05 May


By Traci Pike … “You aren’t just a teacher. You are a minister,” Lonnie Hetterle often reminded teachers at teacher conventions.

In August 2020, as I was working madly in my classroom for the start of school the following week and feeling overwhelmed like I would never be ready, my phone dinged with a text message, “Good morning Miss Tracie. We were wondering if this year maybe the pastor could baptize the boys or what the steps would be to do that…” The message was from Julie, a mother of two boys, Talon and Danny, in our school.

The boys had begun school the previous year about a month before the COVID-19 pandemic started, which sent us all home for the remainder of the school year. Prior to coming to our school, their family had no church affiliation. They came to our school because of the witness and encouragement of Tami Dietz, one of our school board members. Tami’s son, Wyatt, is a sixth grader and plays hockey with Talon. When Julie and her husband Dan were unhappy with the school that their boys were at, Tami encouraged them to check out Mountain Road Christian Academy (MRCA).

After that text message, I was so excited I started crying and thanked the Lord for the reminder of why we have our little church school here in Casper, Wyoming. It is a ministry. Our students learn about Jesus here!

I immediately contacted Pastor Shayne Vincent with this fabulous news and shared Julie’s phone number with him.

Pastor Shayne came on school days and studied with the boys and other students who wanted to join the study during the fall.

On April 13, Talon and Danny were baptized at the local swimming pool–Casper Aquatic Center. The Dwyers rented the pool for a private party to celebrate their boys’ baptisms. In addition to friends and families from MRCA were the Dwyer’s family and many friends and families from the hockey teams that the boys play with.

The children swam for a little while before everyone was called over to one of the shallow pools. About 30 children sat at the edge of the pool in their swimsuits and many adults stood next to the pool as Pastor Shayne explained about baptism and what it means. Talon was baptized first, followed by his younger brother Danny.

What a beautiful experience! I cried, their grandma cried, and of course their mom cried–tears of joy! It was beautiful to see these two boys give their hearts to Jesus.

After the baptism, there was a party with pizza, cupcakes, and more swimming. It was a grand celebration and the most fun I have ever had at a baptism.

Since then, Julie has told me that some of the kids in attendance have asked about baptism and some of them have started going to their churches again because they witnessed the boys’ baptism. Some of the other students at Mountain Road Christian Academy have also talked to their parents and Pastor Shayne about being baptized.

It can be difficult for churches to financially support our church schools and every year, our school in Casper gets to the end of the year not knowing how we’ll manage to pay all the bills coming due. It is a drain on our church finances. But, events like this are the reminder of why we keep doing what we do! And every year, the Lord makes ends meet! We are an evangelistic tool! Every day we tell our students about Jesus. Every day we pray with them and for them.

Thank you for supporting your Adventist schools!

–Traci Pike is head teacher at Mountain Road Christian Academy; photos by Traci Pike

04 May


By Ken Albertsen – Loveland, Colorado … Lead pastor of the Campion church, Micheal Goetz, was sworn recently as chaplain for the Loveland Police department.

Recently, Goetz sat down Ken Albertsen, Campion church communication team member, and answered a few questions on his new responsibilities as a chaplain.

Albertsen: How did you become involved with the Loveland Police Department?

Goetz: While I was sitting in a meeting with community leaders a few months ago, Loveland Police Chief Robert Ticer was also there. He shared the need for support and help of chaplains in the police department. He shared his own heart and convictions as a Christian and I felt impressed to follow up with a conversation on how I and we as a campus could bless our community. Chief Ticer noted that there are two graduates of Campion Academy serving with the department and they would welcome any other support.

Albertsen: What does a police chaplain do?

Goetz: I am joining a small team of chaplains that volunteer their time to support in crisis or community needs as well as provide service to and with the officers and their families. The ministry is to be a support and a presence when there is pain in our community.

Albertsen: With the busyness of campus and church, why add this?

Goetz: When I first became a pastor in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, I was invited to serve as a police chaplain in that community.  What I found was an incredible opportunity to interact and support the leaders and influencers. I also found that church often tends to be people looking and acting their best, but working in the community as a police chaplain, I had the opportunity to reach those who would never darken the doors of a church. As a police chaplain I have the opportunity to care for the most broken and hurting around us. We are very blessed with the ministry on campus – this just widens the circle of our impact.

–Text by Ken Albertsen; photo supplied

03 May


RMCNews with Deidra Watson – Farmington, New Mexico … In a school year marked by challenges and hardships, Discover Christian School in Farmington, New Mexico is experiencing an improbable growth in enrollment.

The beginning of the school year was bleak when more than half of the parents chose to homeschool their children instead of enrolling them in school, partly due to the ongoing pandemic.

Deidra Watson, school board chair, recalls facing the low enrollment, “We prayed the prayer of Jabez, not for God to increase our territory but to send us the students that needed to be at our school.”

The school opened in early September 2020 with 16 students and two teachers; however, the enrollment slowly started to climb. In New Mexico, the majority of public schools have been closed to in-person learning until late March or April, leaving Discover Christian School as one of the few in-person classroom learning sites available in Farmington.

“We should not have been surprised when after local public schools chose to continue distance learning that our community reached out to us in need of in-person learning and filled our classrooms to capacity,” Watson commented.

The sudden desire of community parents to have their children involved with in-person learning has helped the school and church make connections in the community.

“There was concern for our financial situation in the beginning of the year because of low enrollment.  How could we make all our obligations without going in deep debt?  Through prayer, God’s faithfulness, and Covid our enrollment increased from 16 students to almost 40.  We not only serve our Adventist students but we also serve Mormon, Baptist, and agnostic families.  Sharing God’s love each day and showing a personal interest in each person,” Wayne Gayton, pastor of Pinon Hills church said.

According to Watson. the influx in enrollment has necessitated the creation of a wait list for the first time. “For years. we have contemplated how we could better reach our community and now, with little effort, save for prayer on our part, He filled our nets to bursting. We have a wait list for the first time that we can remember.”

Students are not only learning math, science, and social studies, but are experiencing a relationship with Jesus. A fourth grader was overheard telling her teacher in Bible class, “You know, my mom used to read us Bible stories, but she doesn’t any more. I’m going to ask her to do it again.”

Prayer closes every day at Discover Christian, usually done by one of the church member students who offers to pray, but Watson recalled a recent special moment.  “We always ask for volunteers to pray at the end of the day and it is usually the same couple kids from our church that volunteer, but recently one of the new girls from our community volunteered. Her prayer was so sweet and sincere. It was one of those moments that make all the hard work worth it.”

Parents are working to ensure that their students can stay at the school to experience the environment the staff has worked to build. “A single mom works nights at a gas station to be sure she can send her Kindergartner. Another single mom saves all her tips as a waitress, has already paid the whole year and is saving for next year for her 1st grader,” Watson said.

Diane Harris, RMC director of education commented on Discover Christian School mission, “”The community of Discover Christian School has been blessed continuously by church and board leadership, because they have always been mission-minded with a heart for supporting its community. It is exciting to see a growth in enrollment, proving that DCC is filling a need in the Farmington area.”

Discover Christian School currently has an enrollment of 38 students and has had to hire an additional teacher and teacher’s aide.

“We truly are a mission school,” Watson commented.

RMCNews with Deidra Watson who is the school board chair at Discover Christian School; photos supplied

03 May


By MHA News – Highlands Ranch, Colorado … Despite chilly weather and snow on the ground April 20, Mile High Academy’s middle school students took advantage of the sunshine to enjoy the great outdoors together.

The students piled on the buses, loaded down with flashlights, coats, water and lunches.

“In the craziness of everything enveloping this school year, it was nice to get to take the Middle School kids off campus to enjoy a day of bonding together as a school,” said Michael Armstrong, vice principal of academics and middle school science teacher.

The first stop on the adventure was Manitou Spring’s Cave of the Winds, where students visited a Geology 101 class in an underground laboratory. Hands-on education experience lasted for almost two hours, as they wound through the caves, learning about cave formations, local history, and even about the animals that help create a cave ecosystem. Students also experienced “cave darkness,” one of the two darkest places on our planet.

“It was fun to tour and learn about the history of the cave,” said Logen, seventh grader. “The best part was when the tour guides turned off the lights, and we were sitting there in total silence.”

Another middle-schooler described the cave in few words: “It was awesome.”

The escapade continued with a trip through Manitou Spring’s Memorial Park and a tour of the historic town, including ice cream, the arcade, and a sample of the natural soda water that springs from two of the nine local fountains, drilled in the 1920s.

Before returning home filled with memories and new discoveries, the group stopped to take in the beauty of the red stone rock formations at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.

–MHA News; photos supplied

03 May


By Ryan Teller – Lincoln, Nebraska … Chaplain Rich Carlson will retire this summer after being an integral part of the Union College experience for 40 years.

Officially, he is Dr. Richard Carlson, vice president for spiritual life and associate professor of psychology and religion, but it is unlikely even he could tell you his full title without consulting Union’s personnel directory. To generations of Union students and alumni, he is simply “Pastor Rich.”

And above any title, he will tell you his job is mentorship. “I love interacting with the kids, journeying with the students,” he said. “It’s been a joy and an honor.”

A graduate of Union, now RMC assistant youth director, Jessyka Dooley has a hard time thinking about Union without Pastor Rich and what he brings to the atmosphere at the college. “It’s hard to think of Union College without Pastor Rich. The culture of student leadership and a family-like atmosphere has always come from the heart of campus ministries. Over his decades of service as chaplain, Rich has impacted and inspired so many people and I am eternally thankful to have been one of them.”

Former student Gina Creek calls him the best leadership mentor she’s ever encountered. Currently director of leadership development at AdventHealth, Creek said, “Before Pastor Rich, I always saw myself as another face in the crowd. He helped me hear the call of God on my heart.”

“The clock tower stands tall but Pastor Rich is a more prominent part of our campus life,” said Union president Vinita Sauder. “He shaped the Union experience for tens of thousands of students. He loves students, he empowers them to serve and he points them to Jesus every single day. He is a true man of God, and an outstanding servant leader.”

Jefferson Gibson, a theology senior and son of Chanelle Watson, RMC assistant director of planned giving and trust services, recalls the influence Pastor Rich has had in his life. “Working in the campus ministry is where I got to know Pastor Carlson. As a hesitant freshman three years ago, he always had a friendly smile on his face which was so inviting walking into the office.”

Gibson added, “Pastor Carlson loves God. The way he was (is) an ambassador for God encouraged me to grow more in my spiritual journey. I am also grateful for the way Pastor Carlson challenged me to not just think outside the box but to appreciate the journey of discovering what was outside the box.”

As one of the first student missionaries Union sent overseas in 1971, Pastor Rich has been instrumental in weaving service into the very fabric of Union College life. After his own experience, he told the Central Union Reaper, “A thousand years of school can never equal the experience of mission service.” As chaplain at Union, he has encouraged thousands of students to take their lessons from the classroom to communities next door and around the world changing many lives—including their own.

Pastor Rich also recognizes the need for service closer to home. Project Impact began as Project BRUSH the year before he became Union’s chaplain, and under his leadership, Union’s annual event has become the nation’s largest and oldest collegiate volunteer event. From available research, no campus has a bigger event by percentage and few have as many volunteers despite 10 to 20 times the enrollment. He then uses the event as a springboard to get students involved in serving the Lincoln community all year long.

He graduated from Union in 1973 with the intention of being a pastor. After teaching Bible at Maplewood and Dakota Adventist Academy, he returned to Union to pursue medicine. He envisioned himself working in an ER, but providence turned him toward the chaplain’s office. Does he have any regrets? “Not a one,” he said. “It’s the best thing that could have happened.”

Union alumni who were impacted by Pastor Rich’s ministry have honored his legacy by establishing a scholarship fund in his name. Donate to the fund at ucollege.edu/pastorrich

–Ryan Teller is public relations director for Union College, photo supplied

*Article adapted from https://ucollege.edu/20210429/pastor-rich-carlson-to-retire-after-nearly-40-years-at-union/