31 Dec


RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … Sunrise brought to light the full extent of the damage throughout Superior and Louisville, Colorado after firefighters fought to contain the blaze in Boulder County. It also confirmed the fears of some families that their house was gone, while others tried to get information any way possible on their property.

As of December 31, Boulder Adventist Church and Twin Peaks Adventist Church have accounted for all their members. Unfortunately, a Boulder church family lost their home in the fire. Others discovered their house, against all odds, survived.

“Survival was literally a matter of minutes and inches. The winds were so fierce and the smoke so thick that one wrong turn could have been deadly. I don’t use the word often, but it will truly be miraculous if the final tally shows no fatalities,” commented Mark Johnson, Boulder Adventist Church member.

At a December 31 morning press conference, Governor Polis said Avista Adventist Hospital would be out of commission for days or weeks.

Avista Adventist Hospital CEO Isaac Sendros told ABC’s Good Morning America, “I’ve never experienced anything like this. Every neighborhood around us was in flames.”

Later in the afternoon, Sendros sent an email to hospital employees and partners explaining the situation. “There is ash and soot in many parts of the building. Our re-opening will require continued assessment and extensive collaboration with public authorities and utilities in the coming days and weeks to ensure safety for you and our patients.” He went on to explain that the fire came within four feet of the large oxygen tanks the hospital uses.

Boulder County Sheriff said at the press conference that the fire had grown to 6000 acres and estimated that around 1000 homes were either damaged or destroyed.

Emergency shelters remain open for families needing a place to stay. The Campion Academy gym also remains available; however, as of December 31, the shelter remained empty.

Pastors and ministry leaders from the community assembled at Flatirons Community Church in Lafayette on December 31 afternoon to encourage, pray, and discuss what their churches can do to help the community recover.

Area churches are partnering with Avista Adventist Hospital to collect goods to help employees who have been displaced by the fire.

Boulder County Sheriff at the press conference encouraged all wishing to volunteer to visit https://www.coloradoresponds.org/ to discover ways to help. If you wish to donate to Adventist Community Services disaster response, please use the AdventistGiving app and mark the online tithe envelope ACSDR.

–RMCNews; photos by Diane Johnson and Avista Adventist Hospital

Avista Adventist Hospital was spared, but the burn scar shows the fire came just four feet from the oxygen tanks.
31 Dec


Story updated 7:30 a.m. Friday, December 31.

RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … Massive wildfires raged through the Front Range on December 30 causing incredible devastation in parts of Superior and Louisville.  According to Boulder County Sheriff’s office, 580 structures have been destroyed.  As crews continue to assess the damage the number of homes and businesses destroyed will continue to rise.  Fires and hot spots continue Friday morning.

Avista Adventist Hospital was evacuated Thursday afternoon as the fires closed in.

“All patients were safely transferred to two of our sister facilities within Centura — Longmont United Hospital and St. Anthony North, and some were discharged from the hospital. All associates at this time have also been evacuated,” the hospital said on their Facebook page.

According to a 9News reporter who was providing updates from the hospital parking lot Thursday night, the fire reached the edge of the parking lot; however, first responders made a stand and were able to prevent the hospital from catching fire.

Several RMC members and families live in the areas affected by the wildfires and were forced out of their homes, some with very little notice. They, like tens of thousands of individuals, are waiting to see if their homes were destroyed.

Informing Mickey Mallory, RMC ministerial director, late Thursday evening Jay Murdoch, Boulder Adventist Church associate pastor reported that, “everyone in the Boulder Church has been accounted for and is safe. There are two families that evacuated whose homes are close to where the fire was. They are not sure if their homes have been impacted by the fire.”

Twin Peaks Adventist Church was also in an evacuation zone, however as of late Thursday afternoon, Tim Jones, pastor, informed Mallory that the church was to the north of the fire and was currently safe.

Mallory, commenting on behalf of the Rocky Mountain Conference, said, “Our hearts ache for those affected by the wildfires and I want to ask all to keep this matter in prayer.”

Campion Academy has opened their gym as an emergency shelter for RMC families who are not able to return to their homes due to standing evacuation orders.  Don Reeder, Campion principal, said pets are welcome and Covid protocols are in effect in the gym.  If you are in need of this shelter, please contact Reeder at 970-443-3432.

Adventist Community Services is on standby waiting to hear from Boulder County officials on where they can assist the community in this tragedy.  Material donations will be accepted for the families in the coming days and a list of needs and locations to drop off donations will be announced.

If you wish to donate to Adventist Community Services disaster response, please use the AdventistGiving app and mark the online tithe envelope ACSDR.

30 Dec


RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … Multiple fires have caused the evacuation of two Front Range cities Superior and Louisville, Colorado, and Avista Adventist Hospital.
The plume of smoke was visible from Longmont, about 15 miles north of Louisville, and from the Denver Metro area to the south.
Multiple RMC members have evacuated and are anxiously waiting for word on their homes and properties.
“Avista Adventist Hospital is evacuating and we have members in Louisville and Superior on the run,” Jay Murdoch, Boulder Adventist Church associate pastor said.
Twin Peaks Adventist Church is in the evacuation zone. “Louisville has been evacuated and the fires are about five miles from the church. Everything seems to be safe at this point. Our head elder Jack is keeping tabs on the situation,” said Tim Jones, pastor of the Twin Peaks Adventist Church.
In a press conference, Boulder County Sheriff’s officials said over 500 homes have been lost in Superior. They also commented that the fires are within two blocks of Avista Hospital, and the evacuation was due to heavy smoke in the area.
Mickey Mallory, RMC ministerial director has been in contact with pastors in the affected zones.
Mallory commenting on behalf of the Rocky Mountain Conference said, “There are RMC members that have been asked to evacuate. Our hearts ache for those affected by the wildfires and I want to ask all to keep this matter in prayer.”
This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information is available.
–RMCNews; photo by Rajmund Dabrowski
28 Dec


By Ron Price … Several years ago, I heard a speaker at the Western Slope campmeeting state that he always tried to be conservative when leading his own life and liberal in allowing others to live theirs. That stuck with me over the years and, while I often fail, it is a life strategy I consider well worth pursuing.

Am I the only one who believes that most of our secular society does not often adhere to this philosophy? Unfortunately, we see the lack among our church family as well. We seem to have devolved to a point where we can only like, love, and associate with someone if he or she holds the same views of life that we do. That practice must come from the scripture where Jesus instructed us to “…go make disciples of all those who agree with you in everything.” Please don’t waste time looking for that verse. It simply isn’t there. You might want to reread Matthew 28:18-20, though.

To the contrary, our Lord Jesus Christ tells us that we are to “…love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you…” (Mt 5:44). It would not be a stretch to add “love and appreciate those who act or view life differently than you do” to that list.

I find it helpful to realize that had I been born and experienced life as another person, I would likely hold to the views they espouse. The verses found in Matthew 7: 1-5 seem appropriate here – something about a speck and a plank?

Certainly, it is a common human trait to like to hang around with people you share similarities with- people who see and do life much like you do, or more importantly, think “correctly” about how life should be lived. I’ve seen this  practice of tribalism de-fined as “the behavior and attitudes that stem from strong loyalty to one’s own tribe or social group.” Tribalism is not inherently negative, unless it gets to be exclusionary and creates an “us versus them” mentality. When that happens in a church it is a recipe for disaster.

For the past 18 months I have met weekly with a group, most of whose members have darker skin pigmentation than I do. That experience has often forced me out of my “comfort zone” and I promise you I am a better person because it did. I have viewed life through a lens I never could have had I lived solely within my own tribe. As a result I have come to appreciate differences in others rather than just tolerate, or mistrust them in any way.

So what am I proposing – that our church should become like a country club where so long as you pay your dues (tithe) all views and lifestyles are welcome? I hope not. I am suggesting, however, that we would all benefit by seeing each person as a child of God for whom Jesus gave His life. To that end, it would behoove us to become totally comfortable in that reality for ourselves. So long as I confidently know that God loves and accepts me, I can all the more love and accept those who differ from me in various ways.

–Ron Price writes from Farmington, New Mexico. A member of the Piñon Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church, he is also a member of RMC Executive Committee. Photo by iStock

23 Dec


We didn’t know what to make of the sudden unnerving sounds of police and emergency sirens piercing the normal quiet of our neighborhood. But we could tell there were several vehicles there by the sounds of many sirens and lots of blue and red flashing lights. They had passed by our front door too fast for us to get there to see what was going on, but when we saw the lights flashing beyond the houses on the street behind us, we thought that maybe there was some medical emergency or criminal disturbance nearby. When the lights didn’t go out, and the sirens continued to blaze, we noticed they were moving back toward our street. This time I made it to the front door just in time to see a parade of police and emergency vehicles going by with a Santa Claus riding atop an ambulance waving and shouting Christmas cheer to everyone. Whew!

No doubt the shepherds were relieved on a hillside just outside Bethlehem two millennia ago when the lights and sounds were the herald of good news and joy! The voices from the sky led them to the manger where, in quiet awe, they gazed at their King and Savior.

I don’t know what kind of noise or chaos, or anxiety or trouble is in your life right now. This season is your chance to look to the Light, listen for the Voices, and gaze once again at your King and Savior. I believe that you will find the peace, joy, and grace that is just what you need for this moment in your life if you will really pause to gaze anew into His face.

On behalf of the entire Rocky Mountain team of pastors, teachers, office, and support staff, we send our love, best wishes, and joy to you and your family during this season and through the coming year.

–Mic Thurber, RMC president

23 Dec

Campion teachers prepare for a significant shift in learning and grading

By Jill Harlow – Loveland, Colorado … Campion Academy teachers and staff spent a week during winter break developing new skills and preparing for the upcoming semester. The training session included sessions with the Rocky Mountain Conference education department on the new standards-based learning and grading (SBL).

This style will be a significant shift away from traditional letter grades to evaluating students based on achievement by academic standard.

Paul Negrete, RMC associate director of education, is eager to see schools move in this direction, “The SBL framework will allow us to be more intentional and transparent regarding the instruction and learning taking place in the classroom. This shift in education will have a dynamic impact on how we are able to report on student progress and adapt instruction to better fit students.”

Campion Academy plans to begin implementing SBL in some classes next school year. Teachers were introduced to this concept last year and have been completing a course on the topic in addition to the conference training.

Campion’s academic vice-principal, Kent Kast, commented that SBL would clarify expectations for students. “Instead of instruction being very general and teachers giving material and saying there will be a test in a week, the students can focus on the skills and information they need to learn outlined in the priority standard.”

With standards-based grading, report cards will give more specific feedback to students and parents. Kast shared an example to compare traditional letter grades to standards-based: “In my chemistry class, if a student does very well all year, but doesn’t get balancing equations, their overall score could average out to be a B. What does that tell us? That the student is a little above average in chemistry. That’s it. SBL will instead tell us that the student did very well in every area except balancing equations, and if the student wants to improve, that’s where they should start.”

Campion Academy plans to be well ahead of the North American Division’s goal to implement standard-based grading across all Seventh-day Adventist schools within the next seven years.

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

22 Dec


By Alise Weber – Littleton, Colorado … More than 700 community members experienced the atmosphere of Bethlehem on December 19 during the annual Bethlehem Experience presented by the Littleton Adventist Church.

The church’s campus was transformed into the town of Bethlehem where visitors were reminded of God’s light in our world, a chance to interact with marketplace shopkeepers, visit shepherds watching their sheep in the fields, and experience that beautiful, holy night Jesus was born and the hope He brought to us all.

The evening was divided into nine groups of 75 – 90 people, each arriving 20 minutes apart for the hour-long walk-through.

Each group began their journey in the sanctuary, where they were greeted by Andy Nash, Littleton Church lead pastor, who explained the purpose of the evening and prepared the onlooker’s hearts.

“Who feels like they need a Lord and Savior now more than ever?” Nash asked the crowd.  Many raised their hands high.

After Nash’s introduction, attendees witnessed a five-minute opening drama set to the song “Praise You in this Storm” by Casting Crowns. The opening scene depicted many conflicts that have emotionally touched us in 2021. One scene showed a nurse attending to a patient on a ventilator; another showed two Afghanistan women cowering and afraid, and an additional scene showed a store closed due to lack of staff. At the end of the skit, a host of angels surrounded each struggle and resolved the sorrow. Many attendees exited the sanctuary with tears, being moved by what they had just witnessed.

“It seemed like in the experience everyone had something to relate to in our lives. It brought joy and hope to our families,” Dana Tikker, Littleton church member, said.

The Bethlehem travelers were next guided to a bustling marketplace where loud shopkeepers enticed visitors to buy animals, fabric, fruit, vegetables, bread, and pottery.  Of course, two foreboding Roman soldiers called on the newcomers to be counted for the census in the background. “Have you paid your taxes?” a local tax collector asked one of the visitors.

With travelers full of hot chocolate and cookies that a local shopkeeper graciously gave them, they were guided to a neighboring inn, where a not-so-pleasant innkeeper shouted that there was no room to rest. Thankfully, a nearby shepherd’s field brought them some distraction with shepherds who greeted them warmly and some adorable animals, such as donkeys, goats, and sheep that welcomed the hay and the soft pats the children offered.

The tranquility of the shepherd’s field ended abruptly when a burst of light and a host of angels appeared.  “A savior will be born,” the lead angel exclaimed to the crowd directing them into a nearby tent transformed into a cave.  Inside they were greeted by Mary, Joseph, and a host of angels surrounding them as they witnessed the birth of the Messiah.

The Bethlehem Experience concluded when wise men and shepherds arrived on the scene, and onlookers left reflecting on what they had witnessed with the parting words still fresh in their ears. “Wise men and women still seek Him today, and if you seek Him, you will find Him.”

Littleton member, Steve Peck, reflecting on why the experience is essential, said, “The Bethlehem Experience is unique because it creates an opportunity for the congregation to minister both internally and externally to the community.  I’m eager for this ministry to grow in size and reach.”

The Bethlehem experience was a church-wide effort that involved more than 80 volunteers who helped make the evening memorable for the community.

To view a video of the opening scene please click here

To view a video of the Nativity scene please click here

–Alise Weber is ministry coordinator for Littleton Adventist Church; photos supplied

21 Dec


By Kendra Carlson … One Christmas season, my family faced moving out of a home we loved and saying goodbye to our very sick cat. Even while I could still listen to my sweet cat’s breathing, I ached knowing I would soon be without him. The night before our house went up for sale, my spouse and I stayed up fixing things. By 1 am, I was saying, “Who, pray tell, has time to decorate while they pack? What if we come home and find Leo dead? What if the kids find him?” And because I’m never dramatic, I said, “It’s going to be the worst Christmas ever!”

My husband shrugged and said, “One of them has to be.” Those six words shook me awake. Of course, some Christmases would be sad. Why was I expecting myself to spin this sludge into gold? Did I really need to make magic out of the dismal affair Christmas was determined to be? Apparently, I’m not capable of (or responsible for) resuscitating Christmas.

Maybe your holidays are looking bleak. We’re worn by things we can’t control, which is frustrating and scary. This makes us cranky sometimes and rarely, only once a week or so, slightly murderous. And rightly so if big things are happening. Is your family ripped in half? Are you letting go of a dream? Are you admitting you carry a lot of pain in your heart even though the wounding was long ago? Do you feel sad because your body is struggling against a disease? Have you lost someone you never thought you’d have to be without?

As our rotten Christmas unfolded, it turned out to be a mixed bag, as most things are. I’d given up forcing it to be amazing, and then it kind of was. There were sweet moments and quiet moments. Also sad, sad moments. Snow fell. Tears fell.

My kids surprised me with an ugly little tree, which was far from what I was missing, but their desire to make things nicer for me lit me up inside. I carried my cat in the softest blanket to the vet and carried the empty blanket home. The pain reverberated through me with such heat, I touched the truth of how vast love actually is. And while it burned me, I managed to wonder, between the pulses of pain, how one heart feels this much and doesn’t stop. There was a white-hot knowing I was alive, love is real, and real is more powerful than any magic.

Love takes us in and causes us the most joy and (because of evil) the most pain. Love is the experience we left behind in Eden and baby Jesus invited us back to. Love is always present, even or especially in the Christmases of empty chairs and closed caskets and packed up houses.

Love takes us back in, over and over. Falling in love and saying goodbye. Connecting and letting go. Reuniting and distancing. Love is there for all of it, and by love, I mean God, Who is love. Love watched us go at the beginning and put a candle in the window. Love will take us home in the end, opening the door wide. In the meantime, Jesus came to visit, delivering an invitation to get swept up in the epic love God does in the universe, even on this planet with so much darkness. No matter how dark your Christmas looks from here, I pray you let Love in and find it is the only reason to live, the only candle to guide you.

— Kendra Carlson is a minimalist, born in Oregon but she loves Nebraska. She’s a protestant, but not in a right-wingy kind of way, old house renovator, recovering perfectionist, thinker, designer, mamma, green enthusiast, believer, wife, survivor, artist. Photo supplied.

This article was originally published on Outlook Magazine website.

21 Dec

Passing on a Passion for Fitness

By Ryan Teller – Lincoln, Nebraska … One morning while shaving, Rich Reiner made a discovery that proved to be a wakeup call. “I found a bump on my neck,” he said. “That shouldn’t be there.”

At the age of 39 with three young children, he was shocked when a barrage of medical tests determined he had Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with a less than desirable long-term prognosis.

That was more than 30 years ago.

“It was a wake up call,” said Reiner. He and his wife, Lynnet, who live in Florida, began to place a greater emphasis on their health — both changing their diet and becoming much more intentional about exercise.

The couple continued to grow their commitment to fitness as their kids grew up and then into retirement. Lynnet runs the Walt Disney World Marathon every January as well as various half marathons, and the couple love to hike, bike, and ski.

“I have joked with many people about trying to keep up with my wife,” Reiner said. “I do my best.” In addition to the marathons, Lynnet enjoys adding Colorado 14ers to her list of mountains hiked. During the pandemic, they have increased their biking mileages and are enjoying doing rail trails in different states. And they continue to ski every winter in Colorado as well as Switzerland and Italy with a trip planned to Austria this winter.

“We both have a commitment to staying healthy so we can ski with our grandchildren,” he said.

The couple have also long been supporters of Union College, the place where they met. Rich has served on the Board of Trustees for 20 years, and the couple established an endowment fund for student scholarships. But Union’s plans to build an expanded wellness center felt personal.

After Rich retired from Adventist Health System (now AdventHealth), Union asked him to serve as interim CFO for several months in 2016. “I stayed in one of the guest rooms,” he remembered. “For years I had gone to the gym every morning, so I went to the Larson Lifestyle Center to exercise. I was not impressed with the facilities.”

Sweating on old workout equipment crowded into small spaces that were not adequately cooled, he thought to himself, “I think we can do better than this.”

So he and Lynnet championed what would ultimately become the Fit for the Future fundraising campaign to build an expanded wellness center at Union College.

Reiner now serves as the campaign chair, and the couple gave a leadership gift for the Reiner Wellness Center inside the new AdventHealth Complex which will nearly triple the size of the current Larson Lifestyle Center.

The couple both grew up on small farms in the midwest with limited resources, but throughout Rich’s career, first working in higher education and then healthcare, the couple invested wisely, including building and purchasing rental properties when they lived in Lincoln after college. “We’ve been blessed financially beyond our wildest dreams,” he said. “We both feel it is important to give back to society and those who come after us.”

Now they are giving some of those properties to Union to help make the project a reality. This becomes a win-win, because the tax consequences for the Reiners can be minimized with the financial benefits going to the Fit for the Future project.

The couple believes in the importance of wellness and hopes to pass that value on to college students as they form their own priorities and life goals. “This project really resonates with us and our values. That’s why I’ve gone all in on our fundraising,” said Rich. “It is really important for us to give back to the college where we both had four great years. We believe this is a project whose time has come.”

Learn more about the Fit for the Future campaign here.

— Ryan Teller is public relations and marketing director for Union College; photo supplied

This article was originally published on the North American Division website

20 Dec


By Sandi Adcox – Grand Junction, Colorado … After a long absence of women’s ministry events, the Grand Junction Adventist Church held a Christmas evening for the women of the church and community on December 13.

The gathering, attended by 80 women, offered an opportunity to rekindle and make new connections while enjoying a catered Italian meal, delicious desserts, fellowship, and music.

Sandi Adcox and Sandy Carosella, Grand Junction women’s ministries leaders, felt that seeing ladies re-connect after a drought of group activities was the biggest blessing of the evening.

Reflecting on the event, Wendy Smith, an attendee, said, “The event created an atmosphere of laughter and a space to enjoy each other’s company.”

Members invited guests who had never before attended and several others came after an extended absence from church activities. The program showed Christmas from a child’s view and stressed the true biblical meaning of Christmas.

“The program stressed how to be positively contagious by living a life of joy, happiness, hope, and reflecting Jesus in our lives,” an attendee stated.

“This type of event is exactly what our church needs at this time,” Nate Skaife, Grand Junction pastor, said.

–Sandi Adcox is Grand Junction Church women’s ministries leader; photos by Sandi Adcox