Pacific Union Recorder - February 2017

Page 4

Southern California Conference


hat would it look like if people from different churches, cities, stories, worldviews, ages and races came together with one purpose and one goal of worshipping as a community? As Temple City church elder Jon de la Paz asked himself this question, he knew it would be the foundation for a Friday night service that he then helped start at Temple City church. That question became the mission statement for the new vespers program, entitled “Converge.” It started in 2014 as a 10-week summer series, followed by once-monthly services. Each service opened the Sabbath with fellowship, praise, prayer and messages from God’s Word. The second Converge series was held in November 2016, themed “The Promises of God.” On the last Saturday evening of the month, the series ended with an Art & Music Festival. Though the festival was the first event of its kind, the idea wasn’t new. “The idea first came up two years ago,” de la Paz shared. “Growing up in the church, I’ve been blessed to meet a lot of really talented people here in the Southern California Conference over the years, but it seemed they often didn’t get the chance to demonstrate their talents in the church.” Ten artists, nine musicians and 10 vendors filled the church campus that evening to share what God is doing in and through them. Approximately 300 people from throughout Southern California attended.

“My experience attending the festival was absolutely breathtaking,” shared Whittier church member Lewston Morris. “It was great to see all the wonderful exhibits, beautiful music and great food being served. You really saw that the Lord has given us many different talents, gifts and skills to witness and bring people closer to God. “There was one painting that caught my eye,” Morris remembered. “It was a beautiful portrait of Jesus Christ on the cross. I stared at that painting for minutes, amazed by the beauty and the dedication to capture Jesus on the cross. It broke my heart. I even met a man who spends time building model war machines and figurines as a talent. The time and dedication he put into that blessing was simply outstanding and genuine.” Music evangelist and artist Sivasa Laupati came to the event from Central California. “I appreciated that it was an event featuring Adventist artists,” he said. “It was something that I struggled with, because it’s not about showcasing us, but uplifting God. However, I don’t believe that God made us to hide our gifts. “I believe this event bridged gaps,” Laupati explained. “I’m 36, and I was having awesome spiritual conversations with teenagers, 20-somethings and the old folks like me! I had some attendees tell me how the music they just heard moved them to tears. This is why the arts are so important. Music helps to soften the

J.R. Cahatol of Finish the Work Ministries talks with attendees.



Artists Showcase Love for God at Temple City Church Art Festival

Sivasa Laupati sang a set of five original songs he wrote.

hearts of a congregation to hear the message or rouse them to go out and do the work.” Being the first of its kind at the Temple City church, the event’s purpose and results were eye-opening. “For me, it was exciting to see young people bring their creative talents to express their love for God,” said Ben Guerrero, Temple City church senior pastor. “It was awesome to see people coming from different churches and participating together, especially in the L.A. area, to connect with our fellow Los Angelenos.” To learn more about Converge, visit, follow Converge on Facebook or @convergefns on Instagram.

Temple City church member Gil Ocdamia works on one of his paintings during the festival.

Lauren Armstrong