After a two-year hiatus from regular in-person convocations, the 42nd annual Arizona Conference Black Ministries Convocation was a smashing success, according to Jonathan Smith, pastor of Tucson Sharon church. Held at the Mount Calvary Baptist church—the oldest African American church in Arizona—the two-day event featured Pastor Alexis Madrid from Florida and Southwestern Union Conference Executive Secretary Stephen Brooks, along with several musical artists.
The theme of the gathering was “So Where Do We Go From Here?” which is an appropriate question for churches to ask these days. “With the global impact of COVID-19, the rising fear of political uncertainty, and the mounting threat of civil and religious unrest, many are left with this question,” said Russel Lewars, pastor of Phoenix South Mountain church.
Northern California Conference
October was a busy month at the Sacramento Spanish church. Twenty-eight people gave their lives to the Lord in baptism. According to Jaime Calvo, district pastor of Sacramento Spanish, North Highlands Spanish, and Woodland Spanish churches, “There is one more person who wants to give his soul to the Lord, and we are excited for that day as well!”
Since the pandemic, the church has been preparing for this reaping moment with an interconnecting system that Calvo calls EMI or Every Member Involved. EMI prepares the church membership for evangelism outreach.
Southeastern California Conference
During the pandemic, Loma Linda University church (LLUC) had an influx of visitors seeking access to showers and essential hygiene products. LLUC realized that many of the resources for individuals experiencing homelessness were no longer available. They sought to address this deficit by creating a ministry that brought care directly to the homeless.
The shower trailer project, spearheaded by Israel Peralta and Ian Poujoul, developed from this desire. UReach, LLUC's outreach department, has several ministries, including Meals on Wheels, transit, tutoring, a thrift store, and a cafe. The shower trailer is a part of the ReNew Clinic, the branch of UReach's ministry dedicated to their homeless neighbors. The clinic provides haircuts, hygiene products, clothing, diapers, no-fee ID applications, résumé help, military dog tag replacement, food, and an array of other services.
Southern California Conference
This October, the Light Above congregation officially became organized as a church, 16 years after it was first formed. The congregation began meeting as a group in October 2006 and was later organized as a company in March 2018.
“Most of the core group members came from one of the islands of the Philippines—Mindanao to be specific,” said Rodrigo Alabat, pastor of the Light Above church. As a Filipino congregation in the Greater Los Angeles area, the Light Above congregation has a unique opportunity and perspective through which to do ministry in the community.
Health Care in the Pacific Union Loma Linda University Health
Loma Linda University’s San Manuel Gateway College has received a federal grant of $3 million to train more than 200 community health workers (CHW), promotores in Spanish—liaisons between clinical workers and vulnerable populations. According to school leaders, the funding will provide a significant boost for patients and community members in the region as well as the profession itself.
The grant, awarded in September, is from the Health Resources & Services Administration, an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The grant is for $1 million a year for three years, funding that will enable training for up to 75 CHWs a year—doubling the school’s number of current annual graduates.