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

Communication and Development

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
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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
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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
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Hope is Alive in Maui

Hope is Alive in Maui 2000 1125 Ken Miller

The tragedy on Maui has filled the news. Pictures and video of the 1800’s era town of Lahaina left us speechless and filled with a familiar sense of grief and dismay. However, God is always present, and this is reflected in the actions of the conference administrators, employees, and members.

As one of the NCC Disaster Response Team members and having worked through many disasters, Laurie Trujillo, director of communication and development, explains, “Disaster recovery falls into four phases. The first 24 to 48 hours are the most critical and the most difficult for disaster response teams because the information is limited. However, Hawaii Conference President, Erik VanDenburgh, was able to get cash and support to the shell-shocked victims immediately.”

The Hawaii Conference post reported that the Kahului church provides emergency shelter for over 40 displaced church members and community residents. In addition to shelter, they ensure people have essential supplies and nutritious meals in collaboration with other nonprofits. Mark Tamaleaa, ACS response team leader, reports, “The compassion and selflessness of the Kahului church members is extraordinary.”

VanDenburgh wrote, “We are dedicated to providing care and avenues for spiritual rejuvenation and moments of joy. As we navigate this challenging and uncertain time, we remain steadfast in our commitment to providing compassionate, comprehensive support.”

NCC has contributed $25,000 to the Hawaii Conference to assist with the immediate, emergent, and long-term needs of members and those connected to churches and schools. Marc Woodson, NCC president, states, “We understand the pain, trauma, and challenges our sister conference in Hawaii is facing and the difficult road to recovery.”

The best way to help is by contributing to the Maui Fire Relief Fund. In the future, there may be opportunities to volunteer and donate items. Keep checking the Hawaii Conference Website and social media accounts for more information.

Featured in Northern Lights, August 17, 2023
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Fred Kinsey Passes To His Rest

Fred Kinsey Passes To His Rest 910 471 Ken Miller

After a long battle with Parkinson’s, Elder Fred Kinsey passed away on Monday, July 17th, in Walnut Creek, where he has lived most of his life. He is survived by his wife Lynette, his two children, Stephanie and Jeffrey, and four grandchildren.

Kinsey was a remarkable individual with a long career in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He dedicated his life to connecting others to an abundant life in Jesus Christ.

He served as an ordained minister and was the communication director for the NCC. He was also a public relations professor at Pacific Union College and later served as communication department chair. During the final years of his career, Kinsey became the assistant to the president for communication of the North American Division and served as the speaker and director of the Voice of Prophecy.

“During my time at the General Conference, I had the distinct pleasure of getting to know Fred Kinsey when he served at the NAD,” recalls Kimberly Luste Maran, North American Division communication director. “I appreciated his innovative thinking, sharp intellect, communication prowess, and his desire to share Jesus through media. What I learned from him has helped me as I now serve in a similar role.”

According to Ray Tetz, director of communication and community engagement of the Pacific Union Conference, “Fred and I were friends and colleagues for more than 50 years, and he was a giant in the field of Adventist communication.”

Alicia Adams, director of marketing of the Pacific Press, stated, “Fred inspired so many of us with his passion for teaching and leading. He was a communicator and relished supporting the people and projects he believed in. Fred’s legacy in the Adventist church will be felt for generations.”

One of Kinsey’s former students at PUC wrote, “I enjoyed my time with Fred back in my PUC days and then in the following years. Such a sharp wit, a keen observer, and loads of wisdom. So many great lessons I carry with me in life and in my career.”

Stephanie Leal, Fred’s daughter, posted this message, “At this time, our family is reeling from the loss. We are sorry we cannot reply to the many emails and texts as quickly as we’d like, especially my mother; please know that each one means so much. Many have shared what his sermons, college classes, and friendship have meant. We hope that his life – one dedicated to ministry – will be his legacy and live on.”

For updates, please follow the NCC Facebook page and this publication, Northern Lights.

Featured in Northern Lights, July 20, 2023
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NCCSDA.com Wins Prestigious ADDY Award

NCCSDA.com Wins Prestigious ADDY Award 2000 1125 Ken Miller

Part of the NCC’s path to organizational health is to effectively inform, educate, and tell the stories of our churches, schools, and ministries. To do this, a new website was launched in 2020.

The COVID pandemic was a catalyst that accelerated the need for online methods for staying current with news and events. The NCC website was no exception, and its professional look, functionality, and information were revamped with a new look.

Subsequently, the site was entered into the 2022 American Advertising Awards competition, winning an impressive Silver Award. Terrill Thomas, web designer and president of T13 Media, said of the project and award, “It was gratifying to see Christian content, graphics, and web design be recognized for excellence by a secular professional organization.”

The website is constantly updated with important conference information, including employment opportunities, education scholarships, events, and news.

Most recently, the communication and development department has posted an incredible help guide for creating a culture of stewardship in your church. You can visit the website here.

Featured in Northern Lights, July 6, 2023
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Burned Out?

Burned Out? 2000 1125 Ken Miller

Hope springs anew at Leoni Meadows!

Amid guests using the facilities for various retreats, the staff and contractors have been tirelessly working to move forward on recovery.

The barn has been completed, the new wilderness camp area is being prepared, the new pool footprint has been dug, and the land where the new multipurpose building (formally crafts building) has been cleared. Craftsmen will work throughout the spring to rebuild this essential structure. Most recently, after clear-cutting dead/dangerous trees, hundreds of thousands of baby trees have been planted all over the property.

Although Leoni was “burned out,” new springs are flowing where there was never water before, partly due to the overabundance of snow, but also just part of the natural recovery process. The recovery process at Leoni Meadows is a physical reminder of God’s promise in Isiah 58:11, “The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose water does not fail.” (NKJV)

When you feel “burned out” and need a break – visit Leoni and let the “…God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NKJV)

Featured in Northern Lights, April 20, 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

Mark Blue Series Promotes Clarity, Leadership, and Teamwork

Mark Blue Series Promotes Clarity, Leadership, and Teamwork 2000 664 Ken Miller

April 3- Principals, pastors, and members of the respective leadership teams met at Carmichael Church for the Mark Blue Lecture Series.

The annual in-service promotes teamwork and collaboration between churches and schools.

This year’s subject was creating effective leadership teams. Through presentations and breakout sessions, each team learned and practiced how to build trust, create conflict, and manage an effective meeting while staying focused on our purpose.

According to Michelle Piner, registrar at Sacramento Academy, “The seminar had great lessons and training to clarify an issue down to its core and then effectively tackle that issue as an administrative team.”

Diona Wheeler, a teacher at Yreka, stated, “Our Yreka team practices about ninety percent of the methods I saw today, but it was very eye-opening and helpful to see and learn a framework in which we can tackle each issue methodically.”

Steve Brownell, pastor of the Oroville Church, remarked, “The material and system was a great start to building more effective churches and schools. I hope we will continue to be trained, learn and become better stewards in our communities.”

Marc Woodson, president, wrapped up the day by stating, “Everything presented here today we have put into action over the last two years at the conference leadership level. The tools shared today will make your teams more effective. Sometimes there are bumps and bruises on our journey, but this method works. If implemented at your church or school, you will see positive results.”

Featured in Northern Lights, April 6, 2023

NCC Funds Relief For Earthquake Victims

NCC Funds Relief For Earthquake Victims 1912 999 Ken Miller

Serving the international community has always been an essential concern of members and churches of our territory.

The massive earthquakes that struck southern Türkiye and northwestern Syria on February 6 impacted a 310-mile-wide area populated by nearly 14 million people.

Our conference contributed $10,000 to the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in response to the extreme humanitarian need. These funds helped distribute food, water, clothing, and essential supplies, sheltered displaced families, and implemented water and sanitation solutions.

Zoltan Sitkei, ADRA country director for Hungary and search and rescue technician/paramedic, stated. “We rescued six people, including two children. It took us 14 hours to save a lady, who was found by our team. It was very difficult to get her out. We worked with the Turkish fire brigade. But finally, we found a solution and got her out,”

Featured in Northern Lights, March 9, 2023