13 Sep


RMCNews – Lincoln, Nebraska … Under the theme Yes, Lord!, the 9th quinquennial session of the Mid-America Union Conference, September 12,  256 delegates voted 82% to 18% to allow conferences to submit female pastors to the union for ordination. Mid-America Union Conference joins the Pacific Union Conference and the Columbia Union Conference to become the third union in the North American Division to ordain women.

At the outset of the meeting, delegates re-elected Gary Thurber to serve as Mid-America Union Conference president. Dr. Herbet Morel Jr. was elected as vice president of administration; David VandeVere, treasurer of the Potomac Conference, was invited to join MAUC as vice-president of finance.

MAUC department directors elected for the next quinquennium, were Brenda Dickerson, communication director; Roberto Correa, disabilities director; LouAnn Howard, education director; Raylene Jones, human resources director; Robert Correa, multi-language and Hispanic director; and Nancy Buxton, women’s ministry director.

The session began with a devotional thought by G. Alexander Bryant, North American Division president. Bryant challenged the delegates, saying, “Don’t let your heart become overwhelmed and don’t let yourself get too stressed out with things happening in the world and the church … especially the church.” He added, “Jesus is interested in our mental health. Whatever is happening in this life, it is temporary. It’s not the final chapter. Let not your heart be troubled because Jesus is going to win!”

Changes to the by-laws, a regular maintenance item, became a topic of much discussion on whether or not to enlarge the MAUC Executive Committee from 35 to 38 members to ensure more voices are heard. Hispanic delegates spoke about the representation of this growing membership base within MAUC on the Executive Committee. One delegate expressed, “We would like to have a voice”. Gary Thurber explained that they recognize the importance of Hispanic ministries in MAUC and the conferences choose who will sit on the Union Executive Committee, and as part of recognizing the fastest growing membership base in the territory, the delegates voted the first Hispanic director of the Union.

Union College presented a report showing the healthy growth in enrollment and financial stability. The college representatives also showed that they have 25 million dollars in reserve for student aid.  A new feature of the college campus drew the attention of many in the audience when they presented plans to build the AdventHealth Fitness Complex in the next few years.

The final agenda item was the issue of pastoral credentialing. The topic, as expected, drew strong convictions from both sides of the issue.

“We are not here to debate women’s ordination. We are going to debate the policy,” Gary Thurber, MAUC president said at the onset of the lively hour discussion for women’s ordination in the MAUC territory. Thurber addressed the delegates stating they are called by God. “We are God’s Elijahs. We are the ones called for this territory.”

Mic Thurber, the new RMC president addressed the delegates on this issue by saying, “My personal support for this motion has been formed by 18 years of serving alongside educated, gifted, and called women to pastoral ministry. In the three churches I served as senior pastor, one or more female associate pastors each demonstrated the fruits of ministry over and over again.”

Dick Stenbakken, RMC delegate rose to the microphone to express his opinion. “I think as Adventists we talk a lot about mission, and we should. And I think we should not limit who can serve in it. We talk about present truth and I think the present truth is to ordain women along with men because it helps the mission of the church.”

Bryant spoke on the challenges he sees. “I personally stand in support of women’s ordination, but am challenged by this motion.” He said that this action doesn’t make women equal in the Seventh-day Adventist church. “Let’s ask the Lord for wisdom because this might help this particular situation but doesn’t help the entire issue. There has to be a way that we, as a church, figure out our way through this and keep pressing until we can get total equality.”

In conclusion, 256 delegates voted 82% to 18% to allow conferences to submit female pastors to the union for ordination making it one of the largest margins in favor of ordaining women to the Gospel Ministry.

Commenting on the historic vote, Doug Inglish, RMC vice president of administration, said. “The vote today means conferences can decide whether or not to submit female pastor names to the union for ordination.”

Those chosen to represent the Rocky Mountain Conference on the Mid-America Union Conference Executive Committee were Mic Thurber, RMC president; Darin Gottfried, RMC vice president of finance; Wayne Morrison, pastor of Brighton church; and two at-large members Carol Turk and Sam Miller.

Voted to serve on the Union College association board to represent RMC was Darin Gottfried, and serving on the Union by-laws committee is Mary Lynn Green, RMC trust and planned giving director.

Closing the session, Gary Thurber challenged the delegates to “keep our arms around each other and when we go from this place, we will send a message to our churches that the Mid-America Union Conference is Seventh-day Adventist to its very core and loves the world church and is thankful to be a part of it.”

He also stated that he is grateful for each female pastor in the Mid-America Union. “I hope more than anything today they know how important they are to our mission and that their pastoral leadership is vital to our territory.”

–RMCNews; photos by Rajmund Dabrowski and Outlook Magazine

09 Sep


By Jared Marcenaro – Laramie, Wyoming … Hail, cold nights, rocky trails, and high altitude could not stop Campion Academy’s outdoor club from having an unforgettable weekend backpacking trip in the Snowy Range mountains in Wyoming on September 3.

The group of 25 adventure-filled students left campus for a two-and-a-half-hour drive to the trailhead, where they were met with rain and hail.

Reflecting on the exciting beginning of the expedition Jahir, Campion senior, explained, “It was memorable because Mr. Kast started our group on the wrong trail, and when we got onto the right trail it started raining and hailing. But, when that passed, we got to see the beautiful night sky.” Once everyone had set up camp and settled in, they welcomed in the Sabbath with evening worship under the stars.

Sabbath morning began with breakfast and a devotional thought. Then it was off to their next campsite, about six miles away. The hikers enjoyed beautiful views while pushing their physical limits as the trail got steeper and surpassed 11,000 feet in elevation.

“Getting to be in nature was very peaceful. I feel like being out there distracts you from school and any stress you have. You get closer to God, and you have time to talk with friends,” Matthew, Campion junior, said.

When they arrived at the end of their hike, campers settled in and had time to explore or relax.

“One thing I enjoyed was the freedom we had, especially on Saturday because I could wander off on my own time, and it wasn’t restricted to staying at camp or on a trail,” Noah, Campion senior, said.

Students shared what they learned about God throughout the day at a worship closing out the Sabbath. “Seeing the stars makes you realize how small we are but how God still cares for us,” Preston, Campion junior expressed.

Early the following day, a group of ten adventurous club members set off to hike to the summit of Medicine Bow Peak, while the rest of the members opted to sleep in. “I enjoyed the hike on Sunday morning,” said Ekenna, Campion student. “Even though it was really hard, it was awesome going to the summit and looking down on where you just came from and how far you got. It also relates to your spiritual walk, where you need to go through a struggle so you can look back and see how far you’ve come.”

One more hike awaited the students—the hike to the vans and busses to transport them back to campus. Love Pickle, senior, summed up her weekend saying that, “The people and the views made backpacking fun.”

To view a student-produced video recapping the weekend, please click here.

–Jared Marcenaro is a Campion senior; photos by Noah Sturges, Airi Nomura, and Jill Harlow

09 Sep

“I work for you,” says the new RMC president during the first office meeting

RMCNews – Denver, Colorado … “To you, this is another staff meeting, but to me, this is a big deal,” Mic Thurber said to the conference office staff at the beginning of their monthly meeting, September 7.

Meeting the staff officially for the first time, Thurber chaired the meeting.  After a worship thought by Mickey Mallory, RMC ministerial director, the new president began by sharing how he is eager to start his ministry in the RMC territory.

Thurber stated that when new leadership arrives, there is often anxiety among the staff concerned about how this change will affect them.  Thurber explained his leadership style comes down to “I work for you,” referring to the fact he is not a micro-manager.

He said he has a pastor’s heart and sees his role as president to be the office staff senior pastor. “I’m still a pastor,” commented Thurber.

The staff was able to meet for the first time Darin Gottfried, RMC vice-president for finance.  Gottfried shared how he is looking forward to getting settled in their new home in a few weeks and looking forward to getting to know the staff and church members.

Jana Thurber, the new RMC women’s and prayer ministries director attended the meeting and meet the staff.  Jana also explained she is looking forward to also filling a new position of ministerial spousal support.

Several staff expressed their joy in welcoming Thurber and Gottfried while appreciating Doug Inglish, vice-president for administration, for his maintaining the RMC ship these past few weeks.

The meeting closed with a renewed emphasis by Thurber explaining evangelism in RMC starts in our community by being loving and caring neighbors.

–RMCNews; photos by Rajmund Dabrowski and Jon Roberts

09 Sep

NAD President Commemorates 9/11, Calls Adventists in North America to Prayer of Remembrance

By North American Division News — Columbia, Maryland … As we remember how life in the United States and around the world changed 20 years ago when 3,000 lost their lives in terrorist acts on September 11, 2001 — as planes crashed through the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon in Virginia, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania — I urge our members in the North American Division to pray for those who were impacted by these events and lost loved ones on that day. We remember the first responders, many who gave their lives in service to their fellow human beings. We also remember the brave passengers on United Flight 93 who sacrificed their lives to save others.

I encourage us to remember the hope God gives us. He will sustain us and provide us with peace. May we also remember this promise: “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world (John 16:33, NIV).”

— G. Alexander Bryant, president, Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America

photo by iStock

This statement was originally published on the North American Division website

09 Sep


By Jon Roberts – Casper, Wyoming … For many, a job is a four or five-day workweek consisting of eight to ten hours per day before going home. However, for the farmers and ranchers of Wyoming, it is a 24/7 way of life.

Tilling the soil and caring for the animals God created can often be challenging, but the benefits outweigh the difficult work. Joseph and Cynthia Pedersen, cattle ranchers, and members of the Wheatland company, see their livelihood as a sustainable way of life.

“Americans are fast losing hold of the food supply. Just seeing the Covid lockdown shows how important it is to have American agriculture and its resources readily available to us. We need to be more sustainable on a grassroots level.”

However, sustainability is only one of the reasons for this need. “Our family tries to apply a clean-eating model with simple ingredients that are locally sourced. We like to know how our beef was raised, what conditions they lived their lives in, and that they were given the best possible care along the way. This is what has led us to finish our own beef. We feel blessed to be able to offer that assurance to our buyers.”

For others, like Lee and Kimberly Ludeman, homesteaders, and members of the Wheatland company, the lifestyle is about being financially independent. “We raise chickens, dairy goats, cows, and horses, and also grow a garden and preserve our harvest. We are doing pretty well in this economy. We grow and raise most of our food, and that helps with expenses.”

The challenges are ever-present for the Ludemans and Pedersens.

For the Ludemans, it’s the long Wyoming winters. “The biggest challenge we have as homesteaders in Wyoming is providing grass and hay for our animals and keeping them warm in the winter.”  For the Pedersen’s, it is trying to maintain a ranch while also maintaining other work. “It’s not our only job, so working it all in leads to very long days and nights for the whole family.”

For some, making friends and relating to homesteaders and ranchers can seem like a daunting task, mainly when their knowledge of sustainable living is confined to walking down the aisles of Safeway or King Soopers twice a week.

Shayne Vincent, pastor of the Casper church district, explains that becoming friends and discussing religious topics is often a long-term effort, but it is worth it. “Ranchers and farmers are good people—shirt-off-their-back type of folk. Where life is more about character and how you treat people than what you believe.

For non-members, religion is one of those topics reserved only for the best of friends and sometimes family. This makes evangelism a long-term process of winning respect rather than short-term fact-based change.”

The Pedersens echo Vincent’s sentiments. “The agriculture community is uniquely aware of the blessings and provisions of God. If you take the time to get to know these people, you will find a group with a profound respect for the Lord and His ways. Then the Spirit can open doors to share the messages of the three angels, the hope and joy we have as earth wraps up its final scenes and can make you friends for eternity.”

Vincent adds, “In these parts of the country, it is mostly traditional values. Hard work and treating your neighbor right are what folks aspire to. In addition, taking care of your animals and the 4-H type activities are daily parts of life for those in and out of the city. Their love for the Bible and their practical wisdom makes our members integral and respected members of the community.”

With a demanding lifestyle, it may seem not very easy to get a full day of rest per week, but Sabbaths are more than just another never-ending workday.

“Animals are fed on the Sabbath. We eat, and they eat; the Sabbath doesn’t change that. God has provided blessings on the other six days of the week. We let things rest on Sabbath, us and our animals; thus, the very long days the rest of the week,” Pedersen’s explains.

The Ludemans also have animals to take care of on the Sabbath. “We still have to feed the animals on the Sabbath. We also have to milk the goats, but it only takes a few minutes out of the day. We do not ride our horses on the Sabbath.”

If a rancher or homesteader arrives late or misses church, be gentle with them is the Pedersens plea. “Don’t give your farming and ranching neighbors dirty looks if they come into church late. They probably had calves out. Don’t judge them if they miss a Sabbath. Maybe they had a cow or a goat in labor, or their irrigation water went out of control and was about to flood the highway. Just smile, and [be] glad they made it when they come to church or events.”

For the Petersens, the best way to do outreach is by being part of the community. “There are many agricultural organizations that we can support, get to know, and be involved with in the community — 4-H, FFA, Cattlewomen chapters, Stockgrowers.”

The Ludermans are also involved in the community. “As homesteaders, we are able to provide fresh eggs, goat and cow milk, and produce from our garden to people in our community.  We make goat milk soaps and cheese as well. We enjoy providing fresh, organic foods to our community. We are hoping to provide equine therapy for our community in the near future.”

For both families, their way of life is something they hope to pass along to future generations. “We hope our children learn to appreciate the land and resources God has provided us so that they can understand where their food comes from and how to manage those resources responsibly and to do their work for the Lord and honor Him with their labor and integrity. We hope to pass on a willingness to work hard and serve wherever God calls our children,” the Pedersens explain.

The Ludermans have the same hope, “We think that there will always be homesteaders. We would love for our children and grandchildren to learn how to homestead and provide for themselves.”

“Homesteading is a very rewarding, heartwarming, sometimes heartbreaking way to live. We feel closer to God when we are in the garden or with the animals. It is a great feeling to be able to share the things that God has provided from our homestead with our community,” the Ludermans add.

The final piece of advice the Pedersen’s would like to share with their non-agricultural church members is to help them out where you can. “If you have the opportunity to lend a hand, do it. You will gain valuable skills and another perspective. Many religious talks happen in an alleyway, at a butcher table late at night, or after rounding up a loose cow. Remember to pray for them when they are absent. Guaranteed, they are lifting up prayers over whatever has kept them away. Offer to pray for and with them.”

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photos courtesy of Wheatland company Facebook page.

09 Sep


RMCNews with MHANews — Highlands Ranch, Colorado … Ax throwing, PVC ping pong, cardboard boats, and capture the mattress were the highlights of Mile High Academy’s high school outdoor retreat in Deckers, Colorado.

The retreat from the city began with student association officers spending a day in the wilderness on September 1.  As they arrived at Camp Shady Brook YMCA grounds, the atmosphere among the student leaders was electric with plans for getting to know each other better and planning the school year’s events.

First off was building leadership and self-confidence by completing a high rope challenge course some thirty feet high. Afterward, they gathered together for a team meeting to discuss the calendar and spiritual goals for the school year.

“It was awesome,” reflected Andrew Carpenter, MHA principal on the day. “The students bonded together as classmates while focusing on what it means to be a spiritual leader for not only peers but also for the world around them.”

The next day, the student association officers were joined by the other high school students where they were quickly divided into six groups. They were each given cardboard and duct tape and the task of building a sea-worthy vessel.  Four vessels successfully made it to the bottom of the lake.

After the groups decided that shipbuilding wasn’t in their futures, they moved on to a series of team competitions. The challenges included ax throwing, a climbing wall, maneuvering through a minefield, board walking, PVC ping pong, and finding seven gummy bears in a giant bowl of chocolate pudding.

The evening began with a joint worship focusing on the MHA spiritual theme for the year, “Abundant Joy”.

After worship, the night was just beginning as there was still one task to complete as a group … capture the mattress, a game similar to capture the flag but with a bulky mattress.

Reflecting on the event, sophomore Gwen said, “I am so thankful that [we were] able to have this retreat. It was fun watching our classmates grow and bond together as a group through shared experiences.”

–RMCNews with MHANews; photos supplied

08 Sep


By Nate Elias — Have you ever changed the thinking of someone on a social media debate? I rarely see in-person debates sway a person’s opinion let alone an online debate. Yet Christians have joined the social media debates (or more likely online wars) of opinion.

When God incarnate, made his earthly presence, he entered into a world of debate. The Jewish nation all wanted the same thing, freedom from Rome. The Jews developed factions based on their opinions concerning solutions to their occupation.

Considering the people Jesus invited into his circle of influence, Jesus wasn’t oblivious to the debate in Israel. Jesus included James and John, the sons of thunder (Mark 3:16), who believed in the violent overthrow of Rome. Then there is Matthew the tax collector (Matthew 9:9). He didn’t even keep fighting against Rome; he joined Rome. In between the two extremes were the Jewish religious leaders trying to work with and against Rome.

It would make sense that with this much debate and conflict that Jesus would have spent a significant amount of time expressing his position and debating against one side or the other in the conflict. Yet there are only a few minor references to Jesus even acknowledging the debate was taking place. How could Jesus separate himself from the constant battle while still bringing individuals from both extremes of the debate into his community?


As I consider our current struggle of existing with Covid 19 and all its variants, I wonder how Jesus would handle the debate? Would Jesus pick a side? Would he get on social media and post opinions? How would Jesus bring the church, his body here on planet earth, together when so divided by “facts” and “opinions?”

The Jewish community had a confession of their faith, Shema, that was part of their daily worship experience. “Love the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 6:5). Jesus stated this as the greatest command of God. He then followed up with, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). While the Jews bickered over the oppression of Rome, Jesus sought to redirect the Jewish focus to what it meant to love God and love each other. While the Jews fought against each other over salvation from Rome, Jesus brought eternal salvation from sin.


Do we need to be redirected by God to understand the love of God? The Apostle John wrote, “For God so loved the Cosmos, Universe, that He gave his only Son, Jesus” (John 3:16). In 1 John 3:16 John wrote, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children
of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

Three words come to mind—compassion, respect, and value—in following God’s invitation to love others. Every human being is born in the image of God. You have a personal story that drives your response to life. Having compassion means, I listen to your story that has impacted you. Respecting each person as a child of God is beautiful and difficult.

We are equal in value to God. We are equally God’s children. When I look at you, do I see my equal?

If I see you as my equal and God’s child, I won’t attack you online or in-person. I can disagree and don’t have to attack. God help us learn to love as he first loved us.

–Nate Elias, is pastor at the Piedmont Park Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lincoln, Nebraska; photo supplied.

This article was originally published on Outlook Magazine’s website

02 Sep


By Jon Roberts – Denver, Colorado …“Everyone has a story, and this is mine,” remarked Rajmund Dabrowski, RMC communication director, on his recent Adventist Journey interview.

The North America Division selects an Adventist to tell their story every month. Sometimes it is a lay member who has had an influence in their community or an employee of the church. Then there are those who have not only dedicated their lives to spreading the good news of Jesus, but also invited others around the world to walk with them on their Adventist journey.  Dabrowski is the latter.

Recalling his journey and the opportunity it offers others to join in his story, Dabrowski is grateful to the NAD communication team, many of whom he trained, worked with, and mentored over the years. “Often, I’m being described as a mentor, a designation I don’t deserve. Anyone who crosses my path is mentoring me as well. I’m indebted to work alongside many amazing young professionals. We feed each other,” Dabrowski commented.

“I was blessed to work with Rajmund Dabrowski at the General Conference. We worked together on the first television news program for the church, Adventist Newsline. It was an exciting time as we entered new territory for the church, and despite having a small team, we were able to produce programs that I am still proud of almost twenty years later,” Dan Weber, until recently NAD communication director, said.

Dabrowski has received several compliments and comments on the cover picture and the interview.  “The photo and video are by Dan Weber, a master photographer. All I can say is – Thank you,” Dabrowski commented.

Retiring several years ago from the Seventh-day Adventist Church world headquarters where he worked as communication director, he and his wife, Grazyna, settled in Colorado. He was prepared to rest and relax from church employment.  God had other plans.

In the video, we hear about his passion for reaching out and being in the community, as well as having open conversations on how the church can continue to meet the needs of the world and the church with new techniques and methods. In RMC, Dabrowski reclaimed his fondness for editorial work by editing and producing one of the most cutting-edge magazines in the church today … Mountain Views. Some of the finest authors in the church are being invited to engage  us in conversation about what we believe and how we act. “I’m enriched by probing deeper into the present truth,” he commented.

“Ray is a genius when it comes to communicating. His worldwide experience has helped him look at things from many different angles, and he likes a fresh perspective on life! It has been an honor to work with Ray and to be able to call him a friend,” Ed Barnett, former RMC president, said.

“Ray taught us to produce programming that was of the highest professional level possible. He inspired us to create and share stories that would help people around the world understand the breadth and scope of what the church was doing. All of this was because of Ray’s impact on our team and his desire that the church he loved and worked for was well represented to the world. His influence provided a major impact on my work for the church these past 20 years,” Weber added.

Dabrowski hopes his story will encourage others to get involved in the community, show love and kindness to others, giving their all to Jesus.

“Why did I accept the invitation to share my story?  Simple. We, as Adventists, are all on a pilgrimage.  Each of us has a story that also becomes the story of others.  What binds us together is Adventism,” Dabrowski commented.

To view the Adventist Journey interview, click here.

–Jon Roberts is RMC communication/media assistant; photo by Jon Roberts

02 Sep


RMCNews with DeeAnn Bragaw – Ward, Colorado … From eastern Colorado and Idaho, from northern Wyoming and Texas, 115 women ascended to GVR for the 2021 RMC women’s convention Bee-Lieve, a chance to fellowship, grow closer to Jesus, and enjoy a weekend where women can be women.

The theme bee-lieve focused on reaffirming for those who gathered that God has a plan for their lives, no matter what. Through biblical stories and personal experiences, guest speaker Tamyra Horst, author and Pennsylvania Conference communication director, encouraged all to keep bee-lieving in God and His guidance in their lives.

Chris, an attendee from Cheyenne, reflected on the retreat, commenting that her most significant takeaway from the retreat was the message, “I am worthy and unconditionally loved.” Her sentiment was echoed by many who attended.

Sabbath included a workshop presented by Cindy Nash and Michelle Nash, wife and mother of Littleton church lead pastor Andy Nash, about praying for the prodigals in your life.

“It was wonderful to be with women from around RMC who love Jesus with all their hearts,” Cindy Nash commented on the gathering.

The convention continued with an afternoon service project. With the help of the teen girls attending their convention at GVR, the women tie-dyed pillowcases that were donated along with new pillows to Crossroads safehouse in Fort Collins and the women’s shelter in Cheyenne.

Women left the convention remembering décor, attention to detail, opportunities for prayer, fellowship, and fun.

The convention was a bitter-sweet moment for DeeAnn Bragaw as she begins a new chapter in her life as the North American Division Women’s Ministry director after four years in RMC.

“Thank you all for the privilege of serving you as Director of Women’s Ministries for our conference. As I transition to the North American Division, I’m so grateful Jana Thurber will be serving our RMC women. I know she will love you, as I have,” DeeAnn Bragaw said.

–RMCNews with DeeAnn Bragaw, North American Division Women’s Ministry director; photos supplied

02 Sep


RMCNews with Betty Soper – Delta, Colorado … With fellowship, games, and bushels of corn, the Delta, Cedaredge, and Paonia churches came together for their 24th annual end-of-summer corn roast and potluck.

Event organizers were unsure if the event would occur since the location for the event became unavailable when the usual hosts moved to Nebraska.

The gathering took a lot of prayer, recalls Betty Soper, a Delta member. “We said a prayer, rented a local-park pavilion, and waited to see if people would attend. We knew it was a wonderful way to get to visit with friends from neighboring churches and to have a place to invite the community to join us for the event.”

Planners had hoped for maybe twenty or thirty people to show at the new location. But the event was well known and anticipated by the churches and the community, and 80 individuals gathered to enjoy the afternoon.

The corn roast fellowship event attracted 50 church members from the district as well as some 30 community members, including a family whose only association with the church was their child who attended the Delta Adventist School.

As afternoon became evening, everyone left filled with delicious Olathe sweet corn and with memories to last through the fall and long winter ahead.  It was the perfect end to a summer in the mountains.

–RMCNews with Betty Soper is the Delta church membership clerk and women’s ministry leader; photos by Jodie Gage