01 Feb


Dear Conference Family,

This article starts what I hope is a semi-regular series on who we are and what we are about here in the Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC). Several months ago, the Conference Executive Committee voted to support some updates and changes to our mission, aspirations, and priorities. These were shared with those who attended the town hall meetings last fall. However, since many more of you read NewsNuggets than attended those meetings, I thought it would be good to share here what we presented in those meetings more widely with our Conference family.

That to which we aspire, hold as values and practical priorities, are those things that are unique to Rocky Mountain at this point in our history. Unchanged is our vision, allegiance, and motivation that we share with the rest of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church.

We have presented these mission statements, aspirations, and priorities in a familiar way. If you’ve visited the RMC web site in the last few years, you’d have seen them displayed on the very bottom of the home page (rmcsda.org). Though we changed things quite a bit, they are still presented in a general format that should be familiar to you. This series of articles are written to explain what’s new and what’s been updated.

When I first arrived here, I was impressed by the Conference mission statement. It was developed over several months following discussions among pastors and leaders of the Conference.

I was so struck by the concise statement of mission in the phrase “Knowing Christ and Making Him Fully Known” that I want to keep that as our banner headline over all of it. So, you’ll see on our web site that very statement as our headline when you scroll to the bottom of the home page.

In the “Our Mission” section, we’ve broken that down into two statements. The Mission Statement is to “Enlarge the kingdom of Jesus Christ in our territory.” That’s our marching orders from Scripture. Though we can send missionaries to other parts of the world, our main focus should be where we live—our cities, towns, communities, and rural neighborhoods.

“Brighten the corner where you are” still rings in my ears from my early Sabbath School days. I do believe that we are all where we are for a reason. And I believe that our dear Heavenly Father would like nothing more than to have His children let others know of Him and His great love for them.

But it needs to be even more specific than that, and “Our Vision” focuses the laser to a very sharp point, to “Enlarge the territory Jesus has in each heart and enlarge our Conference family by welcoming new followers of Christ.”

To be most useful for our Lord means to be honest with Him every day. To become our best selves, we should continually be willing to surrender more and more of our lives, hearts, thinking, and activities to Jesus. When God said He was a “jealous God” it was because the one thing He doesn’t do well is to share a throne with anyone else. The more we surrender to Him, the more peace we will realize, the more power we will have for good, and the more like Him we become.

So, I should ask you, what are the unsurrendered parts of your heart? What are you holding back from Him? Are there habits, relationships, prejudices, or longings that are not in harmony with a heart that wants to be heart for God? If the Spirit is gently leading you to surrender more and more of the territory of your heart to Jesus, I pray you will follow where He leads.

I’m convinced that the ability of the church to enlarge the territory of this Conference field with new believers is directly related to our willingness to let Jesus take over more and more of our lives.

That’s because the more Christ has taken root in our lives, the safer and more attractive our churches will be. And, as it has been wisely noted in the past, while there may be little hard evidence a Christian can point to as irrefutable that proves Jesus is really God and that His appearance here on this earth is not a fable, the changed life of the Christian is impossible to impeach.

My final words in this introductory article are to invite you to live the Values shown under our Mission and Vision statements. If together we live lives with those values and are true to our mission, I believe there’s no limit to what can happen for Christ in our conference!

Until next time,
Pastor Mic

—Mic Thurber is RMC president.

30 Jan

Bonds Beyond Basketball

Karrie Meyers – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … Mile High Academy’s (MHA) varsity basketball teams demonstrated outstanding performance and sportsmanship at the Pacific Union College (PUC) Pioneers Invitational Academy Basketball Tournament in Angwin, California, January 24-27.

In a field of 17 boys’ teams and 16 girls’ teams, the MHA Mustangs showcased their incredible athletic abilities, with the girls’ team securing three wins out of four games, claiming the fifth-place finish. The boys’ teams, equally commendable, held their ground with a two to four record and an eighth-place finish.

The individual efforts of MHA students Addy Dodds and Rogan Annis were recognized with prestigious awards. Dodds received the All-Tournament Team award for the girls, along with the Girls Basketball Champion of Character Award. Rogan Annis earned the All-Tournament Team award for the boys.

A standout moment of the tournament unfolded on January 25, during which MHA girls were pitted against the Loma Linda Academy Roadrunners. Notably, MHA assistant coach Ridge Tull faced off against his cousin Brady Tull, who was formally with MHA and now represents Loma Linda. However, the real buzz swirled around MHA’s head coach Michael Camacho, who, for the first time, went head-to-head against his father and Loma Linda’s head coach, Lucio Camacho.

This matchup drew the attention of tournament attendees, contributing to the already full bleachers. The MHA girls faced their first loss of the tournament, yet both teams not only displayed mutual respect but also held both coaches in high regard.

Reflecting on this memorable encounter, Lucio Camacho expressed, “Coaching against Michael was the highlight of my weekend. I am proud of what he has accomplished in his short time at MHA and look forward to all that is in front of him—especially since he said, when he comes back, he is dominating and definitely beating Loma Linda. I don’t doubt it!”

Michael Camacho expressed his sentiments about the unique matchup, stating, “Facing my dad in a coaching competition was a special moment for both of us. I’ve learned a lot from him, and this experience added a new dimension to our relationship. It’s not just about the game; it’s about creating lasting memories that take basketball beyond the game.”

As the tournament closed and MHA headed back to Colorado, the athletes, coaches, and supporters reflected on the tournament’s significance. Several athletes commented that tournaments like PUC’s hold a special place in their hearts, creating lasting memories and new friendships.

Others reflected on various humorous moments that only come with first experiences of dorm life, sleeping on uncomfortable floors and beds, and trying to figure out how to eat between busy game schedules. But all agreed that when the plane’s wheels touched down in Denver and an overhead announcement by the flight attendant said, “Welcome home, Mustangs,” it felt good to be home.

As the Mustangs’ season moves towards its mid-February conclusion, the teams remain committed to not only furthering their skills on the court but also continuing to foster friendships and teamwork that extend beyond athletics.

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

30 Jan


Ardis Stenbakken – Loveland, Colorado … “Quilts with a Story” drew over 30 women to the Campion Women’s Ministries program, January 21. They brought quilts: new quilts and quilts that their grandmothers made; some over 100 years old and some with interesting stories.

Jeanette Fortner, the Campion Women’s Ministries leader, welcomed everyone with prayer and pointed out the hot drinks available in a variety of dainty China cups. And then the show began.

Each woman who brought a quilt showed her quilt and told the story of how she came to own it. Some showed quilts they had made, and others quilts they had inherited. One participant showed a “Quilt in a Day” that took her a year to complete, but she was in medical school during that year.

Several showed quilts that their grandmothers had made. As one participant said, “There were 11 of us, and I, as the oldest, got to choose first; it was hard!” But the quilt was beautiful.

Another quilt, made by the grandmother, had “Willie” embroidered on it. When asked later about how many received such quilts, Willie tried to add them up—and gave up.  There were quilts that were given at baby showers and quilts that were wedding gifts.

There were several quilt tops made of flour sack fabrics from the 30’s and 40’s. One was a top that the seamstress made and took with her to China as a missionary. When the Communists drew near to the city where they worked, the Amah (she watched the children and kept the house while the adults attended language school) and a friend of hers worked through several nights to get the batting and back on and get it quilted.

Almost everyone said they hoped that the “Quilt with a Story” could be repeated, and even more women invited as most of the ladies said they had other quilts with a story at home.

—Ardis Stenbakken is the Campion Adventist Church communication director and is involved with Women’s and Family Ministries. Photos supplied.

29 Jan


Ronald Johnson – Grand Junction, Colorado … Ron Carrick began the Sabbath morning congregational prayer with the topic “Lord, it’s all about You” at the Grand Junction Seventh-day Adventist Church in Grand Junction, Colorado, January 20. This is the way Ron, church elder, and his wife Viki have lived their lives and was evident in the way they experienced a recent medical emergency.

A week before Christmas 2023, Ron left their home in Fruita, Colorado, by car to visit his son in Southern California. Along the way he became disoriented and lost.

After he failed to arrive and Viki was not able to contact him, she filed a missing person report. Ron was located at a gas station in the small town of Alamo, Nevada, way off the main travel route. The Nevada State Patrol got him into a motel there and contacted Viki.

Viki left home with a friend early in the morning, December 20, arriving in Alamo around noon. She found Ron in bed, incoherent, and in a fetal position. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital in the nearby small town of Caliente, Nevada.

A CT scan found a large subdural bleed, and he was taken by Flight-for-Life to Saint George Regional Hospital in St. George, Utah, and was immediately admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Viki’s sister, Valerie, who lives in Grand Junction, was notified and she and her husband, Mike, arrived late that evening.

On December 21, Ron was unresponsive with incoherent speech. The experienced neurosurgeon, Dr. Jotham Manwaring, described the solid clot located in the language center of the left side of the brain with concern of postoperative seizures, a very serious condition.

After a two and a half-hour surgery, the clot was removed, and the bleed source was found and stopped. The morning of December 22, Ron was alert and recognized and identified each person, the Lord’s healing blessing!

Ron spent Christmas day in the hospital with continuing improvement and was moved into neuro rehab on December 26. He remained in rehab until January 3, when he was discharged and Mike drove Ron and Viki home the next day.

Ron is progressing well with Viki’s loving care. Viki says, “the Lord has blessed us again by being able to locate a neuro-ophthalmologist close to home in Fruita that will be able to improve Ron’s visual skills and enhance his sensory integration affected by his brain trauma.”

Part of Ron’s occupational and physical therapy involves working with jigsaw puzzles. This helps him recognize the intricate lines and curves of the pieces and their orientation to place into the puzzle.

For the January 20 worship service, Viki chose and led the opening praise song “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” for the way the Lord led and continues to lead in Ron’s highway rescue, surgery, and continued healing.

—Ronald Johnson is Grand Junction Seventh-day Adventist Church correspondent. Photo by Ronald Johnson.

29 Jan


Angela Baerg – Collegedale, Tennessee … Noah Sturges first learned he loved filmmaking during his junior year as a student at Campion Academy in Loveland, Colorado. His classmates had written a student play, and he made a behind-the-scenes video as part of the project. He loved the reactions he got from his work, and he began to wonder if he could make a career out of it.

During his senior year, Sturges plugged into every activity on campus where he could hone his videography skills, from being the technology director to making promotional videos for the school. He also helped the Grand Junction Seventh-day Adventist Church to livestream their sermons. When it came time to choose a college, his science teacher recommended Southern Adventist University.

“He told me their film studies program was exceptional, and he was right,” recalled Sturges, who is now a junior film production major at Southern. “On top of that, it’s the community that really enhances my experience here.”

Sturges is part of a Bible study group with his fellow film majors. Together they have been studying the book of Philippians. He particularly admires Paul’s persistent gratitude and has been attempting to emulate that attitude in his own daily life.

While at Southern, Sturges has shared his tech skills with Collegedale Seventh-day Adventist Church, helping them livestream their church services. He also films events throughout the year for Strawberry Festival, a year-end event with a video that recaps the school year and fosters a spirit of togetherness.

Sturges is excited about his upcoming film internship at Loma Linda University this summer and hopes to soon participate in a mission trip so he can bring that experience home in video form to share with the world.

“I love being a videographer,” Sturges commented. “I love seeing the smiles on people’s faces when there is a camera on them. Whenever I have a camera, I feel a sense of purpose. I hope to use my gifts to share God’s word with others.”

—Angela Baerg is a Southern Adventist University alumna and a freelance writer for Southern Adventist University’s Columns Magazine. Photos supplied.

24 Jan


Alyssa Bahnmiller – Fort Lupton, Colorado … A healthy cooking class was held January 8 as a joint outreach effort between the Fort Lupton and Carbon Valley Seventh-day Adventist Churches in north-central Colorado.

As plans for growth at the Fort Lupton and Carbon Valley Churches continue to take shape, a needs survey had been distributed in the community. The results have been used by the church’s Bible Worker, Eric Bahnmiller, to facilitate outreach. One of the most popular selections of interest was health and wellness.

Many in those communities seem to have a keen interest in their physical health. Along with the desire for healthy cooking classes, there is also a lot of interest in exercise programs, physical fitness support groups, hiking, biking, and more. Both churches teamed up to support and join in these initiatives, inviting people from both communities to participate at the Fort Lupton Church fellowship hall.

After much prayer, it was decided that the best place to begin meeting the health needs of the people would be through monthly cooking classes. The classes are organized and taught by Alyssa Bahnmiller, a registered nurse and health and wellness coach, who is a member of the Fort Lupton Church. The first class presented introductory information on health and wellness through nutrition.

Attendees learned how good nutrition can be a means of preventing and reversing many common chronic illnesses. The health education session was followed by a cooking demonstration filled with information about the health benefits of the foods being used. The menu was a plant-based linguini alfredo with the optional toppings of pan-seared cherry tomatoes or grilled mushrooms and with side options of simple steamed broccoli and a green salad with chopped roasted almonds and a made-from-scratch Italian dressing.

Although the weather for that day was adverse, and several people contacted the instructor because of illness, seven community members braved the cold to attend along with 11 church members. Three of the attendees were community contacts that Eric has already been working with through Bible study and personal ministry. One attendee saw the flier that was placed at a local grocery store, and the others were guests brought by Eric’s contacts.

After the cooking demonstration and health education was completed, dinner was served to the attendees so they could experience how good the food tasted. This was a time of fellowship and friendship building between church members and the community guests.

One excited community member commented about the cooking demonstration: “when [Alyssa] was putting those ingredients in the blender [for the plant-based alfredo sauce] I thought, ‘this is going to be so gross.’ But when I tasted it, I couldn’t believe how delicious it was!”

She and her sister were both living with type II diabetes and desired to reverse their disease through healthier living. They requested to take home leftovers for their families to try, and both said they are bringing more people with them for the next class.

Since the event is only held once a month on the second Monday of every month, the class began a networking group on the app called “Band” to stay in touch between classes. On this app, the attendees can ask questions and interact with Alyssa outside of class. She is also able to post health tips and suggestions, new recipes weekly, and communicate cancellations and/or bonus classes offered.

The Fort Lupton and Carbon Valley Churches are pleased with the success of the first class and are prayerfully looking forward to the next class on February 12, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. when they expect return attendees as well as newcomers!

“Nothing will open doors for the truth like evangelistic medical missionary work … [this] is the right, helping hand of the gospel, to open doors for the proclamation of the message …” 1

—Alyssa Bahnmiller writes from the Fort Lupton Seventh-day Adventist Church. Photos supplied.


1 White, E.G. (1946). Evangelism. Section 16-Medical Evangelism, EV 513.1-513.2.

23 Jan


Jocelyn Aalborg and Karrie Meyers – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … A basketball showdown between the Mile High Academy (MHA) Mustangs and Campion Academy (CA) Cougars was nothing short of electrifying, showcasing the fierce competition and camaraderie that defines high school sports, January 20.

The varsity girls’ game was a nail-biter, with both teams giving it their all until the final moments. The match reached its climax as the last free throw shots were taken, ultimately leading to MHA’s narrow 32-31 victory.

As the boys took to the court, the game started off neck and neck, but the Cougars managed to secure a lead that the Mustangs couldn’t overcome, winning 46 to 28. Despite the competitive nature of the game, the sportsmanship displayed was heartening, with players helping each other up, sharing hugs on the court, and embodying the true spirit of the game.

“It was fun seeing several familiar faces on the Campion team again,” commented Logen Meyers, MHA sophomore and team co-captain. “Showdowns like this one, plus various tournaments during the season, allows us to form friendships despite the competitiveness of the game.”

Adding to the excitement were the interactive games orchestrated by Andrew Carpenter, MHA’s principal, during the quarters and halftime. These activities, which included prize drawings and a blindfold game where each school cheered on their contestant who was trying to locate a dot on their half of the court, not only entertained the crowd but also kept the energy levels high. The gym was a sea of enthusiastic fans, with not a single open seat in sight. Families continued to pour in, creating a lively atmosphere reminiscent of pre-COVID times.

This particular showdown doesn’t typically happen on MHA’s campus. Traditionally the two teams come head-to-head at downtown Denver’s Ball Arena, competing on the Nuggets court, and staying as a community to enjoy the Nuggets game that evening. Unfortunately, due to scheduling constraints, Ball Arena couldn’t happen this year, so the event was held at MHA’s gym.

However, this showdown provided a memorable alternative. The turnout and atmosphere were exceptional, offering a unique experience for both players and spectators alike. It was a welcome reminder of the sense of community and shared passion that sports can bring.

Michael Camacho, MHA’s athletic director, said, “While we missed the tradition of playing at Ball Arena, the energy and sportsmanship displayed by Saturday night’s games truly embody spirit of the schools. Celebrating victories and camaraderie, let’s remember the real triumph is the bonds formed on and off the court.”

“This showdown may have taken a different stage,” he continued, “but the essence of unity and friendly competition remains strong among our students. Here’s to the unforgettable moments, providing that no matter where the game is played, the heart of our community shines through.”

—Jocelyn Aalborg is the vice president of finance and development, and Karrie Meyers is the marketing and development coordinator at Mile High Academy. Photos supplied.

22 Jan


Amanda Kent and Victor Issa – Brighton, Colorado … Victor Issa, an award-winning sculptor and acclaimed artist, has completed a three-quarter-life-size clay sculpture for bronze titled, “Moses, A Life of Miracles.” This work of art, meticulously crafted over 18 months, intricately chronicles the life of Moses from infancy to his contemplative moments on Mount Nebo.

The reveal is set to take center stage during the 2024 International Pathfinder Camporee event in August. The commissioning organization, the Center for Youth Evangelism, serves as the sponsor of the International Pathfinder Camporee—an expansive gathering occurring every five years since 1985. More than 57,000 attendees from around the world are expected to converge on Gillette, Wyoming, for the six-day event. The theme for this year is “Believe the Promise,” which features the inspiring story of Moses.

“I have long desired to create a sculpture of Moses,” Issa said. “When the director of the camporee, Ron Whitehead, invited me to consider such a sculpture, I pondered what to focus on, what to include and exclude. It was not an easy choice.”

“I really wanted to create a strong work that not only tells a story but invites the viewers to reflect on the vastness of this godly man’s miraculous life and his contributions,” Issa said.

The centerpiece captures Moses on Mount Nebo, reflecting on the miracles that defined his profound relationship with God. Surrounding him are pivotal scenes, including the discovery of Baby Moses, the burning bush encounter, the powerful confrontation with Pharaoh, Moses dividing the Red Sea, and more.

Issa’s goal was to create a piece transcending storytelling, encouraging viewers to reflect on Moses’ remarkable life. Moses, who spent extensive time in direct communion with God, fervently longed to see God’s face without barriers—an emotion resonating with the human desire to see loved ones.

“From an infant, until he closed his eyes on Mount Nebo, the story of Moses is filled with drama, action, tragedy, celebrations, miracles, world-changing events, and tremendous historical and spiritual significance,” Issa said.

Created in his recently established studio in Brighton, Colorado, the sculpture is a testament to his artistic vision and unwavering dedication. Issa navigated numerous challenging decisions, ensuring careful consideration and attention to detail.

Issa, a leading figurative sculptor in America, is celebrated for his unique ability to breathe life into bronze with his hallmark style, “Creating Living Bronze.” With more than 40 years of professional sculpting experience, his works have graced exhibitions across America since 1985, finding a place in private and public collections globally. He is also an elected member of the prestigious Allied Artists of America.

—Amanda Kent is the Chief Innovation Officer at Boundless Media, and Victor Issa is founder of the Victor Issa Studios. Republished with permission from Adventist Review News; the original version of this story was posted on the North American Division news site. Photos by Victor Issa Studios.

The right side of the sculpture “Moses, A Life of Miracles,” with the final two scenes below it.
18 Jan


Brandon Westgate – Ward, Colorado … The Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) Greater Summit teen prayer retreat took place at Glacier View Ranch (GVR) in Ward, Colorado, January 12-14.

Jonathan Carlson, RMC director of camp ministries at GVR, commented, “Youth summit was exactly what GVR was designed for; a place for young people to meet and experience the love of Jesus Christ. That is exactly what happened.”

Eighty-five participants came from as far away as Grand Junction, Colorado, Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Lincoln, Nebraska. While the weather was snowy, windy, and cold, our teens had an absolute blast.

Jade Teal, RMC Youth Department assistant director, planned the event and did a fantastic job of facilitating and directing the participants so that everyone knew what was happening and when and where those things were taking place.

Greater Summit is focused on three areas:

Encounter: This was the worship time with praise music, prayer, and opening the Word. The speaker for the weekend was Virgil Covel, the ministerial director the for the Kansas-Nebraska Conference, who shared relevant stories to both challenge and encourage the teens.

Engage: This was when the teens wrestled with some real questions about life and faith with their adult sponsors. Many great conversations took place, and the teens were invested in this time with one another.

Enjoy: This was the time our teens spent in activities. Some of the outdoor activities included snowshoeing, hiking, snow tubing, making snow forts, and more. Other teens were more interested in indoor activities like swimming, making crafts, filling out cards for shut-ins, or just enjoying a cup of hot chocolate with new friends.

Carlos Santana, Campion Academy chaplain, had this to say: “The Greater Summit was an amazing experience for our Campion students as well as for myself. The spiritual programing was on point for what the youth may struggle with during this time in their lives.”

“The breakout Engage sessions were a highlight of the spiritual programing,” he continued. “Giving students the opportunity to share their testimonies and thoughts on the various topics we covered was such a blessing for us! The activities were well planned and fun, and even though weather didn’t cooperate, there was always something to do for our kids.”

Santana finished by saying that he was certain that “… all of our students would benefit from attending Greater Summit.”

RMC staff members are already planning for next year’s Greater Summit, and they are certain it will be just as epic as this one!

—Brandon Westgate is the RMC Youth Department director. Photos supplied.

17 Jan


LVM Outreach Department and team – Farmington, New Mexico … Nearly 200 people gathered to celebrate fellowship with one another at the La Vida Mission* (LVM) in Farmington, New Mexico, at their local Christmas tradition, the Annual Community Christmas Fiesta, December 13.

Located far from the city and without much entertainment or big stores, malls, or other places to visit, La Vida Mission attracts gatherings and events among the local community providing source of joyful experiences and merriment in the community, especially during special seasons such as Christmas.

The Community Christmas Fiesta was prompted by the joy of community gatherings and by their love and desire to continually serve their friends of the Navajo Nation and neighbors and share with them the love and gospel of Jesus.

The services offered during the Fiesta include a free flea market, door prizes, spinning wheel prize, and games. Food bags, snacks and refreshments, and a Christmas lunch were also provided.

For this flee market, the school gym was filled with all kinds of goodies from groceries and food goods to clothes, shoes, bedding, and various household items. There were even small appliances and furniture to the delight of attendees.

A Food Court is run at the event that served the people non-stop and the door prizes were something those in attendance looked forward to as well. Organizers of the event were grateful to have enough door prizes for everybody.

There was also a much-anticipated propane give away of which 135 attendees received propane refills. This giveaway is truly a blessing during this cold season.

This Community Christmas Fiesta was blessed by donations from churches within the Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) through the efforts of Pastor Mike and Cathy Kissner of the RMC Community Services Department,** the Navajo PRIDE NAPI (Navajo Agricultural Product Industry), and Bimbo Bakeries USA. Organizers of the event also want to thank the families, friends, and even a La Vida staff member who donated financially to help with the event logistics.

Dr. Robert Gardner, the newly elected La Vida Mission board president, with his wife, Kimone, have made several trips from Rio Rancho, New Mexico, during their weekly clinic at the Mission and, on many other different occasions, to deliver support for the Fiesta. They not only led in the health spinning wheel prize corner but also brought and donated most of the door prizes.

The guests at La Vida Mission always ask organizers where they get all the people who come to the events because all they see is barren land and a few houses here and there when they drive to La Vida. You may not see them but they’re there, they’re here, and yes, they do exist, so La Vida Mission and its local Seventh-day Adventist congregation can continue to share the love of Jesus to them.

* Please note that LaVida Mission is not affiliated with the Rocky Mountain Conference (RMC) nor the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.

** The volunteer efforts of Mike and Kathy Kissner were not in their official capacity at RMC.

—LVM Outreach Department team and VJ Panganiban, La Vida Mission Church outreach director, and his wife, Beth. Photos supplied.