North American Division News
"I first saw the pictures of the church Friday afternoon as I was having my lunch," said Dan Martella, administrative pastor for the Paradise Seventh-day Adventist Church in California, during a Nov. 12, 2018, Skype interview with the Fox 5 Washington, D.C. television station (WTTG/WDCA). Martella has been a pastor there — and a community member — for three years. On Thursday evening, Nov. 8, the church burned to the ground as the Camp Fire swept through Paradise. [Read/watch the report.]
"It was a sucker punch and then a day later, we got the pictures of our house. So, it's a ride,” Martella said.
The Camp Fire, now considered the deadliest fire in California’s history, has claimed the lives of close to 60 (as of 12:30 p.m. EST, Nov. 15, 2018) in the Concow and Paradise vicinities. According to reports coming from national news outlets, more than 52,000 were evacuated from the area; about 8,800 homes have been destroyed.
Nearly 1,300 Adventist church members have been affected, with many losing everything except their lives. Not all members are accounted for — news reports indicate that more than 100 residents are still missing. And in addition to the church, the Paradise Adventist School lost their K-4 building, and sustained damage to the gymnasium basement.
Adventist Health Feather River reported that some of its buildings were damaged. “The good news is that part of the upper level of the hospital is standing, as is OB, ED, Outpatient Surgery Center, Home Health, Cancer Center and Sleep Medicine,” the report stated. “The lower level of the hospital, the chiller and utility area, and most of the other outbuildings did sustain damage. … We are still assessing the situation to determine the full extent of the damage of all buildings.”
On Thursday, Nov. 15, the Pacific Union Conference approved a special appropriation of $100,000 to the Northern California Conference for use in immediate relief efforts for the church and school in the Paradise community.
Neighboring North Pacific Union Conference area churches are holding special offerings on Sabbaths, now through Dec. 1, to aid Northern California Conference in its relief efforts.
Community Helps Community
According to a CNN report [https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/12/us/california-wildfires-woolsey-camp-hill-missing/index.html], 1,385 residents are living in shelters. While many are struggling, there is a surge of support coming from Paradise and the surrounding communities. Adventist church members have joined with their neighbors in the community to help.
“Our members are working closely with local organizations and have pulled together to face this crisis,” the Pacific Union Conference said in a Nov. 10 news release. The release stated that “The Paradise church members who have lost their sanctuary will be worshiping with nearby congregations, [including the Chico Seventh-day Adventist Church,] and our pastors and members have reached out to help meet the extraordinary needs created by this disaster.”
“Financial support for the fire recovery is the most important way our members can help right now,” said W. Derrick Lea, North American Division (NAD) Adventist Community Services Disaster Response (ACS DR) director. “People need the basics — clothes, shoes, food, water — and these needs will continue in the near future.” Lea, while on assignment in Saipan (part of the NAD’s Guam-Micronesia Mission), which was devastated by Typhoon Yutu in October, has kept tabs on the ACS DR early response to both the northern and southern California fires.
On Nov. 11, Lea reported, “Ed Fargusson, the assistant to the president of the Northern California Conference, continues to work with his local community onsite and the NAD has offered support as appropriate. Charlene Sargent is meeting with local leadership within the disaster response community in southern California. She is providing support to the leadership there. Both conferences have asked for financial support for the fire recovery over the next few days. The NAD has sent out this same message and standby to offer help as needed. Marshall and Julie Gonzalez, filling in for me in my time away, have been in communication with both Southern and Northern California conferences.” [Click here to donate to ACS.]
Local Adventist members are helping in some immediately tangible ways. Nancy Hamilton, a Chico resident and videographer from Golden Eagle Films, has used her press credentials to video homes, going street by street, to help those who cannot go into the area to ascertain if their property has been damaged. Hamilton also shared earlier footage for the Fox 5 news report, including video of first responders and the smoldering Adventist church properties. “This is my own personalFacebook page … I am simply one individual doing what I can in an emergency situation,” Hamilton said on some of her Facebook video posts. She has posted to both Facebook and YouTube.
On Facebook, Katlyn Dordevic from Napa, shared photos from her volunteer work in Chico during the past two days. She said, it was “such a blessing to volunteer as an RN in Chico with all the other staff helping at a shelter, then going to Walmart to help at ‘tent city.’ Lots of dressing changes, blood pressure checks, and quick triage to [determine] medical needs.”
Dordevic shared that the large group at Walmart expressed “so much gratitude that melted my heart. Everyone had nothing but good things to say about the care they were receiving.” She added, “Continue to pray for them. Personal items [are] needed, such as socks, under [clothes], and warm items such as blankets, hats, and gloves.”
Martella lost his home in the fire. But in the Fox 5 Skype interview, he says he is heartened by the love and support coming from the church community, friends, and family. "The outpouring of love — it is overwhelming, he said. "I cannot keep up with my Facebook friends. They are there expressing their encouragement and support. I can't keep up with that and the people that don't even call ahead, they just say ‘we're on our way.’"
About the Camp Fire
The fire was named after Camp Creek Road, the place it started in the morning on Nov. 8. Shortly after the fire started, the Butte County sheriff’s office ordered the evacuation of Paradise and surrounding locales. Within the first day the fire had destroyed up to 90 percent of the town of Paradise and the Concow community.
By the morning of Nov. 13, the fire, fueled by strong winds, had caused 56 civilian fatalities (to date), injured three firefighters, covered an area of about 135,000 acres, and either damaged or destroyed at least 8,817 structures, according to the Camp Fire Incident Update.
Strong winds (approaching 50 miles per hour) and dry conditions fueled the fire’s quick movement through the area, trapping residents who had little to no time to flee, and making it impossible for firefighters to stop/contain the blaze.
It has been reported that the fire was between 35-40 percent contained as of Nov. 15.
According to Captain Scott McLean of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), as quoted in a Nov. 10 San Francisco Chronicle news article, "Pretty much the community of Paradise is destroyed, it's that kind of devastation. The wind that was predicted came and just wiped it out.”
Ways to Help
Donations to the NAD Adventist Community Services, may be made at www.communityservices.org.
Donations to the Northern California Conference Disaster Response Fund may be made at https://nccsda.com.
Donations to assist in Adventist Health’s ongoing response can be made by going to www.adventisthealth.org/giving, and contributing to the “Fire Assistance Fund.”kmaran Thu, 11/15/2018 - 16:25
AdventSource, the official ministry supply center for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, became an North American Division (NAD) institution on Nov. 9, 2018, following a vote by the NAD Corporation Board.
With this vote, AdventSource joins Seminars Unlimited, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Oakwood University, and Christian Record Services as NAD institutions.
“AdventSourceis an integral and indispensable provider of ministry resources and services for the North America Division. Their call center and website have become the place to find everything ‘Adventist!’” said Debra Brill, NAD vice president for ministries. “We are delighted to welcome AdventSource into the family of NAD institutional providers.”
“In 1992 when Tom Evans came to Mid-America union, … one of the first things he said to me was, ‘We need to make AdventSourcea[n] [official] Seventh-day Adventist organization.’ We have been working on that since then,” said Brad Forbes, president of AdventSource. "AdventSourceis proud to be part of the NAD and we look forward to helping churches in this division do great things for God.”
Located in Lincoln, Nebraska, AdventSource’s mission is to provide local church leaders with quality Christian resources and excellent customer service. AdventSource sells more than 5,000 products designed to empower local church ministry. AdventSource’s selection includes leadership books, seminars, Vacation Bible School programs, Pathfinder and Adventurer Club supplies, and more. In addition, AdventSource provides support for Adventist Church Connect, the NAD’s network of websites available for at no charge to churches in North America. AdventSource also handles registration for many Adventist Church events.
AdventSource began in 1982 as a partnership between the General Conference Youth Ministry Department and Union College. First named North American Youth Ministries (NAYM) the goal was to establish a central distribution center for Pathfinder Club supplies in North America and provide employment for college students. In 1997 the ministry was rebranded as AdventSource, incorporated, and obtained denominational status under the Mid-America Union.
Today AdventSource employs 25 full-time staff and 30 students who work part-time between classes. AdventSource’s office includes a call center and teams responsible for resource development, accounting, technology, production, and shipping.
A continuous resource development process allows for AdventSourceto create and distribute resources that equip pastors and local church leaders for ministry. Whatever ministries are happening at a local church, AdventSource has something to support and encourage those ministries to grow. To learn more visit www.AdventSource.org.
— Cassie Martschingis Communication director for AdventSource.
kmaran Wed, 11/14/2018 - 16:30
On Nov. 6, 2018, the North American Division Executive Committee voted to launch a two-year study to evaluate the needs and ways to serve immigrant and refugee groups. The motion was presented by Alvin Kibble, NAD vice president for Big-Data + Social Media, Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, Publishing Ministries, and Executive Coaching, Training, and Development, during the Year-End Meetings financial agenda report.
Kibble made the case after the body voted to fund regional conferences and Hispanic congregations 1.3 million dollars over a three-year period for capital funding and scholarship assistance — the result of a meeting requested by the executive committee for regional and Hispanic leaders to discuss and present the funding needs of the respective ministries to advance the mission of the Church.
“We love each other dearly but we have problems with equity and matters like that,” said Kibble. “We should not wait until there is an appeal coming from our immigrants. We must begin now to study how we’re to empower the immigrants so that they don’t have the struggle that others have had.”
Additional business items presented to the committee on the final day of business meetings included a presentation from Verified Volunteers, which conducts background checks on individuals seeking to serve their churches ministries involving children and youth. There are 900 users/entities within the division that use Verified Volunteers. In 2018 alone, the services completed 26,000 individual criminal screens, and an average of 254,000 monthly updates. The results uncovered — among other offenses, including traffic violations, misdemeanors, and felonies — 11 sex offenders.
Jose Cortes Jr., associate director of the NAD Ministerial Association, presented a passionate case for church planting as well as a report on the division’s church planting progress.
According to Cortes, in order to reach the more than 354 million people who live within the division, there should be a minimum of one church for every 25,000 people. “We need at least 14,560 churches,” said Cortes. NAD has a total of 6,861 churches, companies, and groups.
The division is halfway to its goal set in 2015 to plant 1,000 churches by 2020. Cortes announced that there have been 560 new church plants established within the past three years. In 2018 alone, 120 church have been planted – a figure Cortes says is conservative since it is dependent on reports on church plants from conferences and unions. Cortes believes that more have been established.
“We’re not trying to plant churches for the sake of having a place where we can preach and where we can hold Sabbath school. We’re trying to plant and to create communities of compassion where people don’t only hear about the gospel, but they’re also able to experience the gospel,” said Cortes. “We’re not trying to plant worship services, we’re trying to plant communities of faith that serve the community and love the community on a regular basis.”
Committee members also heard reports on Education, Adventist Learning Community, Children’s Ministries, Youth and Young Adult Ministries, Stewardship, Ministerial, Communication, and the Pacific Press Publishing Association, which announced its newest book in partnership with Carlton Bryd, speaker-director of Breath of Life ministries, called Contemporary Evangelism in the 21st Century.
“We want to be a resource center in a lot of different ways for church nurture, church outreach, but also for evangelism,” said Dale Galusha, president of the Pacific Press Publishing Association.
Tithe and Adventist Teachers
Leslie Louis, president of the Carolina Conference, presented a report from the Special Taskforce by NAD Conference Presidents, which recommended major shifts in policy and practice, particularly with treating teachers equally as pastors when it comes financing their salary through tithe allocation.
“Even though they are regarded and technically counted as employees of the conference they serve, in essence they are employees of the local church when you have 70 percent of their salaries and benefits coming from the local church,” said Louis.
The taskforce recommended a complete restudy on the use of tithe; that the tithe study taskforce be made up of people across the division serving in a variety of roles; and for the revocation of the 30 percent limitations for the conference’s tithe remuneration for Adventist teachers and principals mandated by current NAD policy.
Daniel R. Jackson, president of the NAD, announced that upon the meeting of the North American Division’s corporation board, which was scheduled to meet the following day, AdventSource will officially become a member of the division’s entities and organizations. AdventSource is the official resource center of the division. It provides materials and resources for event planning, vacation bible school programs, Bible studies, evangelism and health seminars, pathfinders and adventurers, website development, and editorial services.
“In 1992 when Tom came to Mid-America union, it was my third year at AdventSource … one of the first things he said to me was, ‘We need to make AdventSource a[n] [official] Seventh-day Adventist Organization.’ We have been working on that since then,” said Brad Forbes, president of AdventSource. "AdventSource is proud to be part of the NAD and we look forward to helping churches in this division do great things for God.”
Adventist Intercollegiate Association Statement
At the end of the program, a representative from the Adventist Intercollegiate Association (college and university student leaders from across the division), who had been attending the meetings as a delegate, read a statement on behalf of her fellow students. The document was drafted in response to that has been coined as the “compliance document” that was passed during Annual Council, regarding unity oversight, to which the division responded.
The statement reads:
Brothers and Sisters,
As representatives of the youth and young adults within the North American Division, we are speaking from a place of deep care and love for our church. Recognizing Christ as the foundation of our faith in the Seventh-day Adventist church, we strive to mirror the Savior’s ministry of love on earth by exemplifying the living gospel that bridges barriers and provides hope to humanity.
On October 14th, 2018, a document was passed at the Annual Council. Since then, we bear witness to the pain, division, and disappointment that the document has caused among our peers. It is disheartening to see our church in conflict, when it is meant to be a safe haven for all.
Despite the conflict, we affirm:
- The mission and purpose of our church
- Christ’s desire for unity through diversity in our church
- The heartfelt desire to play an active role in our church
- The value of collaboration and mentorship from spiritual leaders in our church
We long for opportunities to create intentional relationships with our church leadership and be actively involved, by facilitating conversations and making decisions about our church
To the youth and young adults of the NAD:In the midst of uncertainty and confusion, hold fast to your faith, and do not be discouraged. We hear you, we see you, and we stand with you. We affirm your desire to further the work of the Lord. This is not the time to walk away from our church, but a time in our history to speak out, to stand up, and to actively seek roles in restoring our local and global church.
Brothers and Sisters: We need you. Our church needs you.
Adventist Intercollegiate Association & Adventist Christian Fellowship
NAD Executive Committee Members
mylonmedley Wed, 11/14/2018 - 07:58
An officer of the North American Division, a vice president, and a ministry director gave their final respective reports during the division’s 2018 Year-End Meeting this past week as they prepare for their retirements by the end of 2018 (Evans, Blackmer) or the beginning of 2019 (Matthews). Executive committee members seized the opportunity to thank the leaders for their service and lasting impact on the division and the Church’s mission of spreading the gospel.
G. Thomas Evans, treasurer of the North American Division (NAD), who has served the Church for more than half a century, delivered his final financial report to the NAD executive commitment on Monday, Nov. 5. The routine report outlined the division’s consolidated financial statement, including net assets, tithe dollars received in 2017 — more than $1.020 billion — tithe dollars sent to the General Conference, mission offerings received, and investment portfolios.
Evans concluded his report with a quote from Ellen G. White: "Heaven is watching to see how those occupying positions of influence fulfill their stewardship. The demands upon them as stewards are measured by the extent of their influence. In their treatment of their fellowman, they should be as fathers — just, tender, true. They should be Christ-like in character, uniting with their brethren in the closest bonds of unity and fellowship” (Gospel Workers).
“It's been great to serve you,” said Evans during the meetings. “I've served two terms plus one year here. It's been a joy and a delight.”
Evans became the chief financial officer of the NAD in June 2007 and was re-elected in June 2010. He was previously the vice president for finance for the Southern Union Conference. Before being employed at the Southern Union, he held the same position in the Mid-America Union for 12 years. Prior to serving the union, Tom served as treasurer for local conferences and secondary academies.
“He’s in it for the right reasons,” responded Michael Jamieson, NAD undertreasurer, after Evans delivered his report. “It boggles my mind that he has 50 years of service.”
“[With] five decades to schools, conferences, unions, divisions, he's extended himself. He's given of himself. He's done all he could to advance [God's] work,” said G. Alexander Bryant, NAD executive secretary during a special prayer over the officer and his wife, Shirley. “We just want to let Tom know how much he's been appreciated by his brothers and sisters in the North American Division … We will miss him, but we know that he will continue to work for You.”
Before the prayer, Daniel R. Jackson, president of the NAD presented Evans with an award as an expression of gratitude. “We want to give this to you with our cherished memories, and with our love,” said Jackson.
Juan Prestol-Puesán, treasurer of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (GC), who also attended the division’s annual meeting, and had previously served as the NAD treasurer, shared his appreciation for Evans’ work throughout the years.
“When I was here as division treasurer, I always counted on Tom as the treasurer of the Mid-America Union. [He was a] provider of ideas and all kinds of things, fun included. Seeing him now moving away into retirement just doesn't [seem real],” said Prestol-Puesán.” “Thank you, Tom, for what you have done. Thank you for your contributions in our meetings, both here at the division and later on in the other capacities that we have served in. Shirley worked for me for 19 years. We wish you many happy years in your retirement. … I wish you both many years of happiness."
The impact of Evans’ commitment to the Church is deeply felt throughout the division, including within its headquarters.
“The treasury team has considered ourselves blessed to work with Tom Evans. His dedication, hard work, and untiring devotion has been an inspiration to all of us,” said Jamieson, after the conclusion of the meetings. “We will miss him greatly!”
Larry Blackmer, NAD vice president for education, delivered his final educational report to the executive committee on Tuesday, Nov. 6. He highlighted the division’s enrollment turnaround, the increased collaboration of Adventist higher education institutions, and the growing number of education course available through Adventist Learning Community.
“This is Larry’s final report to the NAD. We did honor him at the [NAD] Teachers’ Convention Chicago. But I really think we should give him an ovation of affirmation,” said Jackson during the business meetings.
During the 2018 NAD Teachers’ Convention, which took place two months prior in Chicago, Illinois, Blackmer was presented the Alumni Awards Foundation 2018 Excellence in Teaching Award. During the convention, a foundation representative acknowledged that, through 40 years of service, “Dr. Blackmer has earned the admiration of his students and colleagues. He has been recognized as a model educator who integrated professional excellence with Christian education.” Support for the award came from both the NAD Board of Education and General Conference Board of Education.
Blackmer was also given the President’s Award of Excellence. During the award presentation Jackson said, “The level of excellence that Larry spawns is incredible.”
“Seventh-day Adventist education runs in my blood,” said Blackmer during the Year-End Meetings, “[I’ve had] 17 years here …Thank you to each of you for your support and I ask you to support Arne [Nielson], and Leisa [Standish] just as strong as you’ve supported me.”
“Larry has been both a mentor and a coach and a friend over the years,” said Arne Nielson, NAD Education director of secondary education, who was voted by the executive committee to replace Blackmer on January 1, 2019.
“One of the things I've admired most about him is he's exemplified a very dynamic faith both in his professional life and his personal life,” said Nielsen, “He's a very strong Seventh-day Adventist Christian. That's really what stands out, followed closely by the fact that he loves Adventist education. Whatever he does from his office is filtered through the lens of what's best for kids. I admire him for that.”
Blackmer was instrumental in the creation of Adventist Learning Community, Data Rollup (an Adventist education toolkit), T-Deck (the technology committee for the division that is used for education), and the Guam-Micronesia Mission education partnerships with NAD unions. He’s been a strong advocate for accreditation for distant learning courses, seminary integration, and faith and science curriculum for higher education and K-12 education.
Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, director of education for the GC, addressed Blackmer after his report, and thanked him for strengthening the partnership between Adventist educators and pastors.
“I'd like to add my thanks on behalf of the world church for what you've done. You've not only helped develop K-12, and the numbers show that, despite a lot of pressures and the trends that are going the other way, but you've helped update what we're doing for the education of pastors,” said Beardsley-Hardy “And now as a result of that, the new international handbook for ministerial and theological of education has a component that one of the competencies of pastors’ need is to understand how the ministry of education is very much a part of pastoral work.”
Blackmer has served at Grand Ledge Academy in Grand Ledge, Michigan, as both teacher and principal; at Adelphian Academy in Holly, Michigan, as vice principal and boys’ dean; and as principal at Mount Pisgah Academy in North Carolina and Takoma Academy in Takoma Park, Maryland. Larry also served for seven years as associate superintendent in the Michigan Conference. He also served as superintendent of schools in the Idaho Conference. Prior to serving as the vice president of education for the NAD, Larry served as associate director of education for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.
“He's been a huge proponent for us and our demographic, our presence, our voice, and our engagement. [He’s consistently] intentional and active,” said Rajesh Inparaj, president of the Adventist Intercollegiate Association (AIA), after Blackmer’s report, who served as a delegate during the Year-End Meetings. “On behalf of AIA, thank you for being with us and being on our side.”
John Matthews’ final stewardship reports featured a glimpse of the creative footprint he’s leaving on the ministry — two video series, and expanded features on the stewardship app.
“John’s got as many creative ideas as birds have feathers,” said Daniel Jackson, NAD president.
“The only thing about his creativity is, since I've been in stewardship, I don't think he's slept. [I think it’s] because he's just laying awake at night just thinking of new things to do,” said Bonita Shield, associate director of Stewardship Ministries, who was elected to serve as director beginning in January 2019.
Matthews is the principle author of the First Quarter 2018 Adult Bible Study Guide, Live Stewardship...Live Happy, and co-authored with his wife, Janice, Smoky Mountain Rescue. He is also a musician, having recorded the gospel CD Keeper of My Heart. He’s also produced the film, The Mysterious Note for the ministry, and has worked alongside labradoodle “Stewardship Jack,” his canine companion who helps teach honesty and generosity to kids ages 3-7.
“It has been a valuable experience working for and with John Mathews in NAD Stewardship. His creativity and thinking outside the box have produced some unique resources. His passion and commitment for stewardship have been inspiring,” said Shields, after the meetings. “I believe one of his greatest impacts in stewardship was the writing of the First Quarter 2018 Adult Bible Study Guide titled, Stewardship: Motives of the Heart.Following the release of this quarterly, tithe increased around the globe.In the North American Division alone, we went from a little over 2 percent tithe increase trend to over 8 percent through September 2018.Well done, John!”
His ministry has included serving in Florida, Alabama, Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee, and Nebraska. He has conducted stewardship and family finance seminars throughout the North American Division since 2010.
“Thank you so much for letting me work here at the North American Division,” said Matthews. “It’s the best place on Earth.”mylonmedley Wed, 11/14/2018 - 07:19