Pacific Union “All God’s People,” March 29, 2019 Episode 312

All God’s People for the week of March 29, 2019, episode #312

Hawaii Voted Happiest State for 7th Year in a Row—with all Pacific Union States in Top 20

Based on a new Gallup poll, the Aloha State took the top spot for overall well-being for the seventh year in a row. Hawaii came in the number one spot, and Utah came in fifth on the list of ‘happiest states.’ All five of our states were in the top 20.

Hawaiian Mission Academy Gears Up for 2020 Centennial Celebration

Hawaiian Mission Academy is gearing up to celebrate their Centennial in 2020, and they’re kicking off a full year of special events with a very special event right on their historically recognized campus, honoring one of their most famous Alumni, Mary Kawena Pukui—one of Hawaii’s most celebrated artists and scholars.

Northern California Conference Congregation Celebrates Church “Rebirth” Renovations

Earlier this month, the Pittsburg church in Northern California gathered for its official “Celebration of Rebirth.” Fitting for a day of rebirth, Pastor Garrett Anderson preached on the story of Lazarus.

Learn more about this congregation’s celebration online via the link below!

On Sabbath, the Pittsburg church gathered for its official celebration of rebirth. The congregation had been forced to…

Posted by Northern California Adventists in Action on Friday, March 8, 2019

Pacific Union Treasurer Ted Benson Retires after 43 Years of Service

On Wednesday evening last week, there was a special retirement celebration honoring the life and career of Ted Benson—our much beloved Pacific Union Treasurer. Beverly Benson—Ted’s wife—retired from the Office of Education last fall. The Benson’s are retiring from 43 years of service to the Pacific Union. What a huge impact Ted and Bev have made on the work of the Seventh-day Adventist church here in the west!

“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice!”
-Philippians 4:4 KJV

2019-03-29T01:01:58-07:00March 29th, 2019|All Gods People|

Unto These Hills

by Connie Vandeman Jeffery


“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comesfrom the Lord” (Psalm 121:1-2, NKJV).


I am reminded of this text when I look at the hills around me. My Camarillo, California, home is surrounded by hills—hills that were scarred by the aptly-named “Hill Fire” last November; hills that have been transformed into lush green landscapes due to the 18-plus inches of rain in the past two months. It looks like I could be in Ireland!  How could something so ugly and blackened turn into something so lush? Rain, and more rain! It’s amazing how drought-ridden, fire-scarred hills can transform into something marvelous with moisture from above.

All of this rain and these gorgeous green hills take me back to 1968 and my first road trip with my mom. Just the two of us. There had been countless road trips from my childhood Maryland home with the whole family: driving across the country multiple times; driving to evangelistic meetings and camp meetings all over the East Coast and the South. But never just mom and me. That trip was a first. I was 12 years old.

She had heard of a well-known outdoor pageant that had been running since 1950 in beautiful western North Carolina on the Cherokee Indian Reservation. Set against the backdrop of the Great Smoky Mountains, the drama “Unto These Hills” tells the story of the Cherokee people and their tragedies and triumphs. It is one of the longest-running outdoor dramas in the U.S.

The trip itself was memorable—we were setting off on a great adventure, just my mom and me, driving 530 miles through several states just to see the pageant. Dad was away on an overseas trip, and she thought a mother-daughter road trip was just what we needed. So we set off early in the morning, singing silly songs, playing the usual car games, like “20 Questions,” “I Spy With My Little Eye,” and my personal favorite, “My Father Owns a Grocery Store.” If you haven’t heard of that one, it goes like this: “My father owns a grocery store, and in it he sells something beginning with the letter L.” Then my mom began to guess. “Lentils,” she suggested. “No,” I said. “Licorice? Lima beans? Lollipops?” I giggled and kept saying no. “Lettuce?” she shrieked, and I said “YES!” Then it was her turn. This game can go on for a hundred miles and I’m sure ours did. Halfway there, it started to rain. Not drizzle. POUR! We stopped several times. Mom hated driving in the rain. But we literally laughed and sang and played games the whole way there. We checked into our motel and eagerly awaited the next evening’s pageant.

What was even more memorable than our road trip was sitting in the outdoor arena waiting for dusk and then watching the amazing drama unfold.  I will never forget the story, the singing and dancing, and the backdrop of the hills. The show portrays the unique story of the Cherokee from a historical perspective. The play traces the Cherokee people through the ages, from the zenith of their power through the heartbreak of the Trail of Tears. It ends in the present day, where the Cherokee people continue to write their place in the world. Even at the age of 12, I knew I was witnessing something powerful. It was a great gift my mother gave to me—opening my eyes to the wonder of another culture and the magnificence of the hills! I will always remember that night and the road trip that got us there.

Whether it’s the Great Smoky Mountains or the green hills of Camarillo, I will continue to “lift up my eyes to the hills” and remember where my help comes from. It comes from God.

Connie Vandeman Jeffery is the host of All God’s People, a weekly short video series highlighting the people and ministries of the Pacific Union Conference, and has had a long career in media.

2019-03-26T07:38:50-07:00March 25th, 2019|Living God's Love|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” March 22, 2019 Episode 311

The Bulletin for All God’s People #311

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Adventist WestPoint Takes Premier Training to Reno, Nevada

Adventist Westpoint is a training event focusing on innovative strategies and training for church growth. Pastors, chaplains, students, local church lay leaders—anyone with an interest in expanding their ministry effectiveness—will be challenged and blessed by the slate of activities that are planned for this year. If you’ve never attended an Adventist Westpoint, the good news is, it’s not too late to register for Adventist Westpoint 2019 in Reno, Nevada, April 21-24. The theme this year is focused on “Reaching My Community for the Kingdom.”

Learn more:

Tala Ki Mamani (“Tell the World”) Church Forms in Salt Lake City

Did you know that according to the Salt Lake Tribune’s analysis of the 2010 U.S. census data, one of every four Tongans living in the U.S. resides in Utah? And the state of Utah ranks second in the U.S. for the total population of Tongans, behind California and ahead of Hawaii. The recently formed Tala Ki Mamani church in Salt Lake City, Utah, gathered friends from across their conference and beyond, to celebrate in a church organization ceremony in their rented facility last October. Initially, the group was formed in 2003, and they grew steadily…and as they grew, so did their vision for becoming a church and expanding their outreach!

Read more on page 30 of the February Recorder online!


Safety Sabbath in North America

How do we prepare for the worst? How do we keep our institutions, schools and churches safe – most importantly, how do we keep our members safe? Adventist Risk Management has prepared excellent resources that are being highlighted tomorrow, March 23, on Safety Sabbath. In addition to Earthquake drill and fire drill guides; they’ve included active shooter drill guides and an active shooter situation video to help educate us on what to do. Much thought and planning has gone into these resources from ARM. If your church is not prepared to actually conduct the drill on Sabbath, March 23, you can plan ahead with these resources to begin the process of readiness and educating members in the weeks to come.


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“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” -Isaiah 41:10

Learn more about All God’s People at:

2019-03-20T17:09:27-07:00March 20th, 2019|All Gods People|

Promised Land

by Lindsey Weigley


Walk about Zion, go around her,

   count her towers,

consider well her ramparts,

   view her citadels,

that you may tell of them

   to the next generation.

For this God is our God for ever and ever;

   he will be our guide even to the end.

—Psalm 48:12-14, NIV


Zion National Park is a vast, crumbling, red rock wilderness. They say the stone is formed of lime and was once buried under a shallow ocean, and that many years of erosion raised it into the pinnacles, spires, and spidery canopies that we see today. Thousands of tourists flood the park each year to tilt their necks upward and look at the ancient rock—some perhaps to wonder about its origin story, some just to climb on it. Nonetheless, something elemental and deeply human draws people to this place.

I visited Zion around this time last year. My friends and I decided that our activity for the day would be to hike Angel’s Landing. It is a pretty steep hike, beginning with a series of well-trod switchbacks, followed by a loosely marked path across a rocky plateau, and finally culminating in a dicey rock-and-chain scramble to the summit. But at the top, the hard work is well worth it: awaiting hikers is a breathtaking 360º view of the canyon from the center of the park.

While studying the route, I couldn’t help but notice that most of the landmarks within Zion have been named after religious figures or symbols: The Court of the Patriarchs, named after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Kolob Arch, the second longest natural arch in the world, named after a place in Heaven according to the Mormon tradition; the Temple of Sinawava, a massive natural amphitheater whose namesake is the coyote god of the Paiute tribe. Even Zion itself has deep spiritual meaning: Zion, the city of David, the land of Israel, the kingdom to come.

For me, the geography of this place certainly provokes something spiritual. Mountains, in general, command a sense of reverence. Maybe it is all that exposure; this land is deadly if it isn’t treated with the right kind of respect. It could also be that the raised dirt and stone feel much like the halls of a cathedral. The earth—rather than appearing as a flat line receding into the distance—has vertical dimension. The feeling of smallness is visceral. Everything I am suddenly feels microscopic in comparison, standing inside a parabola of earth and rock.

I’d like to think that this is how the people who named the arches and mountains of Zion also felt. It is possible that their motives were more political: a way of claiming turf for their own culture. Religion has a terrible relationship with power, and I don’t want to discount that reality. But the more generous version of history would say that the individual people who explored these canyons felt compelled to call these rocks after the spiritual features of their traditions, the sacred landmarks that gave them meaning. Angels, saints, and Biblical figures help us navigate all that is dangerous and exposed in our lives, so why not name the land after them? And standing in terrain that is as vast and beautiful as the Utah canyons, it seems only appropriate to name this place after the Promised Land.

I like to think that the word promisedin the name Promised Land doesn’t only refer to the act of God agreeing to give people something, as in, “I promise to give you a GoPro for Christmas.” I have wondered if it could also mean promisedas in “engaged to be married.” As in, land that is betrothed.

This concept seems useful because it describes our relationship to the land, to the Earth, in a way that isn’t domineering or subjugating, as in land ownership. That is the language of slavery and exploitation, from which the people of Israel escaped in the Biblical story. Instead, it describes our ideal relationship to the Earth as one of marriage. God gives us the Land and we are charged with its care and well-being. The Land provides soil, shelter, and sustenance. In return, we are to take care of it, to protect it from overfarming, strip mining, degradation. If the metaphor is correct, the language describing the Earth (and the New Earth) is one of communion and symbiosis.

Therefore, it is an act of obedience to tend to the Earth thoughtfully. All of the Earth’s forests, oceans, mountains, and canyons command reverence, but they also embody vulnerability. We are at the planet’s mercy, and the planet is also at ours. One only has to look at the overwhelming effects of plastic pollutionor the death of our coral reefsto realize how much we’ve already lost. It is more than simply “stewardship.” We are caring for our partner in living, our shelter, and our kin who live here. We are interwoven into this sacred landscape.

The summit of Angel’s Landing is certainly holy ground. The stone monument retreats into atmospheric blue, covered in ancient desert trees and cut cleanly by a valley river. The boulders seem at once so immense and immovable and yet are scattered like aquarium ornaments. It is as if they were once lifted high in the air, like the floating Hallelujah Mountains in the movie Avatar, connected only by the roots of trees.

Being in nature feels close to the heart of God: wild, beautiful, and touchable. This landscape inspires the language of the spiritual because it is exactly that. It reveals God as a Sculptor, a Stonemason, bent over in an ancient workshop—carefully carving our place in Eden with wind, water, and ice.


Lindsey Weigley is a creative professional and environmental advocate. Keep up with her latest work and adventures at

2019-03-19T09:03:33-07:00March 18th, 2019|Living God's Love|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” March 15, 2019 Episode 310

This week in All God’s People, we’re sharing inspiring stories from several of our schools and from our friends in the Pacific Northwest! Details in the Bulletin below.

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Calexico Mission School Students Reach Out to Soldiers
Operated by the Southeastern California Conference and located in Calexico, California, Calexico Mission School is literally a stone’s throw from the border. Approximately 85% of the nearly 300 students reside in Mexico and make their daily journey across an international border just to attend school. There’s a whole lot of learning—and outreach—going on! Learn about the kind gesture from Calexico students to soldiers at the border in this week’s episode of All God’s People, and also via the link below:

Learn About Calexico Mission School:

NPUC Members Raise Nearly $500,000 for Paradise Fire Relief Efforts
Our church members and friends in the Paradise area have some amazing friends! Do you know what our fellow church members up in the North Pacific Union did recently? They raised nearly $500,000 for fire recovery in Paradise and the surrounding area. Read more about it in the Gleaner! (Link below.)
A huge thank you to our sister union in the Pacific Northwest for your generosity and continued prayers for all of those impacted by the fires in Butte County, California.

Read more:

Students Become Published Authors at Valley View Adventist Academy
At Arroyo Grande Valley View Adventist Academy teacher Glasmine Ellis helps her students become published authors. Ellis introduced her students to the young author program she initiated, published by Student Treasures, a student-based publishing company. For students, grades 5 through 10, this was an opportunity to write, design, and publish their own work. The students go through the entire writing process, learning all the steps to become a published author. How incredible is that for these young authors? KEYT-TV thought it was a good story, too—and sent a crew out to cover it. Read the full story and watch their report via the link below:

March Recorder Highlights Patience
The theme in this month’s Pacific Union Recorder is patience—and features a number of articles and reports from our communication directors across the conferences and our editorial team here at the Pacific Union.

Next month, our April issue will be our 2nd Annual Education Issue! We’ll be sharing more about it soon, right here on All God’s People.

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“…those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.” -Psalm 34:10

2019-03-13T01:29:55-07:00March 13th, 2019|All Gods People|

Two Hours Late

by Faith Hoyt

After a year and a half working as an intern at a job that requires frequent travel, I have begun to consider myself a bit of an expert at flying. I still over pack and stress about getting to the airport on time (even when I’m over two hours early); however, I keep my boarding pass in my phone’s Apple Wallet, and I sometimes get so lost in thought that I don’t realize the plane is landing until the engines reverse thrust. Let’s say I’m halfway to expert.

I recently learned that my expertise at traveling isn’t foolproof and that seemingly mean people can show you kindness beyond what you could ever expect or deserve.

It all started on a Monday around 3:30 pm. My co-worker dropped me off at the airport with two hours to spare until my departure. The Reno airport has a small terminal and usually the TSA lines are short, but my policy is that I’d rather work while waiting at the gate than risk missing my flight.

I hadn’t looked at my boarding pass that morning. I knew I had seen 4:55 p.m. as the departure time and planned my day accordingly.

When I got to the airline kiosk to check in my two over-packed bags, I got an error message after typing in my confirmation code. “That’s odd,”I thought. “I’ll try scanning the boarding pass on my phone.” This also produced an error message, along with a directive to go see an airline assistant. It seemed strange, but I didn’t stress—it hadto be the machine. Once at the counter, I handed over my phone to a tall blonde woman. The woman at the counter took my phone without looking at me and asked for my photo ID in a less-than-welcoming tone. I produced my ID and a sheepish smile.

The woman frowned at her screen. Then she looked up at me and broke through my thoughts with a startling statement: “Your plane just took off.”


For a half second, I stood there in disbelief, but the customer service agent’s serious look helped reality quickly sink in. My calm and confidence disappeared in an instant. I heard myself pathetically beg the woman for her help.

“Oh please! Is there anything you can do for me? Please, help me! I can’t believe I did this!”

Other than to inform me that I’d missed my flight, the woman said not a word. Her gaze stayed fixed on her screen in complete silence. I stood on the other side of her screen and braced myself as wave after anxious wave of emotion threatened my ability to keep my mouth shut to let her work. “She looks mean,” I thought. I imagined her turning me away coldly or demanding that I produce my credit card to buy a last-minute seat on a late-night flight.

As I watched her busily type away, my confidence shattered. Ms. Travel Expert had just missed her first flight. The4:55 p.m. time on the boarding pass was for an old flight that I’d failed to remove from my Apple Wallet. There was a rental car to pick up, an important meeting scheduled for the next morning, and projects to complete—and I’d missed a flight I’d booked over two months in advance because of carelessness. I stood there trying to brace myself for what I was sure would be a disheartening outcome.

Then, at last, the silence was broken. The woman at the counter looked up from her screen a second time—this time to inform me that there was one last seat left on the last flight to my destination that day. It departed in two hours, and she had waived the $164 fee.

I felt overcome. She quickly attached the baggage tags to my luggage and placed them on the conveyer belt, and then she handed me a new boarding pass. I’m pretty sure I thanked her five times in the process.

As she handed me the boarding pass, I asked her for her name. “It’s Laura,” she told me. “Thank you, Laura,” I said. “You just saved my day.” Then she smiled at me for the first time and told me to take it easy.

I walked away, feeling waves of relief wash over me. Each wave of relief was followed by awe at the realization that this seemingly grumpy, stern woman had just shown me incredible grace and kindness.

I walked to gate B1, sat down, and thanked God that grace came so unexpectedly. It was an answer to a prayer I hadn’t even prayed. It was the most incredible timing. And, in the face of my own judgments about the woman who helped me, it didn’t feel deserved.

I resolved to play “judge” less. (I also resolved to never brag about my travel prowess.) And I spent the next two hours smiling in gratitude.

Faith Hoyt is communication intern for the Pacific Union Conference. She lives in Carson City, Nevada, and attends the Heavenly Valley church in South Lake Tahoe. 

2019-03-11T10:46:48-07:00March 11th, 2019|Living God's Love|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” March 8, 2019 Episode 309

This week in All God’s People, join us for a briefing of eHuddle’s 2019 gathering in San Diego and a conversation with Crosswalk Church Pastor Tim Gillespie.
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2019 eHuddle Gathers Church Leaders in San Diego

For two and a half days last month, evangelism directors of conferences and unions, church administrators, pastors, innovators, and other leaders gathered at eHuddle in San Diego to share, learn, and dialogue on how the church can more effectively reach people in a growing, secular culture. During the meeting, more than 30 presenters shared tried and tested ways—often referred to as traditional soul-winning methods—to reach out to their communities, while others shared innovative, creative, and new approaches for how they engage their local community and church. . .

Read more:

AGP Visits the Crosswalk Church

Recently, our All God’s People team had the opportunity to visit Redlands, California, and speak with Tim Gillespie, lead pastor of the Crosswalk Seventh-day Adventist Church. During the interview, Pastor Gillespie spoke with us about how his church helps remote churches connect to Crosswalk. The satellite congregations reap the benefits from the programming at the main church. Learn more in this week’s All God’s People!

Learn more about Crosswalk:

More details in our All God’s People Bulletin! Want to stay connected to your faith community? Sign up today at:

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“The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” -Luke 6:45

2019-03-06T19:08:20-08:00March 6th, 2019|All Gods People|

La Sierra University Presidential Search

La Sierra University has embarked on a search for the next president of the university.

Following Randal Wisbey’s announcement in January of his plans to leave the office of the presidency effective June 30, the Board of Trustees began the search process for La Sierra University’s fourth president.

This important undertaking is guided by the university’s mission of seeking truth, knowing God and serving others, by its commitment to Seventh-day Adventist faith and values, and by the university’s long-range goals and ambitions.

As directed by the Board Policy Manual, the board chair has appointed a broadly representative search committee to guide this important work. The process is also guided by the Faculty Handbook section on Appointment of the President. The committee will communicate updates on its progress in this important matter.

Read more about La Sierra University Presidential Search

2019-03-04T13:18:02-08:00March 4th, 2019|News|

When Everyone Is Super

by Becky De Oliveira

My brother grew up under my rule. By both birth order and temperament, I ran the show, and my rules were exacting. My ambition was to be the military dictator of a small banana-producing island republic that I would rule with a gentle—but nonetheless iron—fist.

I practiced my skills on my brother with variable results. A generally laid-back and happy person, he went along with most of my schemes, but his very personality was sometimes a source of tension. He simply failed to take things seriously enough. If we were putting on a circus, for instance, he would wander in circles with his arms spread out—flying like Dumbo when his designated task was contortion. When the job was to constructan Indian village from woven grass, my brother would languish after just a few minutes, well before we’d even finished the outer wall that would protect the village from hostile neighboring tribes.

One summer when I was perhaps seven and he was about four, I organized a Regional Dog Show in the basement—the region in question being, apparently, our house. We had no actual dogs, so we used stuffed toys. I built pedestals for my dogs and arranged them first in alphabetical order and then from largest to smallest when I disliked the visual effect alphabetical order created. There was a dachshund, a Scottish terrier, a poodle, and a couple of others. I brushed each one carefully to make sure it looked its best. Bows were placed on heads. Tails were in some cases braided. The dogs were sprayed with my father’s Old Spice cologne. My brother, in spite of my constant nagging, seemed unable to get his dogs together. “Where are your dogs?” I banged away every two minutes or so. “The show is about to start!” This, I said, as if the time were dictated by an unseen authority figure.

At the last moment, my brother delivered his single entry. It was not a dog. It was what I will loosely term a “Valentines animal”—one of those stuffed toys that are roughly similar to an animal but not to any specific type and that are red and white and covered with hearts. This is not a color scheme or pattern that the careful observer will find replicated in nature. Obviously I was annoyed at his flagrant disregard for the dignity of the occasion, but I was also secretly pleased that my domination of the dog show was assured. There would be no last-minute upset, no appearance of a formerly unknown and splendid dog to steal my thunder.

Of course I hadn’t counted on my mother—the designated judge—and her boundless treachery. After a cursory stroll along the aisle, she took her place under the specially created banner stating “Regional Dog Show Champion” spelled out in glittery bubble letters and announced that the championship would go to the Valentine animal, which, if memory serves me correctly, did not even have a name. “What?” I shrieked, rising to my feet in protest and stamping one fuzzy-slippered foot on the orange shag carpet of our basement. “Forget the mangy look of the thing and the fact that it’s lying on its side. That’s not even a dog. How can something win a dog showwhen it’s not even a dog?”

Mom’s a little hazy on the details—the dog show has not featured as dominantly in her memory as it has in mine—but her explanation is that she was “probably” trying to make my brother feel better. “You were older,” she said, “and so you were better at everything. You rigged all the games and contests so that they played to your skills!”

The real truth is that she liked that “dog.” She found its appearance in an otherwise stilted and rather boring dog show refreshing.My brother’s flagrant action in tossing a shabby non-dog into the midst of this sterile environment was actually a work of—sort of—genius. It doesn’t always matter how hard you tried or how much you cared. Think of how many people have become famous for spectacularly bad performances on televised talent shows. How many famous paintings are denounced by critics who claim they “could have been painted by my cat?”

There are many complaints that children and young people are praised too much for “achievements” they haven’t earned. Everyone has to be a winner, people complain. This leads to narcissism and a sense of entitlement, with kids expecting gold stars for everything they do and responding poorly to critical feedback. This compulsion to put everyone at the same level, critics argue, creates an artificially flat society where those of genuine merit are not distinguished, while the mediocre is elevated to a level it doesn’t deserve. In the animated film The Incredibles,not only are the superheroes forced to pretend to be ordinary people but the villain, angry that some people should be super while he is ordinary, contrives to render the concept of “super” meaningless by providing the means for everyoneto be super. “And when everyone’s super,” he sneers darkly, “no one will be.”

But I kind of think everyone really issuper in their own way. Why not point that out, reward it? Every time I notice something special in another person and tell them about it, I feel this electric thrill that is better even than hearing that I am special. I can do a good thing in the world just by showing up and paying attention. Anne Lamott quotes this from the Jewish Theological Seminary, “A human life is like a single letter of the alphabet. It can be meaningless. Or it can be part of a great meaning.” The meaning comes when you see with fresh eyes and new appreciation for everything and everyone.

Becky De Oliveira is a teacher, writer, and graphic designer working on special projects for the Pacific Union Conference from her home in Colorado.

2019-03-01T16:33:01-08:00March 4th, 2019|Living God's Love|
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