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


Vacaville School Wings Ornithology Project

Vacaville School Wings Ornithology Project 2000 1125 Ken Miller

April 9- Students and teachers from the Vacaville school showed compassion when encountering a bird’s nest filled with abandoned eggs.

To ensure the safety of the nest from cars and pedestrians, they immediately surrounded it with traffic cones. Unfortunately, predators managed to snatch some of the eggs while leaving others behind within a day. Without hesitation, the students rescued the two remaining eggs, and with help from Principal Nancy Matthews, and teacher’s aide Danielle Porep-Hoath, a plan was hatched.

Finding a perfect teaching moment, Matthews and Porep-Hoath started to learn more about egg care and laughingly remarked, “We relied heavily on ‘Dr. Google’, and from there, we winged it!”

The students were taught about bird incubation and how the feathered parents keep eggs warm. Older students were assigned to rotate the eggs throughout the day using an artificial incubator purchased for the rescue. They also learned how backlighting an egg could reveal intricate internal structures and the growing bird within.

Finally, the day arrived, and everyone in the school was overjoyed to witness the arrival of two adorable goslings.

Matthews stated, “This experience created homework assignments and observation skills beyond count. We even learned that Canadian geese are very receptive to fostering chicks that aren’t their own.” Porep-Hoathnoted, “We found several nests within the Putah Creek area and placed the goslings in a likely home. A mother goose quickly accepted the newcomers, and off they floated into the water. We expect a long life for our birds!”

Featured in Northern Lights, May 18, 2023


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April 26-The Paradise Prayer Warriors team achieved first place at the Pathfinder Bible Experience in Florida.

The competition is commonly called the Bible Bowl, where 130 Pathfinder teams of up to six members compete. Each team memorizes a book or two of the Bible assigned for the event and answers related questions. The questions increase in difficulty with each round of the competition. A team must secure first place in their area, conference, union, and division-level events to reach the finals.

The Paradise team, consisting of four returning members and two new members, put in a lot of effort during their weekly meetings and occasional Zoom calls to learn the book of John and prepare for the Florida competition.

One of the new members, Joshua, stated, “It was hard to memorize in the beginning, but with Quizlet, it got a lot easier.” Another team member, Eden, said, “I think it was much fun. It was a good way to motivate me to memorize my scriptures, and I like how it got me to be with my friends more.”

Terry Parsons, Pathfinder leader, stated, “We’re hiding God’s Word in kids’ hearts, and even after a year, they remember those verses. Working together and quizzing each other strengthens the team and the Pathfinder Club.”

Featured in Northern Lights, May 11, 2023

Creative Dating Film Wins Award

Creative Dating Film Wins Award 2048 1365 Ken Miller

April 13- A film titled Advance Preparation, submitted by students from the Paradise Academy photo and cinematography class, won the Best High School Short award at the Sonscreen Film Festival.

The 14-minute story follows a student enlisting the help of classmates to plan an excessively elaborate way of asking a girl to a banquet. Teacher Caleb Rasmussen remarked, “The students who made the film and attended Sonscreen saw that the community of Adventists who are skilled, enthusiastic filmmakers are larger than they expected. They realized that there is a path for them to pursue filmmaking as a career—including at Adventist colleges—and to use the art of film to serve God.”

Megan Taylor, whose son Adin worked on the film, enthusiastically stated, “My son has immersed himself in the class and subject. When he attended the Sonscreen event, he was surprised that filmmaking wasn’t as secular as he thought. He came back knowing a clear path by which he, as a Christian, could make community-relevant Christian.”

Junior Haiden Shoemaker, director of the film, said, “Being able to make a film in high school with the opportunity and ability to win an award at Sonscreen was amazing. The photography and cinematography class at PAA is one of the best opportunities a high schooler interested in film can take.”

Featured in Northern Lights, May 4, 2023

Servants’ Hearts Showcased In Dominican Republic Neighborhood

Servants’ Hearts Showcased In Dominican Republic Neighborhood 1918 1006 Ken Miller

During spring break, the NCC youth ministries department sponsored a mission trip to the Dominican Republic (DR) that combined Pathfinders, Yuba City Church and School members, Lodi Academy, and Adventist volunteers from Kansas.

Trip leader Eddie Heinrich, youth ministries director, stated, “Our group grew as a result of several mission trips that were canceled or redirected for various reasons.”

The workers, 63 in number, descended on Santo Domingo, where the heat and humidity were met with positive attitudes and excitement. Karen Kanas, trip co-leader, posted on social media, “It’s much hotter today, but we got a good night’s rest, and everyone is having a good time! Did we mention the food is AMAZING?” This spirit would continue the entire trip.

The local Adventist members gained a sturdy church for worship and community service through the team’s passionate, hard work. Lauren Johnson, a parent, explained, “This building was larger than the standard Maranatha church plan and included complicated window shapes that took more time. But we tackled each obstacle as a team with grittiness and much laughter. By the last day of the trip, the walls were completed up to the roof line.”

While the construction team mixed mortar and laid block, another group, led mainly by the students, provided vacation bible school for the local children. This team assisted with crafts and other activities for 100 children daily. Costumed players acted out popular Bible stories while others translated the acts into Spanish.

Led by Tom Sanders, an accompanying optometrist, vision checks and care were offered to community neighbors. Kanas exclaimed, “There was a line of people down the street for the eye services, and over 600 pairs of glasses were distributed to the eager townspeople. God mightily blessed our efforts to minister in this country.”

Various mission trip veterans mentioned how this group integrated with the local congregation more than they had ever seen before. One worker stated, “The local congregation was such a lovely group! We were blessed to join them in this effort to expand their church presence and make a community-relevant impact.”

Heinrich laconically summed up the trip, “Blocks were laid, eyes were checked, and Jesus was shared with the kids and community that live near the island church—there is no better way to spend spring break than doing ministry.”

Featured in Northern Lights, May 4, 2023

Efficient Teamwork Speeds Echo Ridge Gym Rebuild

Efficient Teamwork Speeds Echo Ridge Gym Rebuild 2000 1125 Ken Miller

In the aftermath of Echo Ridge’s gym collapse from snow, progress is being made towards rebuilding.

According to Patty Osborne, principal, “Our treasurer Russell Malott has shown passionate, hard work to secure three bids for the demolition and asbestos removal. Those bids have been forwarded to the conference property management team for approval.”

Richard Magnussen, director of property management, praised Echo Ridge’s team for a professional-level job. “They provided quotes from qualified and vetted contractors, one of whom we have approved for the work.”

Laurie Trujillo, director of communication and development, stated, “After seeing five disasters in our territory, I’m seeing everybody involved in the Echo Ridge project come together and working efficiently and effectively. It has been wonderful working with Russell. He is knowledgeable and professional and passionate about his school.”

Echo Ridge School relied heavily on its gymnasium for sports, housed several classroom-related areas, and for funding from the rented space.
Osborne continued, “The gymnasium was significant in teaching our students. It was also a community builder for our school. I appreciate our volunteers and the property management department’s dedication to rebuilding quickly.”

Donate here to become a player on the Echo Ridge Gymnasium rebuilding team.

Featured in Northern Lights, April 27, 2023

Journeys Of Pain, Joy, Service, and Excellence- Our Ten Women Pastors

Journeys Of Pain, Joy, Service, and Excellence- Our Ten Women Pastors 2062 1125 Ken Miller

By Laurie Trujillo

These ten women are making history and playing a vital role in connecting people to an abundant life in Jesus and preparing them for the Second Coming. We wish to recognize and celebrate their critical role in the Northern California Conference serving as pastors or ordained ministers. Sonia Cartwright is in the process of earning her Master of Divinity from Andrews University.

What is your favorite Bible verse?

They come from all walks of life but share a common and inspirational journey that centers on God. They shared some of their journey with us, opening my eyes to what it takes to be a female pastor. Here are some excerpts:

“What I strive for in life and ministry is stated in 1 John 4:12-13, ‘No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.'”

“I love Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ God has often used this to quiet my heart when things are tense. It reminds me that God hears and cares for me and that His peace transcends understanding.'”

“Proverbs 3:5-6, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.’ This is the formula to success in life, and it provides the answer when you don’t know what to do.”

What was your journey like? What challenges did you overcome?

One pastor stated, “All the pastors I knew were male, and I did not initially think women could be pastors. I did not question the system. I simply accepted it.” Although this pastor felt a call to serve and was given the talent to minister, it took a person she respected and admired to nudge her into her calling.

Another recalled, “I remember God extending the invitation to serve my sophomore year in college, but it took me years to answer the call.” She had to escape her “selfish perspective of thinking that I had to be perfect to be a pastor.”

Not only did these pastors have to overcome personal challenges, but they also had to face public pressure not to answer the call. They were bullied, called names, and laughed at when people found out they wanted to be a pastor.

One of our pastors explains the experience well, “It was hard getting past some of the comments people made discouraging me as a woman going into ministry. Ultimately, I had to look to Jesus and stay focused on him. Jesus is the One that has kept me standing in ministry.”

What is different about being a female pastor/leader vs. a male pastor/leader? Advantages? Disadvantages?

One pastor clearly explains, “There are, unfortunately, many issues that come up. In addition to the struggles of maintaining a successful mentor relationship with male colleagues, I have been stalked and told that specific dress colors make it difficult to look at me while preaching.”

Another pastor wrote, “I think being a female pastor is difficult because many leadership skills needed are considered ‘not feminine.’ For example, some members are uncomfortable with my decisions because they feel they are not lady-like.”

However, our women pastors feel the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. One pastor wrote, “In my experience, I can meet with women my male colleagues feel uncomfortable with.” Another describes, “There are church members who feel more comfortable opening up to a woman than a man, and so I hear stories that would have never been told otherwise.”

All our pastors agree that they get an overwhelming sense of joy when a person connects to Jesus and begins living an abundant life. They enjoy walking alongside individuals and families, learning their stories, and ministering to their needs.

If a young girl wants to be a pastor and leader in ministry, what advice would you give her?

“The same advice I received, ‘If there is anything else you want to do…do that.’ You won’t make it if you don’t believe you are called to minister. If you answer the call, practice self-care and connect with a mentor. Learn to lovingly say no, invest in your friends and family, and keep up with your hobbies, exercise, and take vacations!”

“Fully surrender your heart to God first. Let God hold and protect it. Your heart will break if God isn’t your priority in the tough moments that will surely come. Likewise, your heart will get prideful in the good moments if you aren’t focused on God.”

“As a woman going into ministry, I would double down on your identity in Christ. We, as women, struggle with our identity. As a blossoming leader, many people will try to shape you into what they think a woman leader should be. But when you are fully aware of who you are, in Christ, you can embrace your calling and not be swayed by other people’s thoughts and opinions.”

“Learn to recognize God’s voice. Remember, God is with you always and has a purpose for you. You are a daughter of God first and foremost, and never lose that dignity.”

Wrap Up

Women pastors have made history and continue to shape our story in the Northern California Conference. They have been called into ministry, and God has gone out before them. God has broken down obstacles so that they can be more effective in spreading the gospel. Their gender is an asset to connect with those who perhaps would have gone untouched. And their journey is inspiring.

Let’s celebrate all our pastors, especially recognizing and appreciating those women God calls to serve and lead!

Featured in Northern Lights, April 13, 2023

Pathfinders Cycle To Puerto Rico And Back*

Pathfinders Cycle To Puerto Rico And Back* 2000 1125 Ken Miller

April 2- Northern California Pathfinders gathered at the foot of the Sierra Buttes mountain range for a day of cycling.

Eddie Heinrich, pathfinder, and youth ministry director beamed, “It was amazing how after a brutal winter, the weather cooperated! The sun was out, the temperature perfect, and it was an outstanding day.”

190 riders donned helmets and mounted bicycles to raise money for their clubs. The course, a straight one-mile road up and back, was divided down the middle, and riders moseyed, cruised, or zoomed up and back all day. For one rider, fifty-three laps sealed a 106-mile record of the day.

Another 200 attendees, including parents, leaders, and club cooks, provided tasty treats, including the ever-popular corn dog, cotton candy, pupusas, and potato tacos. Benji Ferguson, associate pastor of the Carmichael Church, stated, “I’ve been to many bike-a-thons, but this one definitely had the best food court! Riding bikes was fun too.”

Heinrich concluded, “Our Pathfinders rode more than a combined 7,000 miles in support of their clubs, which serve the youth of their respective churches and community. I am very proud of each rider, parent, leader, and club participating.”

* Comparative total miles ridden

Featured in Northern Lights, April 6, 2023

Adventurers’ Adventure At Leoni

Adventurers’ Adventure At Leoni 2000 1125 Ken Miller

January 27-29- The English language version of the annual Adventurer Family Fun Weekend was held at Leoni Meadows after being postponed in October. The same event in Spanish was held in November without a hitch.

This year’s theme, He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands, gave NCC Adventurers and their families a weekend of international cultures, languages, food, and games. More than 85 people attended from all over the conference.

Leoni staff opened the Leoni House Museum, where the children were delighted to find a perfect layer of snow, making it possible to sled down the hill in front of the meadow in spectacular weather!

Chef Ed and cafeteria workers went above and beyond to prepare a special kid-friendly menu.

Barry van Iderstein, director of children and family ministries, said, “I am so amazed by the perseverance and kindness I have experienced at Leoni Meadows. The camp’s willingness and creativity are examples of their passionate hard work that never ceases to impress. Leoni’s team is a huge blessing.”

Featured in Northern Lights, February 2, 2023

Adventurers Go International

Adventurers Go International 1807 956 Ken Miller

Recently, 39 families from Adventurer clubs around the conference spent the weekend at Leoni Meadows.

Todo el Mundo en Su Mano Está – He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands was the theme for the Spanish language 2022 Adventurer Family Fun Weekend. Families worshipped God and engaged in activities teaching International Studies, the Olympics, and Country Fun; subjects that are part of the SDA Adventurer curriculum.

Barry van Iderstein director of children and family ministries said, “It was a huge blessing to host this annual event again after the pandemic derailed it.”

The English-language event which was postponed due to a power outage at Leoni Meadows will be rescheduled soon.

Featured in Northern Lights November 10, 2022

Pathfinders: Empowering Youth

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Article published in the October Pacific Union Recorder

Click here for pictures and story

Featured in Northern Lights • October 20, 2022