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


The Blessing of Giving by Marc K. Woodson, NCC President

The Blessing of Giving by Marc K. Woodson, NCC President 910 452 Ken Miller

Have you ever experienced the uplifting embrace of spirituality during church services or while immersed in a livestream? Have you ever found yourself contemplating a search for a new spiritual home because your current one didn’t quite fulfill your needs?

In my journey, evolving from a member to a pastor and now an administrator, I’ve encountered a spectrum of perspectives on a church’s impact on its members – from deep gratitude to a yearning for a more profound spiritual connection. Both attitudes focused on what the church does for me.

Perhaps what’s needed is a fresh perspective. In Acts 20:34-36, Paul’s farewell to the Ephesians underscores the importance of hard work, not just for self-sustainability but also to support those toiling alongside us, particularly the weak and vulnerable. He echoes the timeless words of Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Jesus extends an invitation to embrace a generous attitude, assuring us of greater blessings through giving. Instead of solely evaluating a church based on what we receive from its messages or services, let’s redirect our focus. Let’s explore how we can utilize the unique gifts and resources bestowed upon us by God to serve and benefit others.

Rather than asking, “What am I receiving from the church?” let’s propel ourselves forward with questions like: “What am I doing to assist the weak and vulnerable in my church and community?” What contributions am I making to advance God’s Kingdom within my church community? How am I actively connecting people to a more abundant life with Jesus and preparing them for His Second Coming?

Picture the beauty of witnessing God’s promise to bless unfolding in our lives. By shifting our focus from receiving to giving, we embark on a transformative journey brimming with joy, fulfillment, and abundance.

Featured in Northern Lights, November 23, 2023

Mulching Mission Movement

Mulching Mission Movement 2000 1125 Ken Miller

October 10- It was all hands on deck as the NCC administration offices locked the doors and workers descended on Maidu Park in Roseville for the annual community service day.

In 2022, workers spread sixty yards of forest mulch at another Roseville park. This year, 300 yards were piled around the new location. The contrast in job size raised a few eyebrows. Albert Miller, NCC superintendent of schools and project coordinator, looked across the park at the piles and drily stated, “Well, it ain’t gonna get done by itself.”

While the mulch group shoveled and raked the piles methodically, smaller teams painted perimeter gates bright yellow and refreshed red curb paint along driveways. Four baseball equipment shacks were painted grey and blue. By the end of the workday, finished painters joined in the mulch movement, and the team completed all the jobs.

Brian Casteluccio, Roseville Parks, Recreation and Libraries Superintendent, wrote, “I want to send a huge kudos to your team. They did a great job! It was a very successful volunteer event. Your work is greatly appreciated by the City of Roseville and the community.”

Featured in Northern Lights, October 26, 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

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

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

5,700 NAD Teachers Unite in Phoenix

5,700 NAD Teachers Unite in Phoenix 2000 1125 Ken Miller

August 8-10 found all NAD educators in one town, Phoenix. Greeted by triple-digit heat.

But that didn’t deter 5,700 teachers, administrators, and conference personnel from reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, and committing to Adventist education’s vital work.

The four-day event happens every five years and combines a camp-meeting component while providing continuing education classes, educational guest speakers, breakout sessions, and a vendor convention. One teacher stated, “I love this event because it reinforces a unity between teachers, and I love being connected to a cause bigger than myself.”

Albert Miller, NCC education superintendent, remarked, “This event is not only for teachers to learn, unwind, and renew friendships. It’s also a venue to recruit new teachers to the NCC. We have the opportunity to meet with dozens of potential teachers for our territory. It’s an important tool to keep our schools filled with quality educators.”

Coreen Hicks, NCC associate superintenent, stated, “To be among other Adventist educators was a reminder that our NCC teachers are just a small part of a greater team, one that spans coast-to-coast, preparing for 180 days of evangelism, teaching, and connecting our students to an abundant life in Jesus.”

Featured in Northern Lights, August 24, 2023

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

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