Opening doors for collegiate young adults is part of the ongoing vision for the Tempe church. Located adjacent to the Arizona State University campus and right across the street from the performing arts center, the church has often been a location for Adventist students to worship. When Pastor Mike Soto became the pastor of the church in 2022, he brought with him a vision of continuing the outreach to the entire student body of the campus.
In November 2022, Pastor Soto started a young adult Sabbath School called “Faith and Culture.” “This is not a traditional Sabbath School class but a different type of fellowship,” said Pastor Soto. “The discussion in this class is designed to challenge, provoke, and strengthen believers from diverse backgrounds. Difficult questions will be faced without fear or hostility.”
Central California Conference
The ministerial retreat for the Central California Conference takes place at the beginning of each year to cast a vision for that year. The 2023 ministerial retreat started in a new way, though. For the first time, elders from each church were included in addition to the pastors who normally attend. The event brought together 428 individuals from the conference who were able to spend time together, encourage each other, and grow through learning more about God.
“We realized if we want to mobilize our churches in the conference, we need to have our pastors and our elders working together,” explained Ricardo Viloria, ministerial and church planting director for the Central California Conference. The goals of this event were based on the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them” (NIV).
Recently, the pastors of the Hawaii Conference attended the first workers’ meetings to be held since January of 2020. They met together on the island of Kauai at the Makanalani Non-profit Camp. It was a peaceful getaway for worship, fellowship, and professional development. There were scenic trails for hiking. Within a short six-minute drive were sandy white beaches where attendees could watch the sunrise and have personal devotions.
Each day, pastors were blessed to hear seminars on such topics as church growth, finding balance in ministry, working with schools, evangelism, and celebrating successes in ministry.
I learned that there are people out here who care… and it’s refreshing to see.” This quote from one of the attendees of the annual Youth Ministry Leadership Training encapsulated the effort of the Nevada-Utah Conference’s Youth Department, spearheaded by Pastor Rudy Alvir. The team wanted the leaders from across the three represented states—namely California, Nevada, and Utah—to know that they are valuable and that the conference wants to invest in them, resulting in an event that was full of marquee speakers and skilled workshop presenters.
The theme of the convention was “Be one, make one.” Inspired by the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, each guest speaker stressed the importance of discipleship, not just for leaders but for all Christians. It is each leader’s relationship with Christ that will determine their success in ministry. Without discipleship, Youth Ministry will just be reduced to entertainment or a list of activities. Being a disciple of Christ will keep leaders motivated because they will see each young person the way God sees them.
Northern California Conference
For several weeks, groups have been meeting in churches to strategize and train.
The attendees are volunteers, each called by the Holy Spirit to step out in faith. Their ages span from young to old, appearances range from grizzled to refined, and personalities extend from subdued to outgoing. Their quest will be to plant missional church groups in their neighborhoods. One of the goals of these micro-churches is to reach parts of communities that traditional services cannot.
Southeastern California Conference
How many are interested in going with me on a mission trip to Pakistan?” When Rodney Bowes, assistant pastor of Mentone church, posed this question, he was met with a lot of perplexed looks and comments about how dangerous such a trip could be.
At the Adventist-Laymen’s Services & Industries convention in 2017, Bowes met Amjad Waryam from God of Life International, who showed him photos of Pakistani people hearing the gospel. The Lord put a desire in his heart to go and preach the three angels’ messages in the Islamic country. Although several factors and the pandemic made it difficult, the doors of opportunity finally began to open in the summer of 2022.
Southern California Conference
It’s been more than a year since the Norwalk church began its weekly food pantry. This ministry serves more than 100 families each week with fresh fruit, dry food, bread, pastries, clothing, diapers, and more.
Food comes through multiple partnerships and sources, including the Los Angeles Food Bank, El Camino A Cristo church, and more. Donations of clothing and other items are given by church members. “It’s become very, very, very powerful in terms of helping to reduce food insecurities in the neighborhood and community,” Peter Baptiste, Norwalk church pastor, noted.
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