Pacific Union Early Childhood Education Workshop Highlights Collaboration and Accreditation

by Faith Hoyt, with Julie Yamada

Over 20 Pacific Union early childhood education (ECE) directors met together at the Ontario Airport Hotel in Ontario, Calif., this last November during their 2019 ECE workshop to focus on “Creating a Culture of Collaboration.”

Marie Alcock, president of Learning Systems Associates, presented a seminar for educators on understanding and shaping a school culture. Alcock also addressed personalized learning, brain-based learning environments, and instructional practices.

At the workshop, ECE directors became more familiar with the process of accreditation for early childhood programs during a training provided by Evelyn Sullivan, the North American Division early childhood education director. Many of the teachers attend local workshops or online trainings to help keep their Pacific Union Professional Achievement Recognition certificate and state permit up to date.

Workshops like these are hosted every other year to keep ECE directors updated on ECE Adventist accreditation, California ECE legislation, and childcare licensing regulations. Additionally, the workshop provides Adventist educators with resources and training to help young people on their journey to excellence. Recently, the Mauna Loa Preschool in Hilo, Hawaii, received the first ever preschool accreditation by the Adventist Accreditation Association (AAA). They also received a renewed accreditation from the National Council for Private School Association (NCPSA), who partner with the AAA on accreditation.

“Accreditation helps ECE programs meet a higher standard and gives recognition for the great work they are already doing,” said Julie Yamada, associate director of early childhood education at the Pacific Union Conference. “More Adventist preschools in the Pacific Union will soon go through this process.”

In the Pacific Union, 29 early childhood education (ECE) programs provide a safe and fun learning environment for over 1, 000 children ages 2-5. Of these programs, five ECE centers also care for infants ranging from 3 months to 23 months. Most ECE centers are located throughout California (25 total), and four operate in Hawaii. Many operate on the same campus as Adventist K-8 or K-12 schools—and some are found at local churches.

“ECE programs are important for children who enjoy a social atmosphere where they can learn from and play with peers,” Yamada said. “In our SDA programs, they learn about God and the Bible. They learn basic math concepts, language sounds and early concepts, simple science, and social and emotional skills.”

To look for an ECE program near you, visit: adventistfaith.com/education.

Are you an ECE Professional? Join the Pacific Union ECE Professionals Facebook Group.


Top of page: Some of the over 20 early childhood education directors from around the Pacific Union Conference work together on an activity that helps groups learn collaboration techniques. This and other activities were part of the 2019 ECE Directors Workshop. 

Photos by Julie Yamada


Pacific Union Conference early childhood education (ECE) directors meet together for the 2019 ECE workshop hosted at the Ontario Airport Hotel in Ontario, Calif. At the workshop, educators focused on “Creating a Culture of Collaboration” with main presenter Marie Alcock. Workshops like these are hosted every other year to keep ECE directors updated on ECE Adventist accreditation, California ECE legislation, and childcare licensing regulations. Additionally, the workshop provides Adventist educators with resources and training to help young people on their journey to excellence.



2020-01-10T17:14:24-08:00January 13th, 2020|News|

Volunteers Build 202 Sheds for Fire Survivors

by Julie Z. Lee

In November, Maranatha Volunteers International and the Paradise church celebrated the completion of an ambitious community outreach project. In just three weeks of intense activity, volunteers constructed 202 storage sheds (surpassing the initial goal of 200) for survivors of the Camp Fire, a devastating wildfire that destroyed the town of Paradise in 2018.

“It is a real sense of blessing to see what so many dedicated volunteers were able to accomplish in less than the original time allotted for this project. Each shed represents hope and a measure of love delivered to people that have experienced so much loss this past year,” said David Woods, director of North America Projects for Maranatha and construction coordinator for the project in Paradise.

The shed project, as it came to be called, was a joint effort between Maranatha and Love Paradise, an outreach organization of the Paradise church. The idea came about in early September, when Joelle Chinnock, director of development and disaster recovery for Love Paradise, heard about the need for safe, dry storage sheds for the 2, 000 plus people who had moved back onto their properties in Paradise. Most of the residents are living in trailers, with no place to store their personal belongings. In one situation, a woman on dialysis was having to store her medical supplies outside in cardboard boxes.

“I was thinking, let’s build a couple [sheds] in our parking lot, and get our local contractors and some church members, and we’ll be done,” Chinnock said. “But Garrison [Chaffee] remembered that Maranatha had stepped out right after the fire and called our church and said, ‘What can we come up and do?’” Chaffee is the associate and youth pastor for the Paradise church and director of Love Paradise. “So he put two and two together and made the call, and Maranatha was on board. They came up within a day or two of that phone call, and we met in the parking lot. And it was all thumbs up from there.”

The two organizations set the goal at 200 sheds, with the project scheduled to begin in November in hopes of providing the sheds before the start of the rainy season. Over the next eight weeks, Love Paradise rushed to secure funding from a variety of charities, corporations, and local businesses. They also worked with local leadership in Paradise to create an application process for recipients of the shed. In the meantime, Maranatha designed a shed, developed a construction plan, and recruited volunteers. Leadership also sought lodging for the volunteers—no easy feat given that Paradise is still essentially a disaster zone. Few places have running water or electricity. An attitude of flexibility would be a must, along with quite a few generators.

On November 5, 2019, volunteers from all over the United States began arriving in Paradise. Participants parked their trailers at Paradise Adventist Academy—which has been closed since the fire after suffering partial damage—or camped out on cots in the classrooms. Northern California Conference loaned the project a portable shower trailer. Two classrooms were converted into a kitchen and dining hall. Multiple generators were borrowed or purchased to power construction tools, kitchen appliances, and lights for the volunteers.

Across the street from the school campus, Maranatha established a construction site in the parking lot of the Paradise church, which had been destroyed in the Camp Fire, setting up an assembly line with stations for the base, walls, roof, and paint for each 10- by 12-foot shed.

The next day, the project was off and running, with approximately 80 volunteers and less than 100 applicants for sheds. Thanks to several reports on the project from local newspapers and news outlets, more than 100 volunteers arrived by the weekend. The number of applicants also began to soar. By the end of the project, Love Paradise had received more than 700 applications.

“Shortly after the first shed was built, the word spread through town immediately,” said Kyle Fiess, vice president of projects for Maranatha. “Everybody was aware that the Paradise Seventh-day Adventist Church was building sheds and giving them away. The media attention spread the news throughout Northern California, and pretty soon we had volunteers showing up to help from two to three hours away. Some of these people had never heard of Maranatha or were not familiar with the Adventist Church. And we used that opportunity to make friends with a large group of people that we would have never met otherwise.”

In total, 377 volunteers participated in the project, including several survivors of the Camp Fire who had lost their homes. Americorps, a federal service organization for 18- to 24-year-olds, sent a team of volunteers. Several members of Cal Fire spent a few days at the project. The neighborhood Lowes Home Improvement store not only offered discounts for materials but employees came by on multiple days with pastries, warm drinks, and gratitude for the volunteers.

By the end of the second week of the project, Love Paradise started delivering the first batch of sheds, thanks to the generosity of several organizations. With each shed weighing 2, 500 pounds, delivery was not a quick process. But it was certainly a joyful one—full of gratitude from the recipients.

“This shed means space, a little bit of freedom inside of my little trailer, a little bit of normalcy. I’ve been thinking all night long about what I’m going to put in it, stock in it. It really does mean a lot and I’m really grateful to everybody who’s helped put this together—the volunteers that have come from far and wide, out of state, that have helped build them and the volunteers that are bringing them and delivering them,” said shed recipient Andrea Hitt, a Paradise resident who lost her home in the fire. “We’re very grateful to Seventh-day Adventists and everybody that’s helped put this together.”

“This project was unique for us in many ways, but ultimately it was special because we had an opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of more than 200 families who are hurting. At every delivery we hear a story of why the shed is so important to the recipient. And every story makes you realize how desperately needed these sheds were. So we are grateful that we were able to help make this project a reality,” said Fiess.

Love Paradise and Maranatha are planning a second shed project for Paradise in April 2020. To donate or volunteer, check out loveparadise.net and maranatha.org.

Maranatha Volunteers International, based in Roseville, California, is a non-profit, Christian organization that organizes volunteers to build churches, schools, and water wells around the world. Established in 1969, Maranatha has constructed more than 11, 000 structures in nearly 90 countries and mobilized more than 85, 000 volunteers.


Top of page: Susie Fox, from Cottonwood, Calif., cuts pieces of the trim board for the sheds. Fox has been on multiple Maranatha projects around the United States, volunteering with her husband. 

Photos by Tom Lloyd


Maranatha volunteers celebrate the completion of 202 storage sheds for Love Paradise, an outreach ministry of the Paradise church. The sheds will go to survivors of the Camp Fire, a wildfire that devastated the town of Paradise in November 2018.


Rebekah Shepherd, from Roseville, Calif., paints the completed storage sheds. She works for Maranatha and took a day to volunteer on the job site.


Volunteers with AmeriCorps, a federal service organization, spent several days at the job site, helping on all aspects of the construction. They were already in the Paradise area, working on other projects, when they heard about Maranatha’s work and decided to help.


Ashley Gilmer stands in the trailer that has been her home for the past year. She lost her house in the wildfire. She has no storage, and most of her things have to be kept outside—including boxes of medical supplies for her dialysis.


Bonnie Ammon-Hilde, from Woodburn, Ore., cuts lumber for the Paradise storage shed project. Nearly 400 volunteers came from all over the United States to help build 202 sheds for survivors of the Camp Fire.


Lois Clark, from Ardenvoir, Washington, works on the roof of a storage shed. She was one of nearly 400 volunteers that helped to build 202 storage sheds for the survivors of the Camp Fire.


2020-01-08T14:18:45-08:00January 8th, 2020|News|

Jewish Ministries: Helping to Build Understanding

by David Gardner

Ellen G. White wrote, “When this gospel shall be presented in its fullness to the Jews, many will accept Christ as the Messiah.… God expects His messengers to take particular interest in the Jewish people” (The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 380-381).

David Gardner, director of Jewish Ministries for the Pacific Union Conference, has taken this “particular interest” very seriously. In September, he was appointed by the Union to serve in this position throughout its territory.

Currently there are 25 Jewish-Adventist congregations in North America and 56 worldwide. Gardner’s responsibilities include support of the two Jewish groups in our Union territory: a Russian-Jewish congregation in Glendale, California, and Beth B’nai Zion, a group of members of the Santa Barbara, California, church. He also offers the support of the Union in work with pastors and lay leaders to assess needs in major Jewish population centers and the feasibility of launching Jewish-Adventist groups through contextualized outreach, done in partnership with Adventist Global Mission.

In addition, Gardner assists in arranging special Jewish occasions at churches in the Union for educational purposes. Special guest speakers and programs are available through Shalom Adventure Magazine, Shalom Learning Center, and Christians Against Anti-Semitism—all Adventist organizations.

Gardner has worked for the church over 40 years and holds degrees in theology and education. He also holds a certificate in Jewish Ministries Leadership from Shalom Learning Center. This training equips him to appreciate Jewish history, culture, and religion to better work at building understanding and friendships that will lead to Jews accepting their Messiah.

Gardner also works to recruit students for Shalom Learning Center and a new masters’ degree program in Jewish studies at Andrews University. The vision for this degree arose as the Shalom Learning Center’s Alexander Bolotnikov saw an alarming increase in Adventists converting to Judaism in recent years.

“I decided I should learn what my heritage meant, because I was raised as a communist, not a Jew,” said Bolotnikov, a Jewish rabbi turned Adventist pastor with a doctorate in rabbinic literature. “So, I went to the yeshiva. When I became a believer in Jesus, the only Christian church I could join without compromising scripture was Seventh-day Adventism.”

“What I learned in the yeshiva has anchored me within Adventism,” he continued. “Thus, my dream developed of bringing together instructors and a curriculum that equips Adventists to interact effectively with both secular and religious Jews, while also addressing the attrition of our people to Messianic congregations and Jewish communities.”

The Jewish people are part of God’s family, waiting to be introduced to their Messiah. Jews and Adventists have many common beliefs, practices, and cultural traits that can open doors to friendships and acceptance of the gospel message.

Gardner described one such experience, a highlight of his years in ministry: “A Jewish physician requested Bible studies. When we came to the last study from the book of John, he asked, ‘I’ve accepted Jesus as my Messiah, but I’m a Jew. What am I?’ He beamed a smile of relief when told, ‘You ARE a Jew! A Jew who has found your Messiah.’”

Top of page: Dr. Alexander Bolotnikov, a Jewish rabbi turned Adventist pastor with a doctorate in rabbinic literature, reads from the Torah.


David Gardner, Director of Jewish Ministries for the Pacific Union Conference

2019-12-23T10:56:13-08:00December 23rd, 2019|News|

Fairness for All Introduced in Congress Press Conference held at Utah State Capitol

by Alan J. Reinach

Historic legislation protecting both religious freedom and LGBT rights was introduced in Congress in early December. Pacific Union Conference Director of Public Affairs & Religious Liberty Alan Reinach was on hand for a press conference announcing the bill in Salt Lake City, held there because the lead sponsor is Utah Congressman Chris Stewart. The Seventh-day Adventist Church is among the broad coalition of groups sponsoring the measure. Melissa Reid, from the North American Division PARL Department, represented the church at the press conference and delivered the remarks that follow:

“The Seventh-day Adventist Church applauds the Fairness for All Act’s balanced, principled approach for protecting both religious freedom and LGBT civil rights.

“Fairness for All simultaneously affirms our right to hold and act upon our biblical view of sexual identity and marriage and our belief that everyone is created in the image of God and deserves to be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect.

“It allows us the ability to honor Christ’s imperative to love both God and our neighbor.

“Religious liberty and the separation of church and state are longstanding principles of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Under these principles, we do not seek to impose our beliefs on others through the apparatus of the State or any other mechanism.

“At the same time, we assert unequivocally the right of the church and its members to express our faith and administer our institutions according to our biblical values and beliefs.

“The Fairness for All Act acknowledges and respects the historic and legally protected place religion occupies in society.

“It strengthens the protections for religious freedom in the workplace. And it shields LGBT individuals from discrimination in areas such as employment, housing, or public accommodations.

“The Seventh-day Adventist Church commends Congressman Stewart and the other bill sponsors for their commitment to freedom of conscience, and we look forward to the support of many additional members of Congress who value both religious freedom and LGBT civil rights.”

One of the truly remarkable back stories is that of Shirley Hoogstra, the president of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities, who had the herculean task of herding the diverse constituent member colleges and universities to support this measure. CCCU represents more than 180 institutions in the U. S. In her public remarks, Ms. Hoogstra said Fairness for All grew out of the question asked by leaders of the faith and LGBT communities of one another: “What do you need?” She contended that Fairness for All represents the best of how we do government in America.

Both Congressman Stewart and Governor Gary Herbert spoke, observing that Fairness for All grew out of a previous measure enacted in Utah in 2015 that has come to be known as the Utah Compromise.

Fairness for All is the latest in a long line of efforts to enact civil rights protections for LGBT rights. “Fairness for All provides the most comprehensive protections for both religious freedom and LGBT rights in the spirit of “live and let live,” Reinach said.

2019-12-20T11:10:45-08:00December 20th, 2019|News|

Pacific Union ASI Young Professionals Rally Held in Northern California

by Pat Arrabito

Sharing their energy and enthusiasm for God, 130 Seventh-day Adventist young professionals gathered on Sabbath afternoon and evening, Nov. 15, at the Northern California Conference (NCC) office in Sacramento, Calif.

The event was sponsored by the Pacific Union ASI (Adventist Laymen’s Services and Industries), an organization that brings together business and ministry for the sake of the gospel. NCC Young Adult Ministry helped to facilitate the event by providing social media advertising and securing the meeting location. Additionally, Pastor Daniel Garza advised with program planning. The group was welcomed by Ed Fargusson, assistant to the NCC president. Attendees included teachers, business persons, lawyers, entrepreneurs, at least one psychiatrist, a Kickstarter employee, a denizen of Silicon Valley, a professional fundraiser, several chefs, a filmmaker, a social media marketer, realtors, builders, a GLOW (giving light to our world) leader, several pastors, and many others.

Students of Weimar college and music teacher Erwin Nanasi opened the meeting with singing and a devotional time of sharing stories of Total Member Involvement—a weekly community outreach that has connected Weimar with their neighborhood and brought people to Jesus. Shue Vang, high school chemistry teacher and sponsor of the “Bread of Life Club” at his public high school, told the group of how 70 students have come to his club to read the Bible during their lunch break.

After the Sabbath hours were over, business education began. Randy Bivens, Weimar Institute Chief Operating Officer, talked about the importance of EQ—emotional intelligence—in the business world. Danny Kwon, executive director of Life and Health Network, gave a short and practical lecture on the process of starting a 501(c)(3) organization.

Supper was an example of young professionals in the business world. It was catered by Chef Chew, who feeds the hungry of Oakland in his vegan restaurant, and featured his own invention: delicious meat substitutes, which are now available at Whole Foods.

The rest of the evening brought more inspiration and education from Beautiful Minds, the psychiatric practice of Daniel Binus; John Huynh, who shared his story of successful fundraising; and Chef Chew, who shared his food journey and what God has done in and through him. Ostap Dzyndra of Build and Restore International talked about the ways in which mission trips help the volunteers as well as those who were helped.

The evening ended with an opportunity for young professionals to engage with mission, to connect with each other more fully, and to engage more deeply in God’s work in order to hasten the coming of Jesus.

Top of page: Young people from around Northern California and beyond sit together during the catered lunch at the ASI Young Professionals Conference. Photo: Patti Guthrie


Danny Kwon, executive director of Life and Health Network, spoke at the ASI Young Professionals Conference. Kwon gave a short and practical lecture on the process of starting a 501(c)(3) organization. He has worked with ASI self-supporting ministries for almost 20 years and has been instrumental in the legal formation of several ASI ministries. Photo: Pat Arrabito


Chef GW Chew, general manager of the Veg Hub restaurant in Oakland, Calif., catered a delicious meal that included his famous vegan “chicken” noodle soup and barbecue sliders. Chef Chew has been a vegan food inventor/restaurateur for over 10 years and was one of the speakers at the ASI Young Professionals Conference. Photo: Patti Guthrie


The ASI Young Professionals Conference room was set up for 99 attendees, but the event drew 130. Photo: Patti Guthrie


2019-12-11T16:06:47-08:00November 26th, 2019|News|

Pacific Union Public Campus Ministries Hosts Solidarity Project at UC Berkeley Campus

by Faith Hoyt

An Adventist Christian Fellowship (ACF) chapter of Public Campus Ministries collaborated on a project in late October that showed support and gave voice to survivors of sexual assault.

UC Berkeley’s ACF chapter, in partnership with UC Berkeley’s Path To Care Assault Crises Center, launched The Solidarity Project on their campus on October 22. The project created spaces for student survivors to write their stories on a wall—giving voice to their experience as a step forward in recovery. Assisting ACF and Path To Care in the project was the LIFE Adventist Church in Berkeley and the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, who sponsored this event in a demonstration of love, care, and solidarity with survivors during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Volunteering with ACF and Path to Care were seminary students from Andrews University, who spent the week providing a “ministry of presence” as they engaged with students about the topic of domestic violence.

“Every year, seminary students join us in reaching out to students on this campus,” said Ron Pickell, volunteer ministry coordinator for Public Campus Ministries in the Pacific Union Conference. Each autumn, Pickell leads a team of ACF members and seminary students in connecting with those on the UC Berkeley campus who have questions about God, faith, religion, and a variety of other topics.

“This year, we had many great conversations with the students who wrote on The Solidarity Project wall,” Pickell said. “We also had a spoken word platform, Thursday, on the Sproul Plaza, where students came and shared their messages with the campus.”

The Solidarity Project provided Berkeley’s ACF chapter and visiting seminary students with a thoughtful way to speak to important issues and encourage peers.

Photo Caption: ACF members and seminary students from Andrews University gather at The Solidarity Project information table set up on the campus of UC Berkeley in late October.

Top of page: ACF members and seminary students from Andrews University gather at The Solidarity Project information table set up on the campus of UC Berkeley in late October.


The Solidarity Project team stands in front of the wall set up for student survivors of sexual assault to write their stories.

Photos by Ron Pickell


2019-11-18T12:14:31-08:00November 18th, 2019|News|

Pacific Union Native American Ministries Co-Hosts Dental Clinic for Community in Page, Arizona

by Anne Crosby

God’s love was recently demonstrated through a group of dedicated volunteers in Page, Arizona. The Page All Nations church hosted a free dental clinic Sept. 23-25, attracting over 200 people in need of care. During the three days the clinic was open, approximately $200, 000 of free dental and dermatology services were provided. Patients expressed that they were overwhelmed by this gesture of love and service. 
The idea for the clinic came from Dr. Calvin Kim, a dentist and church member living in Washington state. Kim contacted Pacific Union Native American Ministries Coordinator Nancy Crosby about hosting a dental clinic for the community in Page, and soon after that a planning team formed. Each member was eager to make the event a reality. “God led, and through a series of events and much prayer, each detail fell into place,” Crosby said. 
On Sunday, Sept. 22, a mission group called F5 Challenge, together with volunteers from Build and Restore International, arrived ready and willing to help. The two groups comprised a total of 73 volunteers from across the United States and Canada who sacrificed time and money to serve. 
During their stay in Page, part of the group—which included licensed contractors and painters—roofed the church building and parsonage and repainted the church exterior.
The rest of volunteers set up a tent in the church parking lot and prepared to provide dental services starting at 9 a.m. Monday. The medical group grew beyond the initial seven dentists to include two medical doctors (one being a dermatologist), three massage therapists, and several nurses.
The tent was packed with patients each day, and many patients needed multiple procedures. The dentists offered extractions, fillings, x-rays, and more. Additionally, patients received medical advice and screening, were offered counseling with the pastor, and could meet with the Bible worker. The event generated interest in church services, and approximately 40 requests were made for Bible studies. 
On Tuesday, Sept. 24, Kim and another dentist gave a presentation on oral health and hygiene to 183 second graders at a local elementary school. Staff at the school said it was the best talk on oral health ever presented there. 
Volunteers at the clinic observed that although the patients seemed nervous and distrustful at first, smiles began to break out as people left the tent with their needs met. One Navajo grandmother remarked, “This is some of the best dental care I have ever received. Not only did they do x-rays and clean my teeth, but they also filled three cavities and replaced a crown.” Another woman told a volunteer that she had been embarrassed about her teeth, but now she felt respected and was happy to learn better ways of maintaining oral hygiene. A young Navajo father said, “I have always been afraid of dentists. But these dentists are so kind.” 
Many patients traveled from hours away to attend the dental clinic because of the scarcity of quality dental work on the reservation. Another obstacle is that the cost of dental services in Page is often too expensive for many local residents. The Page All Nations church is grateful that they could fill this urgent need. “We hope that this event positively impacted this community and that residents saw God’s love through each volunteer,” Crosby said.

Top of page: A husband and wife from Tennessee work as a dental team at the free community clinic hosted in Page, Arizona, in late September. The clinic was co-hosted by Pacific Union Native American Ministries—and a total of 73 volunteers from across the U. S. and Canada showed up to help. Photo: Miguel Manzo


The core team of people who made the dental clinic possible (left to right): Danny Kwon, attorney and executive director for Life and Health Network; Calvin Kim, dentist and founder of F5 Challenge; Randy Meyer, executive director of Caring Hands; and Nancy Crosby, Pacific Union Native American Ministries director. Photo: Miguel Manzo


While volunteers helped at the dental clinic, additional volunteers with Build and Restore International worked on reroofing the Page All Nations church. Photo: Michael Johnson


A volunteer pauses for a photo while helping re-roof the church in Page, Arizona. Photo: Michael Johnson


2019-11-14T11:19:05-08:00November 14th, 2019|News|

Native American Camp Meeting Hosted in Southern Utah

by Nancy Crosby

November is Native American Heritage month. The Pacific Union is home to more than 1.2 million Native Americans. Much of the Navajo Nation lies within the Pacific Union.

One of the highlights of the year is the Native American camp meeting. Nevada-Utah Conference held the annual Native Camp Meeting from September 6 to 8 in Southern Utah. The weather was beautiful for the event.

Dr. Winston Craig was the guest speaker for the camp meeting. Craig spoke on nutrition and diabetes prevention. On Sunday, volunteers prepared a delicious meal of Navajo tacos for lunch.

“Many people enjoyed the fellowship and time at camp meeting,” said Pastor James Crosby of Kayenta. “Everyone pitched in to make the camp meeting happen. Local community people even came to help set up the tent and attended some of the meetings.”

Top of page: Three Navajo church members stand together for a photo at the annual Native American camp meeting hosted by the Nevada-Utah Conference.


Church member Betty Greyeyes makes Navajo fry bread for attendees of the Native American camp meeting hosted in Southern Utah.

All photos by Thomas Lloyd


2019-11-04T11:49:20-08:00November 4th, 2019|News|

Oak and Acorn Author Lectures at Los Angeles Adventist Forum

by Faith Hoyt

The Los Angeles chapter of the Adventist Forum hosted Oak and Acorn author Gilbert Valentine on the last Sabbath of September at the Glendale City church.

Valentine, a recently retired professor of leadership and administration in the School of Education at La Sierra University, is the author of five books, with more on the way. His book, The Struggle for the Prophetic Heritage: Issues in the conflict for control of the Ellen G. White publications 1930-1939, was re-published by Oak and Acorn Publishing in 2018.

At the forum, Valentine spoke about coming across correspondence between General Conference president Charles H. Watson and William C. White, Ellen White’s son, while researching another topic. The nature of their correspondence prompted him to delve deeply into the relationship between the White Estate and the General Conference—and ultimately led him to write his book.

The book follows the events that played out between the White Estate (then located at Elmshaven, in California) and the General Conference after Ellen White’s death in 1915. According to Valentine, these events reveal how “tensions develop when roles of authority are not clearly defined.” His research follows the decisions that eventually clarify the understanding that Ellen White’s writings and inspiration belong to the church as a whole.

Valentine’s book was originally published by the Institute of Inter-disciplinary Asian and Adventist Studies at what is now Asia-Pacific International University in Thailand. The third edition of The Struggle for the Prophetic Heritage was published by Oak and Acorn Publishing, an initiative of the Ministerial Association and the Communication & Community Engagement Department of the Pacific Union Conference.

“Often we have relied on ‘travel brochure’ versions of our church history,” Valentine said. “Glossy, shiny, no one ever gets hurt. People are real people, and there have been conflicts and difficulties, but we have worked through them. The Lord has guided.”

To learn more about Valentine’s book, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Struggle-Prophetic-Heritage


Gilbert Valentine is the author of The Struggle for the Prophetic Heritage: Issues in the conflict for control of the Ellen G. White publications 1930-1939, reprinted by Oak and Acorn Publishing in 2018.

Photo: Faith Hoyt

2019-10-23T09:55:30-08:00October 21st, 2019|News|

Maranatha Celebrates 50 Years of Mission Service

by Julie Z. Lee

On Sabbath morning, September 21, Don Noble stood before a crowd of more than 2, 000 people in Sacramento, California, welcoming them to the 50th anniversary celebration of Maranatha Volunteers International. Behind him, a massive globe spun on a screen, showcasing the thousands of locations where Maranatha has completed a project. In total, Maranatha has built 11, 229 structures and more than 1, 000 water wells in 88 countries. The numbers are impressive, but they weren’t the focus of the weekend.

“The story of Maranatha is a fascinating story,” said Noble, president of Maranatha. “Each one of you probably has your own. It’s a fascinating story of people; it’s a story of miracles.”

These stories were at the heart of this year’s annual convention, which focused on Maranatha’s five decades of service. Established by a small group of friends in 1969, Maranatha has grown to be an international organization that has mobilized more than 85, 000 volunteers on short-term mission trips to build churches, schools, and other urgently needed structures around the world. Many of these volunteers have returned with powerful stories of transformation, and several were highlighted during the three-day event, held September 19-21.

Among the stories was the testimony of Laurelie Hillebert, a mother from Redding, California. Hillbert lost her daughter to illness but found new meaning in the tragedy while on a family mission trip to Zambia. Dominique Garcia, a college student from Houston, Texas, shared her challenge with an eating disorder and talked about how mission trips have helped to bring healing. Jack and Neoma Wisdom, from Paradise, California, told of their narrow escape from last year’s Camp Fire, where they lost everything but found grace and gratitude in God’s mercy.

The program also featured Adventist church leaders from countries around the world, including Cuba, Kenya, Peru, and India. They shared how Maranatha’s involvement changed the landscape of the Adventist church in their countries, including an increase in membership.

“Sin and the fall have brought a lot of inequalities in the economic life, social life, political life, and even the spiritual life [of Kenyans], and Maranatha came in to fill the gaps, and we are very grateful for that,” said Samuel Makori, president of the Adventist church in eastern Kenya. “God has seen the work in Kenya change tremendously ever since Maranatha came in 2016.… We want to say, may the name of God be praised.”

Other events during the weekend included free seminars related to missions, a special anniversary dinner, and a Maranatha History Museum, which highlighted memorabilia and key moments in the organization’s history. Leading up to the convention, Maranatha also organized major renovation projects in August and September at three institutions in the Pacific Union: Pacific Union College, Rio Lindo Academy, and Leoni Meadows Christian Camp and Retreat Center. There are 24, 000 Maranatha volunteers and supporters in the Pacific Union alone—more than half of Maranatha’s current membership.

During the weekend program, Marc Woodson, Northern California Conference president, acknowledged the work Maranatha has done in the Pacific Union and around the world to further the gospel commission.

“Thank you. We are very proud of the fact that you are not only celebrating 50 years of ministry but 30 years with your home base in the Northern California Conference,” said Woodson, who has been on multiple Maranatha projects. “May God continue to bless this ministry. We recognize that’s it not really about building buildings. You all have been building lives.”


Main photo: More than 2, 000 people attended Maranatha Volunteers International’s annual convention, in Sacramento, California. This year, the program celebrated Maranatha’s 50th anniversary and focused on God’s leading in the mission organization.


Ricardo Graham, president of the Pacific Union Conference, welcomed the congregation on Sabbath morning. Graham, who has been on a couple of Maranatha mission trips, said, “I congratulate Maranatha Volunteers International, and we ask God’s richest blessings as you continue to reach the world until Jesus comes.”


Sixteen-year-old Shanti Slater, from Forbestown, California, spoke of her experience in Kenya on the Ultimate Workout, Maranatha’s project for teenagers. Shanti says she found God on the mission trip and was baptized. “One of the main things I learned about God is that He wants to come into everyone’s life.”

All photos by Thomas Lloyd


2019-10-16T16:11:20-08:00October 16th, 2019|News|