• Connecting people to an abundant life with Jesus Christ and preparing them for His return


Pathfinders Find Leoni Fantastic!

Pathfinders Find Leoni Fantastic! 2000 1125 Ken Miller

October 6 – Pathfinders from our territory met at Leoni Meadows for their annual Camporee.

Over 600 campers from 35 clubs arrived for a weekend of spiritual renewal, fun activities, and work. Services were full of singing and praying, and the theme of the weekend, Live Love Now, was masterfully presented by Rudy Alvir, youth and young adult director of the Nevada-Utah Conference.

The Pathfinders marched in a parade with colorful banners and flags from around the world. In breakout sessions, many worked on new honors that included CPR, geology, and first aid. Other groups worked on camp renewal projects, including moving limbs into burn piles, spreading bark in the church bowl, and preparing old fence posts for future use. One of the highlights was when Pathfinders explored new camping areas that will be used annually for this and other events.

Eddie Heinrich, NCC youth and young adult director, stated, “We owe a big thank you to all the Pathfinders and their leaders that came and received a spiritual blessing and helped prepare Leoni Meadow as the future home of this event.”

Featured in Northern Lights, October 19, 2023

Pets and Products Pull Eager Locals to Lodi Campus

Pets and Products Pull Eager Locals to Lodi Campus 2000 1125 Ken Miller

For 78 years, the Lodi Elementary Pet and Hobby Fair has drawn community members to a Sunday of furry fun and shopping.

Students and visitors flooded the campus, checking out the farm craft store, playing games, and enjoying delicious food. A petting zoo provided giggling children with a lot of fuzzy fun. First responders and other community service organizations shared information from each of their pavilions.

Lisa Nuss, Lodi Elementary principal, explained, “This event offers the school many fundraising opportunities that directly benefit the kids. It also provides fellowship and fun between our school and our community.”

Karen Kanas, parent, and board member, stated, “This yearly event is a highlight for current students, families, and those who return year after year to relive the fun!”

Featured in Northern Lights, October 19, 2023

The Adventure of Cycling

The Adventure of Cycling 1923 1008 Ken Miller

October 1-Over 200 riders and 300 more family members and support staff turned out for the annual Adventurers Bike Derby.

Sacramento Adventist Academy’s (SAA) campus was alight with young cyclists waiting for the start signal while homemade food and drinks prepared by different Adventurer clubs excited the hungry visitors. And ride they did! Barry van Iderstein, NCC children and family ministry director, estimated the total miles ridden added up to over 1,000!

The SAA campus was complete with cook tents, rest areas, games, and weekend mechanics. With the enthusiasm of a Tour de France crowd, parents cheered riders as young as four and as old as ten.

The helmeted packs of riders took turns on the track, with younger riders out first and more experienced riders moving much faster. A third track was reserved for the riders on tricycles and training wheels. There was something for each bicyclist and tricyclist to enjoy.

Van Iderstein stated, “This event wouldn’t be possible without the extremely hard work and dedication of the Adventurer area coordinators, their families, and the help of several volunteers and SAA representatives. We are already looking forward to October 6, 2024, when the next derby takes place.”

Featured in Northern Lights, October 12, 2023

A Perfect Fall Picnic

A Perfect Fall Picnic 2002 1125 Ken Miller

NCC teachers, pastors, employees, and their children came out on Sunday, September 24, to the annual employee appreciation picnic held at Sacramento Adventist Academy (SAA).

Planned and organized by the NCC administration and staff, the shady schoolyard was festooned with culinary delights and activities for all ages. Carmichael Cougar Pathfinder Club provided enough corndogs and their secret recipe tartar sauce to please a baseball crowd. Sacramento Spanish Pathfinders offered an eclectic buffet of Mexican foods and salsas. Sacramento Slavic brought their food trailer serving варе́ники and налисники (pierogis and blintzes) complimented with gourmet ice cream and drinks.

NCC Youth Director Eddie Heinrich, son, Kyler, and SAA students enthusiastically monitored a sea of children as they frolicked in the bouncy house, the massive inflatable obstacle course, and the famous climbing wall. A fierce game of nine-square-in-the-air seemed to have no end as children jumped and hit the ball.

Pastors, teachers, and staff from as far away as Redding conversed and laughed, relaxed at picnic tables, enjoying the complimentary fare. Friendly conversations and kids’ laughter were intermixed with more competitive gamers bouncing from table to table, stirring interest in the softball game or pickleball court.

Marc Woodson, NCC president stated, “I want to thank our directors and staff that planned this event and worked tirelessly to make it happen. I also wish to acknowledge our NCC employees who connect people daily to an abundant life in Jesus.”

Featured in Northern Lights, October 5, 2023

El Dorado Salutes 9/11 Victims

El Dorado Salutes 9/11 Victims 2000 1125 Ken Miller

September 11—El Dorado Adventist School commemorated the 9/11 tragedy with a flag-raising ceremony and affirmed invited first responders from the El Dorado County area.

The school has remembered the victims for over a decade and celebrated local first responders. Principal Marty Sutton thanked Bonnie Daggett for “spearheading this event that provides unity between our children, the school, the church, and public servants.”

Invited local Sheriff, Police, and Fire personnel lined the school parking lot with their trucks as students led the group in raising the American flag, singing the national anthem, and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Jeff Leikauf, El Dorado County Sheriff, spoke of why it’s important to remember 9/11 and teach our children about it. “We are blessed to live in a country and a county that can come together in remembrance and unity. On that fateful day, we saw the residents of New York and a nation standing strong in the face of adversity and selflessness. It is important that our young people learn that a knowledge of history enhances the power to reshape the future they can be the light in the darkness and make the world a better place.”

After the service, students presented the assembled first responders with handmade crafts and care packages, each with a written thank-you. Marty Sutton, principal, stated, “Thank you go to our first responders for caring each day in service to our school and our community.”

One fire official remarked, “Events like these are why many join the ranks of public service. To serve the public and then go home and feel appreciated for their chosen jobs, nothing more.”

Featured in Northern Lights, September 21, 2023

Students Turn Ice and Sugar Into Aid For Maui

Students Turn Ice and Sugar Into Aid For Maui 1893 981 Ken Miller

On August 23, students, alumni, parents, teachers, and grandparents met at Pine Hills Academy to play and watch football.

The event, attended by Paradise Academy, Chico church, and players from several schools, provided an excellent opportunity for several enterprising students with servant’s hearts. Their goal was to raise money for victims of the Maui wildfires.

Students Kylie, Megan, and Audrey demonstrated passionate, hard work by selling shaved ice all morning to over 200 fans. Their efforts benefitted the Maui SDA education fund, and the proceeds were sent through the Hawaii Conference.

Sam Munoz, Pine Hills athletic director, stated, “It’s great to see young people coming together to have fun and support a cause. Our thoughts and prayers continue with our Ohana (family) in Maui.”

Featured in Northern Lights, August 7, 2023

Putting the Camp in Campmeeting

Putting the Camp in Campmeeting 1920 1000 Ken Miller

Roman Tsyganiuk, pastor of the Sacramento Slavic church, recently emerged from the wilderness. He humorously reported, “For almost all of July, I had to live in the forest.”

His task was directing the well-attended Slavic camp meetings held in weeklong sessions each summer near Forest Hill. For several weeks, different retreats serve families, a men’s group, youth, and Pathfinders. They all come to experience nature and worship together in their native tongue.

This year, during youth camp, young people from as far away as New York and Washington State came to make friends and worship God in nature. During the Pathfinder week, Tsyganiuk reported, “15 of the 50 attendees were new kids from our neighborhood that were not even Adventist!” During the family camp, community members who came by invitation committed to attending or becoming members of the Slavic and Ukrainian churches.

Tsyganiuk concluded, “The weeks we spend together create much positive interaction among members of our heritage. We thank God for this fantastic experience!”

Featured in Northern Lights, August 7, 2023

Racing Through Childhood

Racing Through Childhood 2000 1125 Ken Miller

The first time I laid eyes on little Nova, she was bolting from her kindergarten classroom, left arm adorned in a fresh pink cast, running like her chariot was on fire.

Her teacher had instructed me to prohibit any running. She flew past us, gaining speed, hurling herself over the three-foot retaining wall that separates the elementary school playground from the soccer field… And she just kept going. I thought to myself, “I like this kid already.”

My bond with her grew over the next five years until I became an auxiliary grandmother to her rambunctious family. They were not part of our SDA church, but occasionally, Nova attended church with us.

One summer, I invited them to my favorite place on Earth, Redwood Camp meeting. The casual, hundred-acre-wood style would be a comfortable introduction to worshipping our great God. Nova, her younger brother River, and their mother relished the cool, oxygen-rich air filtered by thousand-year-old Redwood trees. At Redwood, running is encouraged between the Christ-centered children’s programs.

During the invigorating morning classes, River learned about creation. He would find me in the Redwood office later and, with his newfound knowledge, quiz me on who made the giant trees and the sun and tigers and monster trucks and the mountains. I fielded question after question about where God lives, why we can’t see him, and how we talk to Him.

One afternoon, River returned to the question of who God is, paused, and then blurted out, “Oh! I met God yesterday!” I answered, “That’s so cool!” River continued, “You showed him to me in your office! His name is Ed!”, My amusement was growing, and I responded, “Who?” River squealed, “You remember? I asked if he was God… that guy named Ed. I think he is God because he was so nice!”

Ed just happened to be Ed Fargusson, assistant to the president of the NCC. Indeed, a lovely man who interacted with River that day he exploded into the office. But to no avail, no matter how many times I tell River that Ed is kind but not God, River continues to address God as Ed.

Halfway home from Campmeeting, the children’s mom called to ask if it was too late to enroll them in our local Adventist school. She stated, “I want my kids in a wholesome environment with kids like the friends they’ve made at Redwood Campmeeting.”

In the end, River, Nova, and even Nova’s best friend all started school on August 16th at our local SDA school.

Inviting our community to experience uplifting events like campmeeting, a potluck, or a school program can have resounding results both here and in Heaven. I am so grateful for our Adventist culture, exemplifying the love of God, commitment to family, and for connecting people to an abundant life in Jesus.

Featured in Northern Lights, September 14, 2023

The Public Face of Our Ministries

The Public Face of Our Ministries 2002 1125 Ken Miller

Northern churches are busy this summer! This can be seen and read on their Facebook pages, websites, and other social media. As part of the NCC’s path to organizational health, a premium is being placed on our churches, schools, and ministries to use their social media tools.

Laurie Trujillo, director of communication and development, states, “Online tools such as websites, Facebook, and Instagram are essential communication tools for our churches. When it comes to reaching the community, our members are only the tip of the iceberg of who we can reach. With social media, we can tell the stories of our ministries, post sermons, and invite communities into our churches. It is the public face of our territory.”

A quick look around the social media accounts of several churches reveals a telling of those stories pictured above, such an essential part of modern ministry and community relevance.

The Auburn church reported holding its first VBS in fifteen years, stating it was a blessing to their volunteers and the 35 children that attended. Across the valley, Pleasant Hill church just finished a week of hosting “Messiah’s Mansion,” a life-size replica of the Mosaic tabernacle that features hosts in period costumes that explain the tabernacle service and its relevance. At LIFE church in Berkeley, they reported” inviting neighbors to help plan activities for “National Night Out,” a nationwide event that encourages and promotes police-community relationships, neighborly activities, and safety. Redwood Campmeeting is chronicling the steps that volunteers go through disassembling and packing away each summer.

All of these stories are testaments to a mission-minded territory. In some cases, these churches and ministries have 1,500 to 3,500 followers who can interact with each story. What a fantastic opportunity and tool to spread the gospel, tell your stories, and reach your online viewers, connecting them to an abundant life in Jesus Christ and preparing them for His soon return!

Featured in Northern Lights, August 10, 2023

Surfing Trip Creates Unity

Surfing Trip Creates Unity 2000 1125 Ken Miller

The Carmichael church has facilitated a mid-summer surfing trip to Santa Cruz for nearly ten years, open to youth and parents.

About sixty surfers, primarily beginners, some experienced, from several churches and schools, attended this year. Even a few recently graduated seniors, and college students made the trek. The surfing, setting, and friendships are a strong glue that makes this trip memorable.

Benji Ferguson, Carmichael church associate pastor, and trip leader, stated, “This trip is super fun and provides a great bonding experience for kids in the summer. Events like this are more than fun; they are important to pastors, teachers, and parents to help connect the church with our young people.”

This spiritual connection is not lost on Sacramento Academy senior ­­­Simon Tache who stated, “Beyond the surfing and hanging out with friends, this trip is time for me to disconnect and reflect on God, nature and find a personal peace.”

Garrison Chaffee, PUC church associate pastor, remarked, “It’s refreshing to worship amidst God’s nature at the beach. Because parents are also invited, it offers a really cool intergenerational experience. We pray these experiences will pay long-term dividends, keeping our students tied to Jesus and their church families.”

Sometimes, when the waves are not big enough or don’t come at all, you can see groups of friends on their boards, linked together and having fun in the ocean. They laugh, splash each other, toss seaweed around, and even pretend to catch waves. But when a great wave comes, ten to fifteen of them paddle hard to catch it, surf it, wipe out, and cheer each other on. One parent watched this all afternoon and commented, “Bonding.”

Chaffee summed up the trip, “I love when youth groups get together because it builds relationships and unity between the students and our churches. It creates meaningful memories that will resonate in each person’s life and hopefully keep them returning to church.”

Featured in Northern Lights, August 3, 2023