March | April 2024

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Southwestern Union

March | April 2024 Inclusive 4 An Movement Journey of Faith 6 Aand Leadership


8 Ways to Spring into Good Health

Our Wildest 12 Beyond Imaginations Evangelism 13 Educational at its Best

Our Core Beliefs

Conviction in the Remnant and its Mission

Revelation 14:12 March | April 2024 Vol. 123, No. 02

Our Core Beliefs Features 4 An Inclusive Movement 6 A Journey of Faith and Leadership


Editorial EDITOR


Columns 8 Wholeness: 8 Ways To Spring Into Good Health 10 Equipping: The Remnant and Its Mission 11 Ministries: Collecting Souls for the Kingdom 12 Education: Beyond Our Wildest Imaginations 13 Education: Educational Evangelism at Its Best


CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Arkansas-Louisiana Conference


Oklahoma Conference


Southwest Region Conference


News 14 Southwestern Happenings 15 Southwestern Union 18 Arkansas-Louisiana Conference 23 Oklahoma Conference 28 Southwest Region Conference 33 Texas Conference 38 Texico Conference 43 AdventHealth 44 Southwestern Adventist University

Texas Conference


Texico Conference


Southwestern Adventist University








Back Pages 46 Classified Ads 47 Obituaries




Editor’s Note


In 2024, the Record magazine is exploring six of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as well as featuring a conference president on the cover. The March/ April issue examines the thirteenth fundamental belief, the Remnant and its Mission and features Elton DeMoraes, Texas Conference president. Seventh-day Adventists believe that the universal church is composed of all who truly believe in Christ, but in the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. How does this core Adventist belief shape our faith journey?

Kristina P. Busch Kristina P. Busch





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Equipping, inspiring and sharing hope and wholeness in the Southwestern Union territory.


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Southwestern Union HEADQUARTERS

P.O. BOX 4000, BURLESON, TX 76097 817.295.0476 | President Carlos Craig Executive Secretary Stephen Brooks Treasurer John Page Undertreasurer Bo Just VP Church Ministries Tony Anobile VP Education Carol Campbell VP Multicultural Ministries Osvaldo Rigacci Children’s Ministries Sonia Canó Church Planting Robin Lopez Communication Kristina Busch Community Services Bo Gendke Evangelism English Stephen Brooks Evangelism Spanish Osvaldo Rigacci Family Ministries Letty Craig Health Ministries Randy Phillips Human Resources Joel Wallace Men’s Ministries Tony Anobile Ministerial Tony Anobile Ministerial Spouses Letty Craig Native Ministries Carlos Craig Personal Ministries Stephen Brooks Prayer Ministries Helvis Moody Prison Ministries Tyrone Boyd PARL Stephen Brooks Revolving Fund Joel Wallace Sabbath School Sonia Canó Secondary Education Mike Furr Stewardship Tony Anobile Planned Giving/Trust Services Bo Just Women’s Ministries Letty Craig Young Adult/Youth Ministries Helvis Moody

Conferences & Institutions Arkansas-Louisiana Conference | 318.631.6240 Oklahoma Conference | 405.721.6110 Southwest Region Conference | 214.943.4491 Texas Conference | 817.783.2223 Texico Conference | 505. 244.1611 Southwestern Adventist University | 817.645.9921 AdventHealth Central Texas 254.526.7523 AdventHealth Rollins Brook 512.556.3682 Texas Health Hospital Mansfield (AdventHealth) | 682.341.5000 Texas Health Huguley Hospital (AdventHealth) | 817.293.9110

On The Record

The Mission For These Last Days With each passing day, we are drawing closer to the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As we are nearing His return, we are witnessing the fulfillment of the signs of the times in which we live. In 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NKJV), Paul said, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” Jesus stated the following list of signs recorded in Matthew 24:4-13: religious deceptions, wars and rumors of wars, nations rising against nations, famines, pestilences, earthquakes in various places, the righteous will be persecuted and hated, lawlessness and the love of many growing cold. This sounds like the times in which we are living now. Jesus continued by saying, “And this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14 (NKJV). The end will come, and Jesus will return when the Gospel of the kingdom

has been preached to and witnessed by every people group all over the world. As recorded in Revelation 14:6-12, this message which will be preached to and witnessed by every people group all over the earth in the last days is called the “everlasting Gospel,” and it is presented as God’s last warning threefold message from His heart of love and compassion for every man, woman and child. God has entrusted the sincere followers of Christ as His messengers to herald this threefold message in these last days. As clearly stated by Ellen G. White in The Desire of Ages, “Every true disciple is born into the kingdom of God as a missionary. He who drinks of the living water becomes a fountain of life.” It is our joy and responsibility to lovingly share God’s warning messages. As followers of Christ, should we not personally prioritize sharing the everlasting Gospel? Ellen G. White proclaimed in The Review and Herald, “Evangelistic work, opening the Scriptures to others, warning men and women of what is coming upon the world, is to occupy more and still more of the time of God’s servants.” She also states, “It is time for us to awake, and to watch for souls as they that must give account. Will our churches now arise, and awake to the situation? The representatives of Christ are to carry a burden for souls.

Every nation and kindred and tongue and people is to hear the last message of mercy to the world.” It is my prayer that we all would be converted to the mission of spreading the Gospel. As we spread the good news, we will witness the love of God and the power of God saving souls and changing lives. We will witness sinners becoming saints. We will witness hearts being softened and resolve being strengthened. We will witness stress rolling away and peace rising up. We will witness habits breaking, and lives being put back together again. We will witness people making Jesus their choice for eternity. a By Stephen Brooks Executive Secretary



Our Core Beliefs Feature

Conviction in the Remnant and its Mission as an Inclusive Movement In Revelation 12:17 (NKJV) we read, “And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” I love this passage. It is a biblical text that brings about many thoughts, emotions and convictions in the heart of the Adventist believer such as myself. But Revelation 12:17 is significant to Seventh-day Adventist not only because of the eschatological marker it places on our message and movement, but also how it informs us of what comprises an end-time “remnant” people. The classic Adventist approach to the term “remnant,” is that there will be a faithful minority of Christians who “keep the commandments of God” and hold to the “testimony of Jesus.” This remnant stands in contrast with an equally important apocalyptic apostate Christian movement given a different title, denoting its erred stance, known as “Babylon.” This juxtaposed relationship highlights the prominence of the idea of a faithful remnant in the end times. Based on the Historical Grammatical Method of prophetic interpretation, we can identify specific events, people, movements, etc. in our times. The “remnant” in Revelation 12:17 is understood to be a symbolic



description of the Seventh-day Adventist movement.[1] There are three markers of the “remnant church” in the end times. The remnant church appears after the deadly wound that the first beast of Revelation 13 receives (which occurred in 1798), the Sabbath doctrine (“the commandments of God”) and the prophetic gift as seen in the ministry of Ellen G. White (“the testimony of Jesus”). These three elements are unique only to Seventh-day Adventists. These are three simple markers, but weighty in their eschatological significance, again, because they stand opposed to a counter-biblical movement known as “Babylon” and the “daughters of the Great Harlot.” So, do these three markers make us a “remnant?” What is poignant is not our accumulation of “truth,” nor even our adherence to it. But rather, what we do with that “remnant truth.” Surely our role isn’t to merely create more Adventist adherents? Rather, I believe that a significant role of the “remnant church” is to contribute to the mission, and specifically, the unity of the church to Christ. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you also were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all in all,” says Ephesians 4:4-6 (NKJV).

Therefore, my conviction in being a Seventh-day Adventist, is in remaining faithful to Revelation 12:17’s two markers, but also in what the spreading of that message does, which is to prepare a people united in receiving Jesus when He returns. This conviction of preparing a people, is the directional north of the Three Angels’ Messages. In his book, God with Us: An Introduction to Adventist Theology, John C. Peckham says, “No organization, then, can claim to comprehensively be the body of Christ. Some think of church unity in terms of organizational structure or clergy leadership, but in Scripture, the unity of the Christians as the body of Christ is not found in externals, but in Christ, by the Holy Spirit.” I’ll conclude by sharing a story that ties in the “remnant message” and the “remnant” as a broader picture. One day, I was on my way to the Texas Conference office from South Texas, and had a couple of extra hours to fill, so I went into the Mardel’s bookstore in Round Rock, Texas. As I was browsing the Bibles on the vast wall, a gentleman in his fifties approached me with what I can only describe as a face of contentment. He said, “It is so nice to find young men looking at Bibles!” He said, “People who follow God’s word fully to the end will be part of God’s

Our Core Beliefs Feature

“The term ‘remnant’, rather than having an exclusivist meaning by referring only to Seventh-day Adventist Christians, has strong inclusivist connotations inasmuch as it encompasses all faithful believers, which make up the entire body of Christ. Adventists would do well to broaden their view of the true ‘remnant’ in the light of a careful study of the biblical text.” - Rolf J. Pöhler -

‘remnant.’” He proceeded to ask if I was familiar with the concept, to which I responded with “yes.” He then opened a Bible from off the wall, and opened to and read from Revelation 12:17, and said, “See God has a remnant in these end times!” What an exciting encounter! This gentleman, who was not a Seventh-day Adventist, nor knew of us, found this concept as a prominent movement in the last days. Rolf J. Pöhler, Professor of Systematic Theology at Friedensau Adventist University in Germany highlights the inclusivity of this beautiful end times people of Revelation 12:17. Dr. Pöhler says, “… the term ‘remnant’, rather than having an exclusivist meaning by referring only to Seventh-day Adventist Christians,

has strong inclusivist connotations inasmuch as it encompasses all faithful believers, which make up the entire body of Christ. Adventists would do well to broaden their view of the true "remnant" in the light of a careful study of the biblical text.”[2] The “remnant” again, receives divine designation, and as such cannot be altered or changed. Any remnant must abide nonetheless by what is described in Revelation 12:17’s markers. This is why I preach the Seventh-day Adventist message, but not only preaching and teaching the message as an end-time message, but also inviting people into baptism in the Seventh-day Adventist church, thereby also becoming part of the united global body of Christ. We

are, after all, adherents and promulgators of that which God has called us to be and preach. a By Gabriel Perea, M.Div. Perea is an associate professor of theology and religion at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas. [1] “The Adventist self-designation as God’s remnant people is based on a historicist reading of Revelation…” (Rodriguez, in Toward a Theology of the Remnant, 226; cf. 203-209). [2] The “Remnant“ and “the others“ A Reappraisal of Adventist Remnant Theology, Rolf J. Pöhler. Friedensau, Germany (Paper presented at ASRS Meetings, 2011.)



Our Core Beliefs Feature



of Faith and Leadership

Note from the Editor: The following is the second in our 2024 series featuring a president from within the Southwestern Union territory as they explore one Adventist fundamental belief and how it has affected their life, faith and ministry. Previous features from this series can be found online at Elton DeMoraes is a third-generation Seventh-day Adventist born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. His childhood was deeply rooted in the church. By age 12, he felt a profound calling to serve God and, at 17, became an elder for his church. His academic pursuit in theology led him to Centro Universitário Adventista de São Paulo, where



he graduated on December 14, 1997. A week later, he embarked on a new journey, marrying his childhood friend Alessandra. This marked the start of a shared life and partnership in ministry that shaped his future endeavors. DeMoraes’ story is one of spiritual growth and an earnest desire to fulfill God’s mission. His leadership reflects his devotion to his faith and his dedication to serving and inspiring others in their spiritual journeys, underscored by his strong belief in the power of collaborating with fellow believers in finishing the work and hastening the Second Coming. DeMoraes’ first pastoral assignment was in Houston at the Houston Central

Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church, two years later he would become the associate pastor of the Houston Central Seventh-day Adventist Church. Fluent in Portuguese, he had to overcome language barriers, learning both Spanish and English. Later, his tenure as a senior pastor at the Tyler Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tyler, Texas, was a period of community engagement and personal joy, marked by the birth of his daughter, Isabella. Four years later, he returned to Houston as senior pastor of the Houston Northwest Seventh-day Adventist Church. Through these early experiences in his ministry, he understood the valuable role of church members and volunteers and the power they have when they work together and with God. “As a team of believers,” DeMoraes shared, “we grew in faith, developed meaningful relationships and witnessed the transformative power of God’s love within our church community.” Almost two years later, DeMoraes’ ministerial journey continued at the Texas Conference headquarters in Alvarado, Texas, where he served in departmental leadership roles, including Ministerial, Stewardship and Church Planting. The core Adventist belief in the remnant is pivotal to DeMoraes’ faith and leadership. This belief, centered on being part of a faithful minority, has profoundly shaped his faith and spiritual

Our Core Beliefs Feature

life. It’s a commitment beyond mere identification and lifestyle embodying the church’s core values and mission. He views the remnant as a call to unwavering faith and service, even amid societal pressures or opposition. In 2016, DeMoraes transitioned to a new role as Texas Conference Executive Secretary. He installed new pastors and kept the conference records and statistics, among other administrative responsibilities, often preaching at different churches. He interprets key Bible passages, like Revelation 14:6-12, as a mandate for the remnant’s mission. These verses outline a call to proclaim the everlasting Gospel, emphasizing the importance of worshiping the Creator and warning against the spiritual deceptions of the end times. For DeMoraes, these passages are not just theological concepts but actionable directives that shape his approach to ministry and leadership. Two years later, he felt God’s call to serve the Southwestern Union as Vice President for Ministries. He oversaw several departments and led training events to encourage lay member involvement in sharing the Gospel within their communities. The belief in the remnant and its end-time mission frames DeMoraes’ perspective on current world events and the future. He views these events through a prophetic lens, seeing them as fulfillment of biblical prophecy. This perspective brings an urgency to his mission work, emphasizing the need to prepare people for Christ’s Second Coming. It also instills hope and assurance in the ultimate triumph of God’s kingdom, guiding his leadership with optimism and faith. According to DeMoraes, “Empowering the remnant’s mission involves nurturing personal relationships with God, fostering discipleship, mentoring, engaging in community-relevant outreach and promoting unity and collaboration, which must be underpinned by collective prayer and an openness to the Holy Spirit's guidance.”

DeMoraes currently serves as president of the Texas Conference. He is both humbled and honored by the great task of leading a conference and asserts it would not be possible without the contribution of a fantastic ministry and leadership team. Central to DeMoraes’ leadership is the belief in the value of each member and collaboration in ministry. He consistently emphasizes that finishing the Lord’s work is not a solitary endeavor but a collective mission requiring the empowerment and support of everyone involved. DeMoraes believes in embracing his team’s diverse talents and strengths, fostering an environment where each member feels valued and motivated to contribute their best. The belief in the remnant and its endtime mission has deepened DeMoraes’ faith, enhanced his scriptural study and reinforced his commitment to God’s mission. The sense of community within the remnant has also been a source of strength and fellowship. It drives his commitment to spreading the Gospel,

facing leadership challenges and embracing diverse communities. DeMoraes’ journey, from his roots in Brazil to leading the Texas Conference, is a testament to God’s leading. “I praise God for the blessings He has bestowed on my life, especially my beautiful girls.” DeMoraes shared, “It has been a joy to have them alongside me in this ministry journey. I am also grateful for the tremendous faithfulness of our Texas Conference church members. They know the Lord is coming soon, and we want everyone to be ready to meet Him when He comes.” a By Jessica L. Lozano. Lozano is a writer and consultant who lives with her family in Northwest Arkansas. Photos by Texas Conference Communication & Public Relations. Elton DeMoraes is the Texas Conference President. He lives in North Texas with his wife, Alessandra, and their daughter, Isabella.




8 Ways To Spring Into Good Health By AdventHealth Spring is here, a time of newness and revival. When you are ready to start fresh and give your home a thorough spring cleaning this year, consider doing the same for yourself! One of the best things you can do to “spring clean” your health, for your body, mind and spirit, is to keep up with your primary care provider (PCP). Here are eight ways to spring into good health by partnering with primary care this season.

1. Feel Your Best All Season With a Wellness Exam

As your go-to physician, your PCP knows you better than any other provider. They’re familiar with your baseline health measures and can quickly determine when something isn’t right. If you need treatment, they can give you prescriptions and referrals. Because they’re able to get to know you, they also know your personal health goals, medical history and preferences so they can tailor their treatment to the unique individual that you are. If you don’t have a PCP that you visit regularly, you aren’t getting the regular health screenings you need to avoid potentially serious illnesses like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart problems and cancer. Your PCP is your personal source for preventive medical care. You’ll receive the consistent, coordinated care you deserve and in most cases, your out-of-pocket cost to visit their office is much lower than a trip to an ER or urgent care clinic.



2. Get Moving

Springtime is a great time to get outside and get moving. You can walk, jog, run, swim or casually practice your favorite sport like basketball or kicking around a soccer ball. Whatever you do for your activity, make it a quick enough pace that you can’t quite hold a conversation. Ideally, do it every day for 30 minutes. According to our skilled primary care providers, getting started is simple. You can walk in one direction for 15 minutes, and then walk back. You won’t believe how much better you’ll feel by adding movement to each day and getting fresh air as much as you can while spring is in the air.

3. Eat a Healthy Diet to Maintain a Healthy Weight

Your PCP can also help guide your nutrition choices based on your needs. Dietary recommendations vary widely based on your individual health, disease, allergies and preferences. If you need to lose weight, it’s even more important for your whole health to stay physically active and eat healthy. You can prepare healthy meals in advance so that you're not tempted to eat out or grab quick, processed food. Try adding fruits and vegetables to your recipes that are in season in the spring. Make sure you’re getting five servings of fruits and vegetables a day for optimal health. Some tasty andnutritious options include: avocados, artichokes, arugula, asparagus, berries, cabbage, carrots, fennel, mangoes, peas and spinach.

4. Stay Hydrated

Good hydration is key to preserving health and wellness for a number of reasons. It helps you digest food and burn fat by making sure your kidneys and liver are functioning optimally. Sometimes dehydration can even feel like hunger. Staying hydrated helps keep you from overindulging. Our primary care experts advise that water should make up the majority of what you drink. Drink lots of it, especially as the weather heats up, we get deeper into spring and start to approach summer. Challenge yourself to drink 64 ounces of water a day for a week. Then, check in with how you feel.

5. Get the Best Rest

Even with our busy schedules, it’s important to remember that rest isn’t a luxury. It’s a need, and without it, it’s hard to function and stay well. Rest includes getting enough sleep — 7 to 8 hours per night — but it also means taking some time to quiet down during the day. Most people focus on rest for the body, but it’s important to rest your mind and spirit too. You can take mini-mental breaks to meditate, pray or do something that relaxes you, like listening to music or doing a crossword puzzle. 15-minute naps can do a world of good as well. If you’re having trouble sleeping, or you sleep but still wake up tired, be sure to let your primary care provider know. Together, you can get to the bottom of what’s keeping you from getting the rest you need.

6. Nurture Your Mental and Emotional Health If you want to improve your health, take some time to tend to your emotional and mental health. Developing healthy habits is a key to not only bet-


ter physical health, but mental health too. All of the tips mentioned above are just as good for your mental health. If you’re showing signs of anxiety or depression, your primary care provider will likely recommend physical activity, a balanced diet, drinking enough water and getting proper rest. Spring brings a renewed sense of hope with warmer weather, increased daylight and the joy that nature brings us at this time of year. Getting out in nature is also good for your mental health. Find a green space at a local park, let the sun warm your skin, and just breathe.

7. Practice Sun Safety

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spending time outside is a great way to get physical activity, reduce stress and get vitamin D. You can work and play outside without raising your skin cancer risk by protecting your skin from the sun. Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. UV rays are an invisible kind of radiation that comes from the sun, tanning beds and

sunlamps. They can damage skin cells. Protection from UV rays is important all year, not just during the spring and summer. They can reach you on cloudy and cool days, and they reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand and snow. In the United States, UV rays are typically strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. Our providers agree that you can protect yourself from the sun while still enjoying the outdoors by taking advantage of shade, beach cover-ups, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.

8. Follow These Allergy Tips


With spring being such a beautiful time of year, it seems unfair that allergy sufferers are often feeling at their worst with their condition when everything is in bloom. Here are a few tips so that you can better enjoy the spring season. Avoid being outdoors on windy days, especially mid-morning to mid-afternoon, when pollen counts are often highest. Have non-allergic family members or others do the cleaning. Try to be out

of the house during all cleaning, especially during carpet cleaning. Keep car and home windows and doors closed. Shower, wash your hair and change your clothing after coming in from outside. Use over-the-counter antihistamines as needed. When cleaning, use caution with household cleaning products. Make sure the area to be cleaned is well ventilated. If your allergies are so severe that they’re impacting your day-to-day living, visit your primary care provider so you can get tested. They might recommend additional allergy medications, therapies and other environmental controls. a




What Adventists Believe About the Remnant and Its Mission By Southwestern Union Communication and When you hear the term “remnant” as it’s used in the Bible, it refers to a group of people who remain loyal to God after a time of hardship. There is special meaning to the remnant of believers that will exist in the last days, when the earth is at its worst, right before Christ’s Second Coming. Scripture tells us who will make up this end-time remnant in Revelation 12:17 (ESV): those “who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” But what does that mean in the context of the End Times? And what does that mean for us now? The Bible is full of stories where God calls His chosen people out of dangerous places or destructive company for their own safety. One well-known remnant story in particular is the story of Noah in Genesis 6. God told him to build an enormous ark so he, and anyone else who believed God’s warning, would be safe from the terrible flood that would wipe out everything on the earth. Genesis 6:5 (ESV) says, “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Genesis 6:13, 17 (ESV) continues, “And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth… I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh.” Although they had received numerous warnings to repent, the general masses of people chose to reject God and live according to their own self-



ish ways. But not Noah and his family. Though small in number, they made up a faithful remnant of God’s true followers. God didn’t want any of them to be lost, so He called them out—urging them to listen to His voice and flee the evil they were living among. In the last days, right before Jesus returns to earth to take His followers to Heaven, a Noah-like situation will happen again. The world will be filled with wickedness, as humanity leans more and more on its own impulses and ambitions (2 Peter 3:2-7, 2 Timothy 3:1-9). But those who still trust and

believe in God will remain strong amid the influence of the world, rejecting its self-serving ways and embracing God’s ways (Revelation 12:17). This end-times remnant is often what is being referenced when you hear about “The Remnant.” Have more questions about the remnant and its mission? We encourage you to take a closer look at this fundamental belief on your own, with your pastor, Bible study group or online at a

SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST BELIEF #13: The Remnant and its Mission The universal church is composed of all who truly believe in Christ, but in the last days, a time of widespread apostasy, a remnant has been called out to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. This remnant announces the arrival of the judgment hour, proclaims salvation through Christ, and heralds the approach of His second advent. This proclamation is symbolized by the three angels of Revelation 14; it coincides with the work of judgment in heaven and results in a work of repentance and reform on earth. Every believer is called to have a personal part in this world wide witness. (Dan. 7:9-14; Isa. 1:9; 11:11; Jer. 23:3; Mic. 2:12; 2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Peter 1:16-19; 4:17; 2 Peter 3:10-14; Jude 3, 14; Rev. 12:17; 14:6-12; 18:1-4)


Collecting Souls for the Kingdom By Lori Futcher, Record Writer

CRECIENDO JUNTOS Osvaldo Rigacci collected stamps. He had albums full of stamps of different colors from places around the world. But when he left Argentina in 1988, he gave away most of his collection. Today, he spends his time collecting souls for the Kingdom. As Vice President for Multicultural Ministries, the souls he collects come in different colors and are from places around the world—and they are far more precious than stamps. The Southwestern Union is a diverse territory, where out of the approximately 125,000 Adventist believers, more than 42,000 come from a Hispanic background and another 5,000 come from a variety of diverse backgrounds.

Rigacci’s job is to adapt union initiatives to work within non-English-speaking cultures and build cultural bridges throughout the Southwestern Union. “Sometimes, if our approach is not adapted and customized to that specific culture,” he says, “they don’t follow through with that project or initiative.” These adapted initiatives include: Proyecto de Discipulado (Discipleship Project): This initiative uses the concepts of consecration, compassion and commitment to encourage members to develop and grow as disciples. Avivando la Llama (Fanning the Flames): These events equip church members with the tools to win souls for Jesus.

Expandiendo el Reino (Growing the Kingdom): These training events equip church leaders to work together in growing the kingdom of Heaven. Creciendo Juntos (Growing Together): This comprehensive program encourages intergenerational growth in churches. “We are trying not to put too many projects or initiatives that are just from the union,” Rigacci comments, “but [we are] trying to encourage the people and motivate the people to follow through [on local and conference initiatives]—with the flavor of that community and of that culture.” One of the challenges that face multicultural churches in the United States is how to work with second- and third-generation Americans who have one foot in American culture and another in the culture of their heritage. Too often these individuals don’t feel like language-specific churches meet their needs. Many wind up leaving the church. Some find new homes in other congregations, but others don’t. Rigacci encourages language-specific churches to include programs in English, and likewise for English-speaking churches to provide programs in other languages so that the complete spiritual and social needs of these secondand third-generation Americans can be met. Providing relevant spiritual communities for future generations is personally important for Rigacci. He and his wife, Monica, are grandparents to not one, but two sets of triplets. It is his desire that these grandchildren will grow to find a home in the church—no matter what language they choose to worship in. a




Beyond Our Wildest Imaginations By Adam Littell, Superintendent of Education for the Oklahoma Conference On the journey of faith, we often find ourselves earnestly praying for specific outcomes, believing that God will answer our petitions in a certain way. However, God determines the way that He will answer our prayer requests, and sometimes this happens in ways we never imagined! About a year ago, a teacher at a school I used to work at called to tell me that God had answered my prayer and that the number of students we had been praying for the past two years had been reached, exactly reached! This put it on my heart to begin praying a similar prayer in Oklahoma for our schools. My prayer was that God would fill our schools with students. No number attached, only that God would fill each school to the capacity for which each building could hold. For some, this meant about 150 students while for others it meant 20 students. I was praying this prayer in anticipation that the next prayer would be that God would provide more teachers to meet the needs of growing schools. We began to pray this in our office at the Oklahoma Conference. This prayer was rooted in the faith that our schools are God’s sacred training ground for His young people and a belief that when we pray to ask Him to fill His schools He will work to accom-



plish this. God’s work is far superior to whatever humans can attempt to do. God began to answer this prayer in May of 2023 with the passing of the Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit program. This program provides a refundable income tax credit to send their children to a private school. Families could get up to $7,500 to pay for tuition and other fees. This would cover the entire year’s tuition for many of our Adventist schools in Oklahoma. What a blessing for families, both for those currently enrolled and for the many families that see the cost of tuition as the barrier to sending their children to an Adventist school.

Our schools are seeing large growth! We are at the point now of needing to hire more teachers to meet the needs of growing enrollments. God continues to prove that “the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10) are His and His resources are limitless. Would you like to be a part of God’s answer? Being a teacher is a challenging and yet eternally rewarding profession. Perhaps God has been putting it on your heart to make a career change into education. If you are interested in talking with me about our opportunities in Oklahoma, please contact me at This experience has shown me God’s plan and power are beyond my wildest imagination. “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8. Our schools are not completely full yet and we do not yet have all the teachers we need to meet the needs, but I know God is faithful to provide. They are His schools, His teachers and His students. He will provide for His work to be done. a


Educational Evangelism at Its Best By Kisha R. Norris, Ed.D., Texas Conference Vice President for Education The mission of Adventist education is to enable learners to develop a life of faith in God and to use their knowledge, skills and understandings to serve God and humanity. Every day in the Texas Conference, our educators contribute their time, talent and treasure to ensure that God is glorified and introduced to every student. This great work of educational evangelism has given us a high calling to prepare students for this world and the world to come in our 22 schools. Adventist education in Texas does not work without collaboration with other conference departments. Developing these key partnerships has allowed a deeper connection to our Church and our conference mission following John 17:21, “Together As One.” This theme is designed to unite in ministry to spread the Gospel message. Adventist Community Services (ACS) is relevant to our students because ACS Directors Bo and Deborah Gendke visit schools, assist with service projects during Bible Camp and direct disaster training at Outdoor School. The service component is a key link for our students as we train them as followers of Christ. The Ministry and Evangelism department sponsors a portion of each school's Week of Prayer speaker expenses and funds additional Bible materials. As an amazing addition to

our Bible Encounter curriculum, we purchased and sent each school a kit to teach the Three Angels’ Message. Three Angels for Kids, a curriculum endorsed by the North American Division, is a PreK to 12th-grade curriculum created to introduce the Revelation 14 message of a God of love about to intervene for humanity. The goal is to draw students into loving relationships with Jesus through its core of righteousness by faith and trust in the One who provided the ultimate sacrifice for us. This new addition to our elementary schools is a step forward in our distinctively Adventist curriculum that will strengthen our tie to the core reason our schools exist.

The Secretariat and Hispanic Ministries departments are key advisors as we develop our spiritual master plan and infuse Christ into our schools. Their words of wisdom and key ideas have assisted with the beginning talks of having a dedicated pastor at several of our academies. This invaluable contribution to our schools not only enhances the spiritual climate on campuses but also allows for a deeper dive into the Bible Encounter curriculum by pastors who have spent extensive time studying God’s Word. Countless other departments and volunteers pour into the Texas Conference Adventist Education system. The saying “It takes a village” is not just idle words; it is our motto, and we proudly serve alongside our colleagues as we serve our constituents to fulfill our mission. This noble work calls us to reach out to each student and see they are saved in God’s kingdom. We are thankful for our educators who show the love of our Savior to our students as they guide them in academic and spiritual lessons. We are forever grateful for all those who support Adventist education, our schools, students, educators and staff. May God be praised in all we do to advance our schools and lead our children to the Kingdom. a



Southwestern Union News

March 2

SOUTHWEST REGION CONFERENCE Easter Special Live Taping Dallas, Tex.


TEXAS CONFERENCE Elders’ Encounter San Antonio Area


SOUTHWESTERN UNION More Compassion Tulsa, Okla.


SOUTHWESTERN UNION Children’s Ministries Retreat Athens, Tex.


SOUTHWEST REGION CONFERENCE Church Ministries Training Houston, Tex.


TEXAS CONFERENCE Elders’ Encounter East Texas Area


TEXAS CONFERENCE Prison Ministries Emphasis & Training Houston Area


SOUTHWESTERN UNION Fanning the Flame Oklahoma City evangelism








SOUTHWEST REGION CONFERENCE Women’s Ministries Crusade Texas City, Tex.


TEXAS CONFERENCE Hispanic Ministries Discipleship Institute


TEXAS CONFERENCE Church Planting and Revitalization Summit, Dallas Area


ARKANSAS-LOUISIANA CONFERENCE Master Guide Camporee Hammond, La.

April 6

SOUTHWESTERN UNION Growing Together Leadership Summit Oklahoma City


TEXICO CONFERENCE 2024 Texico Convocations: One Family One Hope, Lubbock, Tex.


TEXAS CONFERENCE MAS Spanish Evangelism Dallas Area

ARKANSAS-LOUISIANA CONFERENCE Church Leaders/Officer Training Northwest Arkansas

TEXAS CONFERENCE Communication Workshop Dallas Area




TEXAS CONFERENCE Hispanic Ministries Discipleship Institute


ARKANSAS-LOUISIANA CONFERENCE South Louisiana Camp Meeting New Orleans


ARKANSAS-LOUISIANA CONFERENCE Adventurer Camporee Camp Yorktown Bay


SOUTHWESTERN UNION Growing Together Leadership Summit Houston, Tex.


TEXAS CONFERENCE Prison Ministries Emphasis & Training Central Area

Southwestern Union News

Accreditation for PK-12 Adventist Schools BURLESON, TEX. – The facilitator of the Professional Learning Community (PLC) was poised to begin the meeting. It was year five of the North American Division(NAD) Six-year Accreditation Cycle for the school and one year away from the arrival of the Visiting Team to validate the school’s Self-study Report. The school had been preparing for the visit for the past four years as part of the Continuous School Improvement (CSI) Process. Today’s agenda focused on reviewing the nine Standards for Accreditation of Seventh-day Adventist Schools and related data. Each staff member, along with parents and board members, had been appointed to serve on a team to assess the school in the nine standards. Data was critical to the work! This process differed significantly from the past, with a shift from an “event” or compliance mindset to a commitment to “continuous school improvement.” CSI Planning now occurs in response to data analysis and the identified needs of the school program, with the goal of creating a shared vision which is implemented in a CSI Plan. Most importantly, the mission of Adventist education is the lens through which program change is managed and evaluated. In addition to a commitment to continuous school improvement, achieving excellence requires quality assurance with energies and resources directed toward the improvement of teaching and learning within a standards-based framework. Standards are ideals for quality programs that are specific, attainable, and measurable. They describe an effective program that leads to continuous school improvement and results in improved student learning. The Standards for Accreditation of Seventh-day Adventist Schools is a dynamic, research-based tool designed to assist schools in the process of self-assessment that is context-specific, evidence-informed and outcomes-fo-

cused. The Self-study provides schools with a robust structure for reflecting upon programs and practices, raising quality, achieving excellence and delivering better outcomes for learners and their families. Anticipation was high as the PLC embarked on final preparation for the completion of the Self-study Report. Each member of the team had invested time and resources to reach this stage. As a team, they had taken ownership of their school’s Journey to Excellence! The Standards for Accreditation of Seventh-day Adventist Schools are: Philosophy and Mission—The philosophy, mission, and vision statements are learner-centered and give direction to the school’s program, and are developed and approved cooperatively by the administration, staff, and school board and reflect the Seventh-day Adventist worldview, core values, and educational philosophy. Curriculum—The curriculum is the core of the educational program providing for the spiritual, mental, physical, social and emotional development of learners and preparing them for this world and for eternity. Instruction—The instructional program is aligned with curriculum design and assessment practices and provides for a variety of learning experiences, consistent with the school’s philosophy, goals, and standards and actively engages students in learning.

Assessment—Assessment data informs changes in curriculum and instruction to support learning. Sustainable Leadership—Administration and school board ensure the effective and successful operation of the school to promote learner success and well-being. School Environment—The school environment is designed and maintained to promote student learning and to support the school’s mission and goals. Professional Learning—Administration and faculty collaborate to develop and implement professional learning opportunities to meet the needs of each learner and enhance the ongoing growth and development of school personnel. Communication and Collaboration—Communication and collaboration among the school, constituency, and community are essential to providing an effective educational program for learners. School Improvement—The accreditation process assists a school in appraising the total program to determine the level to which the purpose and function outlined in its statement of philosophy and goals for student learning are accomplished as well as in providing the basis for action plans to address areas needing improvement. By Carol Campbell, Ph.D. Vice President for Education



Southwestern Union News

New Innovative Health Project to Take Root in Fort Worth BURLESON, TEX. – The city of Fort Worth is poised to welcome a groundbreaking community initiative. In partnership with the North American Division, the Southwestern Union is embarking on a new health and wellness project that is set to transform an unused urban space into a hub of positive change and connection. This new initiative is being spearheaded by Randy Phillips, D.O., Southwestern Union’s Director of Health Ministries who will also be the outreach center director. The project aims to create a welcoming community space, offering an array of beneficial activities and classes. Its unique approach focuses on health, education and community engagement. From health classes to cooking workshops, financial seminars and psychological support events, the project is designed to foster skill development and promote well-being.



Dr. Phillips is committed to enriching lives and empowering community members. His leadership is expected to drive the project towards its goal of making a significant and lasting difference in the community as a friendship mission and center of influence. According to Dr. Phillips, “Our goal is to be a welcoming, nurturing place for everyone, wherever they might be on their journey. To ease pain from whatever source in their life and to help reinvigorate and restore as Christ guides us. By partnering with both other faithbased groups and secular city/county sources (including academic institutions such as Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) and local medical and nursing school programs) we can exponentially increase our impact and extend our program outreach.” Central to the project is the establishment of an inclusive community

space where people from diverse backgrounds can gather, interact and thrive. It will also feature a health-conscious café/bistro, adding a unique flavor to its offerings. The primary impact of the project will be evident through empowered community members who gain new skills, knowledge and resources. It aims to improve physical and mental well-being, foster social cohesion and create a sense of belonging and inclusion. The project anticipates increasing awareness of our commitment to express the care and compassion of Christ. The project promises to be a beacon of hope and transformation in Fort Worth. Its commitment to enriching lives and fostering a sense of community is set to leave a lasting legacy of empowerment and well-being. By Jessica Lozano

Southwestern Union News



Arkansas-Louisiana Conference

Focus on Spirituality I always enjoy watching baseball. The players exude such grace, athleticism and focus. I’m particularly amazed at the focus part of the game. I have heard from many a great hitter that when they were hitting their best, they could see the stitches on a pitch and knew what kind of pitch was coming. And they were able to adjust, prepare and then execute. Wow! Frankly, it’s time for the people of God to become that focused in terms of spirituality. This is not the time for spiritual mediocrity. This is not the time for spiritual cannibalism. What do I mean by that? First, we cannot continue to go along in life as business as usual. We must worship the Lord with an amazing focus. Keep our eyes firmly on Him. Second, we must not engage in looking down on people or eating our fellow brother or sister for lunch. Jesus was quite clear about this in the gospels. Three times this basic premise comes up in the New Testament, and, by the way, it is also in the Old Testament. A lawyer asks Jesus this ques-



tion, “What is the great commandment of the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment.” The second is like it, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” Let that sink in a moment. First, love with your whole person, heart (the center and seat of spiritual life), soul (all of your living being) and mind (your understanding, thinking, feeling). To love like that takes 100 percent. And it is what God requires from us toward Him. Second, you must love your neighbor as yourself. That takes a monumental shift from selfishness to other centeredness. And to prove that point, Luke records the story of the good Samaritan, which really emphasizes how to love your neighbor. All of this takes an amazing focus on God, an open and honest evaluation of our motives toward others, and a willingness to practice these principles daily, no matter who we are near.

This principle of Jesus is at the core and must be the conviction of every remnant believer. If we don’t follow these principles, who would want to hear our message? As John Maxwell said some time ago, “It is more important to connect than to correct.” We must live, love and labor like Jesus. We must not deviate from His counsel. We must then focus on Him, and not chase the other rabbits the devil sends in front of our eyes. Only Jesus! By Richard C. Dye, Sr. President

Arkansas-Louisiana Conference News

A Reason for the Season

PINEVILLE, LA. – The Christmas band, with first-time director and high school senior Deshawn Glynn, played Leroy Anderson’s “A Christmas Festival,” a medley of Christmas songs in a community concert at the Central Louisiana Seventh-day Adventist Church. Musicians of different denominations, from high school students to retirement age, played trombones, flutes, trumpets, saxophones, drums and even an oboe. Two physicians, several teachers, a university band director, a food bank worker and five flutists made up this elite group. Special guests Janet Williams

and Zsa Nai Long, both praise music leaders at the Fondren Southwest Seventh-day Adventist Worship Center in Houston, sang along with local choir director, Luchette Pender, in a trio. The Christmas choir was a combination of Maranatha and Smyrna Seventh-day Adventist Churches, led by Luchette Pender and Carey Walker. During an interlude, host Mike Martinez, pastor of Central Louisiana church, and his wife, Bobie, promoted the church’s upcoming Nedley Depression and Anxiety Recovery program with light banter and a personal anecdote.

About 15 signed interest cards. The concert started with a flute choir that played Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” A highlight of the evening was 98-year-old James Killebrew Sr.’s rendition of “In the Morning When I Rise-Give Me Jesus,” adding his deep voice to his harmonica. Arturo McJones sang his Christmas song in Spanish and Hope Bridges and Terri Proshee both sang solos. The evening turned out to be a beautiful, fun, laughter-filled, multicultural, multigenerational experience. By Christine Ince, M.D.

God Multiplies the Bread and Oil in Huntsville

HUNTSVILLE, ARK. – Sometimes you have to just step out in faith. When the Huntsville Seventh-day Adventist Church Food Pantry workers went to the Northwest Arkansas (NWA) Food Bank to pick up bread, they had no idea what to expect. They did not have an

appointment, so after much prayer, they decided to go anyway and were rewarded with 120 loaves of bread! Noticing four cartloads of canned goods off to the side they decided to ask about them. They remembered Jesus saying: “You don’t receive because you don’t ask.” They were given 400 pounds of canned goods that had been donated before Thanksgiving. The next day they visited Walmart where they obtained 1,400 pounds of fresh produce, 600 pounds of clean meats, 300 pounds of deli products and 116 pounds of bakery goods. The Huntsville church operates a Community Service Center with food give away on the second and fourth

Tuesday of each month. All are welcome, but there is a Bible Study on those Tuesdays at 9 a.m. led by Rodney Weyer, pastor of the Huntsville church, and those who attend are the first in line to get food. Recently, the format of giving out packed boxes has changed to a “shopping” approach. Patrons are given a chance to visit with Weyer or other church members, engage in prayer and pick up church literature; then they can shop for the food they need including canned goods, dry goods, clean meats, fresh produce, potatoes, bread and desserts. The pantry serves all the community. By Toni Johnson MARCH | APRIL 2024


Arkansas-Louisiana Conference News

International Students Welcomed by Houma Church Family

GRAY, LA. – Students on Scholarship from Papua New Guinea contacted the Houma Seventh-day Adventist Church about transportation to church from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., and have been attending church since their initial contact. The students were awarded government STEM (Science, Technology, Engineer-

ing and Mathematics) scholarships to Nicholls State University. There is a very large population of Seventh-day Adventists in Papua New Guinea and the attending students, mostly raised in the church and some already baptized, have made themselves right at home with the church family. The Houma church is located about 10 minutes

from Nicholls State University and has welcomed the students and are enjoying sharing the Word of God and cultural exchange with the first-semester freshmen. “We have enjoyed fellowship lunches with the students and recently brought some of the group to the New Orleans Zoo and to a Thanksgiving lunch in New Orleans,” according to Cliff Fenton, head elder. The STEM Scholarship is funded by the Papua New Guinea government through their Education Department. This is the first group of students sent to the United States and all were top students in national grade 12 examinations that they sat for in 2022. The Papua New Guinea government is covering the scholarships which pay for travel expenses, boarding, tuition fees and living allowance for the recipients. By Tidy Fenton

Monticello Church Services Six Neighboring Counties MONTICELLO, ARK. – The Monticello Seventh-day Adventist Church is in Drew County. The church is surrounded by six counties without any other Adventist churches, and since 2019, Bible study leads have kept church members working in all six counties. On most Sabbaths, members go out in several directions to reach these requests. Working with Voice of Prophecy Discover Bible School, the Monticello church had its first graduate from the Bible School in Sept. 2019 and another 60 in 2022. This year, they set up a Bible school table at the local fair and had two people sign up for Bible studies. Two more have signed up during the local evangelistic meetings. As this year wrapped up, they had 16 graduates for 2023 from the Bible school. Along with the Bible school, the church conducted the following four evangelistic meetings. In September,



Alfred Jones led out “In Times Like These.” Roy Robinson presented “The Appearing” in March and “The Pale Horse Rides” in May. Arkansas-Louisiana Conference Education Superintendent Tim Kripps presented “Shadow Empire” as the last meeting for the year. The Monticello church is looking forward to the start of 2024 when they

will begin another cycle of evangelism with Voice of Prophecy’s “Upheaval.” With the total member involvement approach, this small church is hoping to continue to spread the message of Jesus’ soon coming to their neighbors in Monticello and surrounding counties. By Debra Bush

Arkansas-Louisiana Conference News

Health Leaders Affirming Day SHREVEPORT, LA. – We believe the Arkansas-Louisiana (ARKLA) Conference has the best health leaders in the nation! They work hard for their churches, have great ideas and initiatives and use the health message to evangelize. On Nov. 2, 2023, they were celebrated with the first “Affirming Day” at the conference office in Shreveport, La. Leaders from Clinton, Gentry and Bonnerdale in Arkansas; Eben-Ezer, Shreveport South and Slidell in Louisiana joined with the ARKLA office staff in learning about ways and means to use and promote healthful living to our members and other interested individuals. Multiple items were handed out to assist in their ministries and ARKLA Conference Health Ministries/Health Evangelism Director Dr. Marjorie Bélizaire, gave training on how to plan a budget for

their local department and conduct a needs assessment for their communities. Bélizaire talked about how to assist the pastor in a vision for the church, aiding in their growth and moving them in a positive direction locally. Following lunch at Olive Garden, the American Red Cross gave a training class for Adult and Pediatric First Aid, CPR and how to use the AED (Automat-

ed External Defibrillator). Leaders and staff finished their certification and received certificates, good for two years. CPR and AED machines save lives; and the ARKLA Health Department would like to see each church in the territory be equipped with the AED machines. By Marjorie Bélizaire, M.D.

The Great Escape Teen Prayer Conference MOUNTAIN PINE, ARK. – Over 200 people crowded into Camp Yorktown Bay, Oct. 27-29, 2023, for The Great Escape Teen Prayer Conference. Cabins were full, the motel was filled up and the lodge was transformed into four “escape” rooms. Our guest speaker, Daniel Fornes, started out on Friday evening talking about the controversy that started in heaven and the freedom we lost through disobedience. Early morning worship at Town Hall was led by Jorge Diaz and La-

nette Bieber. Werner Gil led out in the Sabbath School time and Daniel Fornes filled the worship time. After lunch the group was split into different groups and rotated through the Escape Rooms or attended Werner Gil or Lanette Bieber’s group activities. Although groups were limited to 10 persons, the Escape Rooms were busy and crowded with participants as they worked to unlock clues and figure out puzzles that would open the door for their escape. Ryan

Gil spoke on Saturday evening and led out in basketball activities in the gym. The evening closed with ice cream floats and snacks. Each participant received a “Great Escape” cup and a junior devotional called, Into the Wild. Jesus is coming soon! Are you planning your escape? Have you found your key to the Great Escape? By Sylvia Downs



Arkansas-Louisiana Conference News

Thailand Mission 2023 SHREVEPORT, LA. – After a couple of years of being unable to complete a mission trip due to restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arkansas-Louisiana (ARKLA) Conference was thrilled to see the 2023 mission endeavor move forward. Jeff Villegas and his wife, Darlynn, along with Benjamin Orian and his wife, Silvia, headed to Thailand with 41 other members from our conference. After approximately 22 hours of travel on airplanes, airports and a scrappy truck, work began. One of the projects was to work on building a church in the Chiang Mai region along with several other outreach projects. An eye clinic was a huge success as people from the communities poured in for testing and treatment. In the evenings, Orian, along with a layman and a retired pastor from the mission team, held evangelistic meetings in three dif-

ferent sites resulting in 26 baptisms. Although the church building was not completed, it was functional to the degree that Orian preached the first sermon in it at the completion of the trip. The 14 days that the mission team spent on their trip was well worth the time and effort and we hope to inspire others to join us on our 2025 mission endeavors. By Frances Alcorn

New Additions to the Conference Staff

SHREVEPORT, LA. – The Arkansas-Louisiana Conference had been looking to fill the roles of ministerial director, youth director and assistant treasurers. For months, we have been searching to find the right people to join our ministry in these departments. After diligent efforts and interviews by our officers, on Dec. 14, 2023, our executive committee voted Josue Feliciano (pictured left) as youth director for the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference. Happily, he accepted the position and joined the office staff



on Jan. 1. Feliciano and his wife, Meliza, come to us from Hagerstown, Md. We already feel like he is part of the family. At the same December meeting, the committee also approved Rodolfo “Rudy” Alvir (pictured center) as ministerial director. Alvir was formerly the youth director of the Nevada-Utah Conference and his wife, Alexandra, (pictured right) was administrative assistant to the president at the same conference. They joined us at the 2024 January Conference Ministers’ Meet-

ing, Rudy as our new ministerial director, and Alex (pictured right) as assistant treasurer. The final adjustment to our staff was that Margie Wireman, whom our pastors and members are already familiar with in payroll, was promoted to the position of assistant treasurer, also. Each of these members of our staff, new and old, are an important part of the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference “One Family in Jesus” and we are grateful that the Lord has brought them to our team.

Oklahoma Conference

A Special Message to Share I believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been given a special message to help prepare the world for the second coming of Christ. Noah had a message in his day, as did John the Baptist. Elijah also had a message meant to turn God’s people back to Him. Malachi 4:5 tells us that God “will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes.” I believe that the message of our church fulfills that prophecy. There are no other churches or movements today that have these messages to share with the world. Revelation 10-14 tells of a movement to go to the world telling people to fear God, or turn to God, give Him glory and worship Him as creator, which is to bring us back to Sabbath worship and observance. It also proclaims that the time of his judgment is come. This is the last judgment hour message before Jesus comes. It is meant to turn the hearts of God’s people to Him. Reve-

lation 14:12 tells us that God’s last-day people will be characterized by “those who keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus.” This group of people is so serious about their relationship with Jesus that they listen to Him because they have been drawn to Him by His sacrificial death. They love Him because He first loved them. They have been drawn by cords of love. They have faith in Him as their personal savior. They have also been convicted of their need to “Follow the Lamb wherever He goes” Revelation 14:4. They realize that Christ is both Creator and Savior. The first chapters in the Bible speak of both the creation Sabbath and the promised Savior to come. They learned that Jesus is both, so they give Him their hearts and trust Him for salvation and seek to keep His commandments which includes the fourth or Sabbath commandment. This experience brings them closer to Jesus and helps prepare them for His coming. We believe all

signs indicate this may be soon. Jesus is both Lord of salvation and Lord of the Sabbath, both of which speak of His desire for a relationship with us. Our mission is to share this everlasting Gospel with the world. And Jesus promises to give us the Holy Spirit to enable us to be successful. What a calling! What a blessing! By James Shires President



Oklahoma Conference News

Hispanic Ministries Making a Difference in Oklahoma OKLAHOMA CITY – In 2023, the Hispanic ministries in the Oklahoma Conference had a clear mission—to focus on evangelism and unity. The year began with meticulous planning and organization, leading to the creation of an evangelistic caravan. The caravan was supported by a large team that included Southwestern Union Vice President for Multicultural Ministries Osvaldo Rigacci, the entire Hispanic pastoral team in Oklahoma and an evangelist team. The caravan lasted for 10 days. As they traveled from city to city, they carried a torch symbolizing the radiant message of God’s Word to each community. The enthusiasm of the brothers and sisters they encountered was contagious, resulting in successful outreach to many with the message of



salvation. The caravan proved to be the highlight of the year. Throughout the year, churches, pastors and members actively engaged in various activities to demonstrate the love of Christ within local communities. In West Siloam Springs, a food bank was successfully established, providing assistance to nearly 80 families weekly, addressing both physical and spiritual needs. In Tulsa, churches and members contributed to supporting the Tulsa Community Center through various activities, including distributing over 100 food items weekly to underprivileged families, offering English classes for recent immigrants and providing free music classes for youth and children in the community. The ministry extended

its support to eye clinics, offering optical professional services and free lenses to participants, and partnered with oriental medicine clinics, enhancing healthcare for many Hispanic community members. Throughout the year, Hispanic ministries actively engaged with local communities and organizations to foster strong community relationships and better understand their needs. This included a meeting with Senator James Lankford where discussions revolved around the current situation of the country, projects to assist the Hispanic community, pending laws and upcoming congressional reforms. A mental health project was launched at the Oklahoma City Central Hispanic Church, offering separate talks tailored for children, youth and parents, along with counseling services and refreshments. The Hispanic work saw remarkable growth in 2023, witnessing more than 100 baptisms and having approximately 20 percent of its members actively involved in providing an average of 300 weekly Bible studies. While new churches weren’t established in the past year, the focus has been on strengthening existing ones. Two churches celebrated becoming debt-free as they paid off their mortgages. Looking ahead to 2024, Hispanic Ministries has exciting plans, including the creation of a community center in Oklahoma City to address a wide range of needs for the local population. Additionally, they are sponsoring the construction of cabin five at Wewoka Woods Adventist Center, which will benefit numerous children and families attending summer camps and camp meetings. By Luis Prieto Hispanic Ministries Director and Wes Via, Communications Director

Oklahoma Conference News

Educating Through Faith in Action OKLAHOMA CITY – I have worked as a teacher in Montana, California, Washington, Idaho and South Dakota. Through this journey, I formed a firm understanding of what Adventist education was; however, upon arriving in Oklahoma City, Okla., I met people living their faith in action. Those who know me are likely weary of hearing this, but I am constantly amazed by those who work at

and around Parkview Adventist Academy (PAA). Everyone is full of faith in action: when issues arise, no one ever says, “Oh, I will pray for you.” No, they stop you in your tracks, grab hold of you and pray for you in that moment. Never before have I experienced such active faith. Parkview Adventist Academy is a rare place of active faith where the spirit of God is alive, directing our

steps. As a new principal, I am constantly amazed by the stories I hear of how God has taken care of PAA over its 124-year history, and I am excited to see where He takes us next. When God is with you, who can stand against you? By T.J. Roberts Principal

Education Through Field Trips ARDMORE, OKLA. – Ardmore Adventist Academy students recently visited a creation museum in Dallas, and the experience was interesting. The exhibits were detailed and interactive, featuring a lot of technology and sand tables. Surprisingly, the sand tables turned out to be the favorite among the students. The next field trip included a visit to the Chickasaw Nation Cultural Center, where students explored an outdoor village and a large garden showcasing the “three sisters.” Indoors, an interactive pathway provided insights into the Chickasaw culture that is imbued throughout south central Oklahoma. Students participated in a cultural dance class and were introduced to the art of beading, rounding out the educational outing. By Rose Simpson Principal and Teacher MARCH | APRIL 2024


Oklahoma Conference News

Comfort and Joy

EDMOND, OKLA. – A delightful afternoon of “comfort and joy” was recently enjoyed by more than 120 women (and a few men) from across Oklahoma on Dec. 10, 2023. The fun holiday celebration and brunch were held by Oklahoma Conference Women’s Ministries (WM) and graciously hosted by the Edmond Seventh-day Adventist Church. The ladies enjoyed much overdue laughter and conversation as they enjoyed the scrumptious and beautifully presented fare of quiche, avocado toast, salads, pastries, tea and much more! The WM department collaborated with the Edmond church WM leader, Julie Marehwa, to assist with the planning of the brunch. Marehwa invested many hours to ensure nothing was spared for the ladies! In addition, Maxine DeCocq, an Edmond church charter member, perfectly paired seasonal décor for each table to make it more special. And those few men mentioned earlier—Richard Bell, Ira Farley, Irv McKey and Rick Mercer—went above and beyond to cheerfully assist in meal prep, serving and catering to the ladies for several hours. Frolic and fun continued with a few Christmas games which evoked a little spirited competition by the women. They eagerly worked to be the first to finish the A-Z nativity word race and the



Christmas carol word scramble! Some very happy winners were the recipients of seasonal kitchen gadgets, ornaments and “Fa-la-la-la-la” socks. The festive brunch transitioned into an inspirational time of worship led by Torre Gerling from the Moore Seventh-day Adventist Church. The ladies beautifully echoed their voices together as they sang the heart-touching songs “Mary, Did You Know” and “Silent Night” followed by Gerling’s special, “Light of the World.” As the event was being planned, a recurring sentiment of “comfort and joy” surfaced especially as so many women experience isolation. Additionally, some are in a season of grief due to a variety of losses in their life. There seems to be a craving for more comfort and more joy with the challenges we each continue to face. Our hearts need a helper and I wanted the participants to experience a special touch from their Savior during the holiday season, leading to the selection of the “Comfort and Joy” speaker, Eve Diaz-Mora. Diaz-Mora, the wife of Oklahoma Conference Youth Director Israel Mora, did not disappoint as she enthusiastically shared how God is lovingly caring for us during the “seasonal” changes of our lives and that we can find comfort and joy no matter what particular season we

are living in today. She chose the biblical character of Mary to portray, identify and emphasize how we too can find calm in the chaos. Diaz-Mora left us with three key points to help us move forward in a seemingly difficult season: 1. Surround yourself with Godly people (like Elizabeth was to Mary); 2. Find your purpose and serve; 3. Keep God’s Word in your heart. By implementing these three key points, we can be an “Elizabeth” to other “Marys” as well as intentionally seeking God’s will in our life so we can serve Him with our best gifts! As we study God’s word and pray daily, He will make clear our path and provide peace in each situation. Scripture says that we can expect trouble, but that doesn’t mean we can’t experience true tidings of comfort or joy during these uncertain times. It is in Jesus Christ alone that we can find true comfort and true joy. In fact, He comforts us with these words: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33. By Cindy Mercer

Oklahoma Conference News

White Water Rescue HARRAH, OKLA. – On Sept. 3, 2023, several staff and students from Oklahoma Academy attended a white water rescue training at Riversport in Oklahoma City. Gideon Rescue Company of Ardmore, Okla., conducted the training. This is the second year the school has been blessed with this unique opportunity. Students learned several practical rescue techniques such as tossing throw bags and swimming across rough water. Kory Meidell led the training with the help of Michael Deuhrssen. Meidell is the training officer for Gideon Rescue Company and has over 20 years of experience in search and rescue. Twelve Oklahoma Academy students attended the training. The kids enjoyed practicing jumping into rapids and swimming across them. They even had the opportunity to watch Meidell “rescue” one of the complex’s many visitors. Since the training was hap-

pening in the same waterway as Riversport’s artificial rafting experience they had to dodge rafts and some kayaks. Sometimes visitors do fall out of one of the many rafts. One such visitor was a young boy. Meidell held out an ore and the boy grabbed it. He got back in his raft and all the students on shore enjoyed the demonstration. Thankfully there were no broken bones or concussions at the end of the day. There were a few bruises and sore muscles but all enjoyed the exercise. Pray for Oklahoma Academy as we strive to train our students to love God and the people around them. God is working everywhere and we are so excited to be a part of it. We also want to say a huge thank you to Meidell and Gideon Rescue Company for providing this training opportunity. By Annelise Jagitsch



Southwest Region Conference

We Have an Awesome Job! We have churches everywhere today. We have churches on every corner. Large churches. Small churches. Urban churches. Rural churches. Some churches clap their hands. Some don’t. Some churches say, “Amen.” Some don’t. Some churches have musical bands. Some don’t. Some churches have long services. Some don’t. We have churches everywhere. While we have churches everywhere, let me also add that there are good people in all churches. There are good Christians in all denominations. But, when I consider a church, it’s not about who has the nicest building. It’s not about how many members it has. It’s not about how many choirs, praise teams or musicians there are. It’s not about how many greeters or ushers there are. Although all of these things may be good, membership in a church should positively rest in where God’s unadulterated Word is being preached. Jesus made it clear, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24. Moreover, Revelation 12:17 clearly defines God’s remnant as those who “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”



Today, I’m happy that I’m a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church! Yet, I also recognize that being a follower of Christ is more than just membership, it’s also discipleship and espousing the love Jesus had for His Father and His people! Hence, as disciples of Christ and members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, we have the awesome responsibility of sharing His love and the good news of salvation with others. (Matthew 28:19-20; 1 John 4:7-8). All of us at some point in our lives, have been, are currently or will be employed. Whether a pastor, doctor, lawyer, educator, accountant, plumber, painter or homemaker, employment in some form is necessary in our world. Yet, we ultimately have the greatest job in the world as disciples of Jesus and witnesses for Him! In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.

Away from me, you evildoers!” In doing God’s will, we have the amazing assignment of sharing our faith through obedience to God’s Word, the communication of the Gospel, meeting community-felt needs and loving God’s people! What an awesome job! Friends, “let us not be weary in well doing,” but remember, “in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9 (KJV). We, as a people, are imperfect, but we pursue a perfect message and will soon be rewarded by living in perfect paradise with our perfect God! I love my job! How about you? By Carlton P. Byrd, D.Min. President

Southwest Region Conference News

WHO’s Picnic! HOUSTON – The date was set. Sunday, Oct. 1, 2023. The World Harvest Outreach Seventh-day Adventist Church, better known as the “WHO” in Houston, Tex., was anticipating to have a long-overdue and well-needed fellowship picnic. Throughout the planning process, we were faced with many setbacks and deterrents including the unusual hot weather we were experiencing late in the fall. But after much prayer and turning to the One who is in control of all things, things began to turn around. I can happily report that everything worked out for the good! On that Sunday, the “WHO” family gathered together at the Harris Coun-

ty Tom Bass Park at Pavilion #5. The weather was beautiful! Whether you sat under the pavilion or amongst the trees, there was a cooling breeze always blowing with no humidity. There were plenty of activities for every age group which included card games, board games, volleyball, corn hole, tug-of-war, sack racing and gift card giveaways for naming “that choir.” Oh! Did I mention the food? It was a royal feast with nothing lacking. And all this happening with the soothing melodies spun by the DJ, Ryan Wilson. We were blessed with showers of blessings. Lorrain Bevis said, “I really enjoyed myself, I had a great time.” “I had not planned to come because

of my schedule, however, I’m glad I did. I had a wonderful time,” shared Rosenda Gregory. Charles and Theresa Phlegm said, “We enjoyed everything. The fellowship, the food, the ‘letting the hair down of the members’ and the weather was perfect. It was a very special day.” “Thank you so much for a successful church picnic,” echoed Paula Moss. “I had an unexpected great time.” Well, it was a great day and a great experience! This was my first time attending a picnic with the “WHO” and I enjoyed it so much, I think we will try it again next year! By Althea Starks



Southwest Region Conference News

Right You Are!

ORLANDO, FLA. – “Right you are! That’s right! Correct for ten! Yes!” These were some of the many words of affirmation heard on Oct. 28, 2023 at the 40th National Bible Bowl Championships, which was held at the Mt. Sinai Seventh-day Adventist Church in Orlando, Fla. Thirty-one teams from 11 conferences across the United States and Canada participated. The Southwest Region Conference (SWRC) had four teams at the event. The four teams advanced from their local Youth Federation and then on to the SWRC championships which took place at the 2024 Camp Meeting at Lone Star Camp in Athens, Tex. Out of the North Central Texas Youth Federation, three teams from the Metro Community Seventh-day Adventist Church of Arlington, Tex., represented the Southwest Region Conference: the



Pre-Junior Division (ages 6-9, pictured top right), the Junior Youth Division (ages 10-15, pictured top left) and the Senior Youth Division (ages 16-22, pictured bottom right). Out of the Capital Cities Youth Federation, the Fondren Seventh-day Adventist Church of Houston, Tex., represented the Conference in the Adult Division (ages 36 and up, pictured bottom right). The Metro Senior Youth Team made it to the championship game, ultimately finishing first runner-up to the Canadian Senior Youth Team from Ontario. The Pre-Junior, Junior Youth and Adult teams all finished second runner-up in their divisions. This is a great accomplishment as it was the first year many were on the teams. Bible Bowl is a ministry for all ages and is an opportunity to get to know the Word of God on a deep level and in a fun

interactive way. If you would like to know more about this ministry, contact Maurice J. Turner, Southwest Region Bible Bowl coordinator, at or call 817.925.9569. The Bible Bowl books for 2024 are Pre-Junior (ages 6-9): Genesis and Luke; Junior Youth (ages 10-15): Genesis, Luke, Judges and Ephesians; Senior Youth (ages 16-22): Genesis, Luke, Judges, Ephesians and Jude; Young Adult (ages 23-35): Genesis, Luke, Judges, Ephesians, Jude and 1 Kings; Adult (ages 36 and up): Genesis, Luke, Judges, Ephesians, Jude, I Kings and Galatians. By Maurice Turner

Southwest Region Conference News

New Departmental Directors DALLAS – On Sunday, Dec.10, 2023, the Southwest Region Conference Executive Committee met and voted the following three individuals as new departmental directors: Darriel Hoy as community services director; Lawanna McCoy as educational superintendent and Raynell Smith as family ministries director. Darriel Hoy has a strong 20-year background in pastoral and departmental ministry service in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Hoy has previously served as the community services director of the Central States Conference, assistant community services director of the Allegheny East Conference and the executive director of the Baltimore Adventist Community Services Center. Hoy is a graduate of Duke University and the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. She currently serves

as the pastor of the Baton Rouge Faith and Lafayette Morning Star Seventh-day Adventist churches district in Southern Louisiana. She will concurrently serve as departmental director while pastoring her local churches. Lawanna McCoy is a seasoned educator with over 30 years of educational experience as a principal and teacher in the Carolina, South Atlantic and Southeastern Conferences, coupled with serving in the public education sector. McCoy holds bachelor of science degrees in both business management and accounting, a master of science degree in management, a master of arts degree in mathematics education and is a doctoral candidate in instructional leadership – coaching and mentoring. Raynell Smith has served the Southwest Region Conference in pastoral ministry for 23 years and is currently the pastor of the Hammond Emmanuel and

Covington Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist churches in Southern Louisiana. Smith has certifications and experience as a chaplain and bereavement coordinator, marriage and family counselor and was a grief counselor in local Southern Louisiana hospitals. Smith will also remain as the pastor of our Hammond and Covington Seventh-day Adventist churches in this new role. The Southwest Region Conference Executive Committee also voted Anysia Archibald to remain as our conference women’s ministries director and Ken Scott to remain as the safety officer of our conference. We welcome our new leaders, confident that their commitment to God and the Adventist church will help further the Kingdom in our Conference territory.



Southwest Region Conference News

First In Show ATHENS, TEX. – For the third year in a row, the Southwest Region Conference Education Department will host the Southwest Region Qualifying Robotics Tournament at Lone Star Camp in Athens, Tex. on March 15-17, 2024. In March of 2023, the conference hosted 11 teams from across the Southwestern Union territory. The participants spent an entire weekend at the camp interacting with each other, worshiping together and competing to advance to the National Championships that were held in Apopka, Fla., in May of 2023. This year’s tournament, “First in Show,” is expected to bring together talented minds to the table, share current trends, challenges and breakthroughs in robotics, and will serve as a melting pot that promotes networking opportunities. The robotics tournament welcomes teams from around the nation to con-



verge and display their cutting-edge creations. In addition to team participation, the event offers volunteer, referee and judging opportunities. The tournament is for ages 9-16. Whether you are a seasoned or novice robotics team member, this experience will be unforgettable, filled with innovation and inspiration! Be prepared to be amazed by the incredible

feats of technology in real-time at this remarkable event! Please contact L. Denise Green at for more information on how to register your team or serve as a volunteer. By Lawanna McCoy Education Superintendent

Texas Conference

Embracing God’s Mission: The Power of Saying “Use Me” In the Bible, we find countless examples of individuals God called to undertake extraordinary missions. From Noah building an ark to Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, these stories demonstrate that God’s assignments are never easy or convenient. Yet, throughout history, those who answered His call experienced the transformative power of saying, “Use Me.” Noah’s story is a powerful reminder that God’s missions often require us to step out of our comfort zones and face ridicule and hostility. When God instructed Noah to build an ark and start civilization anew, Noah’s response was one of obedience and trust. Despite not fully understanding the magnitude of the task, he willingly offered himself as a vessel for God’s plan. Abraham, too, exemplified the willingness to leave behind everything familiar in pursuit of God’s mission. God called him to establish a new community, the people of Israel, in a land unknown to him. Abraham’s faith and obedience allowed him to embrace the unknown, knowing that God would be with him every step of the way. When confronted with the daunting task of freeing God’s people from Pharaoh’s grip, Moses responded with a resounding “Use Me.” He defied the most powerful man on earth, risking his

own life for the liberation of his fellow Israelites. Nehemiah, David, Esther, Joseph and Daniel followed suit, facing their trials and challenges as they fulfilled God’s assignments. The ultimate mission was entrusted to Jesus, who was called to reconcile the world to God through His sacrifice on the cross. Jesus understood the importance of passing on this mission to His followers, stating, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” John 20:21 (NKJV). Today, as followers of Jesus, we are called to embrace a mission that extends beyond the confines of the church. We are called to take His power, love and message of grace into the world to transform lives and change the world. Being a witness does not require us to be a salesperson or apply pressure on others. Instead, it simply entails sharing what we have seen and experienced in our own lives. Saying “Use Me” to God opens the door to a remarkable adventure. It prompts us to evaluate our lives, step out of our comfort zones and embrace a mission that is greater than ourselves. Imagine the impact if every follower of Jesus, within the Texas Conference and beyond, were to wholeheartedly pray, “God, Use Me.” The ripple effect

of such a collective commitment would be astounding. Embracing God’s mission requires focus, dedication and a willingness to let go of our desires and comforts. It is a call to be available and open to the opportunities God presents us. Let us embark on this adventure with God, surrendering ourselves to God’s mission. Let’s say, “God, Use Me. I’m available.” In doing so, we open ourselves up to a journey that will surpass our wildest expectations and allow us to make a lasting impact on the world around us. By Elton DeMoraes, D.Min. President



Texas Conference News

1st Annual Area-Wide Spelling Bee A Success RICHARDSON, TEX. – The first annual Texas Conference sponsored Dallas/Fort Worth Area-Wide Spelling Bee was held Nov. 15, 2023, at Burleson Adventist Academy (BAA). Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) joined the fun, presenting a SWAU scholarship for each winner. The spelling bee winners included elementary school level: 1) Daniel Ortega (Fort Worth Adventist Junior Academy), 2) Charlotte Griswell (Keene Adventist Elementary School) and 3) Nathaniel Unite (Keene Adventist Elementary School); junior high level: 1) Mia Johnson (Keene Adventist Elementary School), 2) Lelard Montoya (Dallas Christian Academy) and 3) Isaac Murray (Fort Worth Adventist Junior Academy) and high school level: 1) Niko Chou (Burton Adventist Academy), 2) Sajni Smith (North Dallas Adventist Academy) and 3) Adam Nogueira (North Dallas Adventist Academy). “I was so impressed with the organization of this event by the BAA staff,” Texas Conference Vice President for Education Kisha Norris exclaimed. “Seeing all the parents and school staff supporting these students, watching students review their words during the break and hearing the commentators.

It made it such a fun and special day for these students. We look forward to doing it again.” Jacelin Cadet, BAA vice principal, and Aaron Long, BAA director of recruitment and development, presented the idea to Norris, who enthusiastically supported their vision. “We have wonderful Bible programs, athletics and music. It was nice to see this addition that supported academics,” Norris stated. “Hopefully, other schools will contact BAA to see what they did to emulate it. They set a high bar.” “Those students were impressive,” Texas Conference President Elton DeMoraes added. “Some of those words I would not even know how to pro-

nounce, let alone spell. Thank you to the parents and teachers who worked with the students to study for this event, to the BAA staff for hosting and organizing this event, to SWAU for the scholarships awarded to the winners and to our own Texas Conference education staff for the tireless work they do to help our schools be successful. Together As One, we can make an eternal difference for our young people.” You can enjoy the live stream replays at By Tamara Michalenko Terry Associate Director for Communication & Public Relations Photos by Teymi Townsend

ARLINGTON, TEX. – The Arlington Southern Worship Center Seventh-day Adventist Church sponsors a community garden on the church property. The Otha Johnson Jr. Memorial Community Garden consists of 24 raised beds where volunteers grow organic vegetables for themselves and local community service food banks. Stephanie Dotson, one of our growers, shared how the garden blesses her. “On Sunday mornings, my family and I enjoyed starting the day working in the garden. Whether sowing seeds, pulling

weeds, watering or harvesting fresh greens, we worked together. In addition to the family time spent together in nature, I appreciated the sense of community among the gardeners. The ups and downs of growing vegetables truly parallel the realities of Christian life. I try to remain faithful and trust the Lord when I feel discouraged. Through it all, my family and I have been immensely blessed by the experience.” By Lawanda Lumbard and Stephanie Doson

Growing Our Garden



Texas Conference News

Pizza Opens the Door KILLEEN, TEX. – Wanting to mingle with their neighbors and meet needs like Christ did, members of the Killeen Seventh-day Adventist Church offered pizza and prayer at a nearby apartment complex. A few tenants said they would like to visit the church and Mike Fortune, pastor, even took one tenant to the hospital for medical attention. They were inspired by little Olivia Rosario-Cuadra and her parents, Leslie Cuadra and Jose Rosario, who had done something similar. She’d even de-

signed a sign: “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8.” Members also went downtown and gifted blankets to several people. Tanya Williams provided the blankets from the church’s Tabitha’s community service closet. Please pray for each person the group was blessed to meet on “Love to Serve Sabbath.” May God bless and inspire us to continue to creatively bless others as Christ did. By Carmen Rhodes

Texas Youth World Changers in El Salvador

ALVARADO, TEX. – A record number of 80 Texas Conference volunteers of all ages spent their Thanksgiving, Nov. 17-23, 2023, giving back to those in need. Tasked with building a church in the rural town of El Jicaral, near San Miguel, El Salvador, the volunteers worked tirelessly on the project. They also held two health clinics, allowing community members to meet with a doctor, counselor or pastor. Treatment, medicine, clothes, toys, hygiene products and household items were given out. “In addition to providing for their physical needs, we ran four simultaneous evangelistic meetings every night to provide for their spiritual needs,” Texas Conference Youth & Young Adult Ministries Director Christian Ponciano shared. “We had three Texas Con-

ference pastors and one TXYouth lay evangelist preaching each evening.” Volunteers organized the programs, from greeters to special music. “Our TXYouth World Changers were hard at work in evangelism,” Ponciano added. There were 20 baptisms or professions of faith after the meetings, with many more committed individuals whom they pray will be baptized. “TXYouth believes in being the hands and feet of Jesus today,” Ponciano said. “We are passionate about mission and evangelism and are always looking for opportunities to serve and bring the light of Jesus to the world.” “I am so proud of our Texas Conference family and the many volunteers who took their time to help in El Salvador,” Texas Conference President

Elton DeMoraes said. “This was a very ambitious mission project, but they achieved their objectives. TXYouth are world changers working to change the world one mission at a time.” According to Ponciano, the El Jicaral congregation met every Sabbath under a mango tree for three years. When a member donated a piece of his land, and the members purchased another piece of land, their dream was to build a sanctuary, but they didn’t have enough money. The TXYouth volunteers left a functional standing building where the members could worship while protected from the elements. You can find pictures from their trip at



Texas Conference News

It Pays to Be Kind!

KATY, TEX. – Students at Katy Adventist Christian School in Katy, Tex., raised over $5,000 last spring by giving away something extremely valuable but not a monetary price tag—the gift of kindness. When teachers asked the students if they could think of an act of kindness they could do for another person, the students eagerly raised their hands, and many suggestions followed. One

idea was to collect food and toiletries for the new Katy Seventh-day Adventist Church Community Outreach as a “kindness” gift to the community. A website was set up for two weeks for family and friends to “sponsor” the students with a gift of any size for their “kindness” gestures. The school received over 200 food items and reached its initial $3,000 goal in the first week. Parents and donors contributed

over 50 personal hygiene items and an additional $2,000 during the second week. A new multi-seat, commercial-grade swing set greeted the students this school year. As they swing to new heights and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine, teachers will remind them that all of this comes from a God who loves them. By Ronald Moller, Sr.

We cried through testimonials of cancer and illnesses, rejoiced in presentations on health reform and recognized that there are more than 12 extraordinary women in the Bible who have left us powerful legacies of faith for this generation to continue to build on. We prayed collectively that our faith would increase and our marriages and families would be restored. We prayed

earnestly for our youth and community and that our conference would reach more souls for the kingdom of heaven. You can find the sessions recorded by the Houston Central church on under the Women’s Ministries playlist. By Sandralee Mars Women's Ministries English Coordinator

Daughters of Faith HOUSTON – The Houston Central Seventh-day Adventist Church was packed Sept.15-17, 2023, as more than 640 people attended the Daughters of Faith Fall Conference for faith restoration and much-needed encouragement and healing. Sponsored by Texas Conference Women’s Ministries | English, keynote speaker Michelle Hill drew our minds to “The Shadow of the Cross.” As Bermuda Conference Women’s Ministries Director, Hill knows firsthand the challenges facing women today. In “The Shadow of the Cross,” Mary Magdalene went from being a woman of the street to a powerful street evangelist for Jesus. A breakout session was arranged for the youth to help them deal with their challenges. There were many sessions of prayer and testimony, so all had a chance to share the goodness of God.



Texas Conference News

Nine Ministers Ordained to the Gospel Ministry KEENE, TEX. – On Nov. 11, 2023, nine Texas-based ministers were ordained at the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church, with Texas Conference and Southwestern Union administrators participating in the service. Ordination candidates included, from left to right, Russell (with Rachel) Huggins, pastor at the Hurst Seventh-day Adventist Church; Michael Conrad (with Fiona) Bobb-Semple, pastor at the San Antonio Philadelphia and Atascosa Seventh-day Adventist Churches; Edwin “Danny” (with Vanessa) Cano, youth pastor at the Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church; Vicente (with Isela) Osorio, pastor at the Houston Spanish North and Katy Bear Creek Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Churches; Manuel (with Estefania) Ibuado, pastor at the Keene Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church; Ruben (with Cassandra) Casabona, media and communications pastor at Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church; Antonio “Tony” (with Blanca) Correa, trust officer and stewardship coordinator of the south Texas area for the Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; Deivi (with Dania) Garcia, associate pastor at the Houston Spanish Spring Branch Seventh-day Adventist Church and Austen (with Aurianna) Powell, special assistant to the president at Southwestern Adventist University.

“The annual ordination service is a special event,” Texas Conference Executive Secretary David Montoya stated. “Every year, the Texas Conference ordination review committee looks at individuals working in ministry to assess their contributions to their churches and communities.” Once individuals are prayerfully selected, they go through an interview process with the ordination review committee. The committee discusses the importance of the Seventh-day Adventists’ fundamental beliefs and determines if the ordination candidates follow the core qualities of ministry. “It is a high calling to be ordained to the gospel ministry,” Montoya added. “We have one of the best pastoral teams,” Texas Conference President

Elton DeMoraes said. “Always learning and growing, our pastors are committed to sharing the gospel within their circle of influence and worldwide through online communication methods.” Ordained individuals with valid ministerial credentials can serve worldwide in any Seventh-day Adventist Church. The live-streamed ordination service from the Keene church media team is at under “live.” By Tamara Michalenko Terry Associate Director for Communication & Public Relations

Sign Up for the President’s Text Message ALVARADO, TEX. – With almost 67,000 members, 354 congregations and 22 schools, a lot happens in the Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. As the Texas Conference continues to grow, so do our communication methods. You can find departments, ministries, news and events on the website ( and our social channels (TexasAdventist and HispanosTXC). Streaming options are

available on our Facebook and YouTube channels. The TXSDA App, created at the beginning of 2023, provided another way to connect and stream. Wanting a way to connect directly with Texas Conference members, the Texas Conference President now sends a short weekly text message to those who subscribe. It’s easy and free to subscribe. Simply text the words TexasNews to 51555

to be added to his list. You will receive encouragement and Texas Conference event updates. Together As One, we are working to share the Gospel throughout Texas and around the world. We look forward to connecting with you. By Tamara Michalenko Terry Associate Director for Communication & Public Relations



Texico Conference

Why A Remnant people? “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. The Lord did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you…” Deuteronomy 7:6-8 God’s choice of Israel stemmed from His profound love for them. The original Hebrew word for love signifies a deep emotional attachment, akin to the English expression “fall in love” (Genesis 34:8). God “set His love upon” Israel, conveying an ardent and affectionate attachment. This choice was God’s deliberate, unconditional act, driven solely by His love (Deuteronomy 10:15). Israel possessed no inherent qualities that merited this divine election; rather, it was an act of God’s grace (John 15:16). The ultimate cause lay in the mystery of divine love. Israel, as a people, had received gracious promises from Yahweh, chosen by virtue of His love and liberated from slavery in Egypt through a display of divine power. God strategically placed Israel at the crossroads of Palestine with the intent that they become a beacon for the nations, carrying the knowledge of the true God through missionary



activities. God’s remnant, exemplified by Israel, had a mission of religious revival and evangelism to ensure a clear understanding of the God they served. Israel, as God’s chosen representatives on earth, had the sacred trust of preserving God’s law, symbols and prophecies pointing to the Savior. They were meant to be wells of salvation to the world, revealing God to humanity. God selected Israel to reveal His character on earth; the election was not for privilege alone but for service with an evangelistic purpose. Israel was to be a blessing to others—a light to the Gentiles, a kingdom of priests, a moral testimony and a reflection of God’s character. According to the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, God desired His remnant to be exalted above all nations, showcasing unparalleled prosperity, both temporal and spiritual, as a reward for adhering to righteous principles. Israel’s success hinged on holiness of character, health, superior intellect, skill in agriculture and husbandry, craftsmanship, unparalleled prosperity and national greatness. God intended Israel to be a living witness to His greatness and majesty. As the nations witnessed Israel’s progress, they were meant to be drawn to the God of Israel. All nations were to share in the blessings bestowed upon

Israel, and Israel was to extend an invitation to accept their God. God expected His chosen people to glorify Him, be witnesses, reveal the principles of His kingdom, show forth His praise, declare His glory among the heathen and be a light to the Gentiles. As Seventh-day Adventist Christians, we share the same mission. Each of us belongs to God, we are His special possession, commissioned for an everlasting evangelistic mission. Our mission is unique, and as a people of destiny, we are on a journey toward Heaven. God’s plans for His remnant have not changed. Don’t we have the same mission as Israel? By Lee-Roy Chacon President

Texico Conference News

Triumphs in Evangelism Across El Paso

EL PASO, TEX. – In a collaborative effort led by the Southwestern Union and Texico Conference to support El Paso churches in their mission, several Spanish congregations hosted a series of impactful evangelistic meetings spanning 2022 and 2023. The initial meeting took place at Montana Lee Seventh-day Adventist Church as part of a district gathering led by Osvaldo Rigacci, Southwestern Union vice president of multicultural ministries, from Oct. 1-7, 2022, resulting in 22 baptisms. The following May, Montana Lee church welcomed psychologist Daniel Perales, who led a district meeting. In June, Luis Prieto spoke at events held at Montana Vista Seventh-day Adventist

Church. Then, in September, José and Adly Campos, evangelists and international speakers, led discussions for the district’s men and women, culminating in strengthening the families at El Paso West Seventh-day Adventist Church. Plans for October brought Amado Sánchez to Montana Vista church, and Luis Prieto back to Montana Lee church. Together, these endeavors led to 53 baptisms in the district, all to the honor and glory of God. Among these baptisms was a touching moment when a family of six, with an addition on the way—a father, expectant mother, three teenage daughters and a teenage son—were baptized upon discovering the truth of the gos-

pel. Remarkably, the mother, nearly at full term in her pregnancy, opted to be baptized while seated in a chair with assistance from the deacons. Inspired by her example, her daughter, who had a fear of water, courageously entered the baptismal waters, accompanied by her younger sister. We are deeply grateful to God, the Southwestern Union, the Texico Conference and the local Spanish churches for their steadfast support in fulfilling this ongoing mission. As we press forward, let’s remember that Jesus is coming soon! By Javier Grijalva Pastor



Texico Conference News

Strengthening Families ALBUQUERQUE – Last December, the North Valley Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church warmly welcomed Southwestern Union President Carlos Craig and his wife, Letty Craig, family and women’s ministries director, for a compelling two-day family ministries event. Themed “The Family Designed by God,” the event, hosted jointly by the Southwestern Union and the Texico Conference, covered important topics vital for all families, placing a special focus on mental health. Craig, who recently completed his master’s degree in mental health, shared insights on emotional intelligence and addressed men about the significance of nurturing their emotional and mental well-being. Letty Craig offered valuable parenting advice, specifically tailored for single parents and women. The sessions concluded with

an interactive Q&A, proving immensely beneficial for those grappling with challenging family situations. It was indeed a blessing to all who attended. Hosting the Craigs within the Texico Conference territory was an honor, as their presence supported Texico’s ongoing mission of strengthening fam-

ilies for the greater glory of God. The impactful messages from the meetings promise to inspire incredible transformations, and we’re eager to witness the amazing things God will do through them! By Debby Márquez Communications Director

Odessa and Big Spring Welcome New Members ODESSA, TEX. – Last fall, the Odessa English and Big Spring Seventh-day Adventist Church celebrated several wonderful occasions with baptisms, joyfully welcoming new members into their congregations. Each Sabbath baptism service was marked by the presence of both church and family members who came to show support and witness these significant events. Abner Razon, pastor of Odessa and Big Spring church, dedicated a substantial amount of his time last year to providing Bible studies to seven individuals, all of whom decided to dedicate their lives to Jesus through baptism. Razon, expressed his delight, stating, “Each of those baptism mornings were glorious, and it was wonderful to see them publicly express their love for the Lord.” Among those baptized were Jacquiline Musamba from Kenya on Oct. 28, Dora Ameyaw from Ghana on Nov.



25 and Bancroft Haughton from Jamaica on Dec. 9. While Ameyaw had been baptized before and had left the church in her youth, she felt the Holy Spirit impressing her to return. After numerous Bible studies, she made the decision to get rebaptized. Musamba, Ameyaw and Haughton are now proud new members of the Odessa English congregation. Similarly, in Big Spring, four young siblings—Caleb Luera, Aubrie Luera, Alyssa Luera and Xavier Hodges (pic-

tured) (pictured on the left)—made the decision to dedicate their lives to the Lord through baptism on Nov. 18. Despite relocating to Abilene, Tex., during the pandemic, Razon continued giving them Bible studies over the phone. As their love for Jesus grew, they chose to ask Christ to lead their lives and be baptized. Despite living away from Big Spring, they regularly visit with their grandparents and have made this church their home. They cherish the Big Spring church family, and it meant a lot to them to be baptized there. Both churches are thrilled to welcome these individuals and eagerly anticipate witnessing how God will reveal His amazing power in their lives. Razon reflected on the beauty of seeing these individuals hand in hand, surrendering their lives fully to Jesus, stating, “There is truly joy in heaven!” By Nef Razon Pastor

Texico Conference News

Texico Youth Rally: Transformative Impact CORRALES, N.M. – Have you ever been on a road trip and missed the exit, only to realize it until it was far behind you? The Texico youth department hosted a youth rally last fall at Sandia View Academy focusing on “His Will.” In life, we often believe we’re heading in one direction, only for God to redirect our path without us even realizing it. During the weekend youth event, Manny Gomez, who leads the Revive Seventh-day Adventist Church in Miami, Fla., was the esteemed guest speaker. Known for his dynamic messages and community involvement, Gomez captivated the audience by sharing his compelling story of personal growth, of escaping communism in Cuba, navigating immigrant challenges and highlighting the importance of trusting God’s will wherever He leads. His words deeply resonated, leaving attendees with a renewed sense of purpose and a commitment to follow God’s Will. Gomez’s engaging stories filled with real-life examples served as a catalyst for self-reflection. He emphasized the power of trusting God and encouraged everyone to harness their passions for

Heaven. His presence not only inspired but reminded attendees of the limitless possibilities awaiting those who take steps toward serving Jesus. The youth rally went beyond mere inspiration, it translated motivation into action through a meaningful community service initiative. Recognizing the pressing needs of the changing season and the less fortunate, attendees engaged in a collective effort and assembled care packages filled with essential cold-weather items. The bags, carefully curated with hoodies, beanies, gloves, toiletries and other winter essentials, aimed to provide warmth and comfort to those facing the harsh realities of the approaching cold season. The bags were also distributed to a local high school where they were given to homeless high school students. This act of service not only strengthened the bonds among the attendees but also instilled a sense of empathy and compassion. It served as a tangible expression of their commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of others. Those participating also wrote small notes of encouragement that were placed in the bags. Each hand-

written note shared a prayer, a favorite verse or just a note reminding the recipient that they are loved and that, most of all, Jesus loves them! This transformative event also resulted in four Sandia View Academy students deciding to be baptized. Seeds of compassion and courage planted during the rally continue to grow, fostering a culture of active citizenship and heavenly focus. The youth rally prompted ongoing initiatives, like a new weekly lunchtime Bible study and student-led synergy at Sandia View Academy. The Texico Youth Rally stands as a testament to the power of collective action and the possibility of positive change when driven by inspiration and purpose. As the rally’s echoes continue to linger in the hearts and minds of the participants, the community of Sandia View Academy emerged stronger, more compassionate and with a renewed commitment to making a meaningful difference in the world. By Eric Chavez Youth, Young Adults and Club Ministries Director



Texico Conference News


ONE FAMILY ONE HOPE Forward Together – Ephesians 4:4

LUBBOCK, TX – APRIL 5 - 6, 2024

CORRALES, NM – AUGUST 23 - 24, 2024


English Ivan Williams

Vice President, North American Division (NAD)


Spanish Robert Costa

English John Bradshaw,

Director of Escrito Está

It is Written


English Richie Halversen

Director of Church Growth & Revitalization, Southern Union Conference

Spanish Cesar de Leon

Director of Family Ministries, NAD

The 2024 Texico Convocation is a regional weekend Camp Meeting for: • Spiritual Renewal • Great Preaching • Fellowship with God’s Family • Inspiring Music

• Conference Reports and Updates • Children’s Program • Texico Youth Rally

Find out more and secure your spot by visiting for all the details and registration!



Spanish Claudio Consuegra

Former Director of Family Ministries, NAD

AdventHealth News

Leading with Faith BURLESON, TEX. – With a deep-rooted passion for caring and a love for people, Chief Nursing Officer Tammy Ellis’s journey in health care started long before nursing school. As the daughter of a nurse, she witnessed firsthand the importance of care, knowledge and respect for others. She spent her teenage years working in nursing homes and retirement centers, where she realized her calling to extend her heart and care for those in need. At Texas Health Huguley Hospital, Ellis found a home that aligned with her values. Being a part of a Christ-centered organization had always been important to her. “When my previous organization was sold to a for-profit organization, I knew that would not be for me. Being an active part of a Christian mission is important to me as an individual and for the teams I lead,” said Ellis.

When asked about advice for women considering a career in health care, Ellis’ response was filled with encouragement. “Health care has so many opportunities based on what you love. Value your mind and your heart in the path that you take, and don’t be afraid to reach new levels,” she said. Ellis exemplifies the strength, compassion and leadership of women in health care. “I feel there is a strength in leading and empowering others. My greatest goal is to ensure nurses have a voice in their professional practice,” she said. Through her leadership and commitment to patient care, Ellis will continue to make a positive impact on the lives of others. By Jasmine Zamora-Garcia Communications Specialist

Inspiring the Next Generation of Health Care Leaders

MANSFIELD, TEX. – Each day Cynthia Garza, director of surgical services at Texas Health Hospital Mansfield, lives out the mission of “Extending the Healing Ministry of Christ.” Garza’s journey into

health care began later in life when she was almost 30, enrolling in college while raising a family. Her passion for nursing, and belief that it was her calling from God, influenced her decision to enter the field. Texas Health Mansfield’s culture was a key factor in Garza’s decision to join the organization. “The service standards ‘Keep Me Safe,’ ‘Make It Easy,’ ‘Love Me’ and ‘Own It’ align with my values. And the abundance of support that I receive from my leader and peers truly makes my career choice with Texas Health Mansfield the best choice by far,” said Garza. Garza, who will obtain a doctorate in nursing practice in May shares her educational journey with everyone she can, especially women, in hopes of encouraging them to pursue their goals. “Just the other day, a colleague told me I inspired her to go back to school.

I feel that being Latina, in health care, in leadership, while obtaining the highest level of nursing degree, can inspire women who do not believe that they can do it to put the wheels in motion,” said Garza. Garza’s advice to aspiring women considering a career in health care is simple: “Go for it!” She believes that women have a natural instinct to be caretakers and should embrace any challenges they encounter as opportunities for growth. Her story shows the impact women can make in the field and highlights the importance of encouraging one another along the way.



Southwestern Adventist University News

Enriching Education Majors Experience KEENE, TEX. – The Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) education department is proud to announce that it has received two grants from the Versacare Foundation for the second year in a row. This marks a significant achievement, with the combined total of grant funds reaching $45,000. These grants are supporting two crucial projects that SWAU’s education department is delighted to be developing. The first project, initiated in 2018, is an after-school reading lab designed to cater to the needs of children in the Keene community. The Versacare Foundation’s support has enabled the purchase of high-quality reading materials for individual and small-group instruction, and hands-on manipulatives for teaching phonics. The reading lab serves a dual purpose by providing elementary school children with reading support through an after-school tutor-



ing program and offering elementary education majors valuable opportunities to tutor individuals and small groups; fostering the development of their teaching abilities. This year, math tutoring was introduced for the first time, further enhancing this program. The second project focuses on developing a space dedicated to teaching education majors to create original teaching materials. Equipped with state-of-the-art tools, including a Cricut digital die-cut machine, a Cricut Joy, a color printer, a heat press, a t-shirt press, a 3-D printer, iPads and various project materials, this space has become a hub for collaboration. Local teachers, who already have experience using the machines, have generously volunteered their time to train SWAU education majors to use the new equipment. Additionally, the space is open to the community teachers to use for their

own classrooms, which has fostered a spirit of collaboration, creativity and mentorship. Along with the creative space, the Versacare funds have helped purchase new STEM resources, including multiple Lego Spike and Lego BricQ kits, Sphero Indi Education robots, squishy circuits, hands-on math manipulatives and other cutting-edge technologies and tools. These resources not only enhance teaching demonstrations but also provide hands-on experience, improving SWAU education major’s effectiveness as future educators. The Versacare funds have directly benefited education majors and the broader community, aligning with SWAU’s mission of inspiring knowledge, faith and service through Christ-centered education. Looking ahead, the education department is excited to continue developing these programs.

Southwestern Adventist University News

New Financial Support for Theology and Education Majors KEENE, TEX. – In a bold step toward fostering the next generation of church leaders, the Southwestern Union, under the leadership of Carlos Craig, president, in collaboration with Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU), has announced two groundbreaking initiatives to support students following a call to ministry through the study of theology and education. The strategies provide financial incentives, up to $15,000 per student, in response to the increasing need to recruit and retain teachers and pastors who choose to serve the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Southwestern Union. The Southwestern Union established a steering committee led by Southwestern Union Treasurer John Page that included Southwestern Union President Carlos Craig, Southwestern Union Vice President for Church Ministries Tony Anobile, Southwestern Union Vice President for Education Carol Campbell, Texas Conference President Elton DeMoraes, Southwest Region Conference President Carlton Byrd, SWAU President Ana Patterson, AdventHealth CFO (Florida Division) Todd Goodman and First Seventh-day Adventist Church of Tulsa Pastor Samson Sembeba. Together, the group analyzed employment and retention trends for pastors and teachers and created a proposal to improve collaborative recruiting and financial incentives to better support students who major in theology or education at Southwestern Adventist University. The plan will go into effect Spring of 2024 and will support theology students through a scholarship program and education graduates through a three-year loan forgiveness incentive. The Southwestern Union Theology Scholarship: The scholarship program will provide financial support to SWAU students who are majoring in theology and intend to pursue a career in pastoral ministry. Freshmen and sophomores will receive a $1,000 annual scholarship,

while juniors and seniors will be awarded $6,500 per year, totaling $15,000. To qualify, students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA, demonstrate involvement and service in ministry to a local church, community organization, or the university campus, and submit regular reflection papers on their ministry journey. Scholarships will be awarded beginning Spring Semester 2024 to existing and new students. The Southwestern Union Teacher-Student Loan Forgiveness Program: After graduating from Southwestern Adventist University, teachers who are hired by the Southwestern Union will receive a $5,000 bonus at the end of each of the first three years of teaching, totaling $15,000. This incentive will be applied directly toward the teacher’s student loan debt. If the teacher does not carry student loan debt, the $5,000 will be paid directly to the employee. In addition to providing financial assistance, there are plans in place to begin visiting the Adventist academies in the Southwestern Union territory to inspire future pastors and teachers to listen to God’s call in their lives. SWAU President Ana Patterson shares, “It was a privilege to be a part of the steering committee and witness the commitment of my colleagues to support future pastors and teachers in a tangible way. Our students are ea-

ger to pursue their education and live out their faith through a life of service. These initiatives are not only financial support but a vote of confidence from the union and conferences.” “Investing in our students at Southwestern Adventist University is investing in the future of the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” shares Southwestern Union President Carlos Craig. “We’re honored and blessed to be able to provide financial support and incentives for students who are pursuing careers that will further the gospel in our territory. We value their commitment as they answer God’s call to serve His people and impact His Kingdom. We are grateful for the work of the steering committee and for the gift from the Rex Callicott estate that, along with funds from the Southwestern Union, has allowed us to pursue these initiatives.” These initiatives underscore the Southwestern Union’s commitment to nurturing the next generation of Adventist leaders. As they actively pursue connections with students, they express their excitement to share the blessings entrusted to them. By Coby Federowski Digital Marketing Manager



Back Pages

Classified Ads EMPLOYMENT Southern Adventist University seeks a full-time Associate Vice President for Academic Administration and Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies. Candidate should have a Ph.D. with a minimum of five years of successful full-time graduate teaching experience at the higher education level. Applicant will assume a leadership role in all aspects of graduate education and provide academic, administrative and strategic direction to Graduate Studies, Online Campus and the Adult Degree Completion (ADC) Program. For more details, visit

Southern Adventist University seeks a full-time teaching faculty member for the Department of Biology/ Allied Health, beginning fall 2024. Ph.D. in Biology who will teach upper and lower division courses and labs. Candidate should be committed to involvement with undergraduate students in the classroom as well as guiding independent student research projects. Additionally, candidate should be a practicing Seventh-day Adventist believing the Biblical record of the creation of life on earth in six literal days. For more details, visit

Southern Adventist University seeks a full-time Engineer teaching faculty member for the School of Engineering and Physics in the areas of mechanical, electrical and computer engineering.



The ideal candidate will be proficient in developing and teaching undergraduate engineering courses, including both lecture and laboratory components. Master’s degree in mechanical, electrical or computer engineering or related area required. Doctorate preferred. Prior higher education teaching experience and/or relevant industry experience preferred. For a full job description and desired qualifications please visit

Southern Adventist University seeks a full-time faculty in the area of Counseling for School of Education/Psychology. A doctoral degree in counselor education from a CACREPaccredited program is required. Doctoral degrees in clinical or counseling psychology from APAaccredited program could be considered if applicant has been employed as full-time faculty member in a counselor education program for a minimum of one full academic year before July 1, 2013. For a full job description and desired qualifications please visit

Southern Adventist University seeks a full-time program director to launch a new Doctor of Physical Therapy degree program. The ideal candidate will be proficient in managing the CAPTE accreditation process, new program development and teaching graduate physical therapy courses, as well as, clinical practice. In addition, the successful candidate will be committed to mentoring

advisees, nurturing student learning both in and out of the classroom and disciplining students in Jesus Christ. For a full job description and desired qualifications please visit

Southern Adventist University seeks full-time teaching faculty in the School of Business Candidates should have a graduate degree (minimum). Doctorate in business-related field preferred. Ideal candidates will have successful, professional experience in for-profit companies/ organizations. Candidates will bring relevancy to courses through connecting theories, current events and real-world experience. Candidates will facilitate learning in alignment with a Christian biblical worldview and Seventhday Adventist beliefs and values. Ideal candidates will be committed to student learning, engagement and spiritual well-being. For more information, visit our job board at

Southern Adventist University School of Religion seeks full-time faculty member to begin fall semester of 2024. Must be active member of Seventh-day Adventist Church in regular standing and should have Ph.D. (or be near completion) in the New Testament. Positive experience in pastoral ministry and teaching is helpful. Must demonstrate contagious love for Jesus, strong commitment to authority of Scripture and deep passion for Adventist message and mission.

Good people skills and ability to engage students in a positive, faith-building manner in the classroom are essential. To apply, please visit our job board at

Southern Adventist University School of Nursing seeks a full-time faculty to join a mission-focused team. Teaching responsibilities will be primarily at the undergraduate level. An earned doctorate is preferred. Requisite qualities include current RN adult health or ICU clinical experience, successful teaching experience, interest in research, flexibility and commitment to Adventist nursing education. The candidate must be a member in good and regular standing in the Seventh-day Adventist Church. To apply, please visit our job board at

Southern Adventist University seeks qualified candidates for the following staff Salaried positions: DHSI Community Outreach Coordinator (reopened), Customer Service and Print Project Manager. For more information go to

Southern Adventist University seeks qualified candidates for the following staff hourly positions. Village Market: Closing Shift Supervisor, PartTime Cashier. School of Engineering and Physics: Office Manager. Information Technology (Digital Networking): Network Technician. Plant Services: Carpentry Technician, Alarm Technician. School of Religion: S.A.L.T. Outreach

Back Pages Coordinator. Landscape Services: Landscape Supervisor. For more information, please visit

Union College, Lincoln, Neb., is searching for candidates for Director of Integrated Marketing Communications. Responsible for managing and facilitating the work of IMC which includes managing projects and communications functions while participating in the production work. Will also work with VP for Enrollment Management to develop marketing and PR goals and strategy. View the job description and instructions for application at

REAL ESTATE Summit Ridge Retirement Village, an Adventist community in a rural setting, offers affordable homes or apartments and caring neighbors, with a fellowship you will enjoy. On-site church, planned activities and transportation, as needed. On-site Wolfe Living Center offers independent living and nursing homes. Contact Bill Norman 405.208.1289 or visit

Country Living. Want out of the big city? Looking for a handyman. Need help in NW Montana on a 40-acre farm. Cabin available for single man or married couple. Need seventh-day Sabbath keeper & practical man, believing in EGW and the pioneer truths. Contact: Colleen & Colette Konschuh. (Home) 406.889.3242 (Cell) 406.309.4737.

Immaculate rancher, 11.4 acre paradise! Half-mile walk from Ouachita Hills College/Academy, Amity, Ark. Stunning waterproof plank flooring. Gorgeous high-pitch roof. Library w/ bookshelves. Open floor plan, split-bedroom design. Enjoy deer from the back porch. Two running creeks. Established fruit tree orchard. Insulated well house with softener, manual pump. Workshop shed. Enjoy manicured forest, install pond, build homes. $379,900. Call/text Scott 662.468.8518.

MISCELLANEOUS Move with an award-winning agency. Apex Moving & Storage partners with the General Conference to provide quality moves at a discounted rate. Call us for all your relocation needs! Adventist beliefs uncompromised. Contact Marcy Dante at 800.766.1902 for a free estimate. Visit us at

TEACH Services Helping Authors: Publish your book, including editing, design, marketing and worldwide distribution. Visit to submit your manuscript for a free evaluation or call 800.367.1844. Shop for NEW/ USED ADVENTIST BOOKS at or at your local ABC.

FREE SHARING CARDS. LifeTalk Radio has beautiful FREE sharing cards for all occasions with encouraging messages like “God Loves You” and “You Matter to God” plus Scripture cards. Share hope and love with

Myron Voegele passed away Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, in Burleson. He was born March 22, 1931, in Leola, S.D., to John and Lillian (Binder) Voegele. Myron married Beatrice Jean Suter on Aug.12, 1951 in Leola, S.D. He was a minister for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nebraska, North Dakota, Texas and Michigan. Myron was an authentic pastor who took the time to get to know others, as he was talented in the ability to listen—making you feel as if you are the only one who matters. His life of service was devoted to his church and communities. He had the warmest and most genuine welcoming smile about him. Myron had a vision that was ahead of his time in countless ways. He enjoyed working in his garden and had many ongoing projects. He was extremely detailed in all that he did. Myron will be greatly missed. Myron was preceded in death by his parents and wife. He is survived by his children, Warren Voegele and wife, Karen; Bruce Voegele; Nancy Schneider and husband, Larry; Bryan Voegele and wife, Renee; and Amber Sauder and husband, Joey; grandchildren, Michael Voegele, Kristopher Voegele, Jennifer Olvera, Andrea Murphy and Steve, Michelle Justice and John, Charlie Schneider and Stephanie; great-grandchildren, Adrianna Olvera, Alicia Olvera, Ryan Murphy, Ashlyn Murphy, Avery Stephenson, Jackson Justice, Abby Schneider and Jake Schneider; sister, Viola Heiser; numerous nieces, nephews and a host of other relatives and friends.

others. Order cards at

Partner with ASAP Ministries in serving the marginalized and reaching the unreached in Southeast Asia with the wholistic gospel. What you do today can change a life for eternity! To learn more visit Subscribe to our weekly Mission Matters videos. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube: AsapMinistries.

OBITUARIES Demko, Janice Fae, born March 24, 1943, Siloam Springs, Ark.; died Sept. 22, 2023, Siloam Springs, Ark. Preceded in death by her late husbands, Ralph Demko, Hugh Cheatam and Tom Griffin; parents, George and Charlene Brown; stepfather, George Reed; son, Richard Griffin, and two sisters, Jerrie Bell and Judy Royston. Survivors: sister, Joyce Lowry MARCH | APRIL 2024


Back Pages Peter Donald Durichek passed away on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Cleburne, Tex. He was born in Chicago, Ill., on Jan. 6, 1934, the son of Goldie (Shaver) and Peter Durichek Sr. Peter and Phyllis were married on Dec. 16, 1984, in Fort Worth, Tex. He was a member of the Cleburne First Seventh-day Adventist Church. Peter began his teaching career in Ohio and Pennsylvania before moving to Bangladesh where he was a principal. Back in the United States, Peter taught in Arizona, all over the state of Texas, including two years in Oklahoma. After his retirement from education, Peter pastored in Paris and Cleveland, Tex., before settling in Cleburne to be an associate pastor for the Cleburne First Seventh-day Adventist Church under Dr. Tony Torres. Peter was preceded in death by his parents; step-son, Robert Schlaepfer and brother, John Durichek. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis Kilpatrick Schlaepfer

Phillip Vernal Walton was born on Feb. 27, 1963, in Spot Bay, Cayman Brac, to Levi Walton and Angelita Bodden. Phillip’s journey of selfless and tireless devotion began early in life. In 1977, at 14, Phillip embarked on a transformative journey when he transferred from the tranquil Cayman Islands to Laurelbrook Academy in Dayton, Tenn. Upon graduating in 1981, he continued his education at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Tex. There, he met the love of his life, Donna Durichek, in the Fall of 1981. Their two hearts intertwined, and on July 29, 1984, they exchanged vows at the Fort Worth First Seventh-day Adventist Church. Phillip’s dedication to education was evident as he returned to Laurelbrook Academy for the 1985-87 school years, serving as boys’ dean, assistant registrar and biology teacher. Returning to Texas, the family lived in the Waco area for 10 years, primarily doing EMS work. Returning to Fort Worth, Tex., Phillip continued in the medical field in various roles within doctors’ offices, including management, phlebotomy and radiology. Phillip’s impact on healthcare extended to his instrumental role in launching CareNow Clinics across the Dallas-Fort Worth area.



Durichek of Keene; daughter, Donna Walton and husband, Phillip of Burleson, Tex.; son, Donald Durichek and wife, Birdie, also of Keene; stepson, Rick Schlaepfer and wife, Mildred of the Philippines; grandchildren, Michal and Billy Wood, Rachel Durichek, Ben and Maria Esther Durichek, Ruth Durichek, Patricia and Ben Westcott, and Donita and Joe Avila, Enesdel Gamez, Arielle Gamez, Malia Gamez, Amilia Gamez, Eliseandra Gamez; great-grandchildren, Alexi Wood, Logan Wood, Vanessa Durichek, Benjamin Gregory Durichek, Aiden and Rylan Westcott, Joe Felipe Avila, and Sofia and Angela Avila, Leo Gamez and Enzo Gamez; step-grandchildren, Angela Schlaepfer, Charles Schlaepfer, Rebekah Tweten, Elizabeth Schlaepfer, Clarissa Schlaepfer, and Felicia and Natasha Schlaepfer; brother, James Durichek and wife, Martha, and sister-in-law, Helen Durichek, all of Collegedale, Tenn.; and numerous other family members and friends.

Phillip was involved with several local churches and community activities as an ordained elder, head deacon and willing handyman. Additionally, he used his medical training to provide first-aid support for various church events. One of Phillip’s deepest passions was sharing God’s love with the next generation. His commitment to youth ministries and support for local schools knew no bounds. He served as school board chairman, school handyman and chapel speaker. His role as Pathfinder director and assistant area coordinator underscored his dedication to nurturing young souls. Phillip’s love for children was expressed through his endearing habit of dressing up as biblical characters while sharing stories of faith. Phillip passed away on Sept. 24, 2023, in Burleson, Tex. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations to be made to Fort Worth Adventist Junior Academy, a place that held a special place in Phillip’s heart.He is survived by his loving spouse, Donna Walton, and their cherished daughters, Patricia Westcott and husband, Ben Westcott, and their children Aiden and Rylan; as well as Donita Avila, her husband, Joe Avila, and their children Little Joe, Angela and Sofia. Phillip is survived by a brother, Robin Walton; and sisters, Cherise Girdhari and Julie Hurlston, along with numerous nieces and nephews.

Back Pages of Eugene, Ore.; daughter, Cynthia Loretta of Keene, N.H.; eight grandchildren, multiple great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

Heinrich, Rodney E., born Jan. 29, 1944; died Nov. 24, 2023, Vestaburg, Mich. Church membership: Okeene Seventh-day Adventist Church. Preceded in death by his parents; brother, Gerald and son-in-law, Gordon Rogers. Survivors: wife, Patricia; son, Perry (Michelle), four grandsons; daughter, Rose Rogers; four grandchildren; sister, Phyllis (Orville) Hansen; sister, Barbara (Arden) Hagele.

Lee, Myrtice E., born March 16,1924, Frost Town, La.; died Nov. 22, 2023, Diana, Tex. Church membership:

Westlakes Seventh-day Adventist Church. Survivors: daughters, Michalene “Michee” Roy (Larry); Deborah Bailey (Rikard), Cara Roach (Jim), as well as her brother Milton Frost; 46 grandchildren, great and great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Coy Lee; parents, Lonnie L. Frost and Bertha May Poston Frost; daughters, Mary Jane Robison, Velda Ann Head, Paula Colleen Powers; grandson, Mark Lee; granddaughter Lyndsay Malone; sisters, Orene Winniger, Magdelene Bennett, Marie Howard, Gertha Mae Arrant, Elise Carow; and a brother, Cecil Frost.

Tex. Church membership: Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church. Preceded in death by his parents and sister. Survivors: wife, Dian McClain of Hurst, Tex.; daughters, Cheri Delaney of Greeneville, Tenn. and Shelli Burns of Burleson, Tex.; six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Sturman, Rodney, born July 27, 1943, San Mateo, Calif.; died June 14, 2023. Preceded in death by his brother, Billy. Survivors: wife, Mary; sons, John and Mark, and their wives; his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Submissions Back Pages: Submit announcements, milestones, obituaries and address changes to or visit Advertising: Cost information and deadlines: Bradley Ecord at News and Articles: Send local church or school news, along with high-resolution photos, to your local conference communication department listed on page 2. If you are interested in writing for the Record, email

McClain, Ross, born Sept. 17, 1941, Fort Worth, Tex.; died Dec. 28, 2023, Hurst,





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From Europe to Rwanda to Papua New Guinea, you can’t miss the thrilling updates of what God is doing around the world! Share these inspiring stories with your church during the Adventist World Radio Annual Offering on March 9. ADVENTIST WORLD RADIO 1-800-337-4297 /awr360 @awr.360 @awr360 12501 Old Columbia Pike Silver Spring, MD 20904 USA



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How do we measure the human spirit? In challenges? In triumphs? In smiles? Maybe there’s no way to measure it — because, as you show us every day, the human spirit simply has no limit. AdventHealth’s whole-person care is designed to support you in body, mind and yes, in spirit, for every step of the journey ahead.


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