11 Apr


Jill Harlow – Loveland, Colorado … While the wind howled and the power was out throughout the region, hundreds gathered in the dimly lit Campion Academy gymnasium in Loveland, Colorado, to hear the final concert of the Rocky Mountain Music Festival, April 6.

Around 130 middle grade students from 12 Adventist schools and homeschool programs from across Colorado and Kansas came to participate in the festival featuring choir and orchestra performances.

Cecilia Simmons, Campion Academy music director, was the primary organizer of the event as well as the orchestra conductor. Guest clinician LeeAnna McMullen, an opera performer, pianist, and vocal educator with over 25 years of experience, led the students in choir.

Lola, a sixth-grade student at HMS Richards Adventist School in Loveland, Colorado, shared her experience participating at the festival: “I think she [McMullen] really knew what she was doing, and she was really fit for that job. I liked it that all the schools came together to sing. It sounded really pretty, and it gives more diversity to help us prepare for heaven.”

The festival kicked off on Friday morning with the participants spending about six hours rehearsing their pieces in groups. Campion Academy’s select choir and orchestra students spent the day practicing and mentoring the younger students.

Toby Quillin, currently Campion junior student and a member of Koinonia, has been attending the RMC Music Festival every year since he was in middle school. Quillin reflected, “When I was younger attending Music Fest, I remember looking up and listening to the high schoolers singing and trying to follow them, and now I am one of the ones that the children listened to. It was interesting and fun to work with the kids around me.”

In between afternoon rehearsals, the students were able to attend breakout sessions such as soccer, gymnastics, games, and art.

Friday evening, the Campion Academy Music Department along with Mile High Academy’s middle school choir, performed for a vespers concert in the Campion Seventh-day Adventist Church in Loveland, Colorado.

The festival choir and orchestra performed a few selections for the church Sabbath service, but their main performance was at 7:00 p.m. in the Campion Academy gym. A few hours before the students were set to perform, the power company turned off all electricity to many areas of the Front Range including Campion’s campus. There was concern over the fire danger due to downed power lines from the high winds that were predicted to continue to increase overnight.

Campion staff members and volunteers scrambled to gather generators for the kitchen crew to provide the evening meal, as well as some light and power to the sound system in the gym. Despite the outage, all of the participants were well fed, and the show went on.

Simmons recalled, “The second my phone started ringing off the hook, I knew something was wrong. No power! How on earth were we going to perform in the cold and in the dark!”

“I called the clinician and the first words out of her mouth were, ‘We’re not going to let the devil win.’ From that moment on, it was on! Students excitedly brought their personal headlamps along with extras for anyone who might have needed them,” she continued. “Parents loaned batteries for stand lights. Everyone came together to make sure the concert was a success. And boy was it. The lights being out added an extra glow (pun intended) to the proceedings. It was a beautiful way to cap off two intense days of rehearsing and performing.”

Simmons concluded by saying, “On Sabbath, the pastor talked about using the opportunity to perform as a moment to self-reflect on what we individually needed to surrender, so our worship through music was pure and holy. God used all of the trials and tribulations of the weekend to remind me that I needed to trust Him through the good and the bad. He was and always will be in control.”

—Jill Harlow is the Campion Academy communication director. Photos supplied.

11 Apr


Catie Fairfield – Loveland, Colorado … Campion Academy students served their community by planting at Eden Valley, cleaning up Glacier View Ranch (GVR), sorting donations at Habitat for Humanity, picking up trash on the highway, or rejuvenating the campus, April 5. Students in select choir and orchestra also worked with middle school students in preparation for the musical performances.

One of the groups got to do ground keeping on campus. This consisted of mowing the lawns, weed-whacking, planting flowers, and adding mulch to the beds. Grace Garman, Campion senior student, elaborated, “I loved doing community service because I got to be outside and enjoy the weather. I got the luxury of planting flowers, and I am glad I got to make the campus look nice.”

Another group traveled about 20 minutes to Eden Valley, a Seventh-day Adventist wellness institution in Loveland, Colorado. They planted rows of onions and learned more about the lifestyle of the people there. Yolanda Han, Campion junior student, reminisced, “My favorite part of the trip was getting to interact with the staff. I got to see what it was like living there, and I really learned a lot from the groundwork.”

The students in the highway clean-up crew picked up trash along the two-mile stretch of Highway 60 that Campion has adopted for over 10 years.

Carlos Santana, Campion Academy chaplain, took a group of students to spend the day at Glacier View Ranch. They had jobs that ranged from cleaning, shoveling snow and dirt, hammering down door heads, and using wood varnish on older doors.

Santana commented, “This service impacted me in a great way because it felt good to know we could make a difference to people who needed it. They had a new crew who were still learning how things go. Also, they have a big pastor’s weekend coming up and we were able to help make things look nice and ready.”

Campion students participate in school-wide service days each semester, in line with Campion’s mission of training students to serve and make a difference in their communities.

—Catie Fairfield, Campion Academy Student News Team. Photos supplied.

11 Apr


Karrie Meyers – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … Mile High Academy (MHA) celebrated another successful year of community support and fundraising at its annual benefit auction, Eat, Mingle & Give, held at Topgolf Centennial, April 7. More than 150 attendees gathered for a morning in support of MHA’s mission to provide a Christ-centered education.

This year was the school’s twenty-third event, making it one of the largest and longest-held fundraisers for the school. Families braved the unusual wind and chilly elements, showcasing their unwavering commitment to ensuring all students have the opportunity to attend MHA.

The doors opened at 9:30 a.m. with golf, brunch, and a silent auction featuring items generously donated by local community businesses, the MHA school board, and private donors. Items included an official Broncos helmet, Rockies tickets, various food items, gift baskets, a custom motorized Radio Flyer cart, gift cards, essential gardening tools, a signed Nikola Jokic picture, a signed Clayton Kershaw jersey, and much more.

The live auction never disappoints. Emceed for the fifth consecutive year by Chase Aalborg, and with lots of laughter, attendees eagerly bid on classroom auction items, with this year’s offerings exceeding expectations through the handmade items crafted by the individual classes. These unique items not only showcased the creativity and dedication of MHA’s students but also underscored the community’s commitment to supporting the school.

The event raised over $90,000, a remarkable demonstration of the generosity and dedication of the MHA community.

Reflecting on the auction, Jocelyn Aalborg, MHA’s vice principal of finance and development, remarked, “Eat, Mingle & Give stands not only as a testament to the generosity of the Mile High Academy community but also as a celebration of the bonds that unite us. This event served as a reminder of the collective strength and commitment shared among students, families, faculty, and supporters, all working together to ensure the success and growth of our school.”

Attendees also expressed their joy in gathering as a community. Brodie Philpott, MHA parent, alumnus, and current school board member, commented, “It was heartening to see everyone come together, despite the windy weather. The auction has evolved into a family-friendly event that speaks volumes about the sense of camaraderie and support that defines the MHA community.”

MHA is dedicated to its mission of providing a Christ-centered education. Therefore, when discussions arose regarding the creation of a fund to alleviate some of the financial stress on families paying tuition, the annual fund was established. The intention was to earmark these funds so that all students could attend MHA without financial limitations.

This year, the school’s fundraising goal is $250,000. While additional funding is still needed, it is through events like the annual auction that makes it possible for more than 40% of MHA’s students to attend the school.

One former financial aid student commented, “Because of the donations, I was able to stay at MHA with my friends.”

Aalborg continued to say, “Thank you to everyone who made Eat, Mingle & Give a success. Together, we are shaping futures and changing lives.”

—Karrie Meyers is the marketing and development coordinator at Mile High Academy. Photos supplied.

04 Apr


Julia Santiago – Loveland, Colorado … Campion Academy, Campion Seventh-day Adventist Church, and HMS Richards School in Loveland, Colorado, worked together to produce the annual Easter pageant “Journey to the Cross.” The interactive event drew over 800 visitors and had more than 100 volunteers for the five different showings in both English and Spanish, March 30.

The audience started the program at the church watching a skit entitled “Call the Man” in which each actor demonstrated different problems in the world such as abuse, war, violence, political strife, teen pregnancy, suicide, and death. In the end, Jesus is depicted comforting and helping each person.

Lillian Resz, a Campion Academy drama student acting in the skit, shared, “We can try to solve the problems of the world, but we can’t do it alone. We must call on Jesus to help us and that’s exactly what the presentation was about. Jesus came to solve each and every problem and make peace. This can happen in our everyday life as well.”

Then the group was led to the HMS school gymnasium which was set up as a market during Jesus’ era. People received a few coins that could be used to buy goods in the village. Students from Campion Academy helped in the village with their Bible classes.

The next event was the disciples calling everybody to follow them in Jesus’ triumphal entry, ending at the Campion Academy gymnasium where the audience watched an emotional act about the final events of Jesus’s life here on Earth. The play depicted the Last Supper, Gethsemane, the trial, death, and finally the resurrection of Jesus.

Ekenna Nwankwo, a Campion Academy senior who played the role of Jesus, commented, “It was a really great experience, especially getting to do it twice last year and this year. It opened my eyes to what Jesus really went through.”

Eddie Camacho, 2020 Campion alumni, portrayed Jesus in the Spanish versions of the play, and many bilingual Campion students also switched roles for this version. “It is important to have this option because there are several communities in the area of Spanish-speaking families,” explained Leandro Bizama, associate pastor of Worship and Evangelism at Campion Church. “We hope to help grow and reach their communities and having Spanish events in our programs provides a great way to do that.”

The ultimate goal of the event was to help people remember Jesus’ sacrifice and understand his love for us. The interactive program was able to impact people’s lives in a meaningful way.

Daneil Camas, Campion Academy senior, expressed, “I felt so overwhelmed with emotions that I ended up watching the play three times. I would have to say that this year’s [Journey to the Cross] was the best representation of Jesus’ sacrifice that I’ve seen.”

—Julia Santiago, Campion Academy Student News Team. Photos by Jeff Koska, Erik Stenbakken, and others supplied.

04 Apr


For my first article on our conference’s aspirations for this term, please click here. And please remember, these aspirations are what we hope the sum total of the lives and ministries of our members, pastors, teachers, students, and institutions become as we continue to live for God and grow in our Savior, Christ Jesus.

In this installment, I want to speak briefly about the second aspiration in our list: “The message of God’s loving character, grace, and soon return is faithfully represented by our people to those around them.”

Though a thorough expanding on this aspiration could take numerous articles to flesh out, I’ll focus on a few specific things that come to mind with this aspiration.

Someone once wrote, “we are the expression on the face of God.” Though God has many ways of displaying Himself in this world (members in the Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) are particularly blessed by the huge variety of ways He is revealed in the scenic beauty found here), He mostly relies on the image of Himself that is seen in the lives of His people. So, a fair question to ask would be, “what does the world think of God when they look at us?”

Perhaps, like me, you have noticed the number and frequency of articles in the news lately about why people are leaving their church. This has always been a problem, but the rise a couple of decades ago of postmodernism has cut deeply into the church’s ability to be relevant and provide meaningful ministry.

Postmodernism has made truth relevant (or rather, tried to!). That is to say, I am free to determine what is truth for me even if my truth is not the same as your truth. Gone seems to be the notion of objective truth—that thing we can all lean against to ground us and help us keep our bearings in life.

Caught in the wake of postmodernism is the diminution of the authority of Scripture as the source of truth. In prior years, for example, when we would do evangelism, we’d be arguing with other people about what was truth and how to live it from the Bible. We may have disagreed about what the truth was, but we had no disagreement about the authority of the Book from which we debated. Today, the Scriptures are considered only as a source of authority, not the source of it. The postmodern worlds say, “You can choose if it’s an authority for you, but you can’t choose to have it be an authority for someone else if they don’t want it to be.”

Do you see the conundrum this creates for the church? One of the reasons often stated in those articles I mentioned earlier about why people are leaving the church, is that the Bible and churches are no longer relevant to our contemporary world. Particularly in the realm of social issues, many have come to feel that the Bible lags behind where society is now. Of course, that means that the thinking has shifted to be “how can we find permission in Scripture to live as we wish now?” rather than asking, “how can we live now in light of what we know the Scripture teaches?”

In my own observations of life today, I see more angst, anxiety, fear, depression, fear, and anger than ever before. As a Bible-believing Christian, it seems clear to me that the rise in these emotions is directly related to a general walking away from Christian values and truth on the part of society. Relegating the principles of Scripture to the dustbin of history has left the world without its true rudder. No wonder we live in angst.

And the only real counter to this is the changed life lived in the face of it all.

You can argue over the details and even doctrine, but it’s harder to argue with someone who has peace and assurance in spite of all the reasons out there to be anxious, fearful, or angry. That’s precisely the Christian’s opening to live a life that shows that God’s loving character matters, that grace matters, and that an ultimate end to the reign of sin and sinfulness matters.

My aspiration for this aspiration is that our people will be a walking, breathing, speaking beacon of hope because we believe that God is who He says He is, and that we stand in faithful contrast to what we see happening in this age. And by His grace, may we all live to see His soon return!

—Mic Thurber is RMC president

02 Apr


Cinthya Miranda – Denver, Colorado … I wore my “Once an Adventurer, Always an Adventurer” shirt to my first doctor’s appointment. It’s a comfortable shirt. I found that I look nice in the color puce, I love that it was a gift from Lacinda Hopkins, and it’s a valuable mission tool as people sometimes ask, “What is an Adventurer?”

After so many tests, I finally had a diagnosis: Endometrial Hyperplasia/Carcinoma. Don’t bother looking it up; it’s just a fancy way to say, “precursor to uterine cancer.” Due to my results, I was scheduled for surgery.

I came home that day and lay on the couch to wait for my husband. Breaking the news to him was harder than receiving the news. My mind played games with memories I’m yet to have and would possibly miss: Liam graduating pre-school; Kaylon and Kyleigh getting baptized at the International Pathfinder Camporee; my husband, Daniel Gonzalez, making silly jokes or intelligent remarks during a sermon he prepared; of his smile that takes my breath away every time.

After he heard what I had to say and the initial shock went away, he said, “stop being silly.” My jaw dropped, but his remark brought me back to reality. Talk about God knowing the right person for you … He was right, I was being silly. I was dwelling on the cup-half-empty verses. I decided to smile even though my heart was breaking.

Daniel and I started walking together. I would have moments that we called ” waves.” Waves was my safe word that meant that I needed to get out of that place so everyone would not notice how ugly I cry. During these walks, we talked about life, treatment, and what I wanted done (and not done) in case treatments did not work.

One day, Daniel was sleeping, and I didn’t have the heart to wake him up so early. I went alone for my sunrise prayer walk, using my “Once an Adventurer, Always an Adventurer” shirt. I needed to ask God “what’s next?”

I walked to a small hill where a medium pine tree lives. It felt so inviting to sit down. As I was doing so, I felt a cool, gentil breeze envelop me. To some it was just that, wind. To me it felt like a hug with the promise that, regardless of the outcome, I would be fine. I felt a little more lighthearted, but still a little gloomy.

Suddenly, some hawks landed on the ground with a thud, fighting over some food. I had never jumped up so fast. Looking up to the sky, I knew God was just trying to help me snap out of the doom and gloom.

The day before my surgery, an opportunity came up to financially help a child in need of surgery. I was debating in my heart whether I should help her. I wanted to, but I also needed the money for my out-of-pocket surgery.

I gave the aunt $100. It’s very little compared to what the kiddo needed, but it was literally all I had left from all my appointments. I figured that God always provided, and she needed it more.

That very night, someone I wasn’t expecting told me to put the surgery bill on their card with lower interest rates so that I could make smaller payments. And the morning of my surgery, someone called me out of nowhere and helped me a little too. I didn’t even ask.

Yuris Robles brought me soup and a visit. My church family Three Angels, Lacinda Hopkins, Karolina Montano, Nataly Lerma, and Waleska Valdez texted me words of comfort and prayer.

My sister-in-law Silvia Sainz Gonzalez took Liam to school and brought him home so that I could have a moment to rest. The blessing I gave to the little girl came back to me twice fold. I still have a long way to go both financially and physically, but “do you see the blessings?”

I wore my “Once an Adventurer, Always an Adventurer” shirt one more time for my surgery. Now it wasn’t just a mission statement, it was for my own comfort. I needed to feel once again enveloped, and I knew that the ones that knew my situation would pray every moment for me.

After the surgery, I was in pain, but cancer free.

Confirmation of God’s love came to me one more time when my husband was taking me to an urgent CT scan because the doctors believed I was showing signs of sepsis. I felt apprehensive as I knew this meant a serious surgery that I wasn’t ready to go through again.

On the drive to the scan, I saw a car pull up with the license plate “JSHUA19.” I opened my Bible and read it out loud: Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9, NIV).

The full force of God’s word hit me. I have experienced wonderful things throughout my life that let me know God is with me, but this takes precedent.

My “Once an Adventurer, Always an Adventurer” shirt became a symbol of comfort and of hope for me. It reminds me of what I went though, how I felt, what Jesus did for me, and of all those who took the time and prayed for me.

I’m thankful for the blessing the Lord gave me and continues to do so. I hope my story also blesses you. Know that, regardless of what you are going through, you are never alone, and you have me and Jesus. Please take a moment to pray for all our sisters going through some sort of hardship.

Cinthya Miranda is RMC Adventurer coordinator. Photos supplied.

01 Apr


Sandy Hodgson – Denver, Colorado … Four educators from the Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) joined Mid-America Union Conference (MAUC) educators in Washington D.C. for the annual Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) Conference, March 22-25.

Among the RMC attendees was Jennifer Angeles Mendiola, head teacher at Springs Adventist Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Reflecting on her experience at the conference, Jennifer said that “it was a very empowering experience and I learned programs and perspectives that I can apply at our school. If we want to be innovative and bring new ideas to our students, we need to embrace and consider change.”

Mendiola’s reflection echoes the overarching theme of the conference. Throughout the event, the educators were immersed in discussions, workshops, and keynotes that fostered critical thinking, collaboration, and adaptability. The ASCD Conference provided exposure to learning strategies that provide transformative experiences for children to thrive in their learning.

Karen Espinola, head teacher at Lighthouse Christian Seventh-day Adventist School in Fort Morgan, Colorado, found herself “rethinking my use of technology to provide the best learning experience for my students in a small school environment.” Karen commented, “I can better visualize a more interactive, inclusive, and innovative approach to my teaching and am already planning what I can do next year to strengthen the programming already in place.”

The time at the ASCD Conference provided breakout opportunities for the participants to connect and exchange ideas that are specific to the mission for education in the Rocky Mountain Conference.

Soriya Szilagyi, head teacher at the Laura E. Mason Christian Academy in Cheyenne, Wyoming, found that attending the conference was a great opportunity to connect with her colleagues. “We were able to exchange ideas and strategies for educating the whole student,” commented Soriya. “Through the sessions at ASCD, I was reminded not to get distracted by the highs and lows of teaching and focus on all the learning opportunities available throughout the year for my students.”

While not connected with the conference, a highlight event sponsored by the Mid America Union Conference was a Sabbath visit to the Museum of the Bible. Touring five floors of exhibits and rare artifacts spanning 4,000 years of history, the attendees experienced the Bible’s ongoing impact in our world.

Armed with fresh perspectives, the RMC educators returned home inspired to continue the positive journey in our individual schools. They also came back with the knowledge that they are supported at the conference and union levels to make a difference for the students they interface with.

—Sandy Hodgson is the RMC education assistant director. Photos supplied.

28 Mar


Vashty Segovia Santos – Loveland, Colorado … The Campion Academy Ski Club spent four days enjoying God’s nature in the Colorado mountains on their annual four-day trip to Copper Mountain Ski Resort in Frisco, Colorado, March 23-26.

They started their trip off by holding a church service at the Leadville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Leadville, Colorado, where they shared praise music, testimonies, and experiences from the recent mission trip with the local church members.

Brayden Marroquin, Campion junior, expressed, “It was fun being able to share our experiences of going to the Dominican Republic and being missionaries there. I could tell that our testimonies really spoke to them.” The students were able to fellowship with the members of the church over potluck.

After church, the students went tubing at Leadville’s Dutch Henry Sledding Hill. A group of the students made it their goal to send a tuber over the top of the track. But, despite multiple attempts and recalculations, they were unsuccessful.

For the next three days the group went skiing and snowboarding at Copper Mountain. Each person had a different skill level: some had been skiing and snowboarding since they were small, and others were just starting. “I really liked growing closer to everyone on the ski trip. I liked how everyone was willing to help me when I was struggling on my first day,” Yolanda Han, Campion junior, shared.

During this trip there were several friends that decided that they wanted to switch gear and try something new. Addison Gann, Campion sophomore, shared, “My favorite part of ski trip was trying skiing again. I had skied before but preferred snowboarding. It was really fun to try it again and to watch my friend try snowboarding.”

Elin Sorensen, Campion freshman, who had switched gears with Addison, agreed saying; “It was fun to try snowboarding for the first time.”

In the evenings, the students were able to explore the historic town of Leadville, eat dinner together, catch up on schoolwork, and play games.

On the last day, the students gathered for a group picture and ran. “My favorite part was going on a run together. It was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed getting to know everyone better.” Jovanna Maldonado, Campion senior, reflected.

—Vashty Segovia Santos, Campion Academy Student News Team. Photos supplied.

28 Mar


Liz Kirkland – Denver, Colorado … Thirteen new-in-ministry pastors joined together at the Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) office with Mickey Mallory, RMC Ministerial director, and Craig Carr, Mid-America Union Conference (MAUC) Ministerial director, for the New in Ministry meeting, March 19-20.

These meetings have been held twice a year since 2022 with the purpose of equipping RMC pastors that are new in ministry with the skills for a life of ministry.

“The early years of a pastor’s ministry are very important,” commented Mallory. “Since it forms the foundation for the rest of their ministry, it is very important that we provide the tools they need to be successful in life and ministry.”

At these meetings, attendees look at one of the seven core qualities it takes to be an effective pastor as defined by the North American Division (NAD) Ministerial Association: character, evangelism, leadership, worship; management, scholarship, and relationship. The focus of this session explored the quality of interpersonal relationships. Mallory remarked, “For pastors to make a difference in their congregations and in their community, they need good people skills.”

When asked what these meetings meant to him, Lucas Lujan, head pastor at Colorado Springs South and Woodland Park Seventh-day Adventist Church in Colorado Springs and Woodland Park, Colorado, respectively, shared, “[It means] growth, nurturing, strengthening, and maturing. I enjoy the Godly fellowship and being able to worship.”

“For me, the biggest thing is realizing that I’m not alone,” remarked another participant of the meeting. “There are a lot of other people that are learning just like I am learning and growing in ministry. Being able to learn from their experience is my favorite part.”

—Liz Kirkland is the RMC Communication Assistant. Photos by Liz Kirkland.

27 Mar


Ardis Stenbakken – Loveland, Colorado … My mother lost a teenage son in a drowning accident. Very recently, one of my friends lost her adult son to a sudden and unexpected death. Mothers losing sons in death.

This weekend, I think of Jesus’ mother. She was probably still young, in her mid-to-late forties when she lost her son to death in a most cruel way. Oh, how she must have looked forward to the resurrection, having no idea how close it really was.

That resurrection story is important to all of us too, and women played an important part in it. While Christ’s male followers were hiding, and for probably good reason, the women went to the tomb. There they discovered glorious news. And they lost no time in sharing it. In fact, Ellen G. White says that Mary preached it:

Women can be the instruments of righteousness, rendering holy service. It was Mary that first preached a risen Jesus … If there were twenty women where now there is one, who would make this holy mission their cherished work, we should see many more converted to the truth (Review and Herald, Jan. 2, 1879).

Although the men did not want to believe it, the facts were there: the women were right. Now it is our turn to believe and share. The facts are still there for us, men or women. Christ’s resurrection is a fact. Now we too look for a resurrection at Christ’s Second Coming. All of us need to preach it, need to share it, because there’s a world waiting to hear that there will soon be an end to any of us losing children or any other loved one. Glorious news!

It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles (Luke 24:10, NKJV).

—Ardis Stenbakken, a former Women’s Ministry director of the General Conference, is the Campion Adventist Church communication director and is involved with Women’s and Family Ministries. Photo by AdobeStock.

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