Pacific Union “All God’s People,” May 1, 2020 S4:E17

In this week’s episode:

—Adventist Community Services Focus—
Adventist Community Services is the focus for the month of May. And what better time to highlight what our local churches and schools are doing to reach out to their communities than right now!

—Charlotte Oh’s Mask-Making Spreads Hope in Central California—
12-year old Charlotte Oh, from the Santa Maria SDA church, is doing something special to reach out to her community! Hearing from her parents about the challenges healthcare professionals were facing in her hometown, she decided to use her free time to sew face masks for those in need. She’s been providing masks for local medical professionals and her fellow church members at Santa Maria Church, AND she has also begun to receive requests from Marian Regional Medical Center; the Santa Maria Filipino Community Center; Nipomo Family Dentistry, and the Kumon Center in Orcutt. When she makes her deliveries, she includes a hope-filled GLOW tract in addition to her gift! Changing the world, one mask and one Glow tract, at a time. Thank you, Charlotte!

Learn more about what’s happening in Central Calif.:

—Escondido Adventist Academy Teacher Hosts Zoom Gathering on Sabbath Mornings for Students—
When stay-at-home orders separated teachers and students, Escondido Adventist Academy’s 4th-5th-grade teacher Valerie Blue had an idea. “Our principal helped me get started on Zoom,” she said, “so I invited my students to our first meeting of ‘Sabbath Blessings with Mrs. Blue.’ We’ve enjoyed it ever since and have met each Sabbath.” From 9:30-10:00am, teacher and students visit together, read Bible verses, share what the verses tell them about God, and share prayer requests. Then they are dismissed so that students can join their own church’s planned worship services online. What a great idea to connect with students on Sabbath mornings!
Learn more about EAA:

—El Monte Vietnamese Church Feeds Community—
One of the most exciting community outreach initiatives we’ve heard about during the pandemic has come from El Monte Vietnamese church in Southern California. Pastor Vinh Nguyen and his team have set aside a monthly budget to help 200 people in the community with food. Not only that, they’ve helped with rent for those struggling financially. The church has partnered with a local bakery that provides 100 free baguettes each week and grocery stores that give discounts on rice and noodles. Volunteers pick up the food and distribute it to families in El Monte.

Learn more:

—For All His Goodness—
It’s exciting to see and hear how our churches are continuing to develop ways to carry on the work of Christ in our communities! The needs and opportunities to serve don’t stop because the church building is closed, or if circumstances prevent the membership from gathering. Working with Elder Brad Newton, who serves as both Executive Secretary, and as the Ministerial Secretary for our Union, and Elder Ray Tetz, who is the director of our Communication & Community Engagement Department—our All God’s People Team put together a bonus video about the importance of our continued support for our local churches during this critical time. Stay tuned for the Spanish version, which will be available next week.

Watch online:

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In Romans 5 it says, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 5:5 NKJV)

2020-04-30T19:24:13-07:00April 30th, 2020|All Gods People|

For All His Goodness

Worship happens whenever we lift our hearts to God. The AdventistGiving program enables your worship to include your faithful return of tithes and offerings. It enhances the mission of the church and carries a blessing for you and for your local church.

For more information, go to or ask your pastor for more details.

What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? —Psalm 116:12, NIV

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Produced by the Pacific Union Conference

Learn more about each of our seven conferences via the links below:

Arizona Conference

Central California Conference

Hawaii Conference

Nevada-Utah Conference

Northern California Conference

Southeastern California Conference

Southern California Conference

2020-04-29T21:05:47-07:00April 29th, 2020|All Gods People|

It’s Usually Darker Under a Street Lamp

by Rajmund Dabrowski

Living in Colorado continues to be engaging and full of wonder for me, offering the awe of nature and the discovery that neighbors here are not as aloof as those we’ve encountered in other parts of the world.

We live in a blue-collar neighborhood among nice neighbors. We’ve discovered that a barter economy is well accepted—my wife grows lavender and other fragrant flowers; in exchange, we get jars of honey from two neignbors living next to us.

The neighbor across the street is a down-to-earth woman who often wears a gray T-shirt with “Proud Atheist” written across the front.

One day, I saw Beckie tending her front yard as I was about to mow our lawn. Already knowing her well, I greeted her with, “Hello, atheist!” She looked up and responded with a wide smile and the greeting, “Hello, Christian!”

Since then, we’ve bonded over our philosophical differences, respecting each other’s diversity of worldviews. We’ve talked about her reasons for not believing in God and my belief in the Absolute, who actually loves her too.

Over the years, we’ve talked about politics, saving the bees, and our common disdain for Nazism and hate speech. She and her husband warned us that we should expect snow in April and should not plant vegetables before Mother’s Day. We have exchanged books and discussed ways of making our neighborhood a better place to live. We’ve also argued, exchanging comments that reveal opinions not easily resolved. One day, she commented that she would love to see more Christians who are kind. “You are kind,” she said.

Something in her past took away the Christian light and put her on the road of disbelief. We have a wide terrain to traverse, I believe. If anthing, practicing kindness and living love will move us all closer to the center to which we can always return as children of God.

Life in America, along with many other countries around the world, has changed with the sudden arrival of the coronavirus scourge. What has changed in my neighborhood is that now we talk while keeping a safe distance between us.

A couple of days ago, my wife received a text message from Beckie: “I am going shopping. Is there something I can get you?” Her unsolicited offer gave me pause.

Nothing seems to divide us, I thought to myself. In the era of a common enemy, diverse opinions, opposite worldwiews, cultural differences simply do not matter. What is left is our humanity. We are in this together—believers and unbelievers. We are all in darkness about where this pandemic situation will lead us and when we can start rebuilding what is being lost day after day after day.

If you wonder about my beliefs, I am an irreverent purveyor of hope, and I believe that my convictions are well lit. Being a child of Light, I know the road and where it leads me.

Reflecting on our current predicament, an experience etched in the recesses of my memory came to mind—a situation from my Warsaw childhood. It was evening, and I watched two people looking for a lost object. Our family lived on the second floor of a building that before WWII was a mansion owned by an aristocrat in the city center. I was lucky to have a room with a balcony, and I could watch city life on full display.

These two people were under a lamppost, walking slowly in circles, their heads bent downward, encouraging each other to search more slowly and to be more focused and thorough. “This is where it slipped from my wallet. It’s black and we won’t see it easily,” I heard the woman remark. They were lucky that their loss happened on a well-lit paved street. But it seemed that they were in the dark nonetheless.

A common, comical allegory came to mind, making perfect sense. It’s usually darker under a lamppost.

“Did you lose your keys here?” a policeman is said to have asked an inebriated man. “No, but the light is much better here,” the man answered.

There can be plenty of darkness under the light. In the era of COVID-19, our thoughts can easily push us into a realm of doubt. Is anxiety, along with fear and despair, the fruit of darkness?

Anne Frank offers a thought: “Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”

When my faith is lived out, I will be blessed unknowingly. One person at a time.


Rajmund Dabrowski is director of communication for the Rocky Mountain Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Denver, Colorado.


2020-04-26T10:19:35-07:00April 27th, 2020|Living God's Love|

Adventist Health Responses to Coronavirus, Supports Communities in Midst of Crisis

By Adventist Health, with Randy Speyer, Mary Parra, and Faith Hoyt

As the spread of coronavirus began impacting communities on the West Coast, Adventist Health made the safety of patients, associates, and physicians their top priority. The hospital system’s highly trained infection prevention practitioners closely followed the guidelines of the CDC and local public health departments. Adventist Health also kept close contact with federal, state, and local agencies to ensure that physicians, staff, and patients received the best possible care.

In addition to their response to the safety of those working and receiving care in their hospitals, Adventist Health also launched several resources for both medical and spiritual care to support their communities during the COVID-19 crisis.

Adventist Health acquires Blue Zones as part of transformation into catalyst for overall community health and well-being

Adventist Health announced in early April that it has acquired Blue Zones®, a pioneer in taking a systemic and environmental approach to improving the health of entire cities and communities. The organization’s work in over 50 communities across America has been credited with double-digit drops in obesity, smoking, and Body Mass Index, achieving millions of dollars of savings in healthcare costs. This revolutionary move by Adventist Health comes at a time when public attention is especially focused on the interconnectedness of our health to that of our friends and neighbors in the face of the coronavirus crisis. Post-pandemic, a focus on improving and strengthening community and public health will be more critical than ever as communities across the nation and globe navigate recovery.

“Adventist Health has always believed in creating environments of belonging and easy access to healthy lifestyles, and we also know that the future of healthcare goes beyond the role of traditional hospitals by investing in our communities to improve people’s overall wellbeing,” Adventist Health President and CEO Scott Reiner said. “Adventist Health’s work with Blue Zones represents the future of healthcare and is a major component of our plan to redefine the role of health organizations across America and strengthens our commitment to inspiring health, wholeness, and hope.”

Learn more at:

Adventist Health launches COVID-19 virtual assistant and symptom checker

To serve the community’s needs and protect staff and the community, Adventist Health clinics in Fort Bragg, Willits, and Ukiah began offering virtual visits to provide uninterrupted care in early April. Through on-demand virtual visits, using video and audio through a computer or mobile device, patients now receive medical guidance and get care without leaving the comfort and convenience of their homes. Virtual visits are vital to cope with the growing surge in demand for medical services—and have kept health workers and patients safer. Instead of sitting in a waiting room, patients can see their doctor from home, using video from their computer or device.

Learn more at:

Higher Grounds virtual event provides spiritual care for Adventist Health associates

In an effort to provide spiritual and emotional support, relevant medical and health information, and creative opportunities for connection, Dr. Jeff Egler, medical director and provider for Inspire Health Center, and Dr. Randy Speyer, mission director for Adventist Health Roseville, launched Higher Grounds on Friday, March 20. This daily virtual event is 30 minutes long and is moderated by Joe Morrell, administrative director of the Inspire Health Center. It was designed to provide a safe place for associates to ask important questions related to their physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being. In addition, practical resources are provided and there are opportunities for participants to share creative solutions to common challenges—as well as stories of courage and hope.

Higher Grounds is a way for associates to learn from each other about the strategies and lessons learned thus far in this current crisis. Topics have included: COVID-19 guidance and resources, building healthy immune systems, managing structure and boundaries working at home, and nutrition. Daily participation has averaged around 200, with many responding that the mix of physical and mental health support is just what they need. Higher Grounds puts great emphasis on the unwavering values of openness, authenticity, inclusivity, and prevention.

Photo—top of page: Dr. Randy Speyer, mission director for Adventist Health Roseville, launched Higher Grounds in late March as a way to provide spiritual care virtually for Adventist Health associates.


Higher Ground, hosted by Adventist Health, is a daily 30-minute virtual event moderated by Joe Morrell, administrative director of the Inspire Health Center.


2020-04-24T10:30:13-07:00April 24th, 2020|News|

ACS Responds to Pandemic; Union-wide Efforts Bring Aid to Communities

By Faith Hoyt, with Marquis D. Johns, Rocio Reyna and Cynthia Mendoza

With the announcement of stay-at-home orders for those living in the Pacific Southwest and across the United States, churches operating Adventist Community Services began adapting their operations to safely serve their areas.

“The compassionate Adventist Community Services volunteers across all five states of the Pacific Union Conference continue to serve their communities even in the midst of this worldwide pandemic,” shared Charlene Sargent, ACS director for the Pacific Union. “They have found innovative ways to distribute much-needed food, water, and other supplies, while following CDC guidelines to keep themselves safe and prevent spread of the coronavirus.”

Southeastern California

As the nation adjusted to a new normal—social distancing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic—the Southeastern California Conference (SECC) continued with a norm of its own: helping four ACS federations and their respective churches to serve their communities. In order to assist people who have lost their jobs, several churches are participating in a “drive-by food distribution” operation, a new modality for safe food distribution.

Though the shelter-in-place mandate closed churches, the essential nature of food distribution was recognized, and churches could open solely to continue to conduct this much-needed service.

SECC churches in Orange County—including Anaheim Sunkist, Costa Mesa Spanish, Orange County Grace, Fullerton, La Habra Spanish, Emmanuel Spanish, and McFadden churches—have continued their food distribution programs and, as of mid-April, distributed a combined total of 55, 000 pounds of food.

“As we work through the COVID-19 pandemic, the community services departments of the Southeastern California Conference are committed to continuing to do as much as we possibly can to help hurting people in our churches’ communities,” said Marquis Johns, ACS director for the SECC.

Northern California

Northern California churches also opened their community service centers with food pantries to distribute food and daily necessities. One church was featured by Good Day Sacramento, which aired their mid-March visit to the Carmichael church food bank where they interviewed Pastor Keith Jacobson. The church started a drive-through food bank utilizing younger volunteers from their church and community.

Other NCC churches like Valley Community Church in Stockton are using their church van to deliver food and items to those who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

“We have more than 20 churches that are actively engaging in community outreaches right now,” shared James Lim, ACS director for the Northern California Conference. “Other churches are distributing food to the needy community with precautions in compliance with social distancing measures.”

Central California

Across California’s Central Valley, similar ACS efforts are taking place. “Churches have been very creative about the ways that pastors and food pantry ministry leaders are assisting their communities,” said Antonio Huerta, ACS director for the Central California Conference. Huerta reports that approximately 33 churches are actively involved in serving their communities through drive-through food pantries that comply with social distancing regulations.

“Pastors have shared stories of the families they are connecting with,” Huerta said. “Our churches are serving and are extremely glad to help.”

Southern California Conference

The Southern California Conference (SCC) Adventist Community Services (ACS) has approximately 31 existing food programs at local churches; however, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an even greater need.

The $25,000 food pantry grant from the NAD has enabled the conference to help meet those increased needs. The grant covers food and protective supplies such as masks and gloves.

Safety protocols were put into place to ensure the well-being of volunteers and community members—including the initiation of drive-through delivery, in which recipients pop open their trunks and volunteers place the food boxes inside.

“In some communities people are very dependent on our food programs,” said James Lee, executive vice president for the conference, who also oversees ACS. “Some of the programs, which were serving 90 to 100 families weekly, are now serving close to 200 families.”

Arizona Conference

The Arizona Conference ACS oversees 11 food distribution centers, mainly at churches and a few other locations associated with the church.

Arizona Conference also received a $25,000 NAD food pantry grant, which has allowed them to meet increased needs. Six of the 11 centers have transitioned to a drive-through delivery method to help ensure the safety and health of volunteers and community members.

The Camp Verde church, a small congregation of 70 members, received an added blessing when National Guard troops assisted with packing food boxes.

“These centers see approximately 60 to 450 families a week, depending on the location,” said John Schachinger, Planned Giving and Trust Services and ACS director for the Arizona Conference. “In rural locations we are serving more people than in other areas.”


In the Hawaii Conference, volunteers have been helping feed the homeless and assisting other church members by dropping off food boxes on their doorsteps.

There are currently nine active ACS food banks in Hawaii, which serve anywhere from 20 to 200 people weekly, depending on need. ACS is also working closely with the state as part of a larger overall crisis response.

“We are all working together to make things happen,” said Jerry Mota, ACS director for the Hawaii Conference. “They have been very supportive. Working with the state is just one piece of the puzzle.”

Given their unique geographical and weather conditions, as well as natural disasters such as tsunamis, Hawaii Conference ACS also works closely with the state in terms of disaster preparedness and response.

Nevada and Utah

In the Nevada-Utah Conference, churches in West Jordan, Salt Lake City, Provo, and Quincy, as well as Centers of Influence, are involved in safe distribution of food and homemade masks. The masks are distributed to nursing homes, hospitals, and those on the front lines.

Additionally, area coordinators are encouraging local churches involved in ACS to collaborate with Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), a coalition of organizations involved in disaster-response related work.

“We are currently contacting the other SDA congregations to determine if ACS is established in each congregation and if they are connected to Utah’s VOAD,” said Linda Walton, area coordinator for Utah and a member of the Provo church. “Congregations are small and spread out, but it is a very important network for both the church and other disaster and community service organizations.”

NAD Grant for Local Conferences

In mid-April, the North American Division Adventist Community Services announced their investment of $1.5 million in grant monies for conferences in the NAD. Conferences who submit grant applications will be designated $25, 000 for relief efforts.

Pacific Union conferences such as the Central California Conference have applied and received this relief funding from the NAD to help provide food to their communities.

To learn more about ACS in the Pacific Union Conference, visit

Photo—top of page: Young adults from OC Grace church run their church’s ACS “drive-by” food distribution. Their team is led by Cristina Alba, Tiffany Vo, Nathan Smith, and Zaidy and Obed Olivarria.


Volunteers from the Anaheim Sunkist church set up for their ACS “drive-by” food distribution. “The new method of food distribution ensures that both those serving and those being served adhere to the established safety and social distancing guidelines mandated by state leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic,” shared Marquis Johns, ACS director for the SECC.


2020-05-20T13:50:45-07:00April 24th, 2020|News|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” April 24, 2020 S4:E16

In this week’s episode of All God’s People—

—Education Sabbath, April 25—
Every April, the North American Division hosts Education Sabbath. Today you’ll find Adventist schools in nearly 150 countries. 85,000 teachers, 1.5 million students, 7,500 schools—the Adventist school system is one of the largest Christian educational systems in the world. Learn more about Adventist Education via the links below.

—Redlands Adventist Academy Teacher Transforms Teaching Space—
God continues to bless His people in ways we could never have imagined before—and the stories from our schools and local churches reflect that fact. We couldn’t be more proud of how our teachers and students are working and studying under the most unusual circumstances in living memory. And they’re all getting very creative.

In Southeastern California Conference, Justin Hansen, high school science teacher at Redlands Adventist Academy, has transformed his wood shed in the back yard into a classroom with chalkboard walls and multiple angles for filming. And the students are loving it! Way to go, Mr. Hansen!

Learn more about Redlands Adventist Academy:

—Sustainable Farming at Holbrook Indian School—
The good people at Holbrook Indian School are accustomed to responding to unique challenges, and we’ve been so inspired to see how they’ve responded to the coronavirus pandemic. One Holbrook Indian School initiative that’s been so helpful during these times is the farm. It was established with the focus of holistic education through sustainable farming. A part of that initiative is Garden-to-Plate, where students help to grow, harvest, and prepare organic produce. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the HIS Farm continues to provide produce to the surrounding communities and HIS staff. The school is also continuing students’ education via online and mail-in packets. The Holbrook staff looks forward to continuing the special projects that the farm and students were working on—and, when quarantines are lifted, welcoming their students back to campus.

Learn more (and watch the video):

—Placerville Seventh-day Adventist Church Women’s Ministry—
During the past few weeks, the Placerville church women’s ministry (and friends) sewed 1,700 face masks and donated them to a variety of county agencies and members of their community. Recipients included the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, a newborn intensive care unit, several substance abuse recovery facilities, a maternity home, senior services, and more.

The sheriff’s office posted pictures on its Facebook page with a message: “A very grateful and special thank you to the Placerville Seventh-day Adventist Church Women’s Ministry for their donation of masks … The box of orange, yellow, and red masks is headed to our jails, where our correctional staff is working diligently to keep themselves and those in their care safe from COVID-19.” What an awesome way to reach out to your community, Placerville church!

Read more from Northern California Adventists in Action:

—Adventist Health BlueZones—
News from Adventist Health – on April 8, Adventist Health announced that it had acquired Blue Zones®, a pioneer in taking a systemic and environmental approach to improving the health of entire cities and communities. This revolutionary move by Adventist Health comes at a time when public attention is especially focused on the interconnectedness of our health to that of our friends and neighbors in the face of the coronavirus disease crisis. Read the entire article via the link below:

—Loma Linda Academy’s Virtual Choir Sings Unclouded Day—
Loma Linda Academy’s Pro Musica is the school’s premier choral ensemble comprised of thirty-eight high school students. Until recently, they’ve traveled regionally, nationally, and internationally. Now, they’re appearing virtually from their own homes. Dr. Brenda Mohr, director of choirs, described this project as a “labor of love.” It was created for the livestream Easter Sabbath worship service at Loma Linda University church and took many hours of creating, compiling, and editing. Dr. Mohr chose “Unclouded Day” because it’s a song of hope—Hope in the coming of the Lord and that soon the “Covid Cloud” will be lifted. Thank you, Loma Linda Academy!

Watch the music video:
Learn more about Loma Linda Academy:

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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

2020-04-23T15:28:49-07:00April 23rd, 2020|All Gods People|

BFFs in Times Like These

by Connie Vandeman Jeffery

BFFs (Best Friends Forever)—what would we do without them? For me, whether they live back East or in Las Vegas or in Washington State or right here in my own state, I’m blessed to call a whole lot of women my BFFs. I hope they consider me one of theirs.

I was reminded of the importance of best friends when I received an email from Bonnie last week. She had read a blog I wrote about my mom and a memorable road trip we took when I was 12 (Unto These Hills). In the midst of our state-mandated stay-at-home orders, Bonnie took the time to remind me about our moms’ friendship—Mary Iversen and Nellie Vandeman.

“When you talked about your mom and the trip you took with her, I couldn’t help but remember how much my mom loved her,” she wrote. “I think they coined the term BFF!”

“They were BFFs long before it was an actual thing,” I answered. And I remembered what a great friend my mom was and what a terrific friend Mary was to her. Long before emails and mobile phones and social media, my mom kept in touch with her out-of-state BFFs with long phone calls and multiple pages of single-spaced typewritten letters. She used carbon paper and made copies of each letter to keep for her files.

Mom was a prayer warrior friend long before that was a thing, too. She’d get on the phone and pray with her friends. She started a book club with her friends who lived near us and whose husbands worked at the General Conference with my dad and Bonnie’s dad, J. Orville Iversen.

The women were having so much fun at the book club gatherings that sometimes they invited the men along for a Saturday night get-together that had nothing to do with books. The women brought waffle irons and the men donned aprons and peeled fresh peaches and whipped real cream for homemade peach waffles. And the laughter. There was so much laughter.

I discovered that being a good BFF had a lot to do with sharing food, fun, prayer, and great conversation. In the times we find ourselves living in, we are perhaps feeling isolated from our families—work families, church families, and often our own families. These are the times for all the BFFs to step up and reach out. Maybe we can’t share food, at least for a while. But we can share prayers and great conversation. We can reach out by phone, by text, by social media. We can have a Zoom prayer call and share video messages of love and support.

I’m grateful that Bonnie reminded me of our moms and about being BFFs in times like these.


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.


2020-04-17T16:49:46-07:00April 20th, 2020|Living God's Love|

Pacific Union “All God’s People,” April 17, 2020 S4:E15

In this week’s episode of All God’s People:

—April Education Issue of Recorder Magazine Printed and Mailed; Special Thanks to Pacific Press—

There’s a reason why your Recorder is late—and an even better reason why we are receiving it at all! Our communication team loves collaborating with the Education Department on the Annual Education issue of the Recorder—and this year is our 3rd Annual issue. The Recorder was already printed and in the stitching machine at Pacific Press when the “stay-at-home” order was issued in Idaho. We were so fearful that it would not be mailed for weeks.

We were making plans to share it online only this month, and we were even facing the prospect of an online-only May issue when our friends at Pacific Press received the necessary permission to continue printing with a scaled down staff maintaining social distancing. The Recorder was the first thing that they finished up once they were able to re-open under the new restrictions.

We are so pleased and grateful that the magazine is in your homes or on its way! And a very big “Thank You” to our partners at Pacific Press for all they’re doing during this critical time.

Recorder Online:

Pacific Press:

—Adventist Health Resources for Coronavirus Preparedness—

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Adventist Health has launched a very helpful symptom checker on their coronavirus preparedness page. It is easy to use, includes the most reliable and up-to-date information, and will help you with any questions you have about your own health during this time, or the health of your family members and those you love. And it is available in both English and Spanish. Links to this resource are below:

—Pacific Union Churches Live-Streaming Services—
Is your church live-streaming their services? So many of our pastors and churches are working hard to bring the worship experiences right to our homes through zoom meetings, teleconferencing, social media, and good old-fashioned phone calls. We are trying to keep the list that we publish up-to-date—so if we missed your services, please let us know. The link to the conference by conference listing is below:

—Interview with Newbury Park Adventist Academy Senior—
This week I had the opportunity to speak with Gisselle Asij, a senior at Newbury Park Adventist Academy. You may remember that Gisselle was a guest host on All God’s People last October following the annual Student Leadership Retreat at Leoni Meadows. She’s the ASB president at Newbury Park and was really looking forward to her senior class trip and graduation. Watch the full interview in this week’s episode, or learn more about Newbury Park Adventist Academy via the link below.

—Leoni Meadows Reaches Out to Housebound Neighbors—
One afternoon a week, Leoni Meadows food service director Ed Elsner makes bread for housebound people in nearby Grizzly Flats. So far, he’s given away more than 150 loaves. In early March, before Californians were ordered to shelter in place, the camp placed a large food order. When the scheduled group was unable to come, the camp donated all the perishable items to those in need through a local church. “The Leoni staff realize, now more than ever, how important it is to be a helping hand to our community,” said Executive Director Craig Heinrich.

More news from the Northern California Conference:

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In Matthew 6:11 Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” And it was not just for bread, the food. Bread was a powerful symbol of God’s provision for His people in the Old Testament. We can trust that our heavenly Father continues to make provision for our daily needs.

2020-04-17T13:32:31-07:00April 16th, 2020|All Gods People|

Versacare Grants Support STEM Programs in Pacific Union Schools

On March 6, 2020, Versacare Foundation, a self-funded, independent private foundation that exists to support ministries of the Seventh-day Adventist church, awarded $1,435,000 in grant funding to 189 Adventist primary and secondary schools across the United States and Canada in support of STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)—$285,000 of which was awarded to schools in the Pacific Union Conference.

This was Versacare Foundation’s fifth successive year funding STEM grants, and this marked the third consecutive year it funded every school that applied for a STEM grant.

The STEM grant program has provided funding in three categories: $5,000 for smaller schools of three classrooms or less; $10,000 for larger schools of four or more classrooms and 12-year schools; and $10,000 for senior academies.

“We have heard from smaller schools that their $5000 STEM grant is helping them retain students that would otherwise go elsewhere,” said Tom Macomber, president of Versacare. “That is a huge bonus when our objective all along has been to assist the schools by enhancing their ability to teach STEM subjects, and that assistance is helping keep their doors open. The lesson for me is that STEM education is vital, both for teaching skills the students will use the rest of their lives but also for keeping our schools competitive when compared to the local public schools.”

The many uses of STEM funds include the purchase of classroom smart boards, tablets or Chromebooks for student use, equipping or updating student computer labs, installation of 3D printers and related software, initiating or funding robotics programs, instruction in software coding, the equipping of chemistry, physics, and biology labs, and more.

Through 2020, Versacare Foundation has provided 417 schools with a total of $3,260,000 in STEM grant funding. After funding nearly half of all Adventist primary and secondary schools across the NAD with STEM grants, Versacare Foundation has ended its STEM school grant program and for 2021 will focus on funding STEM training for teachers. For more information about Versacare Foundation’s grant program, visit

Below is a complete list of the Pacific Union Conference schools funded in 2020:

Arizona Conference
Cochise SDA Christian School, $5,000
Prescott Adventist Christian School, $5,000
Central California Conference
Hollister SDA Christian School, $5,000
Peninsula Adventist School, $5,000
Sierra View Junior Academy, $10,000
VHM Christian School, $10,000

Hawaii Conference
Mauna Loa School, $5,000
Hawaiian Mission Academy Ka Lama Iki, $10,000

Nevada-Utah Conference
Fallon Adventist Christian School (Nevada), $5,000
Summit Christian Academy (Utah), $10,000

Northern California Conference
Echo Ridge Christian School, $5,000
Foothills Adventist Elementary School, $10,000
Hilltop Christian School, $10, 000
Napa Christian Campus of Education, $10,000
Orangevale Adventist School, $10,000
Pacific Union College Elementary School, $10,000
Paradise Adventist Academy, $10,000
Pine Hills Adventist Academy, $10,000
Rio Lindo Adventist Academy, $10,000
Westlake Seventh-day Adventist School, $5, 000

Southeastern California Conference
El Cajon SDA Christian School, $5,000
Hemet Adventist Christian School, $5,000
La Sierra Academy, $10,000
Mesa Grande Academy, $10,000
Murrieta Springs Adventist Christian Academy, $10,000
Oceanside Adventist Elementary, $10,000
Redlands Adventist Academy, $10,000
Victor Valley SDA School, $5,000

Southern California Conference
Antelope Valley Adventist School, $10,000
Glendale Adventist Academy, $10,000
Newbury Park Adventist Academy, $10,000
San Diego Academy, $10,000
San Fernando Valley Academy, $10,000
Simi Valley Adventist School, $10,000

La Sierra Academy is one of Versacare’s 2020 grant recipients. The academy, together with the Greater Riverside Chamber of Commerce and the Southeastern California Conference, celebrated the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony of their brand-new STEAM Lab (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.

Photos: Finny Parchamento

2020-04-15T12:21:03-07:00April 15th, 2020|News|

Holbrook Indian School Adapts Distance Learning to Meet Students’ Needs

By Faith Hoyt, with Diana Fish

Schools across the Pacific Union Conference adapted their method of instruction delivery over spring break and resumed classes via online instruction in early April. Among the schools making the switch to online learning was Holbrook Indian School (HIS), whose student population faced specific challenges with the transition to distance learning. The challenges, which include significantly less access to the internet, prompted teachers at Holbrook to take additional steps to support students during the stay-at-home order.

On March 25, the Navajo Nation issued a stay-at-home order, and on March 30th, the governor of Arizona announced that all schools will be closed through the end of the school year. For HIS, distance learning presented specific challenges to their students.

“There are many ways in which we interact with our students—classroom, Sabbath School and church, counseling, dorm life, Bible studies and mentorship, our student work program, mealtimes, and much more,” said Pedro Ojeda, HIS principal. “Our teachers, mentors, and counselors met and worked out plans to continue to provide as many of these activities and programs as possible. Only about 20 of our 72 students have access to the internet. This makes moving all learning to online mediums less effective.”

To meet the needs of their students, Holbrook teachers mail packets with weekly assignments to students’ homes and call each student to address questions and give instruction. Google Classrooms were set-up for students who have internet access. Additionally, counselors provide students with video or phone sessions. Mentors reach out to their mentees via email, phone, and social media to stay connected and help assess their needs, and the school posts photos and videos on social media to engage and encourage students.

They didn’t stop there, however.

“One mentor found out that their mentee’s family did not have enough food,” Ojeda said. “So, they bought and delivered groceries to the family. Other mentors’ video call their mentees to pray with and encourage them.”

Although HIS students are not on campus during the stay-at-home order, the school continues to run some of its operations, including the farm, maintenance, building projects, as well as the feeding and care of the school’s horses. The school custodian sterilized the campus so it will be ready when students return.

Click here to learn more about HIS and how you can help their students during this time.

Photo—top of page: Michelle, Holbrook Indian School music teacher, delivers her students’ homework for the week.


Veronica, Holbrook Indian School office manager, arranges envelopes for the students’ school packets that are sent out weekly.


2020-04-14T13:01:07-07:00April 14th, 2020|News|