24 Dec

North American Division President Offers Encouraging Remarks as 2020 Draws to a Close

–To view this video message please click here

Dear NAD Family,

I want to extend to you, on behalf of my fellow officers and the entire NAD office family, our warmest holiday greetings as this year 2020 comes to an end. And what a year it has been! Who could have guessed when we started 2020 we would end it in this manner?

We want to thank our pastors and educators for the tremendous work that they have done in transitioning to virtual environments. And what a feat that was: to turn on almost a dime, and go from in-person services to online services! We owe a debt of gratitude to all of our media teams who have worked untiringly. Without their efforts, this transition would not have been possible. We also want to thank our members who have been involved in over 1,500 food pantries providing food for those in need, and the many outreach activities that have happened in the virtual space.

The coronavirus pandemic, the economic downturn, racial unrest, and now political turmoil have converged to create a very unstable and stress-filled world. Any one of them alone could be catastrophic, and destabilizing. But when you put the four together, that can make quite an impact. This is what we have been through this year. However, these events in 2020 makes this time of the year even more special. As we reflect on the Gift of God, of His Son the Christ Child, it is even more meaningful.

As we think about the world He came into — it was not unlike our world today. Humankind had been ravaged with a virus of sin with no vaccine and no cure. The political climate with the Roman government was at an all-time low. Racial tensions between the Jews and Samaritans were at an all-time high. The economic gap between the haves and the have nots had reached its breaking point. The spiritual heart of man was at a low. It was into this environment that God sent His Son as a Babe into a hostile world. God is not unfamiliar with what we’re going through. He has been here before, and He does His best work in these kinds of environments. God gives His best to us—in the worst of times.

This season, Christmas reminds me of a God that gives us His best when we are facing our worst crisis. Jesus was the best, the most expensive, the most valuable, the most treasured Gift that God had in the entire universe. So God said, Let me give my Son to demonstrate my love for you. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son” [John 3:16]. He actually gave Him to the human race, not just to come and die, but He gave them to us forever! Christ is to forever retain His humanity. He gave this Gift when we were at our worst. Even if we were at our best, the cost is inestimable, but we were at our worst!

The good news in 2020, amidst the pandemic, the economic challenges, the racial unrest, the political strife, is that the Gift is still ours. So I invite us for this moment, for this season, to take our minds off of all the turmoil of life in this world and take some time to meditate on this glorious Gift and to reflect on this precious Gift that we have in God’s only begotten Son. So come, let us adore Him. O, come, let us adore Him. Come, let us adore Him, Jesus Christ our Lord! This is not only the “Reason for the Season,” but it is the good news of 2020. God bless you!

— This is a transcript of the 2020 year-end holiday greeting from G. Alexander Bryant, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America

–Originally published on the NAD website

23 Dec


RMCNews – Littleton, Colorado … On a cold, snowy morning, a small gathering assembled, with others joining virtually, to say farewell to RMC education director Lonnie Hetterle.

Hetterle, who leaves his position on December 31 after spending more than 25 years in RMC education, was at first not keen on having a farewell celebration, but later accepted that many individuals wanted to acknowledge his hard work over the years.

Making the planning of the party difficult was the fact that the party was for Hetterle. As Pat Chapman, education assistant, commented, “Lonnie and I usually do these [retirement celebrations] together. I do all the prep work and he is this great, funny host.”

The program included well wishes via video from many who couldn’t be in attendance due to the ongoing pandemic.

Addressing the gathering from Poland, Rajmund Dabrowski, RMC communication director, advised Hetterle to combine his retirement and education skills by spending time with and teaching his grandchildren.

During the presentations, Hetterle’s children approached the front where he sat, or joined via video, to encourage their father and to provide gifts of items he could use during his newly-found availability of time. One gift included rubber gloves, baby wipes, and a package of diapers to use while Hetterle takes care of his youngest granddaughter.  Hetterle wasn’t impressed with the gift as one of his most disliked duties is changing diapers.

Gifts from various schools lead to laughter from all when Don Reeder presented Hetterle with a Campion Academy letter jacket and Hetterle responded, “Should I wear this to Mile High school board meeting?”

Taking time to add their appreciation for the many years of service were members of RMC administration with Eric Nelson welcoming the viewers, George Crumley providing a financial retirement gift, and Ed Barnett closing the program by providing Hetterle with a list of items to keep people amused during retirement.

Commenting on the event, Crumley, VP of finance said, “It is hard to say good-by to Lonnie Hetterle who has served in his role as Educational Superintendent for more than 20 years. He has brought energy, innovation, and service to his position and is loved by many. I was able to participate in a beautifully prepared farewell for Lonnie at the Littleton Church, where schools provided videos of affirmation, family shared amusing stories about Lonnie, and the rest had the opportunity to express our deep appreciation for his years of service. Lonnie will be greatly missed, but the good news is that he is staying in our conference and I know that he will still be involved in serving, for that is who he is.”

Commenting online, Kiefer Dooley, RMC youth director wrote, “Lonnie! I’m sending well wishes on behalf of the whole Youth Department for a retirement full of purpose as you connect deeper with family, friends, and community. Thank you for all of the hard work you’ve poured into ensuring our RMC schools provide professional, academic, and Jesus-centered education. And, for always being a support to our departments projects and initiatives.”

Reflecting on the event, Hetterle said, “In this world we strive to make a difference and to have a purpose in our lives.  Sometimes it is less obvious that we are having an impact on those in our sphere of influence, but the positive affirmation [I received] was so very gratifying and touched my heart. The tears were always just below the surface and I am glad I was able to turn away a few times.”

Hetterle went on to thank the many who made the event possible. “I cannot begin to thank Pat Chapman enough for organizing and being the M.C. and providing the meal afterwards. I must also mention Littleton Church for graciously opening their doors and Jon Roberts for working his digital mastery to help this all come together. The entire team at RMC is phenomenal and kudos to my much beloved fellow workers in the Education Department.  Everyone in my CHERISHED team is exemplary in every way.”

“Remain faithful” are Hetterle’s final words to RMC teachers, pastors, and members. “The kindness shown by several of the schools, teachers and pastors has been touching and please know that you on the front line of this Great Controversy will always remain in my heart and prayers. As we remain faithful in these closing days of this earth’s history, I know that His strength and guidance will be there as each one of us prepares our hearts and our ministry to others to soon celebrate together in that earth made new.”

–RMCNews; photos by Ed Barnett

22 Dec

You Shall Live and Not Die

By Samantha Nelson – Cody, Wyoming … November 1, 2020, found me sick and in pain everywhere. The pain I credited to having a little too much fun with our youth at church on Sabbath and the congestion to allergies due to our walk Sabbath afternoon. A few days later, Steve fell ill, too. This was no ordinary illness for us. I ordered a COVID-19 test and a few days later I received the results: positive.

We began our mandatory 14 days of quarantine. We ordered supplies online to be delivered. Church members, neighbors and friends dropped off groceries and soups for us. Our families are out of state so we couldn’t see them. We also missed our church families during this time, and we had no idea that time would turn into one-and-a-half months.

On Saturday night, November 14, the day before quarantine was to expire, I took Steve to the emergency department. He was very ill and his fever was 103.6 F and his oxygen levels were in the 80s.  It was a frightening time for both of us. Prior to entering the ER, we had arranged for a couple of elders from two of our churches to meet us at the hospital to anoint Steve. The doctor determined Steve had pneumonia as a complication of COVID-19 and sent us home with a prescription for antibiotics.

The next day, Steve told me he felt as though he’d “turned a corner in this illness due to the anointing service.” Although we fully believe the anointing helped and gave us peace, Steve was still quite ill and bedridden and, by Monday, his fever was 103.6 F again with low oxygen. I called the hospital to see if I could bring him in but they refused to admit him because they didn’t have enough beds. As I sat by Steve’s side, he cried, “I feel like I’m dying. There’s a dark shadow over me. I’m dying.” I told him that he was not going to die, and that was Satan’s lie to discourage us, and to believe that God will heal him.

I did not share with him that Satan had also been attacking me with the thought that I might lose my husband. Although I continually rebuked the devil and cried out to God for healing for my husband, there was a tinge of fear that death could become a reality.

Unbeknownst to both of us, however, Satan’s lies were spreading like wildfire. Months ago, I had changed my cell number and had sent the new number to all my contacts. Some either didn’t get the message or forgot to update their contacts with my new number. This is key to the rest of the story as it now unfolds, all behind the scenes and without our knowledge.

Our friends Ardis and Dick Stenbakken heard Steve was sick and sent a message to my phone. The reply they received was, “Steve died.” Ardis told me they went through such anguish and tears when they heard that news. Ardis notified RMC officers who after contacting several people, found out that Steve was still alive. This wasn’t the end though. Ardis, upon finding out the truth, sent a message back to my old number saying, “If you had a Steve who died, I’m very sorry, but if you’re messing with me, God will deal with you!”

I heard from other friends who had experienced the same thing and were very distraught over the fake news of Steve’s death—something Satan was trying to make everyone believe and even, if God would permit, to make it a reality.

God strengthened us and He provided comfort and peace. Thousands of prayers were ascending on our behalf and that gave us courage. Steve was not improving after the first round of antibiotics and we contacted an online doctor who prescribed hydroxychloroquine and a second round of antibiotics with zinc. This helped very little at this stage in Steve’s illness and the hydroxychloroquine actually made him very sick to his stomach. Then God impressed him to call a doctor friend we know. This doctor provided instructions for making antiviral teas and other things that would help.

It’s hard to admit, but it was challenging caring for Steve and taking care of the animals and everything by myself while I was still sick, too. Now, we are both feeling much better, although Steve’s recovery is taking a little longer due to the pneumonia and now very low white blood cell and granulocyte counts.

We praise God for healing and wisdom to know what to do. We thank Him for the many people praying for us.

We’d highly encourage everyone to continue to take precautions to avoid contracting COVID-19. We believe we contracted it while wearing a mask and running errands out of town. At the first sign of illness, see your doctor, start boosting your immune system (even now, before you get sick) and use natural remedies as appropriate.

God’s promise in Isaiah 59:19(b) is true, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” We are so grateful to be beyond the worst of the COVID-19 and, even though there are still some health issues to address, we have confidence that “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4) You, too, may face the unknown with peace in your heart, as you trust in your Heavenly Father.

—Samantha Nelson is a pastor’s wife who loves serving alongside her husband Steve. She is also the CEO of The Hope of Survivors, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting victims of clergy sexual abuse and providing educational seminars to clergy of all faiths.

21 Dec

COVID-19 Vaccines: Addressing Concerns, Offering Counsel

By General Conference Department of Health Ministries, General Conference Biblical Research Institute, and Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy and School of Public HealthSilver Spring, Maryland, Loma Linda, California …Seventh-day Adventists look to the coming of Christ as the great culmination of history and an end of all disease, suffering, and death. At the same time, we have been entrusted with the Adventist health message embodied in and expanded upon by the writings of Ellen White, summarizing healthful living through practical and wholistic healthy lifestyle behaviors.

We advocate all of these practices to maintain a healthy immune system, and in the pandemic, even more is needed. Ellen White was not only an inspired conduit of health information much ahead of her time, but she modeled practical prevention in the face of the lethal disease in her era, smallpox, and took the immunization herself, as did those close to her.1 Today, smallpox has been globally eradicated.

We hope that this article will answer questions, allay fears, and resolve some of the prevalent myths and rumors, thereby bringing peace to the hearts of our members as they make health decisions guided by their health-care providers.

There are rumors and conspiracy theories that use the COVID-19 vaccine as an interpretation and/or fulfillment of prophecy. We asked the General Conference Biblical Research Institute for comments in this regard, and the response is as follows:

“The global upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has generated considerable speculations related to end-time events and misinterpretations of the Bible. One recent view, propagated through social media and some internet websites, has put forward the theory that the upcoming vaccines produced to combat COVID-19 belong to a process of control that will lead to the application of the mark of the beast.

It should be noted, however, that Adventists hold to the conviction that the end-time controversy will center on the law of God, and particularly on the fourth commandment (Rev. 14:12). Moreover, the third angel’s message will warn against the reception of the mark (Rev. 14:9–11) and will enlighten humankind as to the issues involved.

For this reason, it should be made clear that Seventh-day Adventists understand the “mark of the beast” to be not a literal mark but a sign of allegiance that identifies the bearer as loyal to the power represented by the beast.

From a distinct perspective, another speculative view argues that vaccines make those who take them unclean because, supposedly, unclean substances are used to produce them. In this regard, it should be clarified that the abiding biblical instructions forbidding the consumption of unclean food and blood (Lev. 11:1–20; 17:11–12; Acts 15:20) do not apply to vaccines for the obvious reason that vaccines are produced as medication to save lives, not to serve as food.

Speculations such as these bring the Word of God into disrepute and cause confusion among sincere but less-informed believers. Using the introduction of a vaccine to stir up an eschatological scenario of spiritual and cosmic proportions, or to oppose it on the basis of a faulty interpretation of Scripture, only distracts sincere believers from the real prophetic issues and the Adventist Church’s commitment to proclaim the gospel.

Hopefully an effective vaccine will help to bring the current pandemic to a halt. This will protect the lives of those who still need to know about the gospel, as well as those who have already accepted the gospel and are thus charged with the proclamation of God’s infinite love to a suffering world (John 3:16).”2

Adventist Health Ministries is firmly based on the Bible, the instruction of the Spirit of Prophecy through Ellen White, and is consonant with peer-reviewed, evidence-based health science. We rely on these foundations in formulating health approaches and advice. With millions infected, and many dead, and global infections on the increase, a number of vaccines have been developed in record time. There are numerous questions people are asking regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

As a church, while we support evidence-based public health recommendations, we are also careful not to make pronouncements that may be construed as replacing national and international public health guidelines. For this reason, it is important for our comments to be understood within the framework of our official church position on immunization:

“The Seventh-day Adventist Church places strong emphasis on health and well-being. The Adventist health emphasis is based on biblical revelation, the inspired writing of Ellen G. White (co-founder of the Church), and on peer-reviewed scientific literature. As such, we encourage responsible immunization/vaccination, and have no religious or faith-based reason not to encourage our adherents to responsibly participate in protective and preventive immunization programs. We value the health and safety of the population, which includes the maintenance of ‘herd immunity.’

“We are not the conscience of the individual church member, and recognize individual choices. These are exercised by the individual. The choice not to be immunized is not and should not be seen as the dogma nor the doctrine of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”

There have been efforts to establish a reliable evidence-based approach to treatment of COVID-19. Additionally, and within record time, vaccines have been produced which are now being used to help bring the pandemic under control. However, people do have concerns and questions regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

Emergency use authorization (EUA) for the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine was granted on December 2, 2020, in the United Kingdom, and on December 9 in Canada. In the U.S., the Pfizer vaccine was reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and provisionally authorized on December 11. The Moderna vaccine will follow.

In conversation with the Loma Linda University School of Public Health (LLUSPH), Michael Hogue, dean of the Loma Linda School of Pharmacy, who serves on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices Workgroup on COVID-19 Vaccines and on the San Bernardino County COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce in California, shared the following insights regarding frequently asked questions on the Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna vaccines. His insights and explanations of common questions appear below.

Questions and Facts About the Vaccine

Question: Does the mRNA (messenger Ribonucleic Acid) vaccine change your DNA?

FACT: Both referenced vaccines are based on mRNA, which is a first for vaccines, but the technology has been used in medical treatments for the past 15 years. The vaccine enters into a cell’s cytoplasm (the fluid within the cell), where it stimulates the production of antibodies to fight the SARS-CoV-2’s spike protein. Since it does not enter the nucleus of the host cell, it does not change the DNA or genetic structure/function.

Question: Can it be safe and effective, as it was developed so quickly?

FACT: Due to current technology, the SARS-CoV-2 virus was sequenced within days of its being identified, and work on a vaccine was started right away. The sample size for the large study is 40,000 people (the average FDA vaccine study sample size is usually only 27,000). We are two months into a two-year study. Data is being carefully monitored.

The first dose showed a 50-percent immune response protection. The second dose reached 95 percent protection! (Only Hepatitis A vaccine is higher, at just about 100 percent protection.) The study was well designed and represented U.S. demographics very closely, with the exception of Native Americans (and the ongoing study is working to rectify that). Efficacy and side effects were similar in all ethnic groups.

Question: Are the ingredients and preservatives in the vaccine dangerous?

FACT: There are no preservatives in these two COVID-19 vaccines, which is why they require deep freeze/freezer facilities for storage and transport. The vaccine is carefully purified.

Question: What are the side effects?

FACT: So far, 10 percent of subjects have reported fever by the second day, and in 24 hours, 50-60 percent reported feeling “achy.” There have so far been very few serious side effects with the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine, including three cases of significant allergic reactions (unusually low; probably due to the non-use of preservatives).

Dr. Hogue further commented that if a person has already tested COVID-19 positive in the past, that person can still get the vaccine; it will simply increase the person’s antibody levels. He also pointed out that taking the vaccine in the USA is voluntary, not mandatory.

The efficacy of the Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna vaccines is similar, but they are not interchangeable (if a person starts with one, the second dose has to be from the same brand). For the Pfizer vaccine, there is 21-day interval between the two doses; it is reported that for the Moderna vaccine, the interval will be 28 days between doses. The vaccine is not authorized for use during pregnancy or in those under 16 years of age.


Immunization, along with sanitation and clean water, has been foundational to the improved longevity seen around the world where these interventions have been applied. Vaccines have long been used by Adventist church members throughout the world. Along with good health practices, they have provided protection against many infections and prevented illness and death.

As we witness the global magnitude of the pandemic, the deaths, disability, and long-term COVID-19 effects that are emerging in all age groups, we are encouraging our members to consider responsible immunization and the promotion and facilitation of the development of what is commonly termed herd immunity (pre-existing community immunity of approximately 80 percent of individuals as a result of previous infection and/or vaccination).



1. Concerning vaccination against smallpox, D. E. Robinson, one of Ellen White’s secretaries, under the date of June 12, 1931, wrote as follows concerning Mrs. White’s attitude toward vaccination:

“You ask for definite and concise information regarding what Sister White wrote about vaccination and serum.

“This question can be answered very briefly for so far as we have any record, she did not refer to them in any of her writings.

“You will be interested to know, however, that at a time when there was an epidemic of smallpox in the vicinity, she herself was vaccinated and urged her helpers, those connected with her, to be vaccinated. In taking this step, Sister White recognized the fact that it has been proven that vaccination either renders one immune from smallpox or greatly lightens its effects if one does come down with it. She also recognized the danger of their exposing others if they failed to take this precaution. [Signed] D. E. Robinson” (Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 303).

2. Biblical Research Institute of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, December 2020.

Photo by iStock

This article was originally published on the NAD website

17 Dec


It goes without saying that we’ve entered a special time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus!  His First Coming gives us hope as we look not only at His birth, but His life and resurrection.  Without that hope burning in our hearts, 2020 would have been an even tougher year than it has been. And with such hope, we await His Second Coming. I pray God will richly bless each one of you and your family as we complete this unique and horrible year.

I want to encourage you to take some time to reflect on the blessings God has bestowed upon you. Count them one by one. Whenever I do that, I am encouraged. I am especially encouraged by the generosity and faithfulness of you, our members, in supporting the church and being engaged in reaching out–in word and deed–to the world with the Good News of Jesus, the Emmanuel.

Some of my blessings during this tough year include my wife who gives me companionship and encouragement. And, He supplies my daily needs. I have never gone hungry. God has blessed us both with continued employment. While many of our friends have had COVID, most of them have survived. As for our four grandchildren, not one has gotten sick. My mom, Annie, has battled cancer, but presently is doing well. My list could go on and on, and so could yours.

It is my prayer that, with the COVID vaccination coming out shortly, by summer, most will have gotten it and things will begin to turn back to some kind of normalcy. I am hoping and praying that 2021 will be a better time and place not only in our country, but around the world.

As we begin 2021, my hope is that each of us will be determined to spend more time in God’s Word each day and that we will take care of our health with renewed vigor and determination; that we plan, strategize and commit to living a healthier and holier life.

I pray that God will richly bless each of you as we celebrate Jesus’ birth and also welcome the new year just before us.

–Ed Barnett, RMC president

17 Dec


As the year 2020 comes to end, it would be an understatement to say that we will not miss it. As a church family–-young and old–-we have had a mosaic of experiences, including bewilderment and frustration, laced with sadness and doubts.

But all of us were also adjusting to a carousel of worship options, creating Zoom communities, engaging in technological creativity, and discovering, for some, that we live in a community that invites us to practice our Christianity by helping the vulnerable, the poor, and the needy–-all beyond being “one day Christians.”

And we learned in 2020 about a need to rely on Jesus much, much more, wishing He would return now! At RMC, we especially noted that Christian stewardship lives on, even in these trying times.

NewsNuggets editors asked several randomly-selected church members, educators, and ministers in RMC to share their memorable moments or experiences during 2020, personally, and as believers. Here is a selection, perhaps a mirror of your own experiences.

May the Lord of our lives give us patience, forbearance, victories, and compassion in the year to come as we trust in Him and His leading in 2021.

Pastor Steve Schwartz, Delta, Colorado

Life is not put-on hold by a pandemic, and neither is God. I will apply this learning when the pandemic is history.”

 Dorie Panganiban, La Vida Mission, New Mexico

“In our experience here at La Vida Mission during this pandemic, I have seen first-hand a repeat of the story of the five loaves and two fishes and its blessing to thousands. God miraculously multiplies our few bags of rice, beans and flour to bless hundreds and hundreds of Navajo families in the community.”

Ellie King, age 9, Estes Park, Colorado

“I got to celebrate my birthday with some of my favorite people!”

Anderson King, age 6, Estes Park, Colorado

“This year was hard, but I still got to see my cousins.”

Samantha Nelson, Cody, Wyoming

Personally, I will mostly remember the discouragement that I could not meet my new niece born in February, that–-for the first time in 15 years since we left CA–-I would not be able to return to visit family this year, that I nearly lost my husband to COVID-19 and pneumonia, and that I struggled with several health issues myself. On a positive note, I will always remember how wonderful it is to share love and hugs with family, church members and friends.

As a pastor’s wife, it’s been difficult to not be able to offer the in-person support that people need. Texts, calls and emails are helpful, but sometimes people just need a hug or to see the love and care expressed on your face.

Principal Sandy Hodgson, Erie, Colorado

On a personal note, not only was this a year of the fear of the unknown, but also [the year] of cooking, game playing, neighborhood walks, and Zoom!

As an Adventist educator, let me say this was a year of being creative with remote learning and being overjoyed with a return to in-person learning.

Natasha Gibson, Denver, Colorado, a junior nursing student at Union College.

2020 has been an interesting year for me. My friends and I were not able to connect like we did in the past. Nonetheless, we found creative ways to stay connected. 2020 also taught me how to be resilient and push forward in everything that I do.

Being an Adventist during this time hasn’t really affected me. As the Bible tells us, things will get worse before Christ comes and I truly believe this. Therefore, as an Adventist during this pandemic, I simply rely on my faith to carry me throughout each day.

Karla Klemm, Grand Junction, Colorado

“In 2020 I have learned, as I work in public health, that I am stronger than I realize.  Having to take on an additional role of coordination in the COVID pandemic, I am thankful for the experience it provided me. Creative ways to worship have “risen to the top” in my interaction with the Adventist church. New online venues are appreciated and hopefully, we will learn to integrate these practices into the future.”

Ed Barnett, RMC president

“The thing that struck me most was how much I miss the fellowship of family, friends, fellow employees and our church family. The other thing that really has hit home is that we have no idea what will happen tomorrow. We need to rely on Jesus every day for direction. I have always known that, but it has become more sharply focused.”

Diane Johnson, Louisville, Colorado

2020 finds me with “compassion fatigue,” and with dismay with my fellow humans who deny a few simple requests to keep others safe. I am one of the healthcare workers who is tired and frustrated. 2020 seems to be–for many people–the year of “I’ll do whatever I want.” That’s what I see online with those in church who disregard guidelines. Sad, in my view.

What keeps me going are worship services, even on Zoom, and Boulder’s connect group which kept me grounded and hopeful…”

Pastor Bob McAlpine, Alamosa, Colorado

I learned that digital/virtual church is also a real church and that digital/virtual community is real community. I will always remember seeing people interact online during a worship service back in July and realizing that they were having a meaningful experience of God and others even though they weren’t present in the church building.

Ron Johnson, Grand Junction, Colorado

During the virus, we have been impressed and inspired by how friends and church members reach out and support those who are homebound making sure their needs are met. And we realize more how important singing hymns and praise music and fellowship is to worship. Without these activities, worship is incomplete and leaves us half satisfied spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

It is a blessing that my wife, Linda, can play the piano at home to enable us to worship with singing.

Pastor Micheal Getz, Campion, Loveland, Colorado

For me as a pastor, it was watching the parking lot fill up on the first night of a drive-in vespers–the community longing to spend time together and worship even if it’s just cars in a parking lot.

On a personal level, I will remember the ache in my heart when my kids tried to understand a sickness that would close their park.

Ron Price, Farmington, New Mexico

I believe I will look back one day and see this time as a preparation practice run for what I will be experiencing then. As bad as it has been, I believe God’s Word is clear that life will get far more difficult before it gets eternally better.

Pastor Shayne Vincent Mason, Casper, Wyoming

While Casper creatively rose to the challenge of remaining open for most of 2020, it has also been a journey into the realities of Ecclesiastes. The Lord has re-awakened our awareness that this world is only temporary, and that He truly will return. The beautiful truth found in losing the illusions of control is that we learn to, “cast all of our cares upon Jesus.”

–photo by iStock

17 Dec


By Lynn Nicolay – Palisade, Colorado…Palisade Adventist church takes the cancellation of the town Christmas celebration in stride and creates a safe zone for community members to celebrate the season.

The Palisade Chamber of Commerce chose not to host the town’s annual Olde Fashioned Christmas festivities this year. In previous years, the church has had a representative on the planning committee for the annual event which draws visitors from the surrounding area. The Palisade church’s contribution, over the years, was to open the church so the public could view Nativity creche from around the world.  New sets were acquired each year to attract visitors.

Activities at the gathering included nativity crafts for children and a Christmas puzzle to work on, along with hot apple cider and cookies to munch.

But this year, all these means of sharing the real reason for the season have been preempted. Not wanting to be impeded in witnessing to our community meant prayerfully looking for another way to share the Gospel and the season with our community.

This year, the church not only has the large, outdoor Nativity scene, but also three large signs with the words of a poem written by Ralph Libby, a 92-year-old Palisade member, for this Season that many celebrate.

Long years ago, as most folks know,
The Son of God was born:
The shepherds and three wise men
Beheld that glorious morn.

God’s Son grew tall, was loved by all,
And soon became a man:
Baptized by John, His work began,
As He fulfilled God’s plan.

The sick He healed; God’s law revealed
And miracles He wrought.
But years went by, and foes drew nigh,
His death was often sought.

Upon the cross He suffered loss,
To die for you and me:
Life was denied, His friends all cried,
What would the future be?

Yet He did rise and from the skies
His angels showed their might:
He lives today and now we say,
Thank God for our Redeemer’s light.

If we are true and serve Him too,
We soon will join the Lamb.
He’ll soon descend and come again,
God’s Son, the Great I AM!

— Lynn Nicolay is a member of the Palisade church and represents the church on the RMC executive committee; photo by Curtis Strain

17 Dec

New Union College scholarship covers tuition costs for families making $60,000 or less

By Ryan Teller – Lincoln, Nebraska … Union College has launched the new Bridge to Union Scholarship—a plan that will cover the tuition costs for students from most families with an income of $60,000 or less.

“In these challenging economic times, every dollar matters,” said Dr. Vinita Sauder, president of Union College. “We want to bridge the tuition gap for any student and family who dreams of taking advantage of the life coach for every freshman, career preparation and spiritual community at Union College so they have that opportunity. The Bridge to Union Scholarship helps make our unparalleled personalized support available to many more students—regardless of financial circumstances.”

For first-time freshman students enrolling for the Fall 2021 semester, Union College will scholarship all tuition costs not covered by their federal and state financial aid package. To qualify, a student simply needs to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) showing that they are eligible for a Pell Grant and their family income for the FAFSA year is $60,000 or less.

The scholarship will be renewable for up to seven additional semesters as long as the student remains enrolled as a full-time student (12-17 credit hours) during that time, maintains a 2.0 GPA, is Pell-eligible and their family income stays at $60,000 or below.

“No motivated student should be denied a quality education,” said Sauder. “We are excited to remove more of the financial burden for students who want a Christian education as they seek to find God’s calling for their lives.”

The Bridge to Union program covers tuition only. Students can earn a majority of their room and board by working on campus throughout both semesters and contributing summer work earnings to their account. Outside scholarships may also be applied toward room and board.

Financial aid is available to all Union undergraduate students—regardless of income or eligibility for federal financial aid. For instance, every freshman admitted to Union already receives a four-year renewable scholarship of $4,000 up to full tuition (worth nearly $100,000 over four years) based on academic achievement, financial situation and other factors.

For more information about the Bridge to Union Scholarship, call 402.486.2504 or visit ucollege.edu/bridge-to-union

–Ryan Teller is Union College’s public relations director; photo supplied

17 Dec


By Cathy Kissner – Loveland, Colorado … The Cameron Peak Fire Recovery Center was bolstered on December 7 by Denver Channel 7 News who collected donations for those affected by the Cameron Peak Fire that burned areas around Red Feather, Glen Haven, and Estes Park west of Fort Collins. The largest fire in Colorado, it took more than four months for fire crews to get the fire contained. After burning more than 200,000 acres, it left 40 homes completely destroyed and more than 200 homes with heavy smoke damage.

“This is one of the largest donations we have ever received from a news channel,” explained Cathy Kissner, director of Adventist Community Services and Disaster Relief for the Rocky Mountain Conference. “The people affected by this fire will receive these much-needed items which will help in their recovery as they find new footing and a new normal for their lives.”

Donations were delivered to the Adventist Community Services Disaster Response Center in the Outlet Mall of Loveland for the Cameron Peak Fire Recovery where site manager June Spaulding and her team were happy to receive them. Among items donated were new pillows, washcloths, diapers, shovels, rakes, lawn carts, tools, and hoses.

The Center has also received quilts and comforters from a quilting club and from the ACS Center in Loveland.

The Distribution Center will continue to be open until December 28 to serve those impacted by the Cameron Peak fire.

–Cathy Kissner is RMC ACS director; photos supplied

16 Dec


By Amelia Eno – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … Christmas at Mile High Academy is fun and, although this season is unique for everyone, the students and staff have found a way to celebrate with cheer.

All around MHA campus, students have been preparing for their online Christmas concert by practicing instruments, singing songs, decorating their spaces and wearing festive Christmas hats, shirts, and smiles. The joy of Christmas is shining despite being in and out of online learning.

“I think it makes you start to realize what you value most, what Christmas is really about,” said Lisa Venteicher, upper school drama and science teacher. “I really value my time with my students. It’s the best gift I could have this year.”

It has been a unique season for the upper school students due to remote learning. However, the teachers are working on ways to make the season fun and festive by practicing drama skits virtually that focus on the current struggles facing our world while discussing forgiveness and the love of Jesus despite the threat of COVID-19 and being apart.

The pandemic couldn’t cancel the yearly Christmas Door competition, a decorating contest for each classroom. The finished doors are judged based on creativity, student participation, design and are given bonus points for exhibiting the school’s CHERISH core values.

The winners found first and third grade tying for first place, each classroom awarded $100 prize. Second and fourth grades tied for second, winning $75.

While the upper school students haven’t been on campus, they were able to do their annual “Christmas Challenge,” which is an exciting blend of trivia and other challenges.

“It is a lot of fun, and I know both students and staff look forward to it every December.” said Rebecca Berg, upper school teacher and Christmas Challenge coordinator.

This year has been different, but also special. Students, staff, and teachers are learning how to stay connected throughout this pandemic and stay united in God.

— Amelia Eno is a sophomore at Mile high Academy; photos by Jocelyn Aalborg

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