ChurchRight Current Issue: August-September 2020

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Luella Enid (Sheffield) Barnes

1928 – 2020

Luella Barnes (91) passed away August 24. She was born September 5, 1928, in Fairview, Oklahoma, to Glenn and Thressa (Cole) Sheffield. She was third in line, following her brothers Leonard and Wesley. Wilma June, Gene, and Ruth soon followed. When Luella was just four years old, she lost her sister, Wilma June.

It was difficult to make a living in Oklahoma due to the Great Depression. Because of this and the Dust Bowl, the Sheffield family left for Oregon in 1937. Luella celebrated her eighth birthday in Nebraska while en route.

In 1947, Luella met her future husband, Milford “Mick” Barnes, after he had been released from a hospital in Billings, Montana. He had been there over a year having suffered injuries in a plane crash on his way home from serving in World War II. Mick was one of three survivors from the crash.

Mick and Luella married December 25, 1947, and eventually had four children: Sharon, Dianne, Jim, and Marie. Mick passed away in 1989 and Sharon in 2005.

The Barnes family settled in Jefferson, Oregon, to be with other family. Luella’s younger siblings, Willard and Helen, arrived soon after. Today, Helen is the only surviving sibling. She has been more like one of Luella’s kids, as Luella helped raise her. Helen spent a lot of time with Luella’s family after their father died when she was just thirteen.

As a child, Luella was a tomboy, chasing after her brothers. She loved to ride her bike, swim, roller skate, and go to movies. Luella loved crafts of all kinds and was an excellent seamstress, knitter, crocheter, and gardener. She was a great cook and canned fruits and vegetables every summer.

Luella held many jobs over the years. Her first was at age ten, picking green beans in the fields. After she graduated from Jefferson, Oregon, in 1946, she went to work in Salem at The Ink Spot, where she was a typist/bookkeeper/mimeograph operator. She also worked in an elementary school kitchen and would bring home fresh cinnamon rolls for her kids. In her later years, she worked for an optometrist in Albany before retiring in 1988.

A lifelong member of the Church of God (Seventh Day), Luella attended South Albany Community Church for the last two years of her life. She was always involved in church activities and roles, including teaching, Bible studies, secretary/treasurer, and attendance clerk.

Luella is survived by her sister Helen (Ollie) Helgeson; daughters Dianne (Gene) Sanders and Marie Barnes; son Jim (Debie) Barnes; grandchildren Corey/Amanda Barnes, Sarah/Michael (Sanders) Smith, Jessee/Jennifer Barnes, Nathan/Neronica Sanders; Elysse and Mikkayla Boarman, Nicole/Jake (Barnes) Ratajczak, and Mandi Barnes; great-grandchildren Benjamin, Abigail, Charlotte, Hannalise, and Cayden.

Petra Salazar

1932 – 2020

Petra S. Salazar (88) passed away peacefully August 8. She was born June 28, 1932, in San Antonio, Texas, to Elder Manuel and Carmen Solis.

Petra married Arnulfo C. Salazar on July 29, 1956, and they enjoyed 46 years together. She was a longtime member of the Church of God (Seventh Day) and enjoyed serving the Lord in women’s ministry. A devoted wife, Petra also served alongside her husband in ministry.

Petra is survived by her seven children: Joel (Christina), Abel (Eva), Samuel (Sandra), Naomi Tuller (Dwayne), Loida Vergara (Eddie), Daniel Salazar, and Manuel (Jessica); eighteen grandchildren, nineteen great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews; and her sisters: Clara Riojas, Maria Mireles, Marta Silva, Noemi Lawrence, and Rita Rodriguez.

Petra was preceded in death by her parents, husband, sisters Juanita Yanez and Felecitas Salazar, and brothers Alejos and Manuel Jr.

The Answer

In the past, like many of you, I’ve lived through wars both hot and cold. I’ve stood in line to be vaccinated against horrible diseases and waited in longer lines, hoping to get a rationed necessity: gasoline. I’ve suffered financial loss and prayed to recover as the economy crashed, then slowly grew strong again. I’ve been unable to attend church services because of social unrest and riots. And I’ve struggled to remain hopeful through horrible political election cycles and the administrations of leaders with whom I’ve completely disagreed.

But this year, 2020, it’s “déjà vu all over again” — and it seems to be hitting us all at once! What’s worse, we’ve been denied needed human contact and comfort for long periods of time. We’ve stayed home. We’ve “social distanced.” We’ve covered our faces, preventing ourselves from knowing if people are smiling or frowning. Depression and discouragement have spread a vague uneasiness that something is very wrong. Emotions have often overcome common sense, and rational discussions about some topics have become impossible.

What shall we do? Focus on Jesus and follow His plan! Remember and share the gospel. From the beginning, our unchanging God has had an unchanging mission and plan to reconcile His amazing creation to Himself in Christ Jesus. Because Jesus died for our sins, we who believe are saved from the coming wrath of God against sin, and we are invited to join God in His great work as ministers of reconciliation and ambassadors for Christ. No present circumstance or cause is more important. Nothing must be allowed to distract us.

In 1973, singer/songwriter Andraé Crouch penned the lyrics to
“Jesus Is the Answer,” affirming that He is the only solution for our world today. His beloved song is as true and relevant today as it has ever been. In spite of all that is happening throughout the United States and Canada, your General Conference staff members — district and Denver — remain on task and available. Whatever your role may be, please join us. Keep the main thing the main thing. Focus on Jesus and follow His plan!

— Loren Stacy

COVID-19 Response

When the coronavirus hit the Central District, nearly 100 members contracted it. Two of them passed away, and others were in serious condition. Many of our congregations were hit with unemployment: several at 30 percent, two at 50, one at 70, and another at 100.

All or most of our churches shut down. The immediate need in some areas was for basic groceries, rent assistance, and funeral expenses, so we began to raise funds. Thanks to Steve Krome and the Southeast District board for contributing financial assistance. Local churches in our district also established a Relief Assistance Fund, raising almost $25,000. They set up a system to distribute contributions through our district board members — directly to the needs in the local churches they represent.

The hardest hit areas were in Chicago, Illinois, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Thanks to those churches that quickly donated some of their local funds to meet this emergency need: Alfred, Fargo, St. Paul, Denver, Southeast District board, Devil’s Lake, Kearney, and numerous individuals. Hard-hit churches in Chicago met many needs of their sister churches in the area.

Special appreciation to Elder Miguel Gonzalez and Elder Ronald Rousseau, two of our pastors in Chicago and members of our district board who assisted Chicago local churches. They and numerous families purchased and delivered groceries to the families of our brothers and sisters hardest hit.

Spiritual gifts, hearts of compassion, and a lot of hard work define us in times of crisis. May God be with us all as we assist each other and adapt to the needs of God’s people during this critical and difficult time. Just to say thanks does not seem like enough, but this comes from sincere hearts of appreciation!


Several pastors of the SWD are reopening their churches at 50 percent capacity, or some at full capacity, depending on the restrictions of their city and state. Many of them have created videos and graphics to inform the church of guidelines when they come back. This provides a clear communication among members, pastors, and community.

Pastoral support.

On June 25 the SWD pastors received encouragement and support from Elder Whaid Rose. Gathering on Zoom, more than 50 pastors were motivated to have Jesus in their hearts all the time. This way, when they share the Word with others, people can feel the love and presence of Jesus. Continue praying for these pastors.

Virtual Super Sabbaths.

The SWD will conduct virtual Super Sabbaths in the upcoming months. The first one is scheduled for July 24-25 in Area 6, with the theme “Time to Trust.” Through this initiative, we can bless our people during the pandemic.

75 years!

On May 19, 2020, Eliseo and Maria Davila celebrated 75 years of marriage. They were married in Montemorelos, NL, Mexico, on May 19, 1945, and have resided in Corpus Christi, TX, for 64 years. They love God and are active members of the Church of God (Seventh Day). They are blessed with a big family and a loving church family as well! We praise the Lord for this testimony of love and faith.

Save the Date!

Our GC Convention is scheduled for July 5-10, 2021, in Covington, Kentucky. Activities will be centered around the Northern Kentucky Convention Center.

Make plans now to join your Conference president, board of directors, and fellow believers in conducting church business and exploring our theme, “Faithful.”

Not far away is the Ark Encounter, a full-size replica of Noah’s ark. Just 40 miles south, the ark joins many other nearby tourist sites and attractions to round out your family vacation.

Watch our church publications for detailed information in the months ahead. In the meantime, pray for those on the Convention Committee as they make plans to serve you before and during Convention 2021.

Mark that calendar, and we’ll see you there!

Worship in the Field

West Coast District

Contributor: Martha Ling

“When life brings you lemons, make lemonade!”

We have all been dealt an unexpected hand this spring with COVID-19. It has created quite a challenge in meeting the needs of our congregations while living within the legislated guidelines of our various locales.

After several test starts, hoping to meet semi-normally within our church sanctuary, the Marion, Oregon CoG7 has come up with an alternate plan for worship during the summer of 2020 that will accommodate the size of our congregation.

God has blessed us with a large grassy field on our church campus, so each week we meet in the field. We are spread out in family groupings, socially distanced to meet health guidelines. (Under new rules, the sanctuary does not accommodate all of our attendees.)

Thanks to our deacons and sound team bringing power to the field, we can once again listen, in person, to the worship team and pastors on their improvised trailer stage. All of us worship together, masked or unmasked (depending on our comfort level), praising our Lord and Savior! At the same time, we continue to livestream the service for those who cannot be physically present.

If you find yourself in our neighborhood this summer, stop by and join in! We have plenty of room in God’s field!

Thelma Willhelm

1929 – 2020

Thelma Dell Willhelm (90) of Campbellsville, Kentucky, was born October 17, 1929, in Bloomer, Wisconsin, to Louis and Cleone (Allmon) Harris. She departed this life on June 28, 2020, at the Grandview Nursing and Rehab Center in Campbellsville.

Thelma had made a profession of faith in Christ and was a member of the Church of God (Seventh Day) in Denver, Colorado. She was a retired employee of the General Conference office.

Thelma enjoyed creating lasting heirlooms; her crocheted and knitted keepsakes are dearly treasured. She had a strong work ethic throughout her life, and loved to travel and sing with her family.

Thelma is survived by her husband, William Harold Willhelm; two daughters, Lawanna Abell and Virginia Uhlir (Mike); four grandchildren (Jeff Uhlir, Cheryl Westfall, Willie Abell, and Amanda Kelley); ten great-grandchildren; and a host of other family and friends. She was preceded in death by a son-in-law, Greg Abell, and seven siblings.

Billie N. Veyro

1938 – 2020

Billie N. Veyro (82) passed away on June 21 in Dallas, Texas. She was born Billie Nell Parmer in Slaton, Texas, on May 31, 1938, the daughter of Ruby Summers (nee Rudd) and Bill Parmer. She was preceded in death by her husband, Florencio Veyro, who served as pastor of the Lubbock, Texas CoG7 and on the Southwest District board.

Billie Nell loved to sing, write poetry, and sew. In 1956, she graduated from Slaton High School, where she was active in the pep squad, choir, FHA, speech club, and drama. From the time she was a child, Billie Nell was a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and a member of First Baptist Church in Slaton. After marrying, she became a member of the Church of God (Seventh Day) in Lubbock, where she spent many years teaching the children’s Sabbath school class.

On January 6, 1968, Billie Nell married Florencio Veyro Costales. They made their home in Lubbock and had three daughters. For many years she worked at Methodist Hospital (now Covenant Medical Center) in Lubbock as a medical transcriptionist.

Billie Nell is survived by her three daughters (Candace Renae Townsley, Julia Michelle Sanchez, and Laura Elizabeth Sanchez,); her two sons–in–law, Jacob and Ben Sanchez; and six beautiful grandchildren: Courtney Moreen (Christopher) Arnold, Mary Elizabeth (Jim) Bausch, Jacob Veyro Sanchez, Clara Julia Sanchez, Catherine Geneviève Sanchez, and Josiah Veyro Sanchez. Billie Nell was also blessed with a great-grandchild, Ava Sophia Arnold.

Billie Nell passed on her love of singing and music, writing, and sewing to her children and grandchildren. Until we meet again, she will be dearly missed and lovingly remembered.

Donations to the American Kidney Fund are graciously accepted.

Certainly Uncertain

If there were a contest to determine the top ten most heard phrases these past few months, I’d submit uncertain times. It seems that every television commercial, corporate email, and newscast contains at least one sentence that begins, “In these uncertain times. . . .”
These times certainly are uncertain. An unseen and previously unknown threat, COVID-19, suddenly changed our lives. Some people became seriously ill, and many more became seriously afraid. Businesses closed. Churches didn’t meet in person. Hundreds of thousands lost their jobs. Will things ever return to what they were before? We don’t know. Uncertain times.
I am, however, certain about these three things:
• The Church of God (Seventh Day) is alive and well. Within the United States and Canada, congregations are livestreaming worship services, Zooming Bible studies, and staying in touch electronically. District superintendents and area representatives continue to communicate. Artios Christian College, Missions, and Bible Advocate Press haven’t missed a beat, thanks to technologies available. Our Denver offices have remained open to serve us.
• Our local congregations, districts, and Conference continue to need tithes and offerings. Budgeted expenses are being cut to the bone. Scheduled salary raises have been withheld. Leadership meetings, Super Sabbaths, retreats, and camps are being cancelled. Leaders are doing everything possible to protect the financial health of our church, but many expenses cannot be eliminated. We continue to need the tithes and offerings of our members.
• The almighty God we serve and in whom we trust remains in absolute control. Nothing that is happening surprises Him or overwhelms Him. Throughout human history, God has demonstrated His faithfulness to those who place themselves in His hands. Present difficulties never annul God’s eternal promises and plans.
I am uncertain of much. But God, His mission, and His promised outcomes are not among them. Keep faith with God!
— Loren Stacy

Sabbath School Zooms!

On Sabbath, April 25, BAP curriculum editor
Jason Overman was the guest teacher for Lesson 4 of the Prince of Peace quarterly, via Zoom. Over 230 households “Zoomed in” for the lesson. Even in desperate times of uncertainty, God’s grace opens up new opportunities for His people in ways we could not imagine.
Special thanks to Pastor Donville Bell and the Rhema Praise Sanctuary CoG7 family in Willowdene, Jamaica.
Jason is available to teach lessons and hold discussions via Zoom. Contact him at jason.overman@cog7. org.

Ministering God’s Way

My family and I had just come home from spending time with our family in Arizona, only to enter quarantine on March 15. We wanted to start on our district travels, beginning with our biannual board meeting. Well, that didn’t occur. The March and April calendars were filled with different district-wide functions, but they were cancelled or postponed.
As a ministries director for women, my calendar cleared up quickly. It made me sad, and I wondered how I would fill the time. But God had other plans.
I began receiving requests that needed to be filled by our Prayer Shawl Ministry. In two weeks, we sent out eleven prayer shawls and one coverlet for those needing prayer due to the virus and hospitalization. Recently, another three went to friends of members. We have done 22 prayer shawls since the quarantine began.
I thank God for the technology He has provided. We are holding women’s meetings, devotions, prayer time, and chat time on Zoom. Our Ossining, New York women’s group did a group meeting recently, and members from various churches joined in. We retreated with several women from Boston, Bridgeport, Winchester, and other cities.
In mid-April our own local women’s group Bible study met online. It was great to see others and have a study and “catch up” time.

Church is still going on. It may not be as we know it, but we must remember we are the church, so we will continue to minister in ways that God provides.

Bringing comfort. Women Equipping Women in the NED have been busy! They made a prayer blanket for Pastor Donald Gouldbourne (Boston, MA), who was having major health issues, and sent it to him in March. In late January, Laura Sinai Chavez in Fort Wayne, IN (Warsaw St. congregation) was scheduled for surgery, so her mom requested a prayer afghan for her.

I am a discipleship cell leader. In this time of pandemic, I am sending devotionals to twenty brothers daily. At the same time, I remind them to all pray at 7:00 p.m. as Pastor Antonio Vega suggested. In my home we have Bible study on Thursdays and Fridays. — Areli Vega, Church of God, Lanham, MD

The Lanham, Maryland congregation has been reaching out during the coronavirus outbreak. Read what their various ministries are doing at

Board Meeting

March 14-15, just before the shut down for COVID-19, the Central District board completed its 2020 meeting in St Paul, Minnesota.
Extra time was spent working to increase the effective Ministry Program, which consists of all our camps, retreats, and Super Sabbaths. There are well over 25 of these valuable camping and fellowship events in our district.
The board signed a letter of thanks to Crist Romero (Waukegan, Illinois), who completed a four-year term working with our translation needs. She also helped organize and work personally with the growing number of members-at-large in our twelve-state district.
Due to a generous contribution from Still Waters Prairie Retreat in Alfred, North Dakota, we approved a committee to manage these funds. It will assist all Central District Pastoral Program students taking classes at Artios by covering all their tuition costs.
Perhaps like every district, much of our meeting was consumed with trying to create a balanced budget. New appointments for the coming year were made, the budget was adopted, and the minutes were approved. Then everybody scrambled to get home as news of the pandemic and coming shutdown threatened.

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