30 Apr

2021 Elections Bring Leadership Changes for NAD Administration, Departments, and Guam-Micronesia Mission

Mylon Medley –Columbia, Maryland .. .Three vice presidents, two directors, an associate director, Liberty magazine editor, and the president of the Guam-Micronesia Mission have been newly elected to serve the North American Division (NAD) until 2025. The election on April 29, 2021, took place during a meeting of the NAD Executive Committee; the date was chosen by the same governing body through a vote on Feb. 25, 2021, after the postponement of the 2021 General Conference Session.

A total of 42 names were presented for election or re-election from the division’s nominating committee. Executive committee members could vote for or against the names, or refer the name(s) back to the nominating committee. Most positions voted were for incumbents, however, seven new leaders accepted the call to serve.

Right before executive committee members voted, Randy Robinson, NAD treasurer, offered prayer. “Father, this is a solemn moment where we are acting … as we consider these individuals for these positions, we pray for your Spirit’s movement in our hearts. And we pray for the will of God to be done. We thank you,” Robinson prayed.

Wendy Eberhardt was elected to serve as the NAD vice president for ministries, replacing Bonita J. Shields, who announced this spring that she would not seek re-election. Eberhart is the director of Young Adult Ministries and camp ministries for the Arizona Conference. She has also served in the Upper Columbia, Kentucky-Tennessee, and Pennsylvania conferences, primarily in the roles of camping leadership and youth ministries.

“She has a strong passion for mentoring, is highly spiritual, and has tremendous people skills. She has the desire to see people be the best they can be,” said G. Alexander Bryant, NAD president, when presenting her name to the executive committee.

Calvin Watkins Sr. was elected to become the NAD vice president for evangelism and regional liason. Alvin Kibble, who retired in 2020, served in this position as liaison to the regional conferences, in leadership development, and Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL). Watkins is currently the president of the Southwest Regional Conference. He’d previously served the South Atlantic Conference as ministerial director and director of the conference’s Adventist Community Services.

“Calvin has baptized more than 6,000 people in his time as an evangelist,” said Bryant. “He is passionate about doing what he can to finish the work of the Lord.”

Maurice Valentine was elected as the vice president for media liason, replacing the retiring Gordon Pifher, who was vice president of media ministries. Valentine previously served Lake Union as its executive secretary and is currently its president. Prior to the Lake Union, he’d served as president of the Central States Conference, and vice president for administration of the Mid-America Union. He has also organized a city-wide radio broadcasting network, and has served on the Breath of Life Ministries executive committee.

“He’s a facilitator and disciple-builder. He brings administrative strength to the role for collaboration,” said Bryant.

Current NAD vice presidents Arne Nielsen, vice president for education, and Tony Anobile, vice president for multilingual ministries, were both reelected.

All incumbents for secretariat and treasury positions were reelected: Elden Ramirez, undersecretary; Carolyn Forrest, associate secretary; Judy Glass, undertreasurer; C. Michael Park, associate treasurer; Sharon Mabena, associate treasurer; and Edwin Romero, associate treasurer. Romero also currently serves as Adventist Retirement administrator/CEO, a separately-appointed position.

Ministries’ Leadership Elections

Bettina Krause was elected as the newest editor of Liberty magazine, the division’s publication on religious liberty. Krause comes to the division from the General Conference as associate director of its PARL department, through which she represents the denomination on Capitol Hill. With a law degree (LLB) from Australia, Krause has significant experience in denominational work as director of Adventist News Network, and director of media relations for the General Conference. Krause also served as special assistant to the former president of the General Conference Jan Paulsen for protocol, media, and communication.

“She has a strong love of religious liberty and is very qualified to serve in this role,” said Bryant.

DeeAnn Bragaw * was elected to become the women’s ministries director of the NAD, replacing Carla Baker, who retired in 2019. Bragaw works for the Rocky Mountain Conference where she serves as its women’s ministries director and prayer ministries coordinator. She has a master’s degree in pastoral ministries and received a bachelor’s degree in education.

“DeeAnn comes highly recommended from many women’s ministries directors,” said Bryant. “She has coordinated many special events and retreats, and collaborates with the youth department to engage and empower teenagers.”

The newest director of NAD Adventist Community Services is W. Derrick Lea. Lea was previously its associate director serving as disaster response director, occupying that role since 2015. He was a fire chief before coming to the division.

“He has a rich history in disaster work, and a passion for serving the community,” said Bryant.

Rudy Salazar will be the new Stewardship Ministries associate director. Salazar comes from the Central California Conference as its director of Gift Planning Ministries and Stewardship.

“Rudy also has many years of experience in stewardship and trust work from times in Texas, Oregon, and California. He’s conducted camp meeting services in English and Spanish,” said Bryant.

Incumbents for the following ministries were re-elected: Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries, Paul Anderson, director; Children’s Ministries, Sherri Uhrig, director, and Gerry Lopez, associate director; Communication, Dan Weber, director, Kimberly Luste Maran, associate director, and Julio C. Muñoz, associate director; Office of Volunteer Ministries, Ernest Hernandez, director; Education, Leisa Morton-Standish, associate director, Stephen Bralley, associate director, Evelyn Sullivan, associate director, and Martha Ban, associate director; Family Ministries, Claudio Consuegra, director, and Pamela Consuegra, associate director; Literature Ministries, Carl McRoy, director; Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, Melissa Reid, associate director; Ministerial Association, Ivan Williams, director, Dave Gemmell, associate director, Jose Cortes Jr., associate director, and Esther Knott, associate director; Stewardship Ministries, Michael Harpe, director; and Youth and Young Adult Ministries, Tracy Wood, director, Vandeon Griffin, associate director, and Armando Miranda Jr., associate director.

Three positions have been referred to the NAD Administrative Committee (NADCOM), which meets throughout the year. These include the position of vice president of strategy and assessment, recently vacated by the retiring Paul Brantley; director for Sabbath School and Personal Ministries; and NAD ACS associate director.

Ministry Moves

The final position filled on April 29 was president of the Guam-Micronesia Mission (GMM). Its previous president, Ken Norton, recently became the president of the Montana Conference. The NAD executive committee elected Matthew Kirk, the current secretary/treasurer of the Montana Conference, to become the mission’s newest president. Remenster Jano, GMM secretary, and Donald Lloyd, treasurer, were both re-elected.

The executive committee also voted two additional actions to give special recognition to leaders who have retired and/or have accepted different roles.

— Mylon Medley is an assistant director of communication for the NAD; Kimberly Luste Maran contributed to this report.

*Editor’s Note: DeeAnn Bragaw will be prayerfully considering this invitation and will make the final decision in the next few days.

29 Apr


RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … “When I was 18 years old, I took an interest survey in college that said I should be a funeral director. When you’re 18, you don’t want to hear that. I joked and laughed about it. But, you know, here I am, at the end of my career, working with wills and trusts and helping people plan for their legacy. The interest survey was probably right back then,” Mary Lynn Green, RMC’s new director of planned giving and trust services, said.

Mary Lynn Green, the fourth child of a railroader and nursing assistant, grew up in small-town America in Missouri. She recalls the town having around 2000 people and two main schools–a public and a Catholic school–both around the same enrollment.  Green adds, “We were not rich in material things, but I never grew up thinking anything but that I had a very good life.”

Her mother, she says, was an Adventist, while her father wasn’t. Later, in life he was baptized into the church, which created a unique family situation. She sees this as an asset in her current role when dealing with blended families of all types.

Green describes her new role as, “giving folks peace of mind by helping them plan for their future and [to] understand where they are today, where they want to be in the future, and even as they pass away.”

As director, Green is honored to lead a department that provides these services free of charge. Many conferences do not offer this. “It is a service of our church to the Rocky Mountain Conference constituents. There is no fee for doing the work that we do.”

She explains that even though planned giving and trust services deals with financial aspects of everyday life, they are doing ministry.

“We always think of what we do as a ministry. The relationships that we build with the constituents who reach out for our services are our utmost priority. We represent the church, and we aim to send the message, ‘We care about you. You are part of our church family.’ And we’ll continue to do what we’re doing as a service, developing relationships, listening to people, encouraging them, praying with them.”

Green added that planned giving and trust services helped individuals stay connected during the recent pandemic. “During the pandemic, Matt Moreland [associate director / field representative] spent hours on the phone. People were lonely, isolated. They needed to know that the church cared. By providing this service and by building relationships, we want people to know that we care and this is their church.”

After serving under two previous directors, Green plans to lead the department with an emphasis on grace while expanding technology use. “I think for me, my focus is grace. We make mistakes. We’ve all experienced the grace of the Supreme, and I believe in extending grace. I love the team that I work with. There is no division between me and the team. We’re all a team. We all work as a team. Out of the [previous] two directors, I probably have the most technological focus. As much as anything else, it’s the experience I have and the times we live in.” She looks forward to leading the department in visiting as many churches as possible.

Green is interested in visiting the vast territory of RMC including parts of Wyoming where she lived for a time. “We had the privilege of living in Northern Wyoming for five years and we loved Wyoming, but we didn’t get over to the Eastern side of the state. The same for Colorado, I’ve been to the Western Slope a little bit but I haven’t been down to Alamosa, and I have not been to the churches in New Mexico. I would love to have the opportunity to stop and say hello to folks, share potluck, visit, and answer their questions.”

Green, with her husband, lives in Denver and spends her free time exercising and taking breaks to enjoy family time with her two sons who are in their early twenties.

Planned Giving and Trust Services is available to answer your questions. Please call 303-733-3771 or email [email protected]. If you would like to schedule a visit to your church from Mary Lynn Green or anyone from the department, please contact your pastor.

–RMCNews; photo by Jon Roberts

29 Apr


By Sami Hodges – Loveland, Colorado … During the recent home leave to celebrate accomplishments and achievements, Campion Academy’s senior class withdrew to the mountains of Estes Park for a five-day getaway.

To kick off the trip, the seniors pulled an all-nighter in the gym on Tuesday, keeping themselves awake by playing games of basketball, volleyball, and cards, and eating snacks.

“I would say the best part of that night was around 3 a.m. when everyone was feeling delirious,” Tiffany Dien, Campion senior said. “We played charades and the group kept pestering Kevin to act the word out and he did an amazing job. One of the words was ‘Spider-Man’ so we all did the Spider-Man hand gesture and Ireland, in a confident voice, yelled, ‘Superman!’”

Wednesday, the senior class spent the afternoon at Boondocks, an amusement park in Denver, and were entertained by laser tag, bowling, go-karts, and arcade games. After eating lunch at a Mongolian cuisine restaurant, the seniors loaded the bus and departed for the YMCA in Estes Park where a variety of activities, including archery, rock-wall climbing, hiking, arts and crafts, swimming, games, and movies awaited them.

The fellowship and time in the Word is what some seniors will remember. “My favorite part of the class trip was honestly the worship,” commented Ryan Bell, who gave a short sermon on Sabbath morning about the importance of wisdom. “It was neat to hear others teaching, and I realized that you have a deeper understanding of the subject when you teach it yourself. I really wanted God to speak through me, and I wanted to say what He wanted me to say.”

Growing relationships is what some seniors will cherish from the trip. “Senior class trip was a time I grew very close with my class and with God. Within just a couple days, I felt like we all became family, and I knew that every single one of them would be there for me,” shared Bentlee Barry, first year senior at Campion. “I never thought that I would meet people who could just sit down and read the Bible or pray with me. Even if I never see my classmates again, they have impacted who I am and how I appreciate my relationships around me.”

The trip provided a time for seniors to laugh and learn more about themselves and each other.  “My favorite part by far would be our cupcake wars. Gabriel is such a good cook and definitely held the team on his back. I learned that Carol is really good at walking down the stairs in the morning, and Milka loves to go swimming. I also learned that I work really well under pressure when I came to an old man’s rescue at Walmart,” joked Barry.

To commemorate the special relationship of the class, during the final worship of the trip Sharmaine Monreal, Campion senior and Jynaya Wright, Campion senior shared a song they co-wrote entitled 2021.

“Every lyric means something and is based on a memory we made with our senior class,” said Wright. “We love and appreciate them so much and this song was a depiction of the times we’ve had with our class. We wanted this to be a way people can remember our class through music, even when we go to college.”

The lines from the last stanza of the song captured the sentiments of the students:

“I will never be alone
‘Cause you’re my family and I’m yours
And I know you’ll forever be my home.”

–Sami Hodges is a senior at Campion; photo supplied

28 Apr


By MHA News — Highlands Ranch, Colorado … “I enjoyed giving to people and spreading God’s word,” said Lindsey, Mile High Academy seventh-grader, reflecting on their annual service day.

Recently, MHA students and staff participated in the school’s annual Love Matters Most Service Day on April 22.

Becca Berg, upper school teacher, chaplain and service day coordinator, explains why service is important to MHA. “Service is a humbling part of our CHERISH core values. Not only is the event a highlight of the school year, [but it also] gives our students a day to focus on walking in Jesus’ footsteps by serving and helping others.”

This year’s focus was on serving several Denver-metro area churches. The students worked hard organizing Sabbath School rooms, vacuuming and dusting, washing windows, cleaning up flowerbeds and handing out bags of food and other necessities to homes in the area.

“We are so grateful that Mrs. Berg and the freshman class came to Franktown for service day,” said Jamey Houghton, Franktown pastor. “The kids helped us out in two specific ways. First, they washed the outside windows, freshening up the look of the church. Second, they helped us out with a problem that probably no other churches have–keeping the cows out. Our neighbor has cows that get through parts of the fence and come visit our church. Pastor Michael Luchak, Franktown associate pastor, took some of the kids down to [help] block the open parts of the fence so the cows will stay on their side. Both jobs were big, and I’m so thankful to have had the help of the kids from Mile High Academy!”

On the other side of Denver, the senior class helped LifeSource unload a semi-trailer filled with miscellaneous items, which LifeSource, in turn, donates to community members with needs.

“It was awesome to have the senior class join in our monthly outreach. Even though the forklift came late, they were still able to unload the entire semi-trailer in record time! We wouldn’t have been able to get the job done without their help,” commented Seth Day, LifeSource co-pastor.

Remaining on campus, the lower grades and the sophomore class made cards for the churches and hospitals and performed campus beautification duties, including picking up trash, pulling weeds and sorting out the school’s storage area.

Working under the bleachers and cleaning up trash, the fourth-grade girls came across a photo of a non-MHA student. Dubbed “a random guy,” the photo brought many giggles to the class.

“The girls were so excited to find their treasure,” said Sherri Francis, fourth-grade teacher. “I couldn’t help but laugh when they declared it an antique from 1990, although it was in color. A fun memory from a fun day.”

Reflecting on service day, eighth-grader Jack summed up the event best when he said, “Overall it was a good day of service.”

Each student received a 2021 blue service day shirt and the day concluded with a pizza lunch provided by school administration.

“There’s always a lot of work, planning and prayer that goes into each service day,” said Berg. “But when I hear the students’ excitement about how they helped someone in need or, in this case, helped get our churches and the MHA campus looking sharp, I can step back and clearly see just how God has given Mile High Academy the opportunity to be a light in the community.”

–MHA News; photos supplied

28 Apr


RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … Reinder Bruinsma, known to readers of RMC Mountain Views magazine as a contributing author, was appointed on April 26 by King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands as knight of the Order of Oranje-Nassau. A surprise to him and his wife, Aafie, the news became a joyful surprise to many of his readers, colleagues, and friends around the world.

“My wife and I were more or less abducted to the town hall of Zeewolde, where we were received by Gerrit Jan Gorter, the mayor of our town,” Bruinsma shared to his blog readers. The mayor said the King was “pleased” to bestow this honor on him. “Because of Corona restrictions, he was not allowed to pin the decorations on me, but asked my wife Aafje to do so,” he commented.

Readers of Mountain Views recognize Dr. Bruinsma’s name for his regular contributions in which he comments on issues and developments in the international church. He has served the Seventh-day Adventist Church in publishing, education, and church administration on three continents, including as secretary of Trans-European Division and president of the Netherlands Union. A prolific writer, Bruinsma has authored numerous books, the latest of which is I Have a Future: Christ’s Resurrection and Mine.

“Our contact and ensuing friendship date back to the 1980s when we were engaged in the publishing ministry in Europe,” Rajmund Dabrowski, editor of Mountain Views, recalled. “Listing Reinder’s church positions would be rather futile, though including communication is more than appropriate as he was appointed director of communication of the Trans-European Division, a position I vacated in 1994.”

Dabrowski added, “My endearment to Reinder includes his love of life, his honesty in the way he expresses his views, all laced with a dry sense of humor.”

“For me it became obvious that we should invite Reinder to write for our magazine. We are blessed to share in his thinking and in his scholarly approach to issues which we often talk about. He challenges the church to stay in the conversation,” Dabrowski shared.

Hearing about Bruinsma recognition, Ed Barnett, RMC president, commented, “That is amazing. I am proud of my Dutch brother. We are blessed to be ministered to by Reinder Bruinsma in the Rocky Mountain Conference on such a regular basis. Congratulations, Brother Bruinsma.”

The Order of Oranje-Nassau was established in 1892, to honor Dutch citizens in the Kingdom of the Netherlands (including the islands in the Caribbean), who have “rendered exceptional service to society.” The Mayor acknowledged that, “the work of the church is also very much part of society,” Bruinsma commented.

 He further added, “I will have to explain to my foreign friends that being a “knight” in this Dutch order does not have the same meaning as receiving a “knighthood” in England, and that they do not suddenly have to address me as “Sir.”

 RMCNews; Facebook photo.

28 Apr


By Vanessa Alarcón – Boulder, Colorado … In the Rocky Mountain Conference, a church designated as Hispanic signifies that their church service is held in Spanish. Currently, there are 29 Hispanic congregations in RMC. The outside observer might assume these congregations are similar because of their shared language. But apart from language, there is a set of other similar values, religious traditions, and shared challenges.

“I would say that there are 15 countries represented in our Hispanic congregations,” remarked Rubén Rivera, RMC Hispanic Ministries coordinator.  “About 65% of our members are first-generation Hispanics while 35% are a mix of second-generation and third-generation Hispanics. This mix of identities and backgrounds within our churches makes each congregation’s culture even more distinctive,” Ruben Rivera explained.

Some of the needs of Hispanic churches can include socio-economic, educational, and emotional requirements as well as immigration issues and barriers. “One cannot assume that just because someone is Hispanic, that they have immigration needs. It’s important to understand the needs of the individual,” commented Rivera. While these needs are not exclusive to Hispanics, the needs of the community are not always well represented in higher levels of power where decisions are made that can improve the quality of life of the Hispanic community.

Vanessa Alarcón, second- generation Hispanic and RMC lay pastor, commented on culture and the church. For her, the Seventh-day Adventist church has not created faith development resources catered to the unique experiences of second or third generation Hispanics, so exploring faith and culture was an important part of my upbringing.

Alarcón recently participated in a Bible study comprised of mostly second-generation Hispanics. “It was incredible that even though we all attended Hispanic Adventist churches across the United States, we each had similar struggles in exploring our identity in Christ in conjunction with our cultural identity,” commented Alarcón.

So, what will you discover when you visit a Hispanic church?

The answer—a community at the crossroads of challenges, but seeking opportunities to serve. There is a vibrant energy, a closeness that resembles family, an appreciation for family values and traditions, and a high commitment to service.

Michael Taylor, Boulder Adventist church member, shared his observations after visiting multiple Hispanic churches across the Front Range. “The most notable [aspect] was that people were very open and willing to share their talents–music, cooking, decorating, etc. People didn’t seem to worry [about] how good or talented the person was. They just seemed to appreciate people sharing their talents,” he said.

This full engagement in ministry is evident in almost every Hispanic church. During RMC Pathfinder events, there will be multiple Hispanic Adventurer clubs and Pathfinder clubs.

Hispanic ministry events also have high turnouts which have led to registration issues for Patty Rivera, Hispanic Women’s Ministries director for RMC. “Our event registrations fill so quickly that every year for the last ten years, we have had to turn away registrations for our retreat because all of our venues, even Glacier View Ranch, can’t hold the capacity of all those interested in participating,” Rivera said.

Registration issues are also a problem for RMC Hispanic camp meeting, which has an estimated attendance of 600 people every year. Even then, there are more Hispanic members who want to participate than can attend.

On average, one in every three new members in RMC is from a Hispanic congregation. “We are continuing to grow and, despite the setbacks of the pandemic, we are seeing how our Hispanic churches are making efforts to reach their communities,” Rivera said.

–Vanessa Alarcón is the Faith Engagement pastor at Boulder church; photos supplied

27 Apr


By Jon Roberts – Denver, Colorado … “It’s my intention to just throw a lot [of information] at everybody, to feed them with a fire hose,” Nathan Skaife, pastor of the Grand Junction church, commented on the Lay Pastor Training in Denver, April 23 – 25 at the Rocky Mountain Conference office.

The gathering, which was the first in-person class of the year for the Denver area, included 17 individuals, many representing the ethnically diverse churches in RMC. The topics covered included covenant theology and best practices for church growth.

For Skaife, the tri-annual meetings are developed out of a love for the Scriptures and a desire to equip individuals to better serve the church and the community.

Responding to what strengths he brings to the gathering, Skaife said, “I would say passion would be one of them. [Also] the love of the Scriptures and [the desire] to help people dig deeper and have the tools to do so and equip them to do what God is calling them to do.”

Elijah Lujan, member of Colorado Springs South church, explained his attendance by saying he enjoys being able to understand the Gospel better. “I’m definitely attending so I can learn more about the Gospel and more about Jesus. When I share with others about Jesus, I’m sharing new stuff that they can understand because [the training] really makes it easier to understand than just saying big words that others may not understand.”

Skaife hopes the training will be challenging to those in attendance. “I wanted it to not only be challenging to someone. I want to push them even further [but] help them to be able to grow in their walk with the Lord,” he said.

For Emmanuel Jean, member of the Agape Haitian church, the training has given him renewed confidence.  “[It] has made me read my Bible every day and it makes me feel comfortable talking and sharing with people.”

“Having individuals play a more significant role in the church and the community is the ultimate goal of the training,” commented Skaife

“The people are going to play an even more significant role in their local churches. Many of them are preaching more often than they ever did before.  People are engaged in doing Bible studies and are engaged in soul-winning,” Skaife added.

The techniques learned are helping individuals give better sermons and Bible studies according to Augustine Sheriff, Colorado Indonesian-American Adventist Church member.  “One of the things I’ve really enjoyed is the help I gain in structuring sermons, giving Bible studies and structuring my lessons as I go.”

Many are thankful that RMC is providing the training to fill the gap of needs in our churches. “I am thankful that the conference has created a program that both trains and assists leaders and helps pastors and congregations in need, that fills the gap that arises in many of our churches,” Bill Oxenford, True Life Community church ember said.”

The next trainings will be held in Grand Junction on May 21 and in Denver on June 11.  If you are interested in joining or learning more about the program, please email Nathan Skaife at [email protected].

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication / media assistant; photos by Jon Roberts


22 Apr


By Jill Harlow – Loveland, Colorado … Campion Academy’s Spanish classes presented a celebration of culture on the evening of April 16, that included live musical performances, authentic cooking videos, food samples, and recreated artwork from the Spanish-speaking world.

The audience had an experience which delighted the senses: “I really liked that there was a variety of different foods, dances, and arts from the Spanish culture,” said Sofie, a junior. “It was very fun and I enjoyed it a lot.”

The students appreciated the break from mostly focusing on language to incorporating culture.

Olivia Jordan, Campion student created a cooking video on how to make empanadas. “I enjoyed learning about the different types of foods from Spanish-speaking countries. It was fun to try to recreate the empanadas. Regan, [Campion student] and I,” Jordan explained, “had a really good time in the kitchen trying to follow the recipe and video ourselves at the same time. In the end, I think our empanadas turned out great. They were delicious!”

Poe Hla Hla, Campion student performed the song “Recuerdame,” commenting, “I am proud of myself for pushing myself out of my comfort zone and singing a song that is very dear to my heart.”

Angel Villalobos, the Spanish department’s student worker, assisted Hla Hla in the performance. “I give thanks to Angel,” Hla Hla expressed, “because I couldn’t have done this without him. He really helped me out,” she said.

The audience rose to their feet when Sandra Arlt gave a lesson on the basic steps of the well-known Latino dance, the salsa.

“One of the things I majorly enjoyed is how many vibed with my presentation. I was scared at first, and then everything just fell perfectly into place,” Arlt reflected. “I thought all of the presentations went very well. I was very proud of what we all pulled off. Overall, it was just really fun!”

At the end of the performances, the audience had the opportunity to sample food from each of the cooking shows and visit the art exhibition.

“It was a memorable day for our Spanish classes; the songs were beautiful, the videos were funny, the dances were interactive, the artwork was exceptional, and the food was delicious. I’m very proud of the students and the work they put in to make this program a success. I hope to make this an annual event at Campion,” Jill Harlow, Campion Spanish teacher said.

–Jill Harlow is Campion Academy’s communication director; photos supplied

22 Apr


By Pennie Wredberg – Fort Morgan, Colorado …“It is like creating your dream birthday celebration,” said Lighthouse Seventh-day Adventist  Christian School student Paloma. “My favorite part was choosing what to put in our box.”

Recently, students at Lighthouse created birthday boxes for children in the community who might not otherwise get to have a celebration.

The idea started in February when students were talking about homelessness and other difficult situations that kids face today. “What would it be like to not get a birthday party,” the students wondered. “That would be very sad,” they concluded. So, they decided to plan a party in a box.

The project was explained during church and a note went home to parents describing what the students wanted to do. Donations for the boxes came pouring in from parents, church members, and even the students themselves.

Student partners decided what the theme of their box would be and together decorated the outside of a cake box. Soon the chapel was filled with boxes covered with pictures of horses, flowers, magnifying glasses, footprints, and waterfalls. Working with their co-designers, they walked up and down the tables set out in the chapel on Friday, deciding what type of frosting they wanted to match the cake they had chosen for their box. Then they added the candles, balloons, toys, and everything else needed to throw a small party.

“I hope that this makes someone happy,” a student was heard saying. “It would be so sad to not have a party for my birthday.”

“Can we do this again?” another student asked. “This is one of my favorite community service projects ever!”

All together there were eleven boxes, decorated and filled, donated to Fort Morgan County Family Center.

Mary Gross, Executive Director of Fort Morgan County Family Center, accepted all of the boxes and said that her staff would make sure the boxes would go to the families that needed them most.

Before the boxes left the church the students prayed that they would go to kids who needed to know that someone cared about them.

–Pennie Wredberg is the head teacher at Lighthouse Seventh-day Adventist Christian School; photos supplied

Addy and her buddy, Damian, even went shopping together for their ocean themed box, and
they had a very specific list of items they wanted to include, right down to a blue frosting to
make the cake look like the sea.


Mary Gross, Executive Director of Morgan County Family Center, and Pennie Wredberg,
Principal of Lighthouse, holding two “birthday boxes”.


Students worked with partners to choose, decorate, and fill their “birthday boxes.”


Brayden and Isaac’s birthday box was spy themed and included magnifying glasses, notepads
for recording clues, and squirt guns.
Riley and Emmery created an outdoor themed birthday box full of games that could be played
outside during a party.


Camila and Paloma’s floral themed box included seeds for planting flowers and a tiara so a
lucky someone would feel like a princess.
21 Apr


RMCNews with MHA and BAA communication – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … “It was fun to play [basketball] because we got to make new friends,” remarked Irene, Brighton Adventist Academy (BAA) sixth-grader on two Adventist schools uniting to worship and enjoy a friendly game of basketball between middle schoolers on April 17.

The evening began with a devotional thought by Walter Weber, MHA middle school teacher who encouraged the gathered students to remember social media doesn’t love them and to remember to listen to the people who do love you.

“Middle schoolers have a lot of voices telling them what to do. It can be confusing for them. I wanted to remind them to listen to the really important voices–the ones that love them–God and their parents being the most important among them,” Weber commented.

The activities, organized by both school administrations and athletic departments as well as MHA’s middle school coach Kurt Fesler, included a friendly co-ed basketball competition followed by a close game between Brighton’s middle school boys’ team versus MHA’s middle school A-team.

The students enjoyed the “normal” evening. “We’ve only been able to play one other game this season due to COVID,” said Logen, MHA middle school student. “It was fun hosting another school and playing basketball again in our gym.”

Remarking on the friendly competition, Gizelle, BAA seventh-grader said, “I enjoyed playing with Mile High Academy because I love basketball. It was fun because it was an official game and not just playing basketball with my classmates at school.”

Jodie Aakko, BAA Principal, was thankful for the event. “Thank you, Mile High Academy, for inviting us to play basketball. [It was] a great evening to celebrate our students’ abilities, youthfulness, and great sportsmanship. Great job students—you used your teamwork, just like coach Morrison taught you!”

Students will remember the time together and the chance to get acquainted with new friends. “It’s always fun playing basketball, but this evening was great because it was more [than] just a game. It was a time to get to meet new friends and life felt a little more normal,” said Logen.

— RMCNews with MHA and BAA communication; photos by Jodie Aakko

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