News Letter


Today, my first day home following our convention in Covington, Kentucky, my heart is filled with many different emotions. Relief. Loneliness for friends I won’t see for a while. But my foremost emotion is gratitude.

I’m incredibly grateful to God. Throughout the past four years, there have been moments of great sadness, near despair, significant uncertainty, and wake-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night fear. And those are just my responses to situations concerning convention contracts I’m responsible to sign! Yet God graciously granted my and others’ requests of Him, resulting in the amazing convention we’ve just enjoyed.

I’m grateful for our many volunteers. The Planning Committee, led by Mary Jean Knoll, deserves special recognition. These wonderful brothers and sisters signed on to help plan our 2021 convention, but then continued another two years when it had to be cancelled. Additionally, our 2023 convention staff consisted of at least eighteen different teams of volunteers, each team covering a different area to serve our attendees. Of the over one-thousand people who attended the 2023 convention, I would not be surprised if somewhere between one hundred and two hundred of them (10-20 percent) volunteered in some capacity during the week.

I’m grateful for a number of “new friends” — staff of the Northern Kentucky Visitors and Conventions Bureau, the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, and the various hotels we inhabited during convention week. The Visitors and Conventions Bureau alone provided tens of thousands of dollars to help us cover our convention needs and obligations.

Finally, I’m grateful for everyone who attended our GC Convention. They worshipped, learned, fellowshipped, conducted business, and left behind great impressions of Christ and our church. The “new friends” who served us would love for us to return!

It hasn’t been decided where or exactly when we will hold our 2025 Convention, but it isn’t too soon to begin planning to attend. If you do, I’ll be grateful.

— Loren Stacy

GC President

2023 Convention!

Board of Directors

The election of members to the General Conference board of directors was unusual at this convention. Because the 2021 Convention was cancelled, this forced several board members to serve an extra two years. Also, two board members resigned between the 2019 and 2023 Conventions. Therefore, nine members of our twelve-member board were elected during the 2023 Convention. Daniel Flores, Jr., Greg Lincoln, Wayne Hrenyk, and Reuben Zaragoza were elected to six-year terms. Ruben Beard, Raul Romo, Ron Cummings, and Tim Endecott were elected to four-year terms. Neftali Hernandez was elected to a two-year term. Narciso Bentances, Kirk Grant, and Dennis O’Banion each has two years remaining in his current six-year term. These twelve men make up the 2023-2025 General Conference board of directors.

Following the last business session of convention on Friday, the new board met briefly to elect officers and consider a few initial business matters. The officers of the 2023-2025 board are Dennis O’Banion, chairman; Kirk Grant, vice chairman; Wayne Hrenyk, secretary; and Greg Lincoln, treasurer.

Business Sessions

The convention business sessions were ably led by Chairman Samuel Holland. In addition to electing members to the 2023-2025 General Conference board of directors and receiving reports required by the General Conference bylaws, the members in session also conducted other mandatory and optional business. As required by the bylaws, the members in session elected two members to the 2023-2025 Nominating Committee.

Four proposed amendments to the General Conference bylaws were adopted. These amendments 1) added to the article regarding the North American Ministerial Council to bring the GC bylaws into alignment with the NAMC bylaws; 2) added a section prohibiting the amendment of the GC bylaws “in any way that creates or negates an established doctrine of the General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day)”; 3) changed the name of the Voter Registration Committee to Voter Credentials Committee to eliminate confusion of the Voter Registration Committee and the GC Convention Registration Committee; and 4) added to the section regarding the GC Nominating Committee to clarify its role and responsibilities. An updated version of the GC bylaws is, or soon will be, available online in both English and Spanish.

One resolution was considered and adopted. It calls for the creation of a committee to study the feasibility of online electronic voting, allowing all eligible GC members to participate in business sessions “regardless of convention attendance.”

Closing moments of the 2023 business sessions included the chairman’s appointment of Greg Lincoln, Kirk Grant, and Richard Palmer as the 2023-2025 Amendments Committee. Also, GC President Loren Stacy and Vice Chairman Dennis O’Banion presented a commemorative gavel to Chairman Samuel Holland, honoring his outstanding service as a board of directors member since 2005 and as chairman of the board since 2015.

Artios Christian College at GC Convention

 Convention is a special time for Artios! Because we’re an online school, this event provides an opportunity for students, staff, and faculty to meet in person. This year was no exception. Throughout the week, Artios presented three different workshops, hosted an Open House (commemorating ten years since our first commencement), and celebrated our graduates during a commencement ceremony.

In this commencement, over 50 students were recognized who completed their academic program between early fall 2019 and summer 2023. Here’s a snapshot:

• Graduates represented almost 900 classes taken and over 6,000 credits earned.

• Graduates reside in all seven US/Canadian
districts and Australia.

• Graduates range in age from early 20s to mid-70s.

• About 20 percent of graduates are women.

• Eighty percent of Associate of BA programs graduated with honors.

• Over half graduated from a non-pastoral program.


On April 29, the Jacksboro, TX CoG7 hosted the Area 1 Leadership School graduation. School director Javier Ramirez and Superintendent Chip Hinds presented diplomas to those who graduated from the class titled Becoming a Person of Influence, in the John Maxwell Leadership Course. The Area 1 Leadership School plans to host five levels of classes on leadership. Please keep them in your prayers.

Dover Family Camp

Brethren from Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico, Michigan, and Illinois gathered in Dover, Oklahoma, June 11-18 to enjoy worship, fellowship, and friendship. With the theme of “Come to the Table,” children, youth, young adults, and adults explored the importance of making our families a priority and of wholeheartedly serving God.

Several activities and early devotions were programmed during the week for all age groups. Our weekly speakers encouraged the church to seek Christ and accept the invitation to His table. Unexpected tornado warnings were overshadowed by God’s sovereign protection over everyone at the camp.

Several of our brethren presented specials during the Sabbath celebration. The youth and children also presented their programs, and SVA’s group, Echo, gave a concert. We all shared the blessing of being together another year at our precious Dover camp!

Super Sabbath and New Pastor

On May 13, Superintendent Chip Hinds, Area Director Manuel Salazar, and Noe Reyes, vice president of the License and Credentials Committee, visited Laredo Yireh and Laredo Nissi churches for their Super Sabbath. They also anointed Pastor Marcos Alejandro of Laredo Nissi as he received his pastoral license. Special prayer was also given for Pastor Juan Jose Olguin, Jr.

Approximately 84 brethren gathered for this beautiful celebration. Among them were Pastor Thomas Childers and his wife (district senior directors); Sergio Alfaro (district men’s director) and his wife; Jessica Salazar (district women’s director); and Judith Salazar (district youth director). Sermons by Chip Hinds and Noe Reyes were powerful on the themes of “Loving One Another” and “The Glory of His Name.”

The day was full of joy as everyone gathered to worship God and fellowship. A huge “thank you” to all who were involved and helped with this service.

Newborn brethren

On June 24, Heath Winkelman and Adriel Herrera were baptized in the El Paso Central church. Both said goodbye to the old man and hello to their new creation in Christ! We can’t wait to see what our Lord has in store for their new lives.

Eugene Family Camp

The Eugene church participated in a Family Camp May 26-29 at our district-owned SIS-Q Meadows facility in southern Oregon. More than 60 of our members chose to spend this long holiday weekend together.

The Sabbath morning worship service around the fireplace of the newly finished picnic shelter was amazing! Group games, hikes, swimming, Frisbee, golf, and crafty card-making were just a few of the activities that dotted our weekend landscape. Each family was assigned one meal to help with, which involved preparing, serving, and cleaning up.

We also prepared the camp for the busy summer camping season. One group hiked up the river to clean out and open up the irrigation system that feeds our property and the neighbors’ down the road. Teepees were set up for all the sleepy campers to utilize. And we replaced a cross up on the hill that had fallen several years ago. This time we fit it with solar lights for a great night view.

It’s hard to beat family time. This event proved to be a wonderful opportunity for our church family to play, praise, work, and grow together.

— Kurt Lang

Faithful and prudent.

The annual district Men’s Retreat took place May 26-28 in Oakhurst, CA. More than 140 men from various states worshipped, shared, and received the Word of God from Daniel Flores, Jr. on the theme “A Faithful and Prudent Servant.”

New church.

On June 24, Superintendent Larry Zaragoza visited the CoG7 Mount Sinai church in Arizona to present their membership certificate and welcome their affiliation in the General Conference. Three other GC congregations joined in, making about 225 in attendance. Along with the worship time, all leaders who were present participated in a special prayer
and dedication.

Learning to Abide

The (West Coast) district Women’s Ministries hosted a Women’s Retreat June 2-4, with more than 100 women participating. This year’s theme, based on John 15:5, was “Abide in Me.” At the private retreat center in Oakhurst, CA, featured speakers included Barb Burrell, Aracely Robles, and Jennifer Stucker. Worship was led by Debbie and Danielle Hawkins, Genesis Robles, and Gigi Flores. Session themes included having a relationship with Jesus, abiding in Christ, and living fruitful lives — fruit that will last.

In small group sessions, attendees participated in practical application methods and prayed for each other in our spiritual growth. They made a branch and vine bracelet to help us remember what we learned during this spiritual weekend.

We not only received biblical instruction and enjoyed sweet fellowship but also honored our spiritual leaders. We gave them words of encouragement and prayed for them as they continue to serve God according to His good purpose.

Attendees were given discipleship tools to use in their home church after the retreat. Comments from participants about their experience: “God brought a lot of women together for His honor and glory and a lot of healing and restoration took place.” “Very inspirational — I was really blessed, as this was a much-needed retreat.” “Lord, thank You for moving amongst your women through Your Holy Spirit during this retreat.”

— Jennifer Stucker

Women’s Ministry Director

Why Are They Gone?

An online devotion by David Jeremiah pointed readers to a recent study by the American Enterprise Institute. According to this study, wrote Dr. Jeremiah, “. . . since the outbreak of COVID-19, a third of Americans who previously attended church have stopped going.”

Has your congregation suffered declining attendance during the last two-and-a-half years? If so, do you know why? Was it COVID, or was the virus just the excuse those who left were looking for?

If your attendance has declined in recent years, I suggest you ask those missing folks why they don’t come. You might also ask what it would take for them to return and re-engage. Taking the time and making the effort to sincerely ask these questions might bring some missing members back into fellowship.

In his most recent book, Trust: Knowing When to Give It, When to Withhold It, How to Earn It, and How to Fix It When It Gets Broken, Dr. Henry Cloud posits that there are five essentials of trust: understanding, motive, ability, character, and track record. The essential that hooked me is understanding. Dealing with someone who has a track record of wrong motives and/or inabilities and/or poor character will certainly prevent or destroy one’s trust in that person. But understanding?

Dr. Cloud describes how even a completely moral and capable person (or business/church) may cause people to distrust them simply by not taking the time and effort to ask questions, to understand the thoughts and desires and needs of those they are serving, and to show that they genuinely care about these people. Without that evidence of understanding, people soon ask themselves, Is this person trying to help me or hoping to use me?

The number of registrations and hotel reservations for our 2023 convention indicates that thousands of our members are longing to be together again, despite lower attendance in their local churches. Will you join us in Kentucky?

— Loren Stacy

GC President

LIFT-ed in Michigan.

The first annual retreat of the LIFT (Living in Faith Together) women’s group (Owosso church) took place in Doweling, MI, April 14-16. Twenty-six women attended, and speakers included Stefanie Garcia, Becky Caswell, and Liz Fischer. 

Used by the Master.

Women’s Emphasis Sabbath was celebrated throughout the Northeast District in March and April with the theme “Vessels of Honor for the Master’s Use.” Participants were from Ossining, NY; Bridgeport, CT; Saginaw, MI; Fort Wayne-Lafayette, IN; and Lanham, MD. A blessed Sabbath was enjoyed by all as our sisters shared their gifts and talents for Christ’s glory!


On Sabbath, April 22, the congregation in Fort Smith, AR, celebrated 100 years. The more than 260 attending were blessed with Superintendent Chip Hinds’ sermon titled “In God We Trust” and presentations by Elder Don Rodgers (pictured right). He shared the history of the church, founded in 1923, information about its previous leaders, and its current vision. Photos and other memorabilia were displayed throughout the building for everyone to enjoy. The church is ready for the next 100 years!

Super Sabbath.

The Area 3 children’s ministry held a beautiful Super Sabbath on March 4 at the Olive Tree church, with 125 kids attending. The group shared in arts and crafts, worship, and other activities. Many thanks to everyone who helped with this service!

Church recognition.

On February 11, Superintendent Chip Hinds and Area Director Manuel Salazar visited our sister church, Agape, in Austin, TX, to formally recognize it as a new church in the district. Please keep this congregation in your prayers.

New pastor.

We thank God for allowing Otoniel Puente to serve as the new pastor of the Austin – Eva church. Superintendent Chip Hinds and Area Director Manuel Salazar officially welcomed him on February 11. Please remember to pray for Pastor Puente and his ministry.

Tea time.

The Women’s Department at the El Paso-Central church held a tea reunion on February 25. Sister Guadalupe Hernández shared a word, reminding the women how valuable they are in the eyes of our Savior. The ladies enjoyed fellowship with guests and others in the Women’s Department. Thanks to Angie Meléndez and Sylvia Griego for organizing this meeting.

Youth Leaders Meet

The Southeast District held a youth leader training and planning meeting March 17-19 at Camp Adrian, Georgia. Twenty-eight youth leaders attended.

Superintendent Steve Krome announced the appointment of our new district Youth Ministry directors, Jonathan and Elizabeth Unzueta, from Lakeland, Florida (pictured here with their family). Cesar Medrano is the new district music director, and Jo Allison Krome will fill the role of district administrative coordinator.

On Friday evening, Cesar led a short worship service and prayer to open our time together. Jo Allison Krome concluded her time as the district youth retreat coordinator with the presentation “Understanding the Culture, Beliefs, and Motivations of the Next Generation.” On Sabbath morning, after worship in song, Superintendent Krome gave a message titled “Ten Guidelines for Youth Leaders.” Organization matters were discussed and plans made for the 2023 winter retreat, ending with an evening of fellowship.

We all came away refreshed, encouraged, and invigorated in the continuation of the youth ministry of the Southeast District.