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

Church Growth/Evangelism

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

Decade of Discipleship Results in Baptism

Decade of Discipleship Results in Baptism 1890 1015 Ken Miller

Ken Eastburn was baptized at the Redwood Area Campmeeting. Committing to Christ before his church family was a solemn and extraordinary event. He is a gentle giant with a big heart, topped off by a dyed purple mohawk.

“Everybody at Redwood knows Ken!” exclaimed Dan Freedman, district pastor of Miranda and Fortuna churches. According to Eastwood, most campers know him as the “porta-potty guy,” a position that has become his perennial mission. A job that takes a servant’s heart!

Ken’s introduction to Redwood camp came as a worker invited by local members over ten years ago, parking his trailer behind the shop. He explained, “I became kind of a night watchman that first year.” From friends made at camp and attendance at the Ukiah church, he learned the Gospel message. Adventism particularly impressed him, how families are integrated with our schools and Pathfinder clubs.

Through continual discipleship over the years, Ken finally decided to be baptized. He recalled, “The Holy Spirit kept impressing me to go deeper in my relationship with God. So I told Pastor Freedman that he’d be baptizing me down at Redwood this year.”

Featured in Northern Lights, August 24, 2023

Pitch It and They Will Come

Pitch It and They Will Come 2000 1125 Ken Miller

2,300. That is correct. Two thousand three hundred visitors recently made the pilgrimage to Pleasant Hill church to experience a life-sized replica of the Mosaic temple.

People of all ages were treated to a life-size re-creation of Israel’s wilderness temple, complete with an outer court, altar, tent, temple furniture, and a replica of the Ark of the Covenant in the most holy place. Mitch Williams, pastor, explained, “Our goal was to have an attractive and thought-provoking event to create tangible leads for our ministry teams. We were very proactive with our invitations, heavily relying on social media, where we filmed and posted videos promoting the attraction. We even sent personal invitations to other churches and synagogues within a thirty-mile radius; we cast a big net.”

Visitors remarked that it was beautiful to see the actual size and scope of the Tabernacle.

Many guests returned comment cards requesting more information about the church’s ministries including, personal finance classes, Bible studies, cooking classes. Church members are calling each person interested in learning more about an abundant life in Jesus. Williams was very excited that a new student would be attending Pleasant Hill Adventist Academy because of this event.

Williams concluded, “This event was epic for gaining traction in such a busy community. We are so pleased with how many people were on our church grounds and the interactions we were able to have with them. God magnified the social media success and invitations and blessed our event. Now the real discipleship work begins.”

Featured in Northern Lights, August 24, 2023

Creating A Culture Of Giving In Your Church

Creating A Culture Of Giving In Your Church 1400 916 Ken Miller

Join us for the Giving Is Good seminar sponsored by the Communication and Development department. This seminar explains how to create a culture of generosity in your church, school, or ministry. Click here for the Creating a Healthy Giving Culture resource guide.

This seminar will be held in the NCC Conference Office Board Room on Tuesdays: Aug 22, 29, and Sept 5, 12, from Noon-1:30 PM. Lunch will be provided. If interested, email Laurie Trujillo.

Andrew Uyeyama, pastor of the Placerville church, reported, “The elders are using the tools explained in the resource guide to raise funds for our church budget. We are learning to tell impact stories to build trust and engage our members. We are thrilled at how God is blessing our efforts.”

Laurie Trujillo, director of communication and development, explains, “Our department created this resource guide to help churches and schools raise funds for their programs and activities. The class is designed for elders, deacons, educators, or anybody interested in helping their organization in this way.”

Featured in Northern Lights, August 17, 2023

499 Years of Wedded Bliss

499 Years of Wedded Bliss 3042 1767 Ken Miller

On Sabbath, August 5, the Camino Church Family honored eight couples celebrating 50 or more years of marriage. The worship service continued by inviting each couple to share their counsel and wisdom on having a successful life-long marriage which included:

Take one day at a time
Pull the ‘cart’ together
Make God your partner
Keep the eternal destination in mind
Promise to stick by one another
Experience life together
Keep forgiveness in the heart
Always be there for each other
Husbands… listen; don’t be thinking of a solution
Be life partners

Immediately following, some elders and deacons were invited to place their hand, containing a drop of olive oil, on each couple’s clasped hands while a prayer of thanks, commitment, and blessing was offered. It was noted that when all the years are combined, they equal 499 years of marriage!

PICTURED ARE (left to right): Gene & Bertie Larsen (73 years), Roswell & Betty Larsen (66 years), John & Linda Bethke (65 years), Howard & Marge Miller (64 years), Craig & Judy Klatt (63 years), Richard & Janet Moore (61 years), Jerry & Elayne Zappia (56 years), and David & Wanda Silva (51 years).

Featured in Northern Lights, August 17 , 2023

Living With Cancer Creates A Mission

Living With Cancer Creates A Mission 2000 1125 Ken Miller

Pam Ramsey, a Roseville church member, shares her journey:

“In October of 2014, I went for my yearly mammogram. A few days later, I got a call from my doctor saying I had breast cancer. I had just retired from teaching a year before and was enjoying a good life with my children and grandchildren. It was a tough blow, and I was angry with God for letting this happen. If this meant that my life was ending, I would accept that. But this end was not what God had in store for me. Instead, He blessed me tremendously, opening a mission door to help others.”

Pam Ramsey is fulfilling acts of service with the Cancer, Care, and Compassion group. This team meets twice a month to evaluate how they can serve cancer patients more effectively. One of their projects is making care packages for cancer patients.

Ramsey stated, “We started making blankets and giving to friends and family battling cancer. But we wanted to do more. The team and I decided to make blessing bags filled with inspirational and comforting gifts. We took them to the infusion center in Auburn and another center in Roseville.”

The web of recipients has continued to grow through the group’s efforts. Through a chance meeting with a store manager who was wearing a cancer ribbon for his mother-in-law, to a cancer nurse navigator from Sutter who was thrilled to take 24 “blessing bags” for their children’s cancer center.

David Resendes, pastor, stated, “The group has received a stack of thank you letters for the bags they have given. This has become a very rewarding mission helping many different people. Jesus said that when we help others, we help Him. That is the goal of the Cancer, Care, and Compassion ministry. As Hebrews 6:10 states, ‘God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.’”

Featured in Northern Lights, August 10, 2023

Chris Estay Installed at Vallejo Central

Chris Estay Installed at Vallejo Central 2048 1536 Ken Miller

July 1-Chris Estay was installed as the new pastor of Vallejo Central Church.

Estay is excited about his new church family. When asked how he eases into a new church position, he stated, “I’ve learned over time that I have 100 ideas in my head, which makes me want to rush. But with maturity, I’ve learned to slow down and assess a church’s culture by first serving and becoming friends with the members.”

Making those deeper connections, Estay states, “Creates unity when time is spent making friends and sharing. It reveals the members’ personalities, talents, and motivations, and identifies the church’s true heart.” He concluded, “I am very pleased to be at Vallejo. This is a very motivated church, and we will serve God and our community well together.”

Estay shares life with Erdal, his wife of 18 years. They are the proud parents of son Gabriel, age 9, and daughter Liana, age 6.

Featured in Northern Lights, August 3, 2023

Ft. Bragg-Willits-Covelo Members Create Unity With Area Churches To Serve Communities

Ft. Bragg-Willits-Covelo Members Create Unity With Area Churches To Serve Communities 2002 1127 Ken Miller

Bordered by the Yuki Wilderness to the east, the Round Valley Off-Reservation Trust Land to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west, you’ll find the Covelo-Willits-Fort Bragg- district churches. Connected by a meandering highway that crosses Highway 101 in the middle, it’s a different California and a different pace of life.

In quieter towns, you might expect more traditional methods of outreach. But recently, members of the district invited non-Adventist churches to a social event that resulted in many friendships, personal and denominational. Through these new connections, church members could discuss beliefs and, more importantly, create unity to accomplish mission goals in their communities.

One outcome was the Covelo Church Vacation Bible School. This year, it took on a unique dimension, led by members, church leaders, and volunteers from several denominations. Regardless of affiliation, mission-minded adults acted, taught, and sang side by side, sharing their unique talents to present the promises of Jesus to children.

According to Edwin Berbasal, district pastor, “This inclusive approach furthered those friendships, not only creating more extensive participation but unity, and it was a powerful display of shared faith among the children and the broader community.

Through conversation, friendship, and shared goals, these connections have laid a foundation for future collaborations and continued work that will serve the district communities and prepare people for the soon coming of Jesus.

Featured in Northern Lights, July 27, 2023

Diplomas for Disciples

Diplomas for Disciples 1277 731 Ken Miller

The Fairfield Spanish church is dedicated to maintaining its connection with the community by offering a space for spiritual growth and education. Recently, 48 students who were studying at the church completed the Bible Instructor Program provided by the Instituto Laico Adventista de California (ILAC). The ILAC program focuses on personal development, honing talents, skills, and leadership abilities to serve God.

According to Jose Diaz, district pastor for Fairfield and Vallejo, “The classes equip people with the skills to give more effective Bible studies. It builds confidence in Bible study givers and offers innovative teaching techniques.”

Featured in Northern Lights, July 20, 2023

Grassroots Evangelism Garners Baptisms

Grassroots Evangelism Garners Baptisms 2000 1125 Ken Miller

The Richmond Beacon Light church recently engaged its community by holding an evangelistic series titled The Better Bible Conference over four Sabbaths.

David Woolcock, pastor, stated, “We wanted to have a new kind of evangelism program. The days started with a continental breakfast, followed by back-to-back bible studies in the morning. The schedule was created to ensure flexibility in attendance, so everyone could participate without any difficulty. Then a delicious lunch was served to keep the congregation fueled for the afternoon.”

In the afternoon session, practical ministry topics beneficial to everyone were planned. These included talks on plant-based diets and healthy eating habits, coping with trauma, and godly child-rearing.

On the last day of the series, two semi-truck loads of household items provided by the Stockton Mayfair Church were distributed to attendees and the community. Woolcock exclaimed, “There was so much good stuff I didn’t think we would give it all away! The items will go far in making families of the area a bit more equipped.”

Woolcock concluded with an inspirational outlook, “The number one lesson we learned is, don’t underestimate the local church and their abilities. Dip your foot in the water, and God will care for the rest.”

So far, six baptisms have resulted from this series, and Woolcock expects four more to come as a result.

Featured in Northern Lights, July 20, 2023