14 Oct


RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … It was a special day for members of the Rocky Mountain Conference Executive Committee during their bi-monthly meeting October 12 as they met RMC’s new leaders, Mic Thurber, president, and Darin Gottfried, vice president of finance.

Thurber expressed his joy at meeting members of the Committee and shared the challenges that he and his wife Jana met while relocating from Lincoln, Nebraska to Denver. In the President’s report, Thurber took the opportunity to update the Committee on his immediate plans for settling into his new position.

“I don’t have a regular report because I am yet to get acquainted with the Rocky Mountain Conference family,” Thurber said.

As anticipated, the meeting’s agenda centered on the state of finances in RMC. Gottfried, the new treasurer, presented his first report “after a few weeks on the job.” The Financial report indicated a strong position, with base tithe increasing 13.16 % over last year. Gottfried also expressed that local church giving has increased in the majority of RMC churches.

“We have 80.87 days of operation in cash reserves, which is 132.02% of recommended levels under current North American Division (NAD) guidelines, but they are expected to change in 2022. The reserves would be 66.08% under the new system, and the plan is to gradually increase to meet the new guidelines,” Gottfried reported. In conclusion, he commented that despite difficult pandemic time, “the Lord has blessed his church in both the returned tithe and the offerings.”

The Administrative report was presented by Doug Inglish, vice president of administration. He shared information about pastoral openings recently filled in The Adventure (Ricky Melendez), Castle Rock (Edrey Santos), and Campion (Leandro Bizama, assistant pastor). The search is ongoing for senior pastors at Alamosa, Piñon Hills, and an associate pastor at LifeSource.

Inglish informed the Committee of the upcoming Town Hall meetings, though exact times are still to be determined pending approval from the host churches.

Nov 20 – Casper, Wyoming
Nov 21 – Grand Junction
Dec 8 – LifeSource
Dec 11 – Colorado Springs
Dec 12 – Campion

Diane Harris, RMC director of education presented a report indicating a strong increase of students in schools at all levels. There are 21 schools in RMC including three preschools, with 829 students enrolled in the current school year. Harris remarked that enrollment is up 13% over last year. She also stated that RMC is being appointed by the NAD as a regional hub for teaching new grading methodologies.

The Committee voted to set up a new application process for the churches formerly in partnership with Denver ACS in order to receive their share of the funds left when the center closed. This also includes a policy governing how the funds are to be used.

The date for the RMC Constituency Session was set for August 21, 2022, it will be held at Mile High Academy.

The next Executive Committee meeting is scheduled for December 7.


14 Oct


RMCNews with Samantha Nelson – Cody, Wyoming … The Cody Cowboys, along with their canine mascot, Molly, are thrilled to join the 50 other Pathfinder clubs active in RMC. Gathering for the first time on October 9 under the direction of Hardy Tyson and Anita Holdren, they worked on memorizing the Pathfinder song and the pledge and law.

“It is exciting to witness the creation of the Cody Cowboys Pathfinder Club! The name is so fitting and has a nice ring to it,” Brent Learned, RMC assistant youth director, remarked on the new Pathfinder club in Cody, Wyoming.

For Steve Nelson, pastor of the Cody church, the forming of the club ensures that the foundation is laid for the future of the church. “It is amazing to see God’s leading and blessing on our new church ministry to the youth. By starting the Cody Cowboys Pathfinder Club, new leaders are being trained that will one day be leaders in our church. I am extremely grateful for the church members who have stepped in to support and join this amazing ministry work.”

Part of the initial meeting allowed the new Pathfinders to start acquiring honors beginning with the Knot honor. The newly-formed club has two teen leadership trainees–Dean and Cedar Jeffers–assisting with the logistics of the meeting.

“I look forward to the impact these Pathfinders will have as they grow in Christ and share His love with their local Cody community,” Learned expressed enthusiastically.

–RMCNews with Samantha Nelson, wife of Steve Nelson, pastor of the Cody, Wyoming district; photos supplied

14 Oct


By Gwyn Reeves – Loveland, Colorado … Some may say that high school students create drama daily, but for the students at Campion Academy in Erin Johnson’s classroom, it is not only expected but encouraged.

The hills around Campion are coming alive with The Sound of Music after many pandemic restrictions were lifted, allowing the drama program to resume. Students are working hard, preparing to perform the musical on January 29.

Drama and English teacher Erin Johnson is leading the revived program with new concepts.

“It’s very exciting to have drama this year. I remember that Campion had an awesome drama department when I was younger, and I am hoping to bring it back to its former glory,” Johnson said.

She adds, “I have always loved theater, so to teach it is a dream come true, especially since we are working on one of my favorite musicals. It’s a challenge, but I have amazing actors, who are committed to making a good show!”

The drama students are very energized and excited to be a part of the musical.

Lacy, student actor playing the part of Rolf Gruber, says, “It feels really good to be part of the drama class and to be able to act and practice with my friends. We always have fun practicing our roles and enjoy each moment. Acting makes me feel kinda nervous and excited at the same time, but it also helps me to express myself.”

Students are not only performing the musical, but also helping with set design, sound, and lighting, to make sure everything gets done. Drama classes can find them learning choreography, singing, or running through lines.

The Sound of Music is set to debut on January 29 in the Campion gym. Tickets will be available for purchase.

–Gwyn Reeves is a senior at Campion Academy; photos supplied.

13 Oct

How Screen Time Affects Mental Health

By AdventHealth — With more of us than ever working remotely because of the pandemic, Zoom meetings and virtual training sessions have become part of our daily routines. We see our colleagues two-dimensionally and even socialize with our friends on our screens rather than face-to-face. With screen time rapidly increasing in our world, what are the effects on our brains? We’re here to provide helpful information with support from Murtaza Syed, MD, board-certified psychiatrist, and expert on mental health.

 Where’s My Phone?

 A study in 2018 showed that American adults spent between two and four hours per day on their devices, which added up to about 2,600 taps, swipes, touches and types per day. When the pandemic hit in 2020, those numbers went up exponentially given the need to replace in-person work and play with virtual alternatives.

The study also indicated that 73% of adults experience anxiety, even a mild state of panic, when they can’t find their phone, because we’ve become so entwined with our digital lives. Smartphones allow us to carry all of our social media addictions with us 24/7, so we always have these connections at our fingertips.

Dr. Syed says, “While smartphones and other devices provide great benefits to our society, including during the pandemic, those benefits also come at a great cost to our mental health. Overuse of devices is connected to increased levels of anxiety, depression, poor sleep and increased risk of car accidents.”

Dopamine and Social Reward

Dopamine is a brain chemical that is linked to motivation. It’s released when we taste something delicious, after we exercise and when we have positive social interactions.

“Dopamine basically rewards us for behaviors that benefit and motivate us to do them again,” says Dr. Syed. “The reward pathways become active when either anticipating or experiencing rewarding events. Every time a stimulus response results in a reward, those associations get cemented in our brains so we want to keep doing them. Whenever we receive a ‘like,’ or a kind comment on something we post on social media, we feel a sense of validation that isn’t always healthy.”

Since positive social experiences release dopamine, those experiences are transferred to the virtual world through our devices and social media platforms. Each text message, email and “like” on Facebook or Instagram becomes a positive social stimulus where we keep craving more.

Dr. Syed explains, “While all of this may seem harmless on the surface, these cravings for virtual stimuli set us up for screen addictions and take the place of healthier, face-to-face interactions with friends and loved ones, time spent outdoors and doing other things.”

Effects of Too Much Screen Time

Sleep Deprivation

The amount of time you spend on your devices impacts how much sleep you’re getting. “The blue light emitted from your screen interferes with the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone. Using your devices before bedtime makes it more difficult to fall asleep,” explains Dr. Syed.

Cutting out unnecessary screen time and refraining from using your devices around bedtime are good solutions for better sleep.

Impaired Social Skills

Even though we’re using our devices largely to socialize, we’re still doing it alone and separate from others. Having fewer real-life interactions leads to less practice, more social anxiety and loneliness.

Weakened Emotional Judgment

Too much screen time affects your ability to register and process emotions. Desensitization to violent content, for example, is a concerning side effect of weakened emotional judgment. Exposure to violent media content can also increase aggression levels and affect one’s level of empathy.

Strain on Your Eyes and Body

Spending long hours staring at a screen takes a real toll on your body, especially your eyes. “Too much screen time not only strains your eyes and dries them out, but can also lead to stress on the retina and affects visual acuity,” says Dr. Syed.

Also, being constantly hunched over to look at our devices impacts your posture and can cause stiffness and pain in your neck and shoulders.

Lower Self-Esteem

Too much time spent in the virtual world can have a negative impact on how you perceive yourself. The time you lose that could have been spent on forming relationships with others, discovering passions, honing your skills and experiencing new things leads to a weakened sense of self-identity and confidence.

“We often compare ourselves to others through social media. This does nothing but decrease our own self-worth because what we see others post on social media is far from a reflection of their true character and lifestyle. It’s important to remember that others’ online profiles are a curated snapshot — not a full picture of real life’s imperfections and challenges,” says Dr. Syed.

Healthy Alternatives for a Whole Life

If you think you’re spending too much time in front of your screens beyond what is necessary for work, there are some simple changes you can make to lessen your devices’ hold on you.

Optimizing your environment by keeping your smartphone out of your bedroom, designating the dining table as a screen-free zone and seeking other activities to relax are easy ways to eliminate temptation and teach yourself healthier avenues to experience life.

–AdventHealth; photo supplied

This article was originally published on the AdventHealth website

13 Oct


RMCNews with Jade Covel – Colorado Springs, Colorado … Colorado Springs Central Adventist church members experienced a worldwide perspective on worship and various global food delicacies at their annual International Sabbath event on October 9.

The annual gathering is an event members look forward to, and after being canceled last year, members were eager to return to the tradition.

Worship included three cultures represented by musical selections, including a Ghanaian group that performed a song based on the Psalms, a Filipina group that sang two pieces, and three Indonesian groups–a youth group, a choir, and a group playing traditional Indonesian instruments made of bamboo tubes called Angklung.

After worship, attendees gathered at Springs Adventist Academy for the highlight of the day, “Taste of Nations.” The food selections matched the world flags and cultural items that decorated the auditorium; individuals could choose from American cuisine, African cultural dishes, and South American food.

“Everyone was able to find something they liked, and there was plenty of food for everyone. One big favorite was homemade ice cream in mango, strawberry, and lime,” Jade Covel, Colorado Springs Central associate pastor, commented.

The object of this special event is simple, according to Covel. “One of the goals of this event is not only to celebrate the different cultures at Central and in the worldwide Adventist Church but to provide an event to which people can invite their non-attending friends and relatives. This year, we had quite a few guests, some expressing interest in coming back. Ultimately, this is what International Sabbath is about—spreading God’s word to our community.”

–RMCNews with Jade Covel is Colorado Springs Central associate pastor; photo supplied


11 Oct


By Cathy Kissner – Loveland, Colorado … “One of the first things I noticed is that it helped me sharpen practices, tools I use every week as a pastor, learning to listen, to help people in crisis through the immediate moments that are so critical,” Wayne Morrison, Brighton Adventist church pastor, commented on the recent crisis care training he attended the last week in September.

The Rocky Mountain Conference Adventist Community Services hosted the crisis care training at Campion Adventist church. The class teaches individuals to care for the wounded soul, not just during a disaster incident, but throughout the walk of life as Christ instructs us to care for the wounded children of His family.

Individuals attending the event included RMC conference office employees, pastors, and ACS leaders.

“This training was a valuable aid in supporting us to think about the example of Christ’s compassion in service. The more we can think and act according to these teachings, the closer we will be to serving as our Father wishes us to,” Jason Tuzinkewich, Colorado Springs ACS director, said.

Tuzinkewich added that the classes provide two critical assets. “The first is to facilitate the development of a paradigm and framework to bring more spiritual support to our clients in various states of distress and need. Secondly, it was a valuable forum for us to get to know other leaders within the conference, thus strengthening our network of support.”

The experience was informative and a class that will help with reaching the community.

“I recently had the opportunity to take part in the ACS Crisis Care training, and it was a great experience. What I experienced was an awareness of the potential to use the training to be at the point of greatest need for those in crisis. I am excited about the opportunity to minister to people, the love and hope that is ours in Jesus,” Morrison said.

Future trainings are being planned.  If you would like to know more information about ACS classes offered in RMC, please contact Cathy Kissner at [email protected].

–Cathy Kissner is RMC ACS coordinator; picture by Mickey Mallory

07 Oct


RMCNews with Kathy Peterson – Windsor, Colorado … The tradition of participating in the Windsor annual fall parade continues at Windsor Elm Haven church.

For the last four years, the church has gathered to build a float to join the much-anticipated fall parade. The float themes have ranged from ones depicting the stories of the Flood, Jonah, and this year, highlighted Moses receiving the Ten Commandments.

Spectators at the September 6 event have enjoyed witnessing the unique floats passing them.  During the Jonah float, a little boy could be overhead shouting, “Moses, get out of that whale’s mouth!” His advice was to the wrong Bible character, but the individuals around him had a great laugh as a Bible hero was celebrated.

The church members recognize the significance of this unique way to reach the community.

“Folks now recognize us as we bring a new Bible float to the event [each year], and many mentioned our float when they walked by the booth we have at the event. It gives us a great opening to invite kids to take a small toy and storybooks about Jesus. Sometimes adults are more reluctant to take books and pamphlets, but we [are able to] give away a large amount as we chat with our neighbors. It is easier each year as we get to know them all and show our interest in being a part of Windsor,” Kathy Peterson, children and youth leader at Windsor Elm Haven church, said.

Every year, the Elm Haven’s floats have earned first place in religious and non-profit categories and a monetary gift that helps them plan for the next float.

–Kathy Peterson is children and youth leader at Windsor Elm Haven church; photos courtesy of Windsor Elm Haven Facebook page

07 Oct


By Cynthia Risk – Waterflow, New Mexico … It all started with a little boy. He was learning to love Jesus more every day and wanted to walk with Him throughout his life. Well, let’s back up and explain what put the idea in his mind.

The Waterflow Adventist church, located 16 miles west of Farmington, New Mexico, began baptismal classes with a couple of teenagers in late 2019. The classes ran concurrently with prayer meetings. The teenager’s aunt heard about the study group and asked if she could join because when visiting the church earlier, she liked what she saw and was interested in joining.

Ezzack, an eight-year-old, also heard about the classes and decided that he wanted to be baptized. He talked to his mom about it, but she wasn’t sure he was old enough, and surely with his reading disability, he wasn’t ready for the big kid’s baptismal class.

But Ezzack is nothing if not determined, and he just would not let go. He kept asking and asking until finally, his mom approached the church in early 2020 with the idea. By then, Covid had hit, and everything was being rearranged to accommodate the new reality–including church service, prayer meeting, and most importantly, the mission school. All services were moved online.

The church decided that Ezzack and his sister Dyanna would have in-person school one day a week and online school on the other days. During the in-person days, they would go through the junior edition of the baptismal class.

The teenagers were attending school also and got Bible instruction through their regular Bible classes. The English teacher used Bible topics to teach them how to write research papers, so they were getting a double dose.

Tentative arrangements were made with Steve Gillham from La Vida Mission to come and baptize the kids in spring 2021. However, that plan fell through when he became sick and eventually was laid to rest in the Lord. So, now the question was, who could baptize these kids?

That is where it stayed for a few more months, but Ezzack would not give up! In September, a member brought the pending baptisms up again at a prayer meeting. They discussed and agreed to contact the conference office about the situation. During conversations, the church discovered Doug Inglish, RMC vice president of administration, would be in Pinon Hills on October 2 and could baptize them then if arrangements could be made on short notice.

Pam Goldtooth had attended that prayer meeting and mentioned that if there were going to be a baptism, her two teens would like to be part of it. Ezzack and Dyanna’s mother asked if she could be re-baptized with her kids. This brought the total to five candidates, but God wasn’t done yet.

Pam Goldtooth mentioned to her sister, Priscilla, who had been taking classes with the teenagers before the pandemic hit, that there would be a baptism. Priscilla confirmed that she believed everything and was then included with the existing group, bringing the total number to be baptized to six.

The service was planned for Sabbath afternoon, October 2, at the Piñon Hills church. Many individuals from surrounding churches came to support and witness the six baptisms. The crowd was larger than what the Waterflow church could seat, and members were thankful for the use of the Piñon Hills church for the special occasion.

“God has blessed us immensely here in Waterflow. We are a tiny little church without many resources, and most of our members are older, so we are especially grateful to be baptizing young people!  Please keep us in your prayers as we continue to nurture and grow these new members in the faith,” Cynthia Risk, Waterflow clerk and teacher at the Waterflow mission school, commented.

— Cynthia Risk, Waterflow clerk, and teacher at the Waterflow mission school; photos by Susan Inglish

07 Oct


By David Sakul – Denver, Colorado … With representatives from each of the RMC Indonesian churches–Colorado Indonesian American Church, Rocky Mountain Indonesian American Church, Arvada Indonesian Church, and Lifehouse International Fellowship, along with support from community churches–Resurrection Anglican Fellowship and Brighter Day Fellowship–First Denver Indonesian Church consecrated their new church building October 2.

Established in 2007, First Indonesian Church rented meeting spaces until 2019 when they began to explore finding a permanent home. Members made sacrifices by selling their cars, refinancing their mortgages, and selling their valuable belongings, to make the dream come true.

After much sacrifice and searching, they purchased a building and began planning for the church consecration ceremony. When the pandemic hit, the event was rescheduled to October of 2021.

“Praise the Lord after two years, we finally come to this moment, and I can see how God has blessed us tremendously. I want to express my gratitude to all the church members who worked very hard for this event to happen. This is the moment we have been waiting for,” Widy Gara, pastor of First Denver Indonesian Adventist Church, remarked at the October 2 consecration ceremony.

The morning event, attended by 250 individuals, began with a Sabbath School discussion which included a special guest from the East Indonesia Union Conference, Happy Sibilang, who was formerly the executive secretary of the conference. The church service was led by Andrew Carpenter, Mile High Academy principal, who encouraged members with God’s promises and challenged them with the question, “Do we still believe in God’s promises?”

After the service, everyone gathered outside to reveal the church sign. Darin Gottfried, RMC vice president of finance, led out in the event.

Gottfried said it was an honor to be part of the service which “reminded me how great it is to work for the Church. I will be praying for your congregation as you continue to spread the love of Jesus in your community.”

— David Sakul is an elder at First Denver Indonesian church; photos supplied

07 Oct


By Jacqueline Kobagaya – Loveland, Colorado … Literature ministry continues to engage Campion Academy students in its program in the current school year. Fourteen students are canvassing the local area with the help of Matt Hasty, RMC literature ministry (LM) program director and four young adult volunteer leaders, who are selling religious books and sharing the gospel through conversations and GLOW tracts.

Reflecting on the program, Eva, a sophomore at Campion, recalls that at first “[she] was hesitant to do the summer LM program, but my parents and friends encouraged me to do it, and I don’t regret it at all. Sometimes, I feel like God can’t or doesn’t want to use me, but He always finds a way.”

She adds that she enjoys the work because her relationship with God has been strengthened through witnessing. “There are so many stories where I saw God working,” she reflected.

“There was one particular day when we were traveling in New Mexico where I didn’t feel like going out, but of course, I went anyway. I felt like God was going to do good things, but just not through me,” she explained.

“Eventually, I came up to this mobile home, still feeling extremely discouraged. There were dogs barking at me at the gate, which scared me, so I said a quick prayer as I went up to a man sitting on the porch,” she recalled. “I gave him the usual canvassing speech, but the conversation turned to how a few years back he had converted to Adventism and how his life had changed since. He went on to buy the entire collection of books I was carrying, and I even prayed with him. I knew God had led me there.”

During the school year, students go out five days a week in morning and afternoon shifts to share the gospel of Jesus with the community.

–Jacqueline Kobagaya is a Campion senior; photo supplied