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

Church Growth/Evangelism

Carmichael VBS a Bustling Circus of Activity

Carmichael VBS a Bustling Circus of Activity 3989 2531 Ken Miller

Each summer, many churches in our territory offer Vacation Bible School. The annual community outreaches are a testament to faithful tithe givers and generous donations.

The Carmichael Church Vacation Bible School (VBS) has a rich tradition of serving community children while enriching the lives of youth and adult volunteers. Recently, junior high and high school students gathered daily to teach, share joy in singing, and worship with over 100 younger children.

Youth pastor Benji Ferguson highlighted their program’s dual benefits: “Our VBS allows both youth and adult church members to invite neighborhood families to our church for a fun and edifying experience. It’s also a great opportunity for our volunteers to tap into their spiritual gifts by decorating rooms, learning storylines, acting, and disciplining every child entering their station.”

Associate pastor and VBS coordinator Melissa Howell expressed her pride in the Carmichael team: “Every day, VBS is a joy, a blessing, and a bustling circus of activity. I couldn’t be more proud of the event we put on.” This sentiment was echoed by many youth volunteers. Sophomore Kian exclaimed, “I love working with the kids and being part of why they are having fun.” Freshman Melody added, “I love how excited everyone is to learn about God.”

The summer tradition’s positive and welcoming atmosphere attracts a diverse audience, including a single father who had just moved to the area with his two young children. After seeing the outdoor sign on the church lawn, he brought his children every night.

Ferguson concluded, “It is a privilege to teach and learn from our volunteers. They understand the church’s mission to serve the community, and each uses their creativity and talents to show God’s love. I can’t wait for VBS next summer!”

Did your church have a VBS program this year? Take our short survey and tell us about it!

Featured in Northern Lights, July 11, 2024

Granite Bay Serves Panama

Granite Bay Serves Panama 1600 1200 Ken Miller

In April 2024, over 250 members and friends of Granite Bay Hilltop church, set out for the beautiful country of Panama for a weeklong mission trip.

The Panama mission project focused on three lines of ministry, including medical and dental Clinic, 2) Church Building Projects, and 3) Pastoral Training and Capacity building. The busy week would conclude on Sabbath with a gathering of SDA church members from around the country.

The medical and dental clinic, a collaboration between the Panama Union, Ministry of Health, Granite Bay leaders, and the Holy Spirit, served 1,750 patients over four days. Each day, healthcare professionals and auxiliary staff arrived to find hundreds of patients waiting to be seen. The healthcare team expressed their joy to serve and cited Christ’s words in Acts 20:35, “‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

During the team’s time in Panama, two major church-building projects were carried out on the outskirts of Panama City. The projects would provide infrastructure and invaluable support to local communities. Volunteers remodeled a church in time for the first Sabbath service and laid the foundation for another church.

For two consecutive days, volunteers and the NCC pastoral staff at Granite Bay Hilltop church provided training to 150 pastors and church leaders from various parts of Panama City. In addition, they were provided with the course material to continue studying it in depth and share it in future training with their church members and lay gospel workers.

The Granite Bay Hilltop Church remains committed to fulfilling the gospel commission of Matthew 28:19-20, with a unified purpose under the Holy Spirit, looking forward to Christ’s soon return.
Featured in Northern Lights, June 27, 2024

Passionate Hard Workers Ready Redwood

Passionate Hard Workers Ready Redwood 2000 1125 Ken Miller

Over Memorial Day weekend, over 60 dedicated volunteers gathered at Redwood Camp Meeting grounds for the annual spring cleanup. Harry Salvini, camp director, stated, “The wonderful redwood trees that make our campground so special also create challenging obstacles, namely fallen limbs, leaves, and toppled trees. We are grateful for the work this group accomplished over the weekend!”

With high grasses to be mowed, mountains of branches to be cleared, brush to be cut and downed trees to be removed, the volunteers worked tirelessly to prepare the grounds for the upcoming July 21-27 camp meeting. Jennifer Shaw, camp secretary, noted, “We’re attributing the overwhelming turnout this weekend to the camp’s increased interactions on social media, our dedicated church Ambassadors, and the camp’s new website nccsda.com/rac .”

The increase in volunteers follows the trend in current pre-registration totals, up 30% over last year. Salvini exclaimed, “We are thrilled that young and old families are choosing to come to Redwood this summer!”

One volunteer said, “This weekend was a fantastic family getaway. Everyone pitched in on important projects and enjoyed potlucks and free campsites with coworkers.” The consensus was that the work and camaraderie left everyone feeling satisfied, knowing that they had contributed to preserving the grounds. It was an enriching experience for all involved.

Shaw concluded, “We are excited to see growth in Redwood’s attendance this year. I believe that with Northern California Conference’s excellent programming, marketing support and the spirit of unity, hard work, and dedication displayed during the cleanup weekend. God can achieve great things when people come together for a common cause.”

Redwood Camp Meeting, scheduled for July 21-27, promises to be an enriching and uplifting experience for all who attend. For more information, visit nccsda.com/rac.

Featured in Northern Lights, June 13, 2024

Health Interests Open Doors to Ministry

Health Interests Open Doors to Ministry 1882 971 Ken Miller

Mount Shasta Church has a proactive health ministry that draws many community members from all walks of life. Patti Guthrie, health evangelism coordinator, says, “A broad spectrum of people come through our doors because health, diet, exercise, and life are a language without walls.

With the financial assistance of the Northern California Conference, the Mount Shasta Church recently hosted a free dental, medical, and eye care clinic. Attendance for the clinic topped 50 people. Some were already involved with the church’s robust health ministry, and others were personally invited by pastoral staff.

Medical volunteers staffed the clinic from as far away as Loma Linda and Sacramento. When asked, Coral Parrish, a local chef who made sack lunches for everybody, stated, “This type of outreach is just what the community needed.”

To maximize the effect of the church’s outreach, each participant was given a survey. The surveys assessed interest in further contact with the church, with the following areas ranking highest: plant-based cooking, weight loss, depression recovery, Bible study, and diabetes reversal. Guthrie explained, “Hosting healthy living classes opens many avenues of discussion, appreciation, and occasionally Bible study!”

Deidra Cazneaux, a community volunteer, concluded, “The level of care and compassion by the providers and the organizers was noticeable and a tremendous blessing to those who came for services. This clinic was a beautiful example of God’s people being the hands and feet of Jesus.”

Featured in Northern Lights, May 16, 2024

Women With a Higher Purpose

Women With a Higher Purpose 1906 1072 Ken Miller

The air buzzed with excitement as the morning sun rose over Leoni Meadows. Over 500 women had gathered at the annual Hispanic Women’s Ministry retreat, creating a sense of anticipation and camaraderie.

Paul Guevara, NCC Coordinator of Hispanic Ministries, looked out at the crowd with pride. “Never has there been a reunion as big as this in the last 20 years,” he exclaimed, addressing the sea of smiling faces.

The event’s theme, “Belleza Entre Las Cenizas” (Beauty Among the Ashes), beautifully mirrored the surrounding landscape. Around Leoni Meadows, grass, flowers, and small trees were beginning to sprout from the land, a visual symbol of renewal and growth. Lisa Marsh, the Women’s Ministry Director of NCC, passionately shared her vision of uniting women in our churches to reach women in Northern California communities. This vision resonated deeply with the attendees.

Florinda Guevara, organizer, and volunteer director of the Hispanic Women’s Ministries, has tirelessly worked with her team on their strategic plan to engage, train, support, and empower women leaders at the church level. One key component of her plan was the NAD Women’s Ministry Leadership Certification.

At this year’s event, they celebrated the hard work and dedication of 8 women who completed all four levels to earn their certification. One recipient, her eyes gleaming with pride, shared her experience. “I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge about effective leadership principles, communication and conflict resolution, problem-solving and decision making, visioning and goal setting, mentorship and counseling, running small group ministries, and practical strategies to reclaim lost members,” she said. “I am thrilled to contribute to my church’s efforts in reaching out to the women in my neighborhood.”

When asked about the attendance, Florinda shared, “About half of these women are non-Adventist or not members of our churches. They have been warmly invited by a church member to be here. Witnessing the Holy Spirit’s work in our community is a true blessing and a testament to the power of unity and outreach.”

The event had historic attendance, driven by a clear purpose to connect women to an abundant life with Jesus and a reliance on the Holy Spirit by newly trained women leaders. Florinda quoted Ellen G. White: “There is a higher purpose for woman, a grander destiny. She should develop and cultivate her powers, for God can employ them in the great work of saving souls from eternal ruin” (Evangelism p. 465).

Featured in Northern Lights, May 9, 2024

A Commitment to Community Relevance

A Commitment to Community Relevance 2000 1125 Ken Miller

The Willits Church is committed to remaining relevant to its community by engaging in personal and interactive initiatives that offer valuable service to those around them.

The church runs two ministries that extend compassion beyond its walls, namely the farmer’s market which offers visitors free clothes, food, and spiritual literature, sparking conversations about faith and life.

The Willits Men’s Prayer Breakfast promotes fellowship among men from diverse backgrounds and faiths. Through shared prayers and testimonies of faith, they foster unity and support.

Recently, Ben Capps was baptized, marking a significant milestone in his spiritual journey. His newfound commitment to Jesus Christ was nurtured through Bible studies and supportive interactions with his fellow church members, reflecting the church’s focus on personal transformation and faith development.

The dedication and mentorship offered by the church members demonstrate their outreach ethos. They embody Christ’s love through service and fellowship, and together, they reflect a commitment to unity, compassion, and spiritual growth in the local community of Willits.

Featured in Northern Lights, May 2, 2024

The Hopeful Movie Provides Witnessing Opportunities

The Hopeful Movie Provides Witnessing Opportunities 2990 2071 Ken Miller

During the premiere of The Hopeful on March 17th and 18th at a local theater, the Petaluma Church actively engaged with the community by distributing Glow tracks to passersby. This proactive outreach was a positive approach to community engagement, leveraging a cultural event to share faith and build bridges with the broader community.

This initiative aimed to create a dialog about Jesus Christ and the Adventist Church. Daniel Yim, pastor, reported that their team successfully distributed hundreds of tracks in the bustling Theater Square district, sparking genuine interest and inquiries about the Adventist faith. This feedback from the community is a testament to the impact of our outreach.

“These interactions were more than just distribution; they were opportunities to connect with people and share insights about their beliefs.” Pastor Yim expressed, “I pray that the Holy Spirit will follow these conversations and cultivate further curiosity and understanding among those they engaged with.”

Featured in Northern Lights, May 2, 2024

Restoring Dignity

Restoring Dignity 1600 1200 Ken Miller

Pleasant Hill Church recently received a significant addition to its community services toolbox: a brand-new shower trailer. A decade in the making, this idea is the culmination of several iterations, community research, and generous donations.

Mitch Williams, pastor, articulated, “The necessity for hygiene services for the unsheltered was glaringly apparent. Our team already provides food to approximately 100 individuals weekly, and we had a profound understanding of the need. This trailer represents the next phase of our community service, a step towards restoring dignity and enhancing well-being.”

Through collaboration with various organizations, members explored the initiatives of other churches and ministries in their respective areas. A team even ventured to Loma Linda, working alongside a similar ministry to glean the best practices. Armed with this knowledge, a generous grant, and local church fundraising, they were able to procure a 26-foot trailer equipped with four bathrooms and showers.

On the first Sabbath of each month, the trailer will be available for service at the church. Hygiene kits, haircuts, and other volunteer services will also be available. A volunteer stated, “As we learn better how to serve each person, we hope to expand our service radius.”

Foreground, Left to Right: Miguel Verazas, Youth Pastor, Marc Woodson, NCC President, Mitch Williams, Pastor

Featured in Northern Lights, May 2, 2024

Jonas Baca Installed

Jonas Baca Installed 897 576 Ken Miller

Jonas Baca was installed on April 13 as the new district pastor of the San Leandro Spanish Church and Richmond Spanish Company.

Baca worked extensively in Honduras and Costa Rica, helping to establish several church plants before moving to the United States. He joins the NCC from the Potomac Conference, where he has served since 2004.

Baca explained, “I have a deep passion for reaching souls and bringing them to Jesus. Much of my zeal is for training and equipping lay members to plant and grow community churches. I thank God, the NCC, the San Leandro Spanish Church, and Richmond Spanish Company for opening their arms with sincere hearts full of gratitude and love.

Paul Guevara, Hispanic Ministries Coordinator, stated, “Pastor Roca brings a vibrance to the San Leandro and Richmond Spanish churches. He is a proven church builder and embodies our core values, leading people to an abundant life in Jesus Christ.”

Baca shares his life with Lidia, his wife of twenty-two years. They are the loving parents of two teenage children, Elliebeth, 18, and Jonah, 17.

Featured in Northern Lights, April 25, 2024

Churches Choose Revitalization

Churches Choose Revitalization 4032 3024 Ken Miller

Three churches recently engaged in the first module of a church revitalization training program. LIFE Church of Berkeley, Sacramento Fijian, and Lodi English Oaks have committed to creating a healthier church, serving each other and their cities.

Kevin Robert, evangelism director, explained, “This course is six modules long. By working through the courses and implementing the training, we see churches become focused outside their walls to become contextualized to their community. This means they are learning to intentionally interact in their neighborhoods, make collaborative connections with other community leaders, and improve their cities. This is serving and sharing Christ in context.”

Developing healthy disciple-making pathways is an investment in each other as they grow together in everyday engagement. That is time not only on Sabbath but serving neighbors anytime. This process also means investing in their members rather than programs, flyers, and other traditional outreach methods. The focus on creating healthy leaders and members inherently produces better community interaction.

Ron Pickell, pastor of LIFE Berkeley, stated, “I am encouraged by what I can only describe as the Spirit stirring in our church. Our leaders are beginning to pull together as a team, an answer to our prayers. I also see new people visiting our church. I feel that we are heading for a turnaround. Revitalization is beginning to have an effect!”

The module also teaches techniques from the NCC’s Organizational Health model to create better leadership teams. As a result, Sacramento Fijian has scheduled a weekend focused on revitalization at Leoni Meadows, a sign that this system inspires people to learn and serve.

Robert concluded, “I was blown away by the responses of the three churches after module one. People commented that they saw hope for their church for the first time in years. This is a very encouraging outcome for this module and the future of church health in the NCC.”

Featured in Northern Lights, March 7, 2024