By RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … For the first time in two years, pastors and teachers flocked to Denver to spend three days enhancing their educational and ministerial skills while making connections and rekindling old bonds at the bi-yearly joint pastor and teacher convention.
The atmosphere on Sunday evening was electrified with laughter and hugs as colleagues escaped their square boxes on the screen for in-person fellowship. The common theme overheard, in the multiple circles of friendship was, “It is good to be back”.
“It was wonderful to be back in person with my teacher friends and the pastors! It is often very isolating to teach in a one-teacher school and so to be able to get together and collaborate and socialize always helps to boost my spirit. We spent a lot of our free time with each other and visited and laughed together,” Traci Pike, teacher at Mountain Road Christian Academy in Casper, Wyoming, enthusiastically expressed.
The gathering began with worship and praise music led by a trio of pastors. The excitement of worshipping as one community filled the air in the church sanctuary. The evening concluded after a short worship talk by Claudio Consuegra, NAD family ministries director, with a special service to recognize and appreciate the hard work Ed Barnett, RMC president, has accomplished in the last seven and half years. Barnett, who will be retiring at the end of August, was holding back tears as the pastors and teachers encircled him to sing “Friends” and lay hands on Barnett in a special dedication prayer service as he begins the next chapter in his life.
“It was moving to be prayed over by our pastors and teachers. What an honor to have worked for the last seven and half years in the Rocky Mountain Conference,” Ed Barnett, RMC president said.
Monday, 110 pastors and teachers arrived at the meeting location to find themselves sitting at assigned tables, combining educators and pastors, for a day-long workshop on working together for the mission of the church and school with Pam Consuegra, NAD family ministry director. The first instruction for the morning was received with blank stares and a look of puzzlement as to what to do, when everyone in the room was asked to put away their cell phones and laptops and not utilize them until lunch—a whole three hours disconnected from the world.
“I’m so proud of the Rocky Mountain Conference for making the connection and unity between the pastors and teachers a priority. Seeing both groups come together for worship and enrichment was inspiring,” Chris Morris, associate pastor at Littleton, commented.
To conclude the three-day event, pastors and teachers separated to focus on specific workshops to enhance their skills.
For Pike, the leadership workshop was very helpful. “I think that meeting with the other principals/administrators was most helpful for me. The challenges that arise with the “principal hat” are different than the “teacher hat.” It was good to see that even the bigger schools in our conference have the same struggles that our little schools do and I think that Diane Harris [RMC director of education] and Paul Negrete [RMC associate director of education] are trying to bring us all together as one team with a common vision.”
Morris led a workshop to help educators discover their Enneagram personality traits and the challenges and success of each type. “It was a privilege to facilitate the Enneagram workshop for the RMC educators. Learning their giftedness and the giftedness of their colleagues can go a long way in strengthening synergy and trust within their respective schools,” Morris stated.
Pike was appreciative of the Enneagram workshop. “The part that stuck with me the most was learning about the Enneagram workshop. I have done temperament tests, spiritual gifts tests, etc., many times in the past, but to go into detail about what motivates the various types of people was eye-opening.”
Teachers were thankful for RMC’s leadership in planning this time together. “Diane Harris and Paul Negrete charged the teachers to keep their passion for teaching at the very center of their thoughts every school day. ‘Why is it a privilege to be a teacher? Because you are an Adventist teacher; you are extraordinary. You are called by God! We are here to bring one more student to the Tree of Life.’ The room was filled with teachers who are on fire for God, and inspiring stories were shared to show us why we do what we do,” Jodie Aakko, Brighton Adventist Academy headteacher said.
Pike is leaving Denver with a renewed energy and peace of mind that the conference is in good hands. “I came to these meetings with a sense of trepidation because of all of the changes that are taking place in personnel/leadership at the conference office. I left with a feeling of peace and hope as we move forward. I am excited to go into this new year with new knowledge and with confidence in our leadership and in the Lord whom we all serve!”
–RMCNews; photos by Jon Roberts