Arizona News December 2023

Men's Ministries Fall Retreat

Over 70 men attended this year’s Fall Men’s Retreat at Camp Yavapines, September 22 to 24. Pastor Gary and Maryilynn Venden led out in the praise and worship portions of the program, and Pastor Eddie Turner was the featured speaker for the event. But it was a team effort from many individuals that made the weekend a success.

The fellowship for the men was both inspiring and invigorating throughout the weekend. There were seasons of prayer throughout the weekend and time to socialize and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Camp Yavapines.





Women’s Ministries Fall Retreat

The Arizona Conference Women Ministries Retreat took place October 13 to 15 at Camp Yavapines. It was the 35th annual fall retreat. The theme was “Cruise with Jesus” with guest speaker Pastor Melanie Cruz from the Phoenix-Camelback church. Her presentations on Psalm 23 were insightful and a true blessing for those who attended.

Women’s Ministries Director Lynn Ortel started out the meetings dressed as a ship’s captain to introduce the theme. All the members of the Women Ministries Team worked hard to make the entire weekend a memorable experience.





43rd Black Ministries Convocation

Dr. Carlton Byrd, president of the Southwest Regional Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, was the featured speaker for the Arizona Conference Black Ministries Convocation 2023. Dr. Byrd’s message Friday night was based on Abraham and Isaac’s faith in following God’s command to sacrifice Isaac.

Following God’s instructions may not always make sense in human terms, but in God’s plan He will reveal Himself. That was followed by a message on Sabbath that focused on Peter’s faith to step out onto the water and to avoid being “boat people” who stay in the boat and offer distractions to those who are stepping out in faith.

In addition to the powerful messages from Byrd, the Convocation Praise Team and the Unity in Music team provided inspirational praise sessions. Unity in Music performed Sabbath evening to close out the convocation.

Throughout the weekend, fellowship was a central theme as church members gathered from around the conference to worship and praise.

The Black Ministries pastoral team includes Pastor Jean Coffy of the Bethel Community company, Pastor Ranison Kennedy of the Tucson Marantha church, Pastor Russell Lewars of the South Mountain church, Jonathan Smith of the Tucson Sharon church, and Hamilton Williams of the Phoenix Beacon Light church. The convocation was coordinated by Raynah Morris, who is the administrative assistant for the Black Ministries Department. Elder Virgil Childs, Pacific Union Conference Black Ministries Vice President, gave greetings from the Pacific Union.

The 43rd Black Ministries Convocation took place on the campus of Thunderbird Adventist Academy October 27 and 28. Next year’s convocation will be in Tucson.



Thunderbird Adventist Academy Hosts Stem Festival

Thunderbird Adventist Academy’s math and science department recently hosted its first STEM Festival in October, which brought together 115 fifth - through eighth-grade students from four Arizona Adventist schools. This first-of-its-kind event at TAA aimed to cultivate the Five C’s of 21st-century learning: collaboration, character, creativity, critical thinking, and communication.

With the presence of renowned speaker Ben Roy and math and science professors from Pacific Union College, Union College, and Walla Walla University, students were able to explore different STEM disciplines and enhance their skills in a fun and interactive environment.

Through group activities and projects, students were encouraged to work together, exchange ideas, and solve problems collectively. This collaborative approach not only enhanced their understanding of STEM concepts but also instilled important character traits such as teamwork, empathy, and respect for diverse perspectives. By engaging in group challenges, students learned the value of cooperation and the power of collective intelligence.

A highlight of the STEM Festival was Ben Roy, Adventist educator and scientist. Mr. Roy delivered captivating demonstrations and engaging worship talks that inspired students to pursue their passion for STEM. His interactive presentations showcased the real-world applications of STEM concepts, making them relatable and exciting for the young audience. Through his talks, Ben emphasized how God is central to each of the areas involved in STEM and encouraged students to embrace STEM to make a positive impact on the world.

Thunderbird Adventist Academy’s STEM Festival was a resounding success, providing an enriching experience for the participating fifth- through eighth-graders, our high school students, and the greater Arizona Conference. By focusing on collaboration, character, creativity, critical thinking, and communication, this event effectively opened discussion on meeting the challenges of 21st-century education. Ben Roy, the university professors, teachers, and students were blessed by the gracious God who made us and allows us to use the gifts He gives to honor and glorify His name.