29 Mar

LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH CHANGE

By Jessyka Dooley … Humans have a love/hate relationship with change. When we look back on history, we see how far we’ve come. Beyond the advancements we have made in technology and efficiency, I believe that we are also welcoming in some of the most accepting and forward-thinking generations ever. Despite all the progress, it remains true that we have a love/hate relationship with change. We love to see how far we’ve come. We wait in mile-long lines to get the newest iPhone. We’re able to work on flights and post photos on our social media pages from an airplane flying across the globe. So much of what we consider “normal” would not exist if we were not constantly updating, pushing boundaries, and changing. At the same time, somewhere in our humanity, we also struggle against change.

This past year has shown this to be true on a deep level. We cherish the comfort of knowing—or at least holding on to the idea—that we can know what’s coming next. We thrive on structure and routine. We find ourselves comfortable in the knowledge that what life will look like tomorrow, next month, next year—is more or less what we got yesterday, last month, and last year. Fear of change, it seems, might make people intolerable.

Like humanity, the Adventist Church also has a love/hate relationship with change. We love to see new ministries springing up and we get excited over fresh leadership and rebranding, but at the end of the day, what we’re actually really comfortable with is just putting fresh paint on an old house. Because really, how has the church actually changed recently? The world has changed drastically in the past few decades, but has the church kept up?

I recently saw an opinion shared by a young woman on Tik Tok stating that churches should lose their non-profit status. At first, I was flabbergasted. How in the world would our churches continue to operate?! She continued to share why she thought this was the way forward, and by the end of the video, I understood her stance. She shared that, in the past, churches were open seven days a week. Churches fed the hungry, put shoes on the barefoot, sheltered the homeless. Churches were, in essence, the place anyone in their community could go to receive the care they needed. Unfortunately, most churches do not operate that way. Most of our churches are open one day, maybe two days, a week. And when they are open, they don’t look much like a non-profit organization. Let that sink in. It was hard for me not to get defensive watching this video, trying to find all of the ways that churches, my churches, really are non-profits that take care of their communities.

Churches have a love/hate relationship with change, yet somewhere along the way, we actually changed a lot. In my opinion, we’ve stopped operating whole-heartedly in the way of Jesus. The early church shared everything they had in order to take care of one another. This idea in the modern church is rather uncomfortable. Now, we operate like little businesses where the transaction is tithe dollars for an entertaining Saturday service and maybe a few ministries on the side. We moved from a church model that took care of those around us to a model of pushing our finances up to the top just for them to trickle down again. Hear me out, money is not the evil here, but the old phrase rings true to, “Put your money where your mouth is.” As followers of Jesus, where are our dollars going? If they are not being used to love our neighbors, we have a problem. We could fill in that phase with countless other currencies. “Put your time where your mouth is.” “Put your energy where your mouth is.” “Put your creativity where your mouth is.” You name it. As Christians, we want to it to be on earth as it is in heaven. That means the people around us should be loved so well and so fully that they see the character of God in each of us.

My question is, do the people in all of our communities see the character of God being lived out by Adventists right now? In the midst of charged politics, do the people in your community see Adventists loving their neighbors and standing up for the oppressed? During times of financial difficulty, do the people in your community see Adventists giving out of their own wallets? As we welcome in the next generations, do the people in our community see our leaders pouring themselves into kids and teenagers? If you’re having to search the corners of the room to present evidence, chances are we’re both thinking the same thing—something’s got to give.

We have a love/hate relationship with change. We saw the church in Jesus’ time struggle deeply with the “change” Jesus brought. Here’s the catch. Jesus came to restore what was supposed to be, but the church saw it as “change” because they had created so many of their own systems. Jesus did not come with an agenda to fix the church systems. He did not spend heaps of time at church “business meetings.” Jesus had no desire to come fix the systems that we had set up, His desire was to bring humanity back to its rightful place, to bring a hurting humanity the healing it deserved.

Maybe you’re one looking for change. Or you could be one who really values the way things are. Now, stick with me here, what if all of this . . . the system . . . what if it doesn’t matter so much? The way it is or our individual opinions of the way it ought to be. What if our church isn’t the thing that needs to change? What if it is actually you and I who need the inspired love of Jesus Christ in our hearts? Maybe the problem is that we have a love/hate relationship with change. We would love to see the church and all its systems change, but we’d hate to have to experience that change for ourselves on a deep, personal level. Maybe it’s time to stop looking at the speck in the eyes of Christianity or Adventism and begin looking at the log in our own eyes. Our communities and neighbors don’t need a non-profit to help them. They need the hands and feet of Jesus. They need your hands and your feet.

— Jessyka Dooley is RMC associate youth director. Email her at: [email protected]

05 Jan

NO QUARANTINE FROM EQUALITY

By Jessyka and Kiefer Dooley — Jessyka and Kiefer Dooley in conversation about equality and the American Dream

Twenty-twenty has been a year for the books. We’ve all become accustomed to words like “unprecedented,” “can- celled,” “social distancing,” and “quarantine,” thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. If that wasn’t enough, we were also caught up in a period of social unrest brought about by in- equities in our country that were highlighted by the highly publicized slayings of several people of minority ethnicities by police officers. So, while we were quarantining and social distancing in the midst of these unprecedented times, we turned on our televisions or opened up our Twitter apps to watch as social justice initiatives called out for the (re?) establishment of equality in America.

Jessyka: As followers of Jesus, we should be the first people to acknowledge that every single person is made in the image of God and loved by Him. But it’s one thing to acknowledge that and another to actually walk that out in our day-to-day lives. Jesus was one to not only root for the underdog, but to highlight them as loved and whole.

Over this past year I’ve seen many Christians go out of their way to proclaim how they are leaning on God during these troublesome times, then go out of their way to speak harshly against those they dislike, vote in ways that suppress the basic rights of their fellow citizens, and become more self- seeking rather than going out of their way to care for others.

Kiefer: I’m with you. I’d even go so far as to put our own titles in the mix . . . because I think that as Seventh-day Adventist Christian followers of Jesus, we do a very good job of acknowledging that every single person is equal in the eyes of God. But we may not be so good at putting it into practice. This could be in part because we’ve been set up to arrive at this point by the world around us. Our founding fathers, held in great regard by our country, made sure that equality was front and center in our nation’s charter documents. We all know the lines by heart. “We hold these truths to be self- evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

But like you said, Jess, somewhere along the line, we got mixed up and stopped way short of the call. We stopped with writing it down and never put it into practice. The ineptitude, the double standards, the “all men” actually meaning “land owning white guys” crept out of politics and into the way we live our lives as individuals…even now 244 years later. And it’s just counter to the way of Jesus Christ.

Jessyka: We have definitely stopped short of the call as a country, but as a church it seems like we lag even further behind. In the book of Galatians, Paul shares, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” If our church lived that out, I for one, would have had a better experience growing up as a female in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I think, in a lot of ways, denominations across the board have become a mere reflection of their current culture and political climate rather than pursuing the way of Jesus first and foremost.

Kiefer: To take what you’ve said and elaborate . . . we can’t rely on the world, or America, or the constitution or even the institution of the Church to be our guide. If we do, we’ll always be disappointed. We’ll always see some flaw in the reflection. I feel like this is especially true of the call to justice and equality—both of which are very much biblical ideals. Before highlighting the flaws anywhere else, we must find ourselves fully known and loved and filled in a relationship with Jesus.

We need to see others equal because it’s what Jesus sees. Not because the Church or anyone else asks us, or doesn’t ask us, to see that way. It’s from our position as sons and daughters of Jesus that we can go about the politics (or activities associated with making decisions in groups) of equality inside of the church and inside of the country with His mindset. After all, what is the Church and what is the Country other than the people who make it up?

Jessyka: Exactly. I’ve often found myself easily pointing out the flaws I see in our country and in our church when it comes to the poor execution of equality, but at the end of the day, I’m a United States citizen and I’m a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. If I’m not actively living in the Spirit and following in the footsteps of Jesus, I’m just as much to blame.

The crazy part is what Jesus calls us to do is so radically different from the “American Dream” so many of us aspire to pursue. He does not call us to accumulate heaps of wealth, but rather to give to those who are in need. He doesn’t ask us to draw barriers both physically and metaphorically between ourselves and others, but rather to welcome them with open arms. He doesn’t call us to hatred and violence, but rather to turn the other cheek. Sometimes I feel like living a life modeled after Jesus is very “anti” American.

Kiefer: Jesus’ way is definitely not the American way. I think we can look to the Sermon on the Mount to see that Jesus takes everything we hold in high esteem and flips it up- side down. Blessed are the poor and the meek? The last shall be first? Excuse me, Jesus . . . don’t you mean blessed are the rich. The hustlers? The winners? No. He was pretty clear.

The way of Jesus is different and uncomfortable when held against our American worldview. But this is where we must take action to make decisions that demote the self and elevate the other. Because this is where we find equality and justice. We can make personal sacrifices for the good of our communities. We can see the tax collector, the prostitute, the thief, the stranger, the foreigner, the homeless, the “other,” and maybe even a woman, as equal. When the “other” is authentically viewed as an equal through the lens of Jesus, our actions will fall into place. When our actions fall into place, equity and justice will have a foothold to take root and transform our community, our church, our nation, and our world.

–Jessyka and Kiefer Dooley are RMC youth leaders. Email them at: [email protected] and [email protected]

20 Aug

AN UNFORGETTABLE SUMMER AT GVR

By Jessyka Dooley – Ward, Colorado…You might find yourself wondering, “What does a summer camp do without kids all summer?'”

Although Glacier View Ranch was not filled with the energy and excitement that flows from our campers and staff, GVR had the incredible opportunity to hire 16 young adults as summer camp staff and two youth volunteers.

Throughout the summer dreams for GVR, that had seemed so far off, became reality. Pump Tracks were built, the camp store renovated, activities developed, and worship resources created thanks to an incredible team who sees and believes in the vision of GVR.

Check out our summer recap video to see these projects in action and hear from our team! (https://vimeo.com/449353138)

–Jessyka Dooley is Rocky Mountain Conference assistant Youth Director; photo by Rajmund Dabrowski

08 Jul

GLACIER VIEW RANCH IS OPEN

By Jessyka Dooley — Ward, Colorado . . . While the ongoing pandemic has cancelled or closed most of the summer camps around the world, GVR remains open with a limited staff.

In May, a month when we would be planning, organizing, and making final plans for summer camp, the Youth department was instead busy calling the families who had pre-registered for summer camp, informing them that the pandemic had claimed another victim of normal life–GVR.

“When I got the message that summer camp was not going to operate, I was incredibly disappointed,” Nina Madrigal, GVR camp programming director commented. “I love ministry (especially summer camp ministry), so thinking about not being able to be involved this year was extremely sad.”

As the month of May drew on, the thought of GVR remaining empty like our schools over the past three months, was overwhelming.  The Youth department began to look for possible funding to find a way to hire some of our summer staff.

Thanks to Mid-America Union funding, we were able to hire 16 summer camp staff and two volunteers for a 6-week experience. With funding secured, we worked with the RMC Treasury department to secure additional funding for various projects around camp.

This became a blessing for the limited staff. “God works all things for good. (My) hope for this summer is to grow together and be able to make next summer the best summer ever,” Madrigal stated.

The staff is missing the energy our campers bring to GVR and the sounds of laughter, team-building activities, and worship around the firepit. However, we are still making a difference for future campers. Our staff is currently working on many projects, including camp store renovations, advancing our programming development, building a new bike pump track, additional activities, and many other improvements to GVR!

The GVR staff knows how hard it is on the youth of RMC to miss summer camp.  We are working on bringing summer camp to RMC churches this summer with pre-recorded skits, activities, and children’s stories. If you would be interested in receiving this material please email [email protected]. We want to engage our youth and young adults during the pandemic.

We are also working closely under state and county regulations as well as with our child care licensing specialist to plan day horseback rides. We are also taking reservations for Group, Tent and RV camping, and day hiking. For rates and reservations, please contact the GVR office at 303-459-0771.

GVR and Mills Spring Ranch are a vital piece in the growth and development of our youth.  We can’t exist without gracious donors and supporters. Consider helping us with the RMC Summer Camp Development for 2020. To donate, please visit our website!

It is incredible to see God moving at Glacier View Ranch and Mills Spring Ranch this summer. Dreams are becoming reality and the camps you saw in 2019 will be bringing fresh new energy in 2021, thanks to the generosity, love, and prayers from our RMC constituents.

Jessyka Dooley is RMC associate youth director for ministry and GVR Summer Camp director; photos supplied.

12 Sep

Baptisms Blessed 2019 Summer Camps

By Jessyka Dooley–Ward, Colorado…The RMC 2019 Summer Camp team was blessed to be a part of eight campers baptisms. Marisol, Isabel, Charles, Kailee, Jeneane, Eowyn, Heath, and Freedom all made the incredible decision to give their lives to Jesus and chose to be baptized at summer camp! Our Assistant Camp Director, Eddie Hall, chose to be re-baptized at the end of summer camp surrounded by his summer camp family.

One parent shared a conversation with their child after camp. The camper said, “It’s the most I’ve learned about the Bible my whole life. I want to get baptized summer. Can i go again next year?”

We are so thankful to be a part of these incredible moments in kids lives. Making it easy for kids to know God is the best part of summer camp!

Jessyka Dooley, Camp Director; video supplied by Calvin Serban

05 Sep

Pins, Friendships and Joy of Pathfinder Lifestyle Celebrated at Oshkosh Camporee

By Chris Hill & Jessyka Dooley –Oshkosh, Wisconsin…For tens of thousands of Seventh-day Adventist young people, the 2019 summer centered on preparation for and participation in a mega event – an International Pathfinder Camporee is hosted in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Held every five years, the 2019 gathering, themed “Chosen,” graced the church with yet another event gathering 58,000 people from some 100 countries around the world.

Among the crowd, 584 people from Rocky Mountain Conference were in attendance. Pathfinders experienced festive food, hundreds of honors, extravagant evening programming, and friendships that will last a lifetime. Despite the large size of the International Camporee, RMC Pathfinders were able to grow closer to one another, their club leaders and other Pathfinder leadership. As already reported, among the over 1,300 baptisms, 15 young people from the RMC region were also baptized.

Participants in the Oshkosh event inhabited tents, campers, trailers and motor homes for 6 days while participating in a variety of activities ranging from March and Drill competitions to the educational hanger and an evening program to end all programs depicting the story of David. There was something for everyone, old and young.

Rocky Mountain Conference proudly showed up with an enthusiastic group from all thee states – Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. This camporee RMC provided Frisbee golf as an activity led by Billy and Paula Nelson and the Teen Representatives, Amelia Zimmerman, Chase Rodriguez, Betsy Mira and Christian Lechleitner, as well other teens and staff. RMC’s assigned camping area was right in the middle of Mid America Union Conference (MAUC), and we stood as the second largest conference in MAUC, just behind the group from Minnesota, who “beat” our team with just only four more participants.

For thousands of Pathfinders, the Camporee was about collecting … pins. RMC’s trading pin was a great hit, several collectors remarked. Our constituents sold out at 4,200 collectible items. The entrance to our Conference area depicted our trading pin and groups of Pathfinders from all over stopped-by to take their picture in front of it.

We were nicely surprised to see the Hamilton girls, Katie and Ashley, (shown in the picture), daughter’s of the former RMC youth director, Steve Hamilton, now living in Paradise, California, said Chris Hill, named the “RMC Pathfinder Queen.”

They were excited to stand in front of an entrance for a moment of picture taking. “We came to search out RMC,” Katie said to Chris. “We are Home now!” Ironically, that is the RMC theme this year – “Home”.

Our gratitude goes to Dan Hansen for the idea of using our trading pin design as an entrance, and to Kathy Dorn Walker for painting an awe inspiring picture, as well to Papa Don Hill, Dwight Laubscher, Dewayne Bohlender and Greg Gage for constructing it.

The “Chosen” Camporee will be well remembered. At least for the next five years as we all will beat the record of the 2019, and wait for a Grand Camporee in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Chris Hill with Jessyka Dooley; photos by Chris Hill, NAD, MAUC and Rajmund Dabrowski