23 Sep


By Marsha Bartulec – Erie, Colorado … Pandemic restrictions currently in place at Vista Ridge Academy didn’t stop the Grandparents and Special Friends Day, a cherished Vista Ridge Academy (VRA) experience.

The traditional Grandparents Day is normally an on-campus event where grandparents and special friends attend the school chapel, participate in a classroom activity, and enjoy brunch.

With a live event not being an option, students and staff celebrated with their extended VRA community by hosting a Zoom Grandparents Day Chapel.

The worship began with Sandy Hodgson, principal, welcoming the visitors to VRA followed by a video introducing the teachers and staff and showcasing students in their classroom. After the video, the kindergarten class led the Pledge of Allegiance and third and fourth graders gave the opening prayer. Herbert Hernandez, Chapel Haven church pastor, gave a worship thought, and finally the participants fellowshipped together to conclude the event.

“It was delightful seeing our grandkids at school. The classrooms look wonderful and well-spaced, keeping the youngsters safe and healthy,” said the grandparent of a sixth grader.

Some 100 guests enjoyed the event. Vista Ridge Academy staff were glad to find a way to open the school to grandparents and special friends who had been looking forward to the annual tradition.

Marsha Bartulec, is Vista Ridge Academy vice principal for administration; photos supplied.

23 Sep

Union College ranked one of “America’s Best” for 15th year

By Ryan Teller — Lincoln, Nebraska … Union College has once again been ranked among America’s best colleges and universities by U.S. News. This year, Union also rated highly in the publication’s lists for best value, social mobility and diversity.

These 2021 rankings mark the first time institutions in Union’s category of Midwest regional colleges have been listed by social mobility, with Union College coming in at number 20. Based on the percentage of low-income students who graduate on time from an institution, this score is meant to serve as a shorthand for which colleges do the best job of improving the economic status of their graduates.

“It’s really gratifying to see Union recognized for something so close to our hearts,” said Vinita Sauder, college president. “I believe our focus on services like life coaching and personal tutoring helps to level the playing field for first-generation students who don’t have family members to turn to when they have basic questions about academics and college life.”

This is the third year the publication has included a list of “Best Value Schools,” and the third year Union has ranked highly on that metric (25 in its category). Only top tier schools are included in the list, and the score is based on a comparison of the school’s overall ranking with its average cost of attendance. The better the quality of the education and the lower the tuition, the higher the rank.

“Where U.S. News sees ‘value,’ I see all the behind-the-scenes sacrifices and small miracles working together to keep a world-class education accessible to students from many economic backgrounds,” said President Sauder. “I will never be able to say ‘Thank you!’ enough to Union’s dedicated alumni, employees and other supporters.”

Consistently high ranking

In the overall rankings, Union landed at number 38 out of nearly 100 in its category this year. The college’s score reflects its commitment to student success. Many of the measurements in which the college excels relate to the personal attention given to each student, such as small class sizes and a low student:teacher ratio.

Though not a factor in the overall rankings, U.S. News lists Union College as the second most diverse school in the category of Midwestern regional colleges, and the college is in the top 10 most diverse schools in the Midwest out of all categories. That means Union College students are far more likely to interact with and form friendships outside of their own racial group than almost anywhere else in our region. Of the handful of Midwestern universities that score higher than Union, most are located in the Chicago metro area.

“The key to Union’s diversity is really the friendly and welcoming environment prospective students experience when they visit campus,” said Michelle Velazquez-Mesnard, vice president for Enrollment and Student Financial Services. “Success often hinges on how well you work in a diverse team, and Union really does prepare students to reach across differences, pulling together to achieve the callings God has given them.”

–Ryan Teller is Union College Director of Public Relations; photo by Rajmund Dabrowski

***This article was originally published on Union College’s website

22 Sep


By Gabriela Vincent – Casper, Wyoming…History lesson comes alive for students during special Constitution Day worship.

Mountain Road Christian Academy held a special worship to concur with their history lessons on immigration and the Constitution by inviting Gabriela Vincent, who is married to Shayne Vincent, pastor of the Casper, Wyoming district, to share her experiences on becoming an American citizen.

Gabriela was born in Romania. Even as a little girl, she wanted to move to the United States. After graduating with a master’s degree in 2001, she sold her car and bought a one-way ticket to America.

“When I moved to the United States in the summer of 2001, my dad gave me a $50 bill on my way to the airport. And that’s all I had when I arrived here,” was able to obtain my H1B work visa, which allowed me to begin to work off campus as a minister of music.”

In 2011, Vincent completed the paperwork to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a United States citizen.

“Becoming a citizen is by far one of the most exciting things I’ve ever accomplished in my life. Since I was seven years old, I dreamt of moving to America and one day becoming a US citizen,” Vincent explained to the students. “It’s been a long road since then, but God has allowed me to achieve my dreams and goals.”

The worship concluded with Pastor Shayne explaining that our passport to heaven is Jesus; because of Him, we have been granted access to His heavenly Kingdom.

Gabriela Vincent is a member of the Casper, Wyoming church; photos by Traci Pike and Gabriela Vincent

22 Sep

Take Flu Seriously — It Could Be Lifesaving

By AdventHealth – Orlando, Florida …As we prepare to welcome the holiday season, in whatever capacity that may look like this year, beware of an unwanted guest set on spoiling the fun: seasonal flu.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu cases are currently low, but as we get further into the year, that could change. The flu vaccine lowers your likelihood of catching the flu, and makes it much easier to endure if you do happen to catch it.

Everybody over age six months should get their flu shot every flu season. So if you haven’t gotten your flu shot yet for the 2020–2021 season, get it now. As the season ramps up, you need to be protected.

Flu Vaccines

Flu vaccines, which change each year to cover the main circulating strains, are generally about 50 to 60 percent effective. To some people, this may sound like a coin toss, but in reality, that is a very effective vaccine.

AdventHealth experts like to say that getting a flu shot is like wearing a seatbelt. It won’t prevent all episodes of influenza, but it will reduce the severity, and the chance of complications and death.

Impacts of Influenza

The hallmark of influenza — which is spread through coughing, sneezing and other human contact — is the sudden onset of high fever, along with a cough, chills and body aches.

Most people feel like they wake up in the morning feeling perfectly fine, and by the end of the day you’re spiking a fever and feel like you got hit by a metaphorical truck.

In some situations, flu can worsen into pneumonia, and, rarely, lead to death. A few groups are more vulnerable to flu complications, especially adults over 65, very young children, pregnant women and people with underlying illnesses. But there are exceptions, and sometimes active, young and otherwise healthy people can feel the worst of it.

It’s rare, but there are those cases where a child or an adult will die, even though they were healthy and had no reason to have complications. The best way to protect yourself against this serious infection is to get the vaccine.

And the benefit of the vaccine is twofold: not only will you lower your own chances of getting sick, you’ll reduce the risk of passing the virus onto others which may be the best gift of all.

The more people who are vaccinated, the more protected our public will be at work, in your family and in our community.

Get Vaccinated

While its best to get vaccinated before flu season starts, a shot is better late than never. Vaccines are available with multiple AdventHealth primary care physicians and at Centra Care Urgent Care locations.

–photo by UnSplash

***This article was orginally published on the AdventHealth website

17 Sep


By Dena King … After working for ten years for an employer, my sister and I decided to go into business for ourselves, opening The Grey House, a boutique in Estes Park. And after three years of paying other vendors to print our private label items, my husband and I bought a printing company that was going out of business so that we could keep everything in house. Our family was now fully self-employed and enjoying all the benefits that brings.

Those of you reading this probably already know the twist that this story takes. At the beginning of this year, COVID-19 began to spread across the country and in March all non-essential businesses in Estes Park were asked to close their doors for a time. This definitely hurt The Grey House because we didn’t have any foot traffic supporting our shop, but it equally hurt Trail Ridge Printing because all the events we normally print for were cancelled–no marathons, summer festivals, or fundraisers. And even the retailers we print for were not ordering because they were unsure when they would be able to open their doors to the public again. All of a sudden, it wasn’t so nice to be self-employed. In fact, it felt really scary to be completely reliant on things for our livelihood that were now uncertain.

I wrote an Instagram post around that time saying that God had brought us through the 2013 floods and we trusted He would take care of us again. But in conversations, I found myself more often telling concerned people “at least this didn’t happen in July!”

July is the month for during which both of our businesses make most of our sales. July revenue accounts for about 25 percent of our yearly totals. Foolishly, I believed God could take care of us in March when sales weren’t that great, but that July would be too great a problem for Him to handle.

And you can probably guess again what happened next. I woke up July 3 to my feverish little boy crawling into bed. He stayed at home with Daddy and I went to work never thinking that this could be the illness that shut down our shop a few months earlier. But as I walked into the house that evening, I wasn’t feeling well either and realized we had to take extra precautions. So, after a few difficult discussions with my sister and husband, we made the decision to close the boutique and cease printing operations until we knew it was safe for us and our employees to resume.

Once again, ironically this time, the loop playing in my head was “at least this didn’t happen in July.”

Here we were at the very beginning of our busiest month, a month where we had hoped to recoup our losses from March, and we were shutting down again. It was really devastating. I felt overwhelmed by the enormity of our looming rents and incoming inventory and not knowing where the reserves were going to come from to cover all these expenses. I was so thankful that our family, although sick, wasn’t severely ill and we weren’t showing any of the scarier symptoms. But in spite of my gratitude for our health, my mind fixated on our finances.

In my prayer time and conversations with family during this time, as soon I would lament, “I can’t believe this happened now,” I would hear a gentle reminder come back to me–“Test me in this.”

“Test me in July.”
“Test me in this.”
“Test me even in THIS.”

It was one of those Bible verses I learned ages ago, so I had to look up the full verse and context. It is found in Malachi 3:10 and it says: “Test me in this,” says the Lord of Hosts. “See if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out for you blessing without measure.”

I clung to that promise as we waited for our test results and for clearance to go back to work and safely open our doors again.

And yes, you have probably guessed the end of the story as well. God did provide for us. He gave us much more than the things I was worried about and He showed me again that He is so good.

Dena King is Co-Owner of The Grey House and Trail Ridge Printing in Estes Park, Colorado

17 Sep

Adventist Church Leaders Vote ‘One Humanity’ Statement

Silver Spring, Maryland … The following statement was voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Administrative Committee in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, on September 15, 2020, and made available on the Adventist Church official website. —Adventist Review Editors



The moral duty of declaring biblical principles in the treatment of fellow human beings has become paramount as the world increasingly recognizes the lingering scourge of racial injustice, tribal conflicts, and caste system bigotry suffered by millions of persons in every society and world region. God “has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26) and Jesus teaches us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:39). The Seventh-day Adventist Church acknowledges the important responsibility of making its commitments and compassion clear to a world expecting both words and deeds in harmony with the teachings of Jesus. Our commitment flows from our mission to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to “every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” (Rev. 14:6) in our troubled world as we recognize only Christ can change the human heart.

Seventh-day Adventists are committed to the unchanging biblical truths which reveal that human beings are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Based on the creation account in the book of Genesis, we believe in the God-given and immutable equality of all persons in all times, all places, and all circumstances. We are all descended from Adam and Eve, our original ancestors, who make all humanity one family (Gen. 3:20). Even the tragic results of human choice to rebel against God have not erased the enduring relationships between all human beings. Distinctions of race, ethnicity, caste, and tribe are used to sinfully segment and divide the fundamental unity God intended all human beings to experience with Himself and each other.

We maintain our allegiance to the biblical principles of equality and dignity of all human beings in the face of historic and continuing attempts to use skin color, place of origin, caste, or perceived lineage as a pretext for oppressive and dominating behavior. These attempts are a denial of our shared humanity and we deplore all such aggression and prejudice as an offense to God. Still, we acknowledge that many members of our worldwide Church fail to uphold this biblical truth about the equality of all persons. Contrary to the teachings and example of Jesus, many believers and church organizations have absorbed sinful, dehumanizing ideas about racial, tribal, caste, and ethnic valuing that have led to practices injuring and wounding the human family. These ways of thinking, and the practices resulting from them, undermine the very truths we have pledged ourselves to live and teach. We apologize where in the past we may not have spoken or acted boldly enough on these matters.

Seventh-day Adventists are members of a diverse, global Church and are committed to being agents of peace and reconciliation in society by modeling and advocating for the biblical truth about our shared ancestry. “For the love of Christ compels us” to regard people from His point of view and to be His “ambassadors” in this divided world with the “word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:141920). We will support and nurture those marginalized and mistreated because of their color, caste, tribe, or ethnicity (Matt. 25:40). We believe those who abuse and mistreat others should, in accordance with biblical principles, be appropriately brought to justice and will ultimately face divine judgment (Eccl. 12:14Heb. 9:27). We will teach and urge that God’s truth about human origins and equality as taught in the Bible is the wisest foundation for all human relationships.

God places a special responsibility upon those who have responded to His gracious salvation for all (Gal. 3:28) to demonstrate our commitment to equality, fairness, and accountability in all human relations. God created each person unique, and His powerful influence in our lives results in a celebration of differences that respectfully values each person’s human heritage and culture. We recognize the ultimate solution to the sins of racism, casteism, tribalism, and ethnocentrism is the transformation of individual lives and relationships through Christ and His saving power. We accept and embrace our Christian commitment to live, through the power of the Holy Spirit, as a Church that is just, caring, and loving, grounded on biblical principles.

God invites everyone, everywhere to join the remnant Church described in Bible prophecy (Rev. 12:17) in proclaiming the everlasting gospel which focuses on the righteousness of Jesus Christ encapsulated in the three angels’ messages (Rev. 14:6-12). These messages are to be given to “every nation, tribe, tongue, and people” culminating with Christ’s soon return (Rev. 14:614). We look forward to a new heaven and a new earth when “there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

***Article courtesy of the Adventist Review published on September 16, 2020

17 Sep


By Sami Hodges – Loveland, Colorado… Campion Academy student leaders joined peers from Mid-American Union for the annual spiritual conference aimed toward improving their leadership skills by discovering their personal gifts.

The meetings, with class presidents and spiritual vice-presidents invited to participate, are normally hosted at an academy in the Mid-American Union; however, due to coronavirus restrictions, the conference was held September 10 through September 12 online.

The focus of the gathering was to help the student officers discover their spiritual gifts and learn more about their personalities and passions.

“The leadership conference helped me as a leader as I was able to find ways to communicate with my school, especially with the other leaders,” Abby Waworoendeng, Campion freshman class president, said. “I was able to grow closer relationships with them and work to make our school the best it can be.”

Short icebreaker activities and trivia games kicked off the event, followed by worship talks from Benjamin Lundquist, Oregon Conference Young Adult Director, using examples from the Bible to highlight leadership qualities. Friday night vespers and Sabbath worship was led by Rocky Mountain Conference Associate Youth Director Jessyka Dooley, who talked about the story of Esther.

During the meetings, participants watched presentations about styles of leadership, ways to utilize their passions and formulate their goals for campus ministry.

The academies were assigned the task of developing and presenting their goals for the year, and then discussing their plan on its implementation into daily life.

“All the different schools have different ways of being leaders, but at the end of the day, you could tell that God was the one leading them and their academies,” Milka Mendoza-Sanchez, Campion senior class president and student chaplain, said. “It felt really nice to come together as leaders at Campion and discuss how to improve as a school and make our campus better.”

–Sami Hodges is a senior at Campion Academy; photo supplied

16 Sep


By Kiefer Dooley – Ward, Colorado … Glacier View Ranch was filled with activity this summer, including the creation of a 52-week, theme-based curriculum for RMC youth for 2021.

Implications from the continued pandemic kept normal camp programing from operating, but GVR staff were not discouraged; rather, inspired. Camp staff from Union College and Southern Adventist University worked to improve GVR facilities and programming and to create youth initiatives to benefit churches throughout the year.

The team, led by Nena Madrigal and John Kent, GVR college staff from Tennessee, crafted a set of weekly lessons that tackles the biblical concept of living life with purpose.  Over the next few months, the curriculum will be finalized and released to RMC churches in January.

“It’s really exciting to have a product like this rolling out from the RMC Youth Department,” Kiefer Dooley, RMC youth director, said. “This is a curriculum written for Adventist youth with messages, ideas, and inspiration to drive the formation of relationships between leaders and youth. The curriculum will also complement the programming at GVR in 2021.”

While the concept and the material are exciting, making a difference in the lives of young people will not be possible without the participation of local congregations. The Youth Department is looking for youth leaders to connect and engage at a deeper level.

If you’re a youth leader, please email [email protected] or text them at (870)688-8508 to be placed on the mailing list for the 2021 Fully Alive curriculum, receive important updates about functions and invitations to monthly youth leaders’ online gatherings.  Include your name, local church/community, and cell phone number or email address.

The Youth Department is committed to the success of Youth and Young Adult Ministry and are looking forward to partnering together – making it easy for kids to know God, while living a greater story.

–Kiefer Dooley is RMC youth director; photo by Unsplash

16 Sep


By Karrie Meyers –Highlands Ranch, Colorado …The health safety of students and staff remains a top priority for Mile High Academy during this unique school year. Many changes to the school routine have been forced by the COVID pandemic, changes that aren’t taken lightly by school administration, teachers and staff.

“COVID has certainly changed the structure of our school day and the appearance of our campus and classrooms,” said Brenda Rodie, MHA VP of operations, admissions and records. “We work closely with the Tri-County Health Department and a contracted nursing team from Children’s Hospital to make sure we consistently follow all pandemic guidelines.”

What has become a new normal for students includes daily temperature checks and health screening before students leave their vehicles each morning. In turn, students are given a wristband after screening, showing clearance to enter their classroom. They also enter and leave the premises through separate doors.

Two-layer masks are required for all students in fourth-grade and above and staff and teachers inside the facility and classrooms, with preschool through third-grade are required to wear masks during transitions from one classroom to another. Plexiglas is installed in classrooms and common areas where social distancing space can’t be maintained. Students are required to handwash frequently for 20 seconds. Hand-sanitizing stations are available outside classrooms and in other key locations on campus. A specific COVID sickroom has been identified with another room set up for injuries and those without COVID-like symptoms.

Classrooms are divided into cohorts, the Lower School cohorts, by grade, and Middle School and Upper School separate cohorts. In addition to cohorts, the campus is divided into zones, allowing cohorts to maintain social distancing while outside.

“A blessing about living in Colorado is our beautiful sunny days,” said Rodie. “We are encouraging our teachers to utilize the outdoors as much as possible, including moving classroom instruction outside.”

Teachers remain with their cohorts throughout the day, and the school week has moved to four-days.

If a teacher needs to enter quarantine for any reason, including the chance their own child may have COVID-like symptoms, they have the ability to teach via Microsoft Teams, while an on-site proctor monitors students in the classroom. Students also have the ability to learn remotely from home in case they need to self-quarantine due to COVID exposure by someone in their family.

Signage reminders are found throughout campus, including reminders to maintain social distancing and floor circles depict where to stand to social distance properly, “Because we are Mile High Academy” graphics are on rotation via the school’s digital boards reminding kids to wear masks, take their temperature, wash their hands and social distance. Every other sink is shut off in restrooms, again enforcing proper social distancing regulations, and supporting signage from the Colorado Health Department can be found throughout the campus.

The school has also ramped up its cleaning procedures. Not only do teachers wipe down high-traffic areas in the classroom, but a contracted cleaning service is on-site during the school day. The cleaning crew is responsible for cleaning high-traffic areas such as restrooms and sinks at least three times during the school day. In addition, the crew wipes down doorknobs, chairs and other items that are frequently touched as well as assisting with any general clean-up requests. The school undergoes a deep-cleaning process in the evenings and on Fridays when students aren’t on site.

Most notably missing from campus are the traditional events and parent volunteers. This year, parents are required to remain in their cars and are not allowed to enter the facility. Students are only allowed to be dropped-off or picked-up through the school’s detailed drop-off or pick-up procedures. If a parent needs to get something to their student, they are requested to call the front office and a staff member will go out to get the necessary items. Special events, such as Alumni Weekend and Back-to-School evening, have gone virtual, and Parent-Teacher Conferences are mostly via scheduled Zoom meetings. All other events, including Fall Festival, have been cancelled. “The administrative team and teachers are continuously looking for ways to host our events in a virtual format and will communicate through email, the weekly school newsletter and the school calendar on our website of any date, time and format changes,” said Rodie.

Another addition is the contract with a Children’s Hospital nursing team. An assigned nurse checks in daily with the administrative team, also checking on students with possible symptoms including their general health and well-being. The nurse also makes routine visits to the campus, to make sure immunizations, staff medical training and medical procedures are up-to-date and followed.

“I work with many childcare facilities and schools throughout the area,” said Donna Anttila, BSN and Children’s Hospital school/childcare health consultant. “From the start of our partnership, Mile High Academy and I have worked closely together in preparation and collaboration for this school year. We continuously review the latest guidelines for keeping everyone safe on campus. This collaboration and hard work have translated into what parents and students experience now. I am very, very pleased with how well the school year is going.”

–Karrie Myers is Mile High Academy’s communication assistant; photos supplied

15 Sep

Commentary: Look for the Good

By Ron Price – Farmington, New Mexico … “I have never seen a monument erected to a pessimist.” Paul Harvey

Stop what you’re doing and get a pen and some paper. Jot down two or three criticisms of a co-worker, or family member. Just take a moment (by the way, the official definition of a moment is 90 seconds) and list two or three of their imperfections. Now list two or three aspects which you find noteworthy and commendable of them.

I’m curious. Which list was easier to compile?

I guess that depends on the overall quality of your relationship with them. If your relationship is good and you get along well together, the second list was likely the easier, although the first list is always doable. I believe developing the habit of looking for and focusing on the good in others can transform a challenged relationship into a successful and healthy one, and keep a good relationship thriving.
It is a psychological principle that what you focus on tends to grow.

When we focus on the negative aspects of life, of which we all have at least a few, our thoughts tend to gravitate toward the negative. Focusing on the positive aspects of life will not make the negative ones disappear, but we will find they have less power to influence our mood and thoughts during our day.

Remember that everyone we interact with is a human being who, by definition, is going to have faults and who is going to act in ways that annoy us at times. Unless we consider ourselves to be other than a human, we might not want to be too quick to pass judgment.

I appreciate this Zig Ziglar quote: “Some people do really find fault like there’s a reward for it.” It’s so easy to find fault, and so many of us do. What’s ironic, however, is that those times when we are most critical are usually the times, we’re most upset with ourself. Since we’ve got to live with ourself and our thoughts, we can only take so much self-abuse and criticism. After a time, we will naturally look for another outlet to blame for our state of being upset. All too often, that other outlet is going to be someone at work or at home. That may be a common and normal practice, but it’s not right, and it’s certainly not conducive to a healthy life.

So what am I saying? That we should never tell a family member or work associate when something he or she is doing is upsetting us? Not a chance. But there is a right way and a wrong way to express our displeasure. The former is likely to result in voluntary behavior adjustment. The latter in World War 7,235.

In the book PLAY NICE in Your Sandbox at Work, I describe the XYZ technique developed by folks at PREP Inc., which gives a method to voice criticisms in a manner which will be well received and addressed.

Let me challenge us to throw away our list of others’ faults and add to our list of their positive attributes. It would not hurt to spend a few moments each day looking over that list to help you remember to maintain a positive, accepting attitude towards them.

A benefit of being grateful for what you have is that it protects you from becoming overly selfish and self-serving—both of which are dangerous in any relationship. We can admit that as humans we tend to be self-centered but interacting well with others is an excellent opportunity to minimize that condition.

By focusing on the positive aspects of others, we will be more inclined to consider how we might bring happiness to them.

Do that and you will find more happiness.

Not sure you believe that? Try it for 30 days and find out for yourself.

–Ron Price is a member of RMC executive committee from Farmington, New Mexico. Email him: [email protected]; photo by pixabay