31 Aug


RMCNews with Linda Benningfield-Hashman – Cañon City, Colorado … A great kitchen is what sells a home, but what sells God’s house?

Recently, Maranatha Volunteers International arrived at the Cañon City Adventist church to assist members with much-needed renovations to the fellowship hall and kitchen. The church regularly hosts cooking classes, Financial Peace University, Nedley Depression and Recovery programs, evangelistic outreach, and other community events. It has been many years since updates were done to allow for more efficient and attractive service areas.

When he reviewed the scale of the work to be completed, John Davidson, Cañon City pastor, knew the congregation could not do the job alone. In early 2020, Davidson contacted Maranatha and asked for assistance. Earlier this year, they sent a representative to evaluate the site. The request was approved, and plans began to be made to complete the project.

Volunteers arrived in the middle of August in their “covered wagons” and set up camp by the church for two weeks. They came from across the country, including Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon, Texas, Oklahoma, New York, Missouri, and Arizona. Every day, the group of 23 individuals began their activities at Four-Mile Christian Academy for worship, prayer, and to review the day’s schedule.

Reflecting on Maranatha’s involvement in projects worldwide, Danny Poljak, project coordinator, explained that the beauty of Maranatha is that it is a proven system that works. It is not a relief project or a first-responder ministry to help in disasters. They have very specific goals and guidelines in place for their niche in serving the world, leading to the continued success of Maranatha.

The group completed many projects in the two-week time frame, including remodeling the kitchen, installing new cabinets and appliances, laying 3,000 square feet of new flooring, hanging drywall, texturing and painting, installing new doors, renovating the bathroom attached to the kitchen, installing a shower, painting the hallways, painting and repairing the library, creating a new sign for the food pantry, scrubbing scuff marks from the gymnasium walls, and landscaping by laying down tons of rock.

“As I volunteered serving meals, I watched members bring in meals to share. Every day I got to see the volunteers working hard and faithfully in the 90-degree weather, in dust and dirt, on cement floors, or outside in the hot sun,” Linda Benningfield-Hashman, Cañon City church communication leader, commented.

She added, “The volunteers’ kindness, faith, and determination were a testimony to everyone watching. At the end of the day, they were exhausted but remained positive, pressing forward with determination to complete the task. God doesn’t fool around when He pulls a team together for Maranatha!”

To answer the question about what sells God’s house—it’s not a kitchen that sells God’s house. Love does. Can the church still offer the community what it needs if the cabinets are outdated and falling apart, and the stove has only some burners working? Of course, it can.  God works in all circumstances no matter the surroundings; however, it is a blessing to have a beautiful, efficient area to greet and serve the community, offering love.

Would you like to be a Maranatha volunteer? Do you have a project that could benefit your church that might fit Maranatha’s goals? For more information, go to their website www.Maranatha.org or call 916-774-7700.

— RMCNews with Linda Benningfield-Hashman. communication leader at Cañon City Adventist church; photos supplied

26 Aug


By Ron Price … I went to the dentist a week ago. I had endured terrific pain for about three years and decided enough was enough. The week prior, I visited my mechanic because my truck had been running poorly again for about three years. I must be in the mood to get things fixed as I also recently called a plumber to fix a sink that had been clogged, you guessed it, for about three years.

I think I know what facetious means, and I’m pretty sure I just gave you an example.  If you believe any of those statements, you likely should question my sanity and wonder why you should care what I have to say – or write.

I’m happy to say those experiences were all made up, but please get the point I want to make. Researchers have determined that most couples in a distressed marriage endure their pain about three years before they reach out for help. I can think of various words to define this behavior, but none I care to use in public.

All relationships will endure periods of discord and distress from time to time. To expect otherwise is foolhardy at best. So if you find yourself in a challenging marriage (or other relationship), please do not hesitate to do whatever it takes to get you to a better place. And, contrary to apparent popular opinion, sooner is far better than later.

Relationship guidance, support, and help are plentiful and easy to find in our internet age. To prove my point, here’s a link to a brief (6:07) video I made that will help you prevent ugly confrontations from getting out of hand https://vimeo.com/561815827/d2adf8eee9.

I can think of lots of lousy excuses for failing to seek help for a troubled relationship, but few, if any, good ones. Please, don’t wait.

— Ron Price MA writes a regular column on www.RonPrice.com.  He is the owner/operator of Productive Outcomes, Inc., and has spent the last 30+ years as a mediator, helping people resolve their differences with others. He provides in-person and virtual training on a variety of life skills. He is a member of Piñon Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church in Farmington, New Mexico and a member of the RMC Executive Committee. For more information, visit www.RonPrice.com. To add your name to his weekly mailing list, please send him an email at [email protected]. Photo supplied

This article was reprinted with permission

26 Aug


By Jon Roberts – Louisville, Colorado … “It feels great. I’m happy. I’m honored and humbled that the Lord has seen fit to have this recognition bestowed upon me. I didn’t do anything to earn it. If God calls, God equips,” Tim Jones, pastor of the Twin Peaks and Longmont churches, expressed during his ordination service held recently at the Twin Peaks church.

Jones, relatively new to Adventism, but no stranger to being a pastor, grew up in the Pentecostal church.  His family life included a devoted Pentecostal mother and an abusive father. After years of abuse, his mother gathered the courage to leave the abuse and move the family from Georgia to California.

Following high school graduation, Jones joined the military and recalled how, after leaving the military, he was able to reconnect with God.  “After the army, I got a job with the telephone company. On one of my service calls, I met a Baptist minister, and as I was leaving the job, he challenged me to read the Gospel of John. God spoke to me through that gospel. I was 24 years old at the time, and I realized that I needed this loving Savior.”

Jones adds, “I went to a Pentecostal church that I knew about and walked down front and said I wanted to be saved. I asked Jesus to come into my life and take away my sins. I felt as if a physical weight was lifted from my shoulders, and the dirty, filthy person I had become was being cleansed. In front of all of those people, I cried like a baby. I felt so good inside. I was a changed man–radically changed.”

This ordination service wasn’t the first for Jones, he explains. “I graduated from college, and graduate school, was ordained into the ministry, and was actively involved in the Pentecostal/charismatic movement. In 1991, I moved to Sacramento with my family, and in 1997, as a Pentecostal minister, I went through a divorce. After three years in that dark and withdrawn place, I knew I needed help getting my life back together, or I would die in this depression.”

Jones started to reread the Bible and experienced Genesis and Exodus with a renewed focus on understanding Scripture. He read about the Sabbath and wanted to know more. Thus began a months-long journey discovering the peace Sabbath provides.

The service, held in front of Jones’ church family, also included surprise visitors. Jones’ brother asked to be picked up at the airport because he wanted to support his brother.  As Jones arrived to retrieve his brother, he was surprised to see not only his brother but all of his siblings who flew out to support him, including his sister, who is a Pentecostal minister.

Throughout the gathering, individuals who played an essential role in Jones’ ministry thanked him for his service as an Amazing Facts evangelist and recognized God’s calling on his life. One speaker expressed, “Pastor Jones, you have touched many lives, and the fruits of your labor won’t be known till heaven.

Reflecting on the ordination service, Jones stated, “It means to receive recognition from the church and its leaders that God has called me to the gospel ministry. Someone else sees the hand of God on my life and that He’s called me for the proclamation of His Word, which is probably the highest calling that I could aspire to.”

Jones added that he would like to thank “the people who nurtured me–mother, sisters, and brothers–who stood with me when times were hard and encouraged me when I was feeling discouraged. And I also want to thank the Rocky Mountain Conference leadership for recognizing that I could be a candidate for ordination.” He continued, “I appreciate every one of those men and women in leadership in the Rocky Mountain Conference. I also want to thank my churches, elders, deacons, and all the church members, who’ve been so supportive of me. And so, I’m grateful. I’m truly grateful.”

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

25 Aug


By Marsha Bartulec – Erie, Colorado … Vista Ridge Academy kicked off the new school year celebrating in-person classes, an expansion of early childhood education options, and 36 new students.

In response to growth in the community and demand for early childhood education, Vista Ridge Academy expanded its early childhood education program by adding an additional room, creating a dedicated preschool (3-year-olds) room, and a dedicated Pre-K (4-year-olds) room.

After parents dropped off their children, the parents attended the annual boo-hoo or yahoo breakfast. The name of the event represented parents’ feelings toward the first day of school, parents may feel sad to drop off their students, hence boo-hoo, or they may be excited to drop off their pupils, hence yahoo.

Brittany McLachlan, school board member and parent of a kindergartener, is thankful her son can be in-person learning this school year. “We hope our son learns to be brave and be kind. We want him to show Jesus in all that he does and have the best time ever learning new things,” said McLachlan.

Brenda Garcia, a new parent at VRA of a fifth-grader and seventh-grader, is thrilled to have her daughters attend Vista Ridge Academy. “I wanted my girls to try something new. We like the environment, and everyone is really nice,” said Garcia.

After breakfast, the day continued with a dedication prayer service on the soccer field. Teachers and staff were introduced, followed by Herbert Hernandez, Chapel Haven pastor, Geoff Patterson, lead pastor at Boulder, and J. Murdock, associate pastor at Boulder, who led in the prayer of dedication for the school year.

Patterson is excited about this school year. “The staff has done an amazing job getting everything prepared, especially with the addition of new classes, and moving into rooms that weren’t used shows innovative thinking and skill on the part of the leadership. The facilities here are just fantastic. The field and the building are in such good shape and kept up so well. It is a good representation of what a Christian school ought to be.”

Students are happy to be back in school. One student in the first and second grade classroom said, “I love this school! It’s way better than I expected. I can’t wait to come back tomorrow.”

Sandy Hodgson, principal, agrees. “We look forward to learning together with our students and families and pray for God’s blessings on another great year.”

Vista Ridge Academy has 101 students enrolled for the academic year.

–Marsha Bartulec is vice-principal for administration at Vista Ridge Academy; photos by Rebecca Murdock, Marit Guild, and Shondra Cizek

24 Aug


By Annette Treat – Worland, Wyoming … Students at SonShine Academy in Worland, Wyoming received the royal treatment on their first day of school. The red carpet was laid out for the school’s eight students to parade toward a special VIP entrance.

The event began the school’s 43rd year, providing a safe space for students to excel at academics and have fun learning about the love of Jesus. But the school’s journey hasn’t been an easy one. Year after year, the church faced the reality of closing the school due to a lack of funds. However, members always stepped out in faith that God would provide–and He has.

“We pray daily that the Lord will greatly bless every church and person who has given to SonShine Academy,” Annette Treat, principal, said.

After an appeal for members to support SonShine Academy at Wyoming camp meeting a couple of years ago, the school has operated without a deficit.

The Worland teacher, school board, church members, students, and parents are all grateful for the financial help that continues to come from other churches and members from all over the state of Wyoming and beyond.

SonShine Academy would like to encourage churches that are discussing opening a school to step out in faith.  Every child would be blessed by the “red carpet” education that Seventh-day Adventist education can provide.

–Annette Treat is principal of SonShine Academy; photos supplied

24 Aug


RMCNews with Michelle Velbis – Colorado Springs, Colorado … Springs Adventist Academy (SAA) will host their first SAA Alumni and Friends Fest on August 29, an event they hope will be an annual tradition.

Michelle Velbis, principal of SAA, recalls how the idea to hold a community-wide gathering was initiated. “We discussed how we could help our school and reach our community at the same time–and that is how the SAA Alumni and Friends Fest was born.

“After many brainstorming meetings with our staff and volunteers, the event has taken off, and we are excited about the family-friendly evening we can extend to our community and school families,” Velbis added.

The event will take place in the gorgeous Cave of the Winds setting. The school has procured several local artists and vendors, including food trucks, CaveSim, an educational cave in a truck, local artist Casey Marie Kleeman, items for raffle, and family-friendly activities such as face painting, corn hole, and ax throwing. There will even be a massage therapist on-site for anyone needing a great chair massage.

Velbis, who is starting her third year at SAA, also stated, “Our main focus is making local connections with our community and letting them know that Springs Adventist Academy is here to partner with them in providing exceptional educational opportunities. We also want to support our local families spiritually, physically, and mentally. One demonstration of this is the prayer booth available during the event where people can ask or write down their prayer requests. Staff and volunteers will be on hand to pray with people and direct them to needed local services for any specific mental or physical needs they might have. Our local church has a strong community services center that services almost 2,000 families a year.”

The event is open to the public, and there is no admission fee. It will be held on August 29, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Cave of the Winds. For more information, call 719-597-0155.

RMCNews with Michelle Velbis

24 Aug


RMCNews with Lucas Lujan – Colorado Springs, Colorado … Partnering with the Colorado Springs city government and other local ministries, Colorado Springs South Adventist church members recently volunteered at the annual Backpack Bash event. A feature of the event is children receiving backpacks filled with school supplies to help them succeed in the new academic year.

The effort was part of an ongoing campaign at Colorado Springs South to intentionally reach out to serve the city’s south side.

Lucas Lujan, pastor of Colorado Springs South Adventist church, explains why they decided on that region of the city. “On the southeast side of Colorado Springs, where my siblings and I were raised by a single mother, there is a growing need for Christ’s love manifested through the church. In this area, you have families that have single parents raising multiple children while working two jobs. With so many financial difficulties that occur in these households, it is nice to receive a blessing with no strings attached.”

Wanting to do more, Lujan realized that the church was limited. “Many of our members are older and can’t do what they used to do in outreach. How could we let the city know that God loves them with the limited energy we have? It was a challenge in prayer and thought.”

Because of an email sent to faith leaders in Colorado Springs by the mayor, Lujan, connected with COS I Love You, a local ministry started in Colorado Springs to show the city that there is hope and love for them in Jesus. Lujan realized that this ministry matches the goals of the church.

The ministry sponsors outreach activities, including the Backpack Bash, which runs for two Sabbaths in August.  Colorado Springs South members organized a group of 13 people to volunteer for the event.

Recalling the morning event, where the volunteers began with no expectations, Lujan explains, “A few cars trickled in, and it was our job to label each car and then organize the flow into two single lines. However, a few turned into fifty, then that turned into hundreds. In a couple of hours, thousands of young people were given backpacks filled with school supplies.”

As many families waited in the heat to receive their backpacks, members delivered water and began conversations. Prayers and copies of Desire of Ages or Steps to Christ were offered.

During the Backpack Bash outreach, Lujan compared the event to Jesus’ ministry.  “I was reminded of the feeding of the 5,000 when Jesus ministered to the needs of the people. What a powerful morning of being in the presence of Jesus! We experienced three and a half hours of Christ-centered service, and I truly believe we left with more of a blessing than the ones we served.”

— RMCNews with Lucas Lujan, pastor of Colorado Springs South Adventist church; photos supplied

23 Aug

North American Division Position on Requests for Religious Exemptions to Vaccine Requirements

By North American Division – Columbia, Maryland … Voted recommendations to NAD Administration regarding requests for religious exemptions to vaccine requirements:

The North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (NAD) is committed to sharing hope and wholeness through the healing ministry of Christ by promoting the Church’s historic health message. This includes caring for our own bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19,20) and ministering to the health of others within our community (Isaiah 58).

In line with this commitment, the NAD fully supports the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s statement encouraging “responsible immunization/vaccination,” and as such has “no religious or faith-based reason not to encourage [its] adherents to responsibly participate in protective and preventive immunization programs.”

While the Church’s statement recognizes it is “not the conscience of the individual church member, and recognize[s] individual choices,” the choice not to be vaccinated is not based on Seventh-day Adventist Church teachings or doctrine. For this reason, the Adventist church in North America does not provide Church-endorsed vaccine exemption request letters.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church respects convictions of conscience. While the NAD cannot endorse that vaccine refusal represents Adventist teachings, your local Union Public Affairs and Religious Liberty ministry is available to advise you in writing your own letter if you choose to pursue an individual vaccine exemption.

–North American Division News; photo by iStock

This article was originally published on the North American Division website

19 Aug


Dear Rocky Mountain Conference Family,

As I look back over my 42 years of ministry, the fourteen years Shirley and I have spent in the Rocky Mountain Conference were some of our best years. Six and half of those years we pastored at Denver South Church. We loved our time there. The last seven and half years were spent as president of the Conference. We have served more time in this Conference than any other during our ministry.

As president, I have realized more than ever what a large territory we serve. Wyoming and Colorado are big by themselves, but when we add a portion of New Mexico it becomes a very large territory. Not only is it large, but it is also very diverse when it comes to philosophies of doing church and the approach to life itself. Colorado’s Eastern Slope is affluent and liberal. Wyoming and the Western side of Colorado are quite conservative. New Mexico is unique in its lifestyle and attitudes. This diversity of thinking and being makes running the church organization and accomplishing its mission interesting, to say the least. Take dealing with pandemic issues, for example. Wyoming had very few restrictions while Colorado was rather strict in following regulations. In the La Vida Mission area, you would find some of the most stringent restrictions anywhere in the United States.

The Conference needs to be in the middle of the road in the way we operate. We should recognize people on both sides of the road who will, nevertheless, be unhappy with us at times.

It has been an honor to serve here as your church leader. The Lord has blessed our time in this part of His vineyard. I have loved working in our conference office with the great group of department leaders we’ve been blessed with. Each of them has gone way beyond the call of duty, a demonstration of their relationship with God. I thank Him for each of my colleagues.

In the last 7-8 months, we have had a large personnel turnover in the office. Such change always makes people a bit nervous. But I can tell you that God is in control of the Rocky Mountain Conference, and I see Him building a new team that will take our church forward in a powerful way. Our Executive Committee is one of the best I have ever worked for. They are God-led, and I see them assembling a new leadership group that will be a blessing in the mission of the Conference.

It has been my great privilege to work with the pastors and educators of this Conference and to witness the dedication and passion they exhibit for our kids and our entire membership. They are second to none and the whole church will be blessed as they continue to point the young people of this conference, to Jesus.

A worrisome issue in the Rocky Mountain Conference is its aging membership. We must make reaching and keeping our young people a priority. Without a concerted effort, some of our small-town churches will dry up and close. Another concern is how slowly our people are returning to church since the beginning of the pandemic. We cannot stop assembling with our brothers and sisters in church as we need the warmth and encouragement, we receive from each other. Just this week a friend from another Conference said, “I think the shaking is taking place.” That stopped me in my tracks.

So, although you will have challenges to face, I leave you with the confidence that you are in good hands. May I thank each of you for being a loving member in our Conference. God is in charge so I know that things will move forward in Rocky Mountain Conference before this old world concludes its journey. Although Shirley and I will be slowing down in retirement, we do plan to come back and visit frequently.

May God bless each one of you! Maranatha!

Ed Barnett, RMC president

19 Aug


By RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … “The evening which was meant to be a sad event saying farewell to Ed turned into an evening of laughter and joy, one I will never forget,” reflected one RMC conference office employee on the retirement gathering recently held for Ed Barnett, president.

Colleagues and friends assembled to fellowship one last time before the Barnetts leave the mountains of RMC for the beaches of Florida. The informal gathering began with a meal featuring a classic homemade FriChik lasagna prepared by Pat Chapman, RMC educational assistant and appointed chef.

“Even though the temperature was in the high 90s that day, the evening, in true Colorado form, turned out to be beautiful. The evening was reflective of the beautiful life of service that Ed has given to the church and Shirley’s commitment to her life’s work in healthcare,” Lori Goebel, RMC human resources assistant director, expressed.

After everyone had their fill of watermelon and sweets, it was time to celebrate Barnett’s ministry, but first, because of the crazy times we live in, Lonnie Hetterle, who led out in the program, advised that everyone needed to mask up.  As Hetterle placed the thin fabric constraining device over his mouth, he pulled out a different type of covering for Barnett–a ventriloquist device.

“Evidently, I have always wanted to put words in the president’s mouth, and this was the only way I could make him say whatever I wanted him to say. No, I really thought the office staff would enjoy seeing this ‘different side’ of Barnett. He is such a good sport and enjoys life so [much] that I was confident we could have some fun together, and he could end his time with his RMC staff with smiles and laughter,” Hetterle exclaimed.

Throughout the act, those gathered in the crowd could be seen trying to catch their breath from laughing so hard.  Some fell out of their chairs when Barnett, who didn’t quite understand that he wasn’t supposed to talk, kept trying to speak, which led Hetterle to go off script and shout, “Will you just be quiet” to Barnett.

“Watching Ed laugh through the ventriloquist mask was a highlight and still makes me laugh,” Mary Lynn Green, RMC planned giving and trust director, commented.

After the masks were thrown away, tributes and gifts from various employees filled the Barnetts’ hearts with memories of seven-and-a-half-year run as president.

Always a huge supporter and encourager of Mountain Views, Barnett was presented with a hand-engraved chest featuring every issue of the quarterly magazine published during Barnett’s term.

“Ed was one of those leaders who believed in communication, supporting church conversations about issues. Ed’s friendship and leadership made us better leaders in areas where we always thought we knew everything. In my view, Mountain Views is good enough to wake him up from his retirement life of golfing,” Rajmund Dabrowski, RMC communication director, suggested.

Expressing gratitude for Barnett’s never-ending support for Campion Academy, Don Reeder, principal, presented him with a letter jacket from Campion. Reeder also invited Eric Nelson and Lonnie Hetterle to join Ed and him on stage, back deck, to model the Campion jackets received when they retired.

Green, reflecting on the evening, expressed, “We all will miss Ed. It was so nice to have a moment to enjoy being together and celebrate with Ed and Shirley before they head out on their new adventure!”

Goebel echoed the sentiment of Green. “Although I have only worked with Ed for a year and a half, it was evident by the affirmations given that during his time as president of the Rocky Mountain Conference, he created a culture of respect, support, and trust.”

The evening concluded with Barnett expressing his gratitude for the hard work and dedication each had shown. He commended the teamwork and collaborative engagement by the staff that made his work easier and more enjoyable. Fighting back tears, he said he would cherish the memories of RMC forever.

–RMCNews; photos by Rajmund Dabrowski

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