As Thanksgiving approaches, we asked church members to describe what they are thankful for in the Northern California Conference.
Ben Villavicencio, Paradise church member and Paradise Adventist Academy freshman
I’m thankful for the church always being there for the community and the school during hardships and struggles—maybe not even one specific church, but the Seventh-day Adventist Church in general. After the Camp Fire destroyed most of my town, people were worried about where we would fellowship with other Christians, but the Chico church was right there to work with us and accept us in their loving community. And then COVID-19 hit. The Paradise church accommodated the California mandates, and we were able to worship outdoors “under the oaks.” It felt like we were back in church again.
Gene Sagaral, All Nations church of Elk Grove member and elder
I’m thankful for my church, the All Nations church of Elk Grove, because we stayed in close contact during the pandemic. Pastor Eleazar (Eli) Famorcan quickly mastered the intricacies and various features of Zoom. Assistance from his daughter, Dani, enabled him to easily host and personalize our interactive Sabbath worship service. I am thankful that All Nations had an opportunity to establish a cyberspace relationship with the American Canyon Fil-Am church, Pastor Eli’s other church. Together we even held a joint communion via Zoom! I am grateful that both churches bonded last year to jointly host online socials at Thanksgiving and Christmas, featuring musical and vocal talents given by God!
Cynthia Marin, North Highlands Spanish company member and planned giving consultant/trust officer in the NCC planned giving & trust services/property management department
I am thankful to my NCC church community because, in spite of COVID, I have been able to connect with God and my fellow brothers and sisters through many online worship services, seminars, and Bible studies at various churches, including Roseville, North Highlands Spanish, Gracepoint, Fairfield Spanish, and Crescent City. I also participated in an online women’s week of prayer with the North Highlands Spanish company. I enjoyed every service, and I felt happy and connected to God and my church. I believe that God is using social media platforms as a tool to bring the gospel to meet people where they are.
Kevin Hardesty, Rio Lindo Adventist Academy vice principal and athletic director
I’m very thankful to be a part of the NCC education team. We all know how trying the last 18 months have been, and it has been even more difficult as an educator. With the leadership of Superintendent of Schools Albert Miller, the teachers worked tirelessly to get acquainted with new methods of instruction and communication. Our teachers went above and beyond. I know my colleagues at Rio Lindo Adventist Academy spent a lot of their precious summer of 2020 learning as many tools as possible to make last school year the best it could be. They would hold evening classes so international students could join them live. They spent hours getting resources together and driving them to students’ houses. I’m sure teachers from other schools across our union have similar stories. We continue to see His educators working to teach His students.
Jenni Glass, Carmichael church member and Sacramento Adventist Academy school board chair
I am thankful for Sacramento Adventist Academy. Principal Matthew Jakobsons leads an amazing team of teachers, staff, and volunteers who minister to the students and their families. I am thankful that Jesus is the central focus of the school, and this is reflected in every aspect from academics to music to athletics. The Sacramento area is blessed to have this amazing ministry to reach families throughout the region. Every time I set foot on campus, I am blessed to be surrounded by an amazing group of people who love Jesus.
Brenda Brandy, Pleasant Hill church member and head NCC area Pathfinder coordinator
I am thankful that the Lord has given my husband and me the ability to help youth. We have been a part of the youth movement in our country for over 50 years. We like working with them because most of them are “real.” They let you know how they truly feel about an issue and suggest ways we can solve issues. We are so thankful that the youth trust us to know that we are with them and understand them wherever they are in their walk of life. We pray that the Lord will continue to use us as His witness to help others.
Jon Cicle, Orangevale church pastor
I’m thankful for our church’s audio/visual team. They put in extra hours and go to great lengths to make sure that our systems and equipment are functioning—helping us to minister to and worship with those who are unable to be at church in person. The team shows up to livestream, and they schedule extra recording sessions for music. During the pandemic, they figured out how to set up church outdoors so we could get together as often as possible. Their love for God and our church family and community is evident by their passionate commitment to service.