Creative Ministry in Sedona
By Jeff Rogers
For many who travel to Sedona, Arizona, the beautiful red rock formations are reminders of the creative powers of God. Others are on a different spiritual journey seeking metaphysical vortexes and crystal or salt rooms.
The culture in Sedona is focused on a love of nature and healthy living which can be difficulty to open up to Christianity.
Pastor Dale Morgan and his wife Rhonda have been attempting to reach the community in Sedona through creative means that addresses these interests. In a recent dialogue with Pastor Morgan, we discussed these outreaches and specifically the New U Café that the church has been developing.
Q. How successful has the New U Café been since it was started?
A: We started in March of 2023 and have been very successful in networking with out-of-town guests and asking them to share their list of names of local people who could possibly connect with our Church. We also have had up to eleven non-member, local Sedona people who have attended the New U Café at one time with numbers like this on several other occasions as well.
These kind of visitor and guest numbers haven’t been experienced in the Sedona Church in a long time.
Q. What is the purpose or ministry intent in the type of food being served?
A: We want to showcase the best possible nutrition of a plant-based diet. Rhonda prepares the food and we have church members and other volunteers help serve it.
The intent is for the food to help one become a “New You” with lower numbers in blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, etc. Rhonda was inspired by those who had vegan restaurants in the 1980s and 1990s, and we wanted to also incorporate the “New Start” principals from Weimar Institute.
Rhonda is also going for a plant-based model with an SOS diet twist. (no/low usage of Salt, Oil, and Sugar).
Q. So what is the community like surrounding the church?
A: The community is primarily secular in nature with people interested in non-material spirituality. This means that they have a love for the outdoors and nature with an interest in nutrition and healthy lifestyles.
The New U Café is finding success in connecting with some of these individuals.
Q. Is the New U Café the only initiative the church is planning to reach the community?
A: No. we are currently developing a Grief Group, we have a clothing center and are following up on contacts made from Cottonwood’s Arizona Sonshine in March of this year. We also recently completed a weekend seminar about How to supercharge your immune system.
We have plans for the New U Café to be a center to run health seminars that go along with the health principles. For example, 8 weeks to Wellness and the 8 Natural Remedies Seminar. And we have plans to run a smoothie bar during the week on the lower-level scenic porch.
We are also trying to bring a young missionary family from New Zealand to help jump start our Young Adult and Children Outreach Ministries.
Q. How have church members reacted to this ministry?
A: Since we have been doing this the average weekly Church attendance has risen significantly, and the members love the new food venue, right at their very own Church.
Q. Do you feel this type of ministry could be replicated elsewhere or is it unique to your setting and community?
A: Yes. It can be replicated anywhere. Society in general has become more secular and less traditionally religious so these initiatives have broad transferability to other locations and churches.
We have had interests from Adventists who have visited the Sedona church in adopting some of the ideas in their own churches. A lady in Michigan wants us to talk to her local church board to see if they can adopt the New U Café at her church.
Another young guest who is a professional teacher in the Northwest was so excited to see this Café-styled venue that she said that she would love to move to Sedona when she retired and help us out.
Another young out-of-town guest was thrilled beyond measure to be able to choose her seat in our open seating setting and to be served. She thanked us many times for doing what we are doing.
Women for Women
By Ginger Heald
On a typical Sabbath day at Tucson Desert Valley Seventh-day Adventist Church, Beverly Anderson, a member of the congregation, approached Ginger Heald, another member, with an untypical request.
For some time, God had been whispering in Bev’s ear that He needed her to begin a women’s ministry program at Desert Valley. And her request was for Ginger to join her in that effort. Also feeling God’s leading, Ginger agreed, and the two women began “Women for Women (W4W)” in January of 2020, with a mission “To provide a spiritual atmosphere to nurture, encourage, and draw women close to Jesus; and to share acceptance and support in a non-judgmental and non- denominational way.”
Twenty-three women attended the first luncheon featuring the theme, “Glimpses of Love.” Another luncheon followed in February, and plans were underway for March when the COVID-19 pandemic shut down all activities.
During the following year, the two ladies were determined to keep the ministry alive and make sure the women who had been attending knew they were not forgotten. Handmade cards with messages of encouragement were mailed from time to time; and on a Sunday in early May of 2020, Bev and Ginger drove over 400 miles around the city of Tucson delivering May baskets to each of the ladies.
In November of 2022, Women for Women luncheons resumed with a Thanksgiving theme. The December luncheon included a Christmas concert performed by a string quartet of professional musicians, much to the delight of the ladies in attendance. Monthly luncheons continued through May 2023 before discontinuing for the summer.
Each month features a theme and the tables are beautifully decorated. A delicious vegetarian luncheon is prepared to meet the various dietary needs of the attendees. Following lunch, a themed program is presented that includes a devotional, craft, and group game.
The attendance has grown since its inception, and those who attend have expressed their appreciation for this ministry. The organizers have been blessed and amazed with the many ways God has led, inspired, and directed as they plan each month.