, the new treasurer, presented his first report “after a few weeks on the job.” The Financial report indicated a strong position, with base tithe increasing 13.16 % over last year. Gottfried also expressed that local church giving has increased in the majority of RMC churches.

“We have 80.87 days of operation in cash reserves, which is 132.02% of recommended levels under current North American Division (NAD) guidelines, but they are expected to change in 2022. The reserves would be 66.08% under the new system, and the plan is to gradually increase to meet the new guidelines,” Gottfried reported. In conclusion, he commented that despite difficult pandemic time, “the Lord has blessed his church in both the returned tithe and the offerings.”

The Administrative report was presented by Doug Inglish, vice president of administration. He shared information about pastoral openings recently filled in The Adventure (Ricky Melendez), Castle Rock (Edrey Santos), and Campion (Leandro Bizama, assistant pastor). The search is ongoing for senior pastors at Alamosa, Piñon Hills, and an associate pastor at LifeSource.

Inglish informed the Committee of the upcoming Town Hall meetings, though exact times are still to be determined pending approval from the host churches.

Nov 20 – Casper, Wyoming
Nov 21 – Grand Junction
Dec 8 – LifeSource
Dec 11 – Colorado Springs
Dec 12 – Campion

Diane Harris, RMC director of education presented a report indicating a strong increase of students in schools at all levels. There are 21 schools in RMC including three preschools, with 829 students enrolled in the current school year. Harris remarked that enrollment is up 13% over last year. She also stated that RMC is being appointed by the NAD as a regional hub for teaching new grading methodologies.

The Committee voted to set up a new application process for the churches formerly in partnership with Denver ACS in order to receive their share of the funds left when the center closed. This also includes a policy governing how the funds are to be used.

The date for the RMC Constituency Session was set for August 21, 2022, it will be held at Mile High Academy.

The next Executive Committee meeting is scheduled for December 7.

–RMCNews

30 Sep

MOUNTAIN VIEWS: IMAGINING TOMORROW TODAY

RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … “When I look at the Adventism of the future, I see Jesus.  I see a church that has fully embraced Him and fully embraced His Gospel,” Shawn Brace writes in his latest article for Mountain Views.

The fall issue, which is scheduled to start arriving in your mailbox next week, focuses on the topic of Adventism and Imagination.  What will Adventism look like in 5, 10, or 40 years?  What is our hope for the future?

The editors are hoping to stir conversation and a reevaluation of one’s self-identity in the Adventist faith. “We are a people of hope, walking always into the future. Imagination helps. When I close my eyes and look toward the Second Coming of Jesus, I turn my thoughts into a world of wonder–what it will be like in the future Jesus promised?” comments Rajmund Dabrowski, editor.

Mountain Views features, among others, include, “The Seventh-day Adventist Church in 2040”; “Jesus: The Future of Adventism”; “Imagine Transforming”; and a conversation with Doug Inglish, RMC vice president of administration, and his daughter Chelsea Inglish titled “We Know Our Ultimate Future.”

This is also the last issue of Mountain Views under the editorial leadership of Ed Barnett, RMC president who retired at the end of August.  The editors of Mountain Views look forward to working with new RMC president Mic Thurber on the next issue.

If you are not receiving the magazine, please update your mailing address or subscribe for free here.

On the Back Page we are challenged: “God gave you brains. Use them.” Read Mountain Views.

–RMCNews; photo supplied

22 Sep

NEW PRINCIPAL, ANDREW CARPENTER, AIMS AT JOINT COLLABORATION BETWEEN MHA AND RMC SCHOOLS

RMCNews – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … “We’re all working together; we all have a common goal,” Andrew Carpenter, the new principal at Mile High Academy, remarked on the collaboration he would like to accomplish among Mile High Academy, front-range churches, Campion Academy, and other schools in RMC.

Born and raised in Tennessee and graduated from Madison Academy outside of Nashville, Tennessee, he is aware of the benefits of Adventist education. Carpenter is married with a two-year-old daughter, which occupies his time when he is not at MHA. After graduating from Southern Adventist University, he began his career as chaplain at San Gabriel Academy in Southern California before being offered the position of vice-principal, where he served under the leadership of Paul Negrete the past few years before accepting the call to be the principal at MHA.

Carpenter, by joining MHA, opens the academy’s new chapter of leadership. He would like to continue to build on the innovative programs and introduce systems that would help support what the school has accomplished while continuing to move forward with best practices. “One of the big innovations is real-world learning, sometimes called project-based learning, which is a great tool for education, teaching kids relevant and authentic experiences,” Carpenter comments, adding “and getting [the students] involved in how the skills and content they’re learning in the classroom interact in the world they are living in.”

Collaboration between area churches and MHA is encouraging to Carpenter.  “We have great pastoral support, not from just our constituent churches, but also from pastors outside of our constituency who have been very supportive of the school and working to help us see how we can partner together because it’s a blessing for their ministry as well as ours to be able to minister to the families of kids.”

He adds, “I think the more we invite everybody to be a part of what’s happening in our ministries, as we partner together, the stronger our ministry becomes. I think we need to talk about how we can continue to partner together. How can we sync our calendars, our programming to benefit each other and not just for the sake of benefit, but so we can be more effective in what we’re trying to accomplish here in the Denver Metro area?”

Carpenter’s mission for MHA goes beyond preparing the students for academic success but includes equipping them to advance God’s Kingdom. “The mission is helping to prepare our young people to be active participants in Christianity and to be part of the great commission within the Adventist context, helping to train and prepare them by partnering with our churches. We are developing a program based on brain and science research, our biblical worldview combined with our historical understanding of where Adventist education came from and the counsels of Ellen White.”

The core mission, according to Carpenter, comes down to character development for the students. He takes this value directly from the book Education by Ellen White, who encourages teaching the students about the joy of service in this life and for eternity. “That’s going to be a huge component of what we do because that’s the mission of our church. The other component is, as our new [Conference] president, Mic Thurber, begins that we look at his mission and vision for Rocky Mountain Conference and see how Mile High can help collaborate with that vision.  We are all working together, and we all have a common goal. We’re looking at how we can help to support our churches and our conference with our young people completing that mission.”

Carpenter is anxious to build a strong relationship between Campion and Mile High Academy.  “I call Don Reeder frequently and ask him how Campion is doing.  I would love to collaborate with them on outdoor activities and mission projects.  I know we play sports together, which is great.  There’s a healthy relationship there, but I would love for our students to spend time together.  I would like to see prayer conferences with our academies.  I think bringing our academies together would help us realize that we are working toward the same goals and mission.”

He adds that the question he bases his leadership on is, “If Mile High can improve in one area, how do we help the school in Farmington improve, and how does the school in Farmington help Mile High improve? When we’re talking about the mission and vision for education, specifically in the Rocky Mountain Conference, how do we begin to affect more than just ourselves with what we’re doing?”

“We need to be collaborating not just with Campion, but also with Brighton, Vista Ridge, our school in Casper, and others.  I’m impressed with our teachers in Wyoming.  They’re amazing educators.  They have some tough challenges out there by themselves, but they’re working together.”  That’s a tremendous example of collaboration, according to Carpenter.  He adds that when we are focused just on ourselves, we will miss the mark, but if we continue to collaborate together, Rocky Mountain Conference education will be great.

According to Carpenter, the call to MHA was about doing more than doing a job only at Mile High but also changing the wider community. “We want to do something greater than [with] just ourselves at Mile High Academy and affect the whole conference, union, and division.” This mindset set forth by Diane Harris, RMC education director, made Carpenter want to join Rocky Mountain Conference as principal at Mile High Academy.

–RMCNews; photo by Rajmund Dabrowski

13 Sep

MISSION FOCUS, HISPANIC GROWTH, AND EQUALITY IN CALLING TO MINISTRY AT CENTER OF MID-AMERICA UNION CONSTITUENCY MEETING

RMCNews – Lincoln, Nebraska … Under the theme Yes, Lord!, the 9th quinquennial session of the Mid-America Union Conference, September 12,  256 delegates voted 82% to 18% to allow conferences to submit female pastors to the union for ordination. Mid-America Union Conference joins the Pacific Union Conference and the Columbia Union Conference to become the third union in the North American Division to ordain women.

At the outset of the meeting, delegates re-elected Gary Thurber to serve as Mid-America Union Conference president. Dr. Herbet Morel Jr. was elected as vice president of administration; David VandeVere, treasurer of the Potomac Conference, was invited to join MAUC as vice-president of finance.

MAUC department directors elected for the next quinquennium, were Brenda Dickerson, communication director; Roberto Correa, disabilities director; LouAnn Howard, education director; Raylene Jones, human resources director; Robert Correa, multi-language and Hispanic director; and Nancy Buxton, women’s ministry director.

The session began with a devotional thought by G. Alexander Bryant, North American Division president. Bryant challenged the delegates, saying, “Don’t let your heart become overwhelmed and don’t let yourself get too stressed out with things happening in the world and the church … especially the church.” He added, “Jesus is interested in our mental health. Whatever is happening in this life, it is temporary. It’s not the final chapter. Let not your heart be troubled because Jesus is going to win!”

Changes to the by-laws, a regular maintenance item, became a topic of much discussion on whether or not to enlarge the MAUC Executive Committee from 35 to 38 members to ensure more voices are heard. Hispanic delegates spoke about the representation of this growing membership base within MAUC on the Executive Committee. One delegate expressed, “We would like to have a voice”. Gary Thurber explained that they recognize the importance of Hispanic ministries in MAUC and the conferences choose who will sit on the Union Executive Committee, and as part of recognizing the fastest growing membership base in the territory, the delegates voted the first Hispanic director of the Union.

Union College presented a report showing the healthy growth in enrollment and financial stability. The college representatives also showed that they have 25 million dollars in reserve for student aid.  A new feature of the college campus drew the attention of many in the audience when they presented plans to build the AdventHealth Fitness Complex in the next few years.

The final agenda item was the issue of pastoral credentialing. The topic, as expected, drew strong convictions from both sides of the issue.

“We are not here to debate women’s ordination. We are going to debate the policy,” Gary Thurber, MAUC president said at the onset of the lively hour discussion for women’s ordination in the MAUC territory. Thurber addressed the delegates stating they are called by God. “We are God’s Elijahs. We are the ones called for this territory.”

Mic Thurber, the new RMC president addressed the delegates on this issue by saying, “My personal support for this motion has been formed by 18 years of serving alongside educated, gifted, and called women to pastoral ministry. In the three churches I served as senior pastor, one or more female associate pastors each demonstrated the fruits of ministry over and over again.”

Dick Stenbakken, RMC delegate rose to the microphone to express his opinion. “I think as Adventists we talk a lot about mission, and we should. And I think we should not limit who can serve in it. We talk about present truth and I think the present truth is to ordain women along with men because it helps the mission of the church.”

Bryant spoke on the challenges he sees. “I personally stand in support of women’s ordination, but am challenged by this motion.” He said that this action doesn’t make women equal in the Seventh-day Adventist church. “Let’s ask the Lord for wisdom because this might help this particular situation but doesn’t help the entire issue. There has to be a way that we, as a church, figure out our way through this and keep pressing until we can get total equality.”

In conclusion, 256 delegates voted 82% to 18% to allow conferences to submit female pastors to the union for ordination making it one of the largest margins in favor of ordaining women to the Gospel Ministry.

Commenting on the historic vote, Doug Inglish, RMC vice president of administration, said. “The vote today means conferences can decide whether or not to submit female pastor names to the union for ordination.”

Those chosen to represent the Rocky Mountain Conference on the Mid-America Union Conference Executive Committee were Mic Thurber, RMC president; Darin Gottfried, RMC vice president of finance; Wayne Morrison, pastor of Brighton church; and two at-large members Carol Turk and Sam Miller.

Voted to serve on the Union College association board to represent RMC was Darin Gottfried, and serving on the Union by-laws committee is Mary Lynn Green, RMC trust and planned giving director.

Closing the session, Gary Thurber challenged the delegates to “keep our arms around each other and when we go from this place, we will send a message to our churches that the Mid-America Union Conference is Seventh-day Adventist to its very core and loves the world church and is thankful to be a part of it.”

He also stated that he is grateful for each female pastor in the Mid-America Union. “I hope more than anything today they know how important they are to our mission and that their pastoral leadership is vital to our territory.”

–RMCNews; photos by Rajmund Dabrowski and Outlook Magazine

09 Sep

“I work for you,” says the new RMC president during the first office meeting

RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … “To you, this is another staff meeting, but to me, this is a big deal,” Mic Thurber said to the conference office staff at the beginning of their monthly meeting, September 7.

Meeting the staff officially for the first time, Thurber chaired the meeting.  After a worship thought by Mickey Mallory, RMC ministerial director, the new president began by sharing how he is eager to start his ministry in the RMC territory.

Thurber stated that when new leadership arrives, there is often anxiety among the staff concerned about how this change will affect them.  Thurber explained his leadership style comes down to “I work for you,” referring to the fact he is not a micro-manager.

He said he has a pastor’s heart and sees his role as president to be the office staff senior pastor. “I’m still a pastor,” commented Thurber.

The staff was able to meet for the first time Darin Gottfried, RMC vice-president for finance.  Gottfried shared how he is looking forward to getting settled in their new home in a few weeks and looking forward to getting to know the staff and church members.

Jana Thurber, the new RMC women’s and prayer ministries director attended the meeting and meet the staff.  Jana also explained she is looking forward to also filling a new position of ministerial spousal support.

Several staff expressed their joy in welcoming Thurber and Gottfried while appreciating Doug Inglish, vice-president for administration, for his maintaining the RMC ship these past few weeks.

The meeting closed with a renewed emphasis by Thurber explaining evangelism in RMC starts in our community by being loving and caring neighbors.

–RMCNews; photos by Rajmund Dabrowski and Jon Roberts

01 Sep

OLATHE COMMUNITY DISCOVER HEROS AT HISPANIC CONGREGATION

RMCNews – Olathe, Colorado … Children recently learned the important life lesson of making a big difference in small ways at a Vacation Bible School hosted by the Olathe Hispanic church.

Twenty children from different denominations in the community gathered nightly in August for the five-day event. The VBS included fun and adventurous activities including, crafts, games, and a chance to begin or continue a walk with Jesus.

Reflecting on the event, Julia Chavez, Olathe VBS coordinator, was thrilled with the community attendance. “Ten of the children were from different faith backgrounds,” she expressed joyously.

The event concluded with a special evening where families joined the children for a closing program which began with fellowship over a meal. Ruben Balaguer, pastor of the Olathe Hispanic church, presented the final Bible story to the group of kids who listened attentively to the story, which demonstrated that the small acts we do can make a big difference.

Reflecting on the week-long adventure, Balaguer commented, “We thank God for those children who were able to learn Bible stories, sing new songs, play with new acquaintances, and enjoy an unforgettable week. It was wonderful to share the gospel with the community children who may have never heard stories about the heroes of the Bible.”

The certificates handed to each youth at the closing ceremony will be a lasting memory for their time at Hero’s Vacation Bible School.

–RMCNews; photo supplied

19 Aug

RMC OFFICE STAFF BIDS FAREWELL TO ED AND SHIRLEY BARNETT

By RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … “The evening which was meant to be a sad event saying farewell to Ed turned into an evening of laughter and joy, one I will never forget,” reflected one RMC conference office employee on the retirement gathering recently held for Ed Barnett, president.

Colleagues and friends assembled to fellowship one last time before the Barnetts leave the mountains of RMC for the beaches of Florida. The informal gathering began with a meal featuring a classic homemade FriChik lasagna prepared by Pat Chapman, RMC educational assistant and appointed chef.

“Even though the temperature was in the high 90s that day, the evening, in true Colorado form, turned out to be beautiful. The evening was reflective of the beautiful life of service that Ed has given to the church and Shirley’s commitment to her life’s work in healthcare,” Lori Goebel, RMC human resources assistant director, expressed.

After everyone had their fill of watermelon and sweets, it was time to celebrate Barnett’s ministry, but first, because of the crazy times we live in, Lonnie Hetterle, who led out in the program, advised that everyone needed to mask up.  As Hetterle placed the thin fabric constraining device over his mouth, he pulled out a different type of covering for Barnett–a ventriloquist device.

“Evidently, I have always wanted to put words in the president’s mouth, and this was the only way I could make him say whatever I wanted him to say. No, I really thought the office staff would enjoy seeing this ‘different side’ of Barnett. He is such a good sport and enjoys life so [much] that I was confident we could have some fun together, and he could end his time with his RMC staff with smiles and laughter,” Hetterle exclaimed.

Throughout the act, those gathered in the crowd could be seen trying to catch their breath from laughing so hard.  Some fell out of their chairs when Barnett, who didn’t quite understand that he wasn’t supposed to talk, kept trying to speak, which led Hetterle to go off script and shout, “Will you just be quiet” to Barnett.

“Watching Ed laugh through the ventriloquist mask was a highlight and still makes me laugh,” Mary Lynn Green, RMC planned giving and trust director, commented.

After the masks were thrown away, tributes and gifts from various employees filled the Barnetts’ hearts with memories of seven-and-a-half-year run as president.

Always a huge supporter and encourager of Mountain Views, Barnett was presented with a hand-engraved chest featuring every issue of the quarterly magazine published during Barnett’s term.

“Ed was one of those leaders who believed in communication, supporting church conversations about issues. Ed’s friendship and leadership made us better leaders in areas where we always thought we knew everything. In my view, Mountain Views is good enough to wake him up from his retirement life of golfing,” Rajmund Dabrowski, RMC communication director, suggested.

Expressing gratitude for Barnett’s never-ending support for Campion Academy, Don Reeder, principal, presented him with a letter jacket from Campion. Reeder also invited Eric Nelson and Lonnie Hetterle to join Ed and him on stage, back deck, to model the Campion jackets received when they retired.

Green, reflecting on the evening, expressed, “We all will miss Ed. It was so nice to have a moment to enjoy being together and celebrate with Ed and Shirley before they head out on their new adventure!”

Goebel echoed the sentiment of Green. “Although I have only worked with Ed for a year and a half, it was evident by the affirmations given that during his time as president of the Rocky Mountain Conference, he created a culture of respect, support, and trust.”

The evening concluded with Barnett expressing his gratitude for the hard work and dedication each had shown. He commended the teamwork and collaborative engagement by the staff that made his work easier and more enjoyable. Fighting back tears, he said he would cherish the memories of RMC forever.

–RMCNews; photos by Rajmund Dabrowski

05 Aug

WALKING WITH JESUS IS LIFE MOTTO FOR NEWLY ORDAINED PASTOR, MARK BRIDGEMAN

By RMCNews – Greeley, Colorado … With family, friends, church members, and colleagues, Mark Bridgeman, The Adventure Adventist church associate pastor, was ordained to the gospel ministry on July 31.

Born and raised in California, Bridgeman attended Monterey Bay Academy in 1993 and pursued his bachelor’s degree at William Jessup University studying Bible and theology with a second major in youth ministry.

Bridgeman recalls growing up as an Adventist and remembers the moment he decided to walk with Jesus on the journey called life. “I was raised in an Adventist home and attended Adventist schools through high school. I graduated from Monterey Bay Academy in 1993, but it was at Camp Wawona at the age of 11 that I gave my life to Christ, and was baptized a few months later on my 12th birthday.”

During his college years, Bridgeman drifted away from the journey with Christ. “I fell away during college as I started to live for myself. Then came a day when I realized that I had robbed God of the last four years of my life. I wanted to get on track with God.” Bridgeman continued, “The Lord led me to become a student missionary in Brazil through ADRA. It was nine months of challenges. When I returned home, I was unsure of the next step, I asked a friend for advice. She suggested becoming a youth pastor. The Lord poured out the Holy Spirit like never before and it was made clear that I was being called to ministry. Two months later, I was a full-time student and a part-time youth pastor at a local church.”

Being ordained is humbling for Bridgeman. “It is definitely an honor to be ordained, but I must say that my journey has been a humbling experience. Because in the life of a believer, it [being ordained] has nothing to do with you attaining something but has everything to do with maintaining a close and personal walk with the Lord and listening to His leading. When our ears are attentive and we seek to do his bidding, then the only one that gets all the credit is Jesus.”

The path of ministry has been difficult for Bridgeman as he has had to overcome his fear of public speaking. “My call to ministry has always been extremely difficult for me due to major fears over public speaking. I had given it to God 1000 times. The frustration of receiving a call to ministry, and having panic attacks when getting upfront in any way [made the path a difficult one]. If He called me, then why did He not take the burden away from me? But we need to realize that a walk with God is more about trust than understanding. We are not given full understanding, but we are called to trust.”

Bridgeman met his partner in ministry, Alissa, in 2000 at Sunnyvale Adventist church in California, his home church. They are blessed with two children–their son Asher, 12, and their daughter Logan, 10.

Bridgeman’s motto in life is simple: “The believer walks the straightest when they are leaning on Jesus.”

–RMCNews; photos by Susan Inglish

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