Newsletter

ChurchRight Current Issue: December 2021 - January 2022

Read it now in PDF: English / Spanish

Categories

Decision Time

During the July 2017 General Conference Convention, our members, meeting in formal business session, voted to adopt our current General Conference bylaws. Because these revised bylaws were in some parts significantly different from our previous ones, the members-in-session adopted an accompanying resolution to allow each GC-affiliated congregation three full years to bring its own bylaws and practices into agreement with the newly revised GC bylaws.

Those three full years ended July 2020. But at that time, we all were focused on the rapidly spreading pandemic caused by COVID-19. Bylaws were the last thing on our minds! Our congregations concentrated on protecting their members and just surviving! Therefore, with the support of the GC board of directors and district superintendents, the decision was made to postpone that July 2020 deadline an additional year and a half until January 1, 2022 — a total of four-and-a-half years following the adoption of our GC bylaws.

Since July 2020, however, and especially throughout 2021, the district superintendents and district area representatives have been reminding our congregations of the January 1 deadline. They are working with congregations to bring their practices and bylaws into agreement with the GC bylaws. We certainly do not want to lose any of our affiliated congregations and their members, but it is necessary that all GC-affiliated congregations conduct themselves in agreement with the bylaws that the GC membership itself adopted. There is no point in having bylaws if we do not follow them. Congregations and members who do not are choosing to disaffiliate themselves from the General Conference.

Within a few weeks of your receiving this issue, the January 1 deadline will arrive. Do you know the status of your congregation and of the membership? Please speak with your pastor, area representative, or district superintendent. We sincerely will miss you if you choose to leave us.

— Loren Stacy

GC President

Ready to Witness? 

Don’t miss out on the new two-part quarterly series dedicated to cultivating hearts for mission. Coming to you in ‘22, My Witnesses and Home Evangelism Sabbath school quarterlies

 provide the tools for effective personal and practical evangelism. They can be ordered at https://cog7.org/online-store/. 

Join us as we strive to focus on Jesus and follow His plan!

A Growing District

Despite today’s challenges with the pandemic, our district is showing signs of growth and cooperation: steady attendance of visitors to the Calgary and Parkland congregations; requests for membership/affiliation by some of the attendees; recent baptisms in Parkland (pictured); successful workday in Calgary; strengthening our core of volunteers in teaching youth and adult lessons; and volunteer speakers online and locally in various groups.

Our online ministries continue to benefit our members-at-large and others in congregations. Ongoing Zoom presentations of Sabbath school and worship services outside of Calgary, along with Monday evening prayer meetings, have been shored up with the biweekly Bible study from Parkland.

Closing out October (Pastor Appreciation Month), nothing is more encouraging or rewarding than to know you are not alone. No one pastor or superintendent can keep a district advancing to God’s glory.

While the undercurrent of the pandemic is causing divisive tremors in our ranks, God is graciously building us up through the dedication of two local church elders. Weeks and months on end, their quiet dedication encourages and stabilizes their congregations. My task is made that much easier, as I’m not bogged down with the daily logistics of these groups, leaving more time for other tasks.

We praise God for these men and our progress!

Renewed at retreat.

Brothers from around the Michigan area met October 22-24 for our eleventh annual Men’s Retreat. Fifty-one joined us from Wisconsin, West Virginia, Indiana, and Michigan, including brand new non-members. We experienced great fellowship, laughs, and great messages about “Taking” back what the devil has stolen from us. Mark your calendars for next year’s retreat. Grab a couple of guys from your church or friends from work, and plan on joining us next year October 21-23, 2022, at Faholo Conference Center (faholo.org). — Steve Rodriguez

New building.

The CoG7 congregation in Richmond, VA, led by Brother Tomas Flores, dedicated their new building on September 12. Delegations from sister churches in Area IV were present, including Area Representative Jose Marín. Elders Jose A. Vega and Narciso Betances (Lanham, MD) officiated. The inspiring service and joyful time of sharing lunch together blessed all. This congregation is an excellent host. Plan a visit soon: 3125 Hartwell Drive, Richmond, VA 23234.

District meeting.

We held our biannual NED board meeting October 15-17 in New York. We spent a great Sabbath with our hosts, the United Church of God (Seventh Day), enjoying Sabbath school and their worship service. It was one of those Sabbath celebrations where you linger outside with great fellowship and don’t want to leave. Pastor Crayton (pictured left), Sister Debbie, and their members generously supplied our needs, including great food and a conference area to conduct our meetings through Sunday afternoon. A big thank you and praise the Lord for His goodness and to this great church!  

Training leaders.

The district’s annual Leaders Conference was held August 20-22 at the Ramada Conference Center in Jacksonville, FL. Larry Zaragoza (West Coast district superintendent) and Mike Vlad (retired pastor, Denver) spoke to 140 church leaders and wives on evangelism. GC President Loren Stacy delivered the Sabbath sermon titled “Focus on Jesus.” Plans are being made to bring this presentation to various regions throughout the district in 2022.

Learning to trust.

The district Women’s Ministry, led by Zahida Hrenyk, held its annual women’s retreat October 1-3 at Camp Kulaqua in Florida, centering on the theme “Trusting God in Hard Times.” Gathering from churches in Stone Mountain and Marietta, GA; Winston-Salem, NC; and Haines City, Dundee, and LaBelle, FL, the ladies shared in praise and worship. Presentations were given by Jenny Stevens (Hammondville, AL), Allison Krome (Chattanooga, TN), and Olga Cruz and Yoli Villatoro (Stone Mountain, GA). There was plenty of time for visiting, special presentations, and a visit to the camp zoo.

Baptism blessings.

On October 2, three new members were baptized in the Tarboro, NC church. Congratulations to Yanci Cartagena, Oscar Ramirez, and Maria Isabel. Congratulations as well to the Tarboro church!

Joint baptism.

On October 9, the congregations in Stone Mountain and Baxley, GA, held a joint baptism service for ten new members at Lake Lanier, near Atlanta. Pastor Ismael Martinez delivered the message and performed the baptisms, along with Pastor Walter Apen. Following the afternoon services, all of the members of both churches enjoyed a welcoming dinner.

Bringing hope.

David and Cathy Burrell were honored on September 13 for their leadership in the HOPE ministry for more than six years. Families and brethren who have been helped by the program gathered and gave thanks for this couple and for all those who work with this ministry. HOPE ministry has been a blessing to the Fort Smith, AR church, as well as to the district.

Prayer and praise.

We are thankful that the ladies of prayer and praise gathered September 19 at our sister church La Casa del Alfarero in San Antonio, TX. The group was encouraged through the service. 

Blessed through baptism.

On September 12, our sister church, Monte Hermon in Area 1, witnessed four brethren confess their sins and faith in Jesus Christ. Pastor Ramon Ruiz conducted the baptisms. Pastor Jose Antonio Hinojosa conducted baptisms at our sister church in San Antonio, TX, Bethel Casa de Misericordia, on October 9. We rejoice because of these blessings.

Encouraged in October.

Brethren gathered October 16 from the Jasper, AR church and from all over the district for Octoberfest. As every year, the event was a blessing for everyone, and different messages during the day encouraged folks to remain faithful to the Lord. Brethren enjoyed the fellowship, worship, and just being part of Octoberfest. We thank God for His presence!

Pastoral support.

 Pastors, their wives, church boards/committees, and leaders of Area 5 gathered on October 10 for a leadership meeting at our sister church, Ceralvo in San Antonio, TX. Brethren heard the Word of God from Elder Daniel Flores and his wife, who emphasized the importance of making decisions inside and outside the church environment. GC Executive Director Jody McCoy thanked the pastors for their work and encouraged them to continue moving forward. Upcoming events and other important details were provided in the meeting. 

Super Sabbath.

 The Oklahoma Conference celebrated its Super Sabbath weekend October 22-24 in Dover. Families in the area worshipped, fellowshipped, and enjoyed a great time praising God for His faithfulness and goodness. Pictured here are Pastor Barry Mauldin (left) and Area Representative Clarence Ullrich in a presentation.

Celebrating pastors.

Several churches in the district celebrated Pastor Appreciation Month. On October 16, the El Paso-Central church recognized Pastor Rubén Beard and his wife, Susana, as well as co-pastor Armando Aguirre and his wife, Nora. Sister Manuelita Ríos read a poem she had composed, and Secretary Becky Atilano shared a few words of gratitude. Sister Antonia López guided us in a prayer to thank our God for these two men
and their wives.

New pastor.

John Marlin and his wife, Amy, have arrived in Denver, CO! On November 6, Elder Marlin was installed by Superintendent Ken Lawson and the local church board as pastor of the congregation in Thornton, CO. Welcome, John and Amy, to the Central District and to the Denver congregation!