20 Nov

Regular Sabbath Worship Service Established in Rawlins, Wyoming Prison

Rawlins, Wyoming… “We have been trying to gain access to the Wyoming State Penitentiary in Rawlins for a number of years as part of the Adventist prison ministries. Eight to ten years as memory serves,” says Ted Williams, RMC coordinator of prison ministry.

Though working as a retired minister for Colorado’s Arkansas Valley and Lamar congregations, Ted is a passionate promoter of prison ministry. He has been engaged in this outreach in the Rocky Mountain Conference for 12 years.

“A Rawlins penitentiary inmate wrote many letters requesting a visit. Correspondence with the inmate begun a number of years ago and continues today. A litany of efforts brought us to stay in Rawlins for a week in early July 2019. We went to the prison asking for an appointment to meet with the chaplain there,” Ted shares what is a fascinating story of how God opens closed doors.

Several days latter he went to the prison for the appointment. “The conversation was cordial. Previously filed application forms were completed again, and we attended the required training with our first service held in that prison on September 21,2019,” he adds.

The inmate who wrote numerous letters was overjoyed. Several of his friends attended as well. Ted learned that a group of prisoners had been holding Sabbath services inside the prison on their own for several years. The original worship service time was granted for a monthly 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. Sabbath morning. There was no other time available and that slot of time was rather inconvenient for the Lorell and Carol Harold, church members from the Rawlins Seventh-day Adventist Church, who have volunteered to hold services in the prison one Sabbath a month.

“We talked and prayed about the situation. Not long after I was at the prison and met the chaplain, he asked if a Saturday afternoon from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m., would be acceptable for a service time, but no longer then meeting Saturday morning?”

“All I could say: WOW, what an answer to prayer,” Ted says.

The Wyoming State Penitentiary (pictured) is a historic, current, and frequently visited by tourists prison in Rawlins, Carbon County, Wyoming. It has operated from 1901, but was moved within Rawlins to a new location in 1981. In 2018, it is a Wyoming Department of Corrections state maximum-security prison for men.

There are two separate sections in the prison. The Adventist service is presently held in one section. Recently, the chaplain asked if the church would be willing to hold one more service in the other section. The details of that arrangement have just been satisfactorily concluded with coordinated meeting time schedules allowing for services in the two sections being conducted back to back on the same Sabbath.

“Now what we really need are more volunteers. We continue our prayers,” Ted Williams says, and asks church members elsewhere to join in prayer for more volunteers.

“Before we began services we supplied Adventist books for their library to allow the inmates access to materials in English and in Spanish. Among them are, Conflict of the Ages series, and additional multiple copies of Desire of Ages, Christ Object Lessons, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, Ministry of Healing andSteps to Christ.

Ted Williams is fully convinced that “God has opened these prison doors in His own time. It is exciting to observe and participate in His provision.” He adds, “should church members and ministers inclined to be involved locally or from a distance we need all the prayer you can commit. If in your prayer time it seems clear to you that you would like to experience more involvement there are many opportunities available.”

Ted Williams; photo by Rajmund Dabrowski

20 Nov

Public Health Advocate, Mark Johnson, Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Lakewood, Colorado … Referred to as a “public health icon,” Dr. Mark Johnson, Jefferson County Public Health Executive Director, won the Lifetime Achievement Award from Public Health of the Rockies. He has served in this position for 30 years and plans to retire in June of 2020. Among Johnson’s achievements in his role was helping to write and pass the Colorado Public Health Act in 2008, ensuring that “core public health services are available to every person in Colorado.”

Lakewood Sentinel reported, September 24, on Dr. Johnson’s award and decades-long service. The list of achievements is long. To start with, Johnson helped write and pass the Colorado Public Health Act in 2008, the bill requiring “use of assessments to determine population health and system-wide capacity issues; development of a five-year state and local public health improvement plan based on assessment results; engaging communities in health improvement and increasing the availability and quality of public health services to improve health outcomes. The goal of the bill is to ensure that core public health services are available to every person in Colorado.”

Johnson also worked to establish the Colorado School of Public Health, which includes the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Colorado State University and the University of Northern Colorado. According to the school’s website, the university is the first accredited and only collaborative school of public health in the region, as well as one of the top 25 graduate schools of public health in the country.

Commenting to NewsNuggets, Johnson said, “I feel blessed to have been able to work in Jefferson County and contribute to better health for the people.” He regards starting the Colorado School of Public Health as the biggest contributor to the difference in public health.

“When I first came, we had a small number of health departments in a few counties [in Colorado]. After we passed the bill, every county had a department and most had people trained in public health.”

Mark Johnson, member and chair of the vision board of the Boulder Adventist Church, was well prepared to create such a viable health program. He received his medical training at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and Johns Hopkins University and is board certified in preventive medicine and public health.

Hearing about Johnson’s recognition, Ed Barnett, RMC president, said, “What a commendable accomplishment. Healthy living is among the church’s teachings and Dr. Johnson’s contribution in establishing the Colorado School of Public Health as well as the Colorado Public Health Act in 2008 is among the amazing accomplishments of his decades of service.

We all are indebted to such a vision affecting our daily life. Our Conference and its thousands of Seventh-day Adventists are grateful for his work to help our society live in a healthier environment. Congratulations!”

Under Johnson’s leadership, Jefferson County has been one of the healthiest areas in the state. Commenting about the award, Jill Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said “If there was a statewide public health initiative going on, (Johnson) had his feet at the table. To be honest, when I would walk in a room and see (Johnson) is there, I would feel good about it, because I knew we were going to have a good outcome,” she told the Lakewood Sentinel.

“I would call Dr. Johnson a public health icon,” she said.

Rajmund Dabrowski with Becky De Oliveira; photo supplied.

20 Nov


Denver, Colorado… Mile High Academy’s Fall Festival is one of the most anticipated events of the school year as thoughts turn to falling leaves, pumpkins, apple cider and Mrs. Gerst’s famed corn dogs. On Saturday, Nov. 16, twinkling lights and colorfully-decorated booths welcomed more than 400 guests, including families, alumni and community members, to the campus.

MHA Sophomore Summer Nash moved from Tennessee with her family in January and was excited to experience her first-ever MHA Fall Festival. “I had so much fun seeing all the different booths,” she said. “But most of all I appreciated the opportunity to help staff both the Yearbook and Class of 2022 bead booths. I enjoyed helping the younger kids make their bead animals and having the chance to interact with everyone.”

Fall Festival booths are decorated and staffed by each respective class. The proceeds give teachers a little extra for their classrooms. Prizes are also distributed for the best-decorated booths. The 2019 winners are:

1st Place: Bead Animals (Class of 2022)

2nd Place: Indonesian Food (Local Family)

3rd Place: Nachos & Face Painting (5th Grade)

Other booths included a maze, decorating Christmas ornaments, pillow fights, face painting, a fishing booth and numerous food items. New this year to the Fall Festival was the 8th grade class Pie in the Face booth. Teachers and students donned their good sportsmanship smiles while attendees attempted to throw a pie in their face. A little friendly brother rivalry caused many laughs as Athletic Director Walter Weber was pied by his brother, Karl Weber.

“From decorating, providing supplies and staffing the booths, a lot of planning and work goes into the behind-the-scenes that makes Fall Festival such a fun-filled and remarkable event for our school,” said Jocelyn Aalborg, VP of Finance and Development. “We are humbled by the outpouring of support we receive from families, alumni, teachers and staff. And every year new memories and friends are made, which speaks volumes to the special school “family” that forms Mile High Academy.”

Jocelyn Aalborg; photos supplied

20 Nov


Denver, Colorado… Mile High Academy’s Kindergarten and 2nd grade students teamed up with the Denver Inner City Parrish Food Bank to raise money for Thanksgiving meals. During the month of November, the two classes prepared and gave presentations to various school-wide morning meetings. A jar was placed in the front office with informative display signage, giving visitors and families an opportunity to donate loose change. The jar was also available at the school’s Annual Fall Festival. On Tuesday, Nov. 19, $198 was presented to Hunger Programs Coordinator Michael Bruno as a gift from Mile High Academy.

“In October, Mrs. Armendariz and I took our two classes to the food bank to donate the vegetables we had grown in our school garden,” said Jessica Gleason, Mile High Academy’s second grade teacher. “While we were there, the students were inspired to learn other, simple ways to help the Food Bank.”

While at the Food Bank, students decorated paper plates. These paper plates went home with the kids, challenging them to utilize the plates as a means for collecting extra change to donate to the Food Bank. Students also learned just how far the money can be stretched to help provide food for those that are hungry. Examples that were given include:

  • $1 buys 10 cans of food
  • $1 buys 4 meals
  • $75 buys 4,000lbs of food

“I was surprised that $1 equals 4 meals,” said Aida Wentland, a 2nd grade student at MHA.

“Watching our students work together as a team to help someone less fortunate was both humbling and inspiring,” said Gleason. “Our Mile High Academy team is always looking to find ways for our students to help those in the community, specifically those who may be less fortunate. And when we see even some of the smallest of students driven to help others, it shows that God is truly working hard on our campus.”

Jocelyn Aalborg; photos supplied

14 Nov

Journalism Students Get Campion Stories Published

Loveland, Colorado… One of Campion Academy goals in Journalism and Communication class was realized on November 8, when two students’ stories were published in the local newspaper, the Loveland Reporter-Herald.  Ashley Herber’s article about the diversity of Campion’s soccer team and Megan Michalenko’s article about HMS Richard’s students cleaning up trash in downtown Loveland were both in the Friday, November 8 issue.

“I was so excited that my article was published!” exclaimed Herber. “I actually want to be an author one day, so I felt like this was one step towards that goal.”

Each week our students’ stories are not only published in This Week at Campion, but also picked up by the Rocky Mountain Conference newsletter, News Nuggets.  From there, a Campion article is usually selected to be a part of the monthly Union magazine, Outlook.  Previously, we had not been sending regular press-releases to our local newspaper, but this year we are starting to change that.

In addition to the academy news, Michalenko has been dedicated to writing a story covering events at HMS Richards each month for our church newsletter.  “I work at HMS, so I get to see a lot of the events that I get to write about. I love that I get to help HMS be able to reach out more to the community with what I write,” she commented.

Having a small but dedicated Journalism and Communication class has really amped up our ability to share the positive stories that are happening at Campion Academy.  Those who have been dedicated readers of our weekly e-newsletter may have noticed that the student team has recreated our format, increased our feature articles, and added more graphic ads for our upcoming events.

The class has featured a variety of guest speakers who are professionals in the communication field.  We started locally with Ardis Stenbakken, communication director at the Campion Church, and Darcy Force, Campion’s Director of Development and Alumni.  We are reaching out more into the community and have had Erik Stenbakken, professional photographer, and will have Jean Boonstra, Executive Producer of Discovery Mountain, and Carina Julig, reporter at the Loveland Reporter-Herald, joining our class this semester.

The guest speakers and students in the class have certainly added some fresh ideas and creativity as we seek to improve our communication department, and it has been a pleasure to watch their skills continually develop.

–Jill Harlow, text and photo

14 Nov

Brighton Adventist Academy Students Thank Heroes

Brighton, Colorado… The students of Brighton Adventist Academy witnessed and performed an appreciation event for their veterans, local heroes, on November 12. The event began with a gift, which the school had received – an extremely special flag that had been flown over our nation’s capital. To celebrate Veterans’ Day, the staff and students of Brighton Adventist Academy made a decision to fly the flag over their school for the first time.

Many local citizens were invited to attend. It included police officers, firefighters, city officials, and of course, veterans. There were several attendees whom the students knew but all the same they were pleased all came. Jodie Aakko, BAA principal, coordinated this event. She welcoming the guests, and presented a plaque explaining how the flag was received from our nation’s capital.

Bob Dunkin, the former BAA music teacher, played the song America the Beautiful on a trumpet. “My favorite highlight was when Mr. Dunkin played the trumpet. It was cool to see the teacher who taught me to play it,” said Angel Villalobos, grade ten BAA student. Tributes to the honored guests were then presented by the BAA Student Association officers .

The program continued with a BAA color guard team presenting the flag.  The color guard team included seven BAA students from the Greeley Frontiers Pathfinder Club and the Stallions Pathfinder Club.

It was a moment to remember. As the flag was raised, the BAA Student Association president, Angel Villalobos, played the national anthem on the trumpet. The congregation stood and recited the Pledge of Allegiance.

The preschool students presented posters to police officers and firefighters, in conjunction with their social studies unit. The veterans, firefighters, police officers, and city officials were presented with small gifts of appreciation. The program ended with a prayer, and the student body thanking their guests for their service.

“I liked the flag raising because I got to see lots of people I knew and I learned new things about the veterans,” said Olivia Evans, grade four BAA student.

“There were a bunch of cops and firefighters. I was surprised that they brought their fire trucks and police vehicles. I also liked when Mr. Dunkin played the trumpet. It made me feel inspired,” commented Tommy Thompson, grade eight BAA student.

–Brianna Bell and Lexi Contreras, grade ten BAA students; photos by Jodie Aakko


14 Nov

Veterans Day Program at Vista Ridge Academy

Erie, Colorado… Vista Ridge Academy students and staff gave a special presentation for local Veterans on November 11. To start the program, students of our local Pathfinders groups presented the flag as the audience sang our National Anthem. Next, students from the Early Childhood program led out in the Pledge of Allegiance. The First through Fourth Grade classes presented a short skit highlighting how we can appreciate the Veterans on Veterans Day.

Principal, Sandy Hodgson, interviewed special guest and former Vista Ridge Academy student, SSgt Jami DeVries from the 140th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. DeVries was named USO National Guardsman of the Year, and told us she has to give 100% every day in her work and encouraged students to do the same.

Pat Koh, the music and Spanish teacher, spoke about her father serving in the military as a US Army combat medic in the Korean Conflict from 1952-1954. Koh shared if her father were with us he would want everyone to follow and serve God. To conclude the presentation, Hodgson, prayed for a special blessing on the Veterans attending.

Following the presentation, students and Veterans enjoyed a reception in the cafeteria. Students were able to meet the Veterans, and in turn Veterans were able to share about their experiences.

Marsha Bartulec, text and photos

14 Nov

Casper Church Invites Neighborhood to Join in the Season of Giving

Casper, Wyoming… What already is an annual event, the Casper Adventist Church again has pledged to help our community, our members in need, and a couple of other organizations, such as Joshua’s Storehouse and La Vida Mission, with non-perishable foods.

On November 2, the first Saturday afternoon in November, we dropped off large paper bags in the neighborhood adjacent to the church. The following Sabbath, we collected the bags, and then met at the Mountain Road Christian Academy gym to sort all the food and prepare it for delivery. “The fellowship was incredible, and the snacks, the apple cider and the hot chocolate were delicious,” said one of the organizers. “Another successful family-friendly community event in the books!”

The church leaders expressed their gratitude to all who planned this event, to all those who participated, young and old, and to all who have given to those in need! Coming together in the season of giving as individuals, communities, and organizations we express a commitment to open hearts and wallets to help those in need. It is indeed the most wonderful time of the year!

Gabriela Vincent; photos by Tom McDonald

14 Nov

Global Health Initiatives Team Meets Colorado Governor in Katmandu

Katmandu, Nepal… A Global Health Initiatives team was honored to meet with Colorado Governor, Jared Polis, as well as US Ambassador to Nepal, Randy Berry, also a Colorado native. The meeting with Governor Polis was a social event organized, November 8, at the U.S. ambassador’s residence to present a new exhibit of American artworks from Colorado, sponsored by the U.S. State Department. Polis was with a small group of business people from Colorado on a trade mission to India and Nepal.

The Centura GHI team on a trip, November 6-18, from the Adventist Hospitals, included several members of the Denver and Front Range area Seventh-day Adventist churches.

Among them were Dr. Dave and Sandy Watson, members of the Newday Adventist Church, Sissel Jacobs, Lynda Kithil, and Greg Hodgson, members of the Boulder Adventist Church, as well as Dr. and Mrs. Dorr from Littleton Adventist Hospital. The Centura Health trip was to provide free surgeries to vulnerable women and training for local providers to decrease maternal and child mortality in Nepal.

“The Governor and Ambassador confirmed their support for GHI’s partner hospital in Nepal, Scheer Memorial Adventist Hospital, and the support that Centura Health has given to Scheer over many years,” Greg Hodgson, director of Global Health Initiatives, Centura Health, reported from Katmandu.

Kim Kennedy with Greg Hodgson; photo by Sandy Watson

10 Nov

Pueblo Adventists Condemn Planned White Supremacist Attack on Jewish Temple

Pueblo, Colorado… Joining the community of Pueblo, Seventh-day Adventists issued a statement regarding the planned bombing of Temple Emanuel, the Jewish temple in Pueblo, and delivered it to the synagogue leadership on Friday, November 8.

At sunset, a dozen Adventist church members and leaders attended the Shabbat Eve Service in solidarity with the Jewish community. Rabbi “Birdie” Becker led out during this gathering of the largest congregation in Pueblo since Temple Emanuel’s opening in 1900. The synagogue that can accommodate 180 people, had standing room only with many of the supporters standing in the foyer and outside.

“We stand in solidarity with you and the city of Pueblo in condemning the attempt to take lives and cause a deep wound in the fabric of our city,” stated Anton Kapusi, pastor of the Pueblo First Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Federal authorities in Colorado have arrested a man who is being accused of plotting to blow up a synagogue in Pueblo, the second oldest synogogue in Colorado, and listed on the National Register of Historical Places. The suspected bomber used several Facebook accounts to promote violence and show support for the Holocaust, writing in a private message in July, for example, that he was “getting ready to cap people,” the federal documents said. He is in custody and charged with a hate crime.

The Adventist statement expressed rejection of hate and planned violence toward the Jewish community, and was addressed to the Rabbi of the Temple Emanuel and its members.

“We, at the Pueblo First Seventh-day Adventist Church, a part of the Rocky Mountain Conference in Colorado, Wyoming, and northern New Mexico, are deeply disturbed by the hate and planned violence this week on our fellow brothers and sisters in Pueblo’s Jewish community here in Colorado.”

The statement continued, that “as Christians and followers of Jesus, we stand with Him in condemning white supremacist groups that spread racism, violence and fear.”

“We pray that divine protection and peace would abide in you all, your homes and your synagogue and we pray for the day when all of God’s children, of all races, would treat each other with love and respect, rejecting bias and hate,” Kapusi wrote.

“It was a blessing for our church to express our solidarity with many different Christian denominations and religions. It was a joint social statement against hatred to stand with many others from our Pueblo community. Temple Emanuel undoubtedly lived up to its name ‘God With Us!,’ Kapusi said after the Friday meeting.

–RMCNews with Anton Kapusi; photo by Tom Kai.