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    John Freedman, recently elected North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) president, presided over his first union executive committee meeting with aplomb, Sunday, Nov. 6, in Welches, Oregon. He quickly defined a leadership style governed by prayer.

    Calling the meeting to order with a season of prayer, Freedman encouraged committee members to embrace the calling and mission of the church to lift Jesus up to every Northwest community. “All the church buildings, mission trips and educational or medical institutions in the world won’t matter much,” he said, “unless we have Jesus in our hearts and attitudes.”

    Along with several routine matters of business during the day, the agenda included several key personnel actions, interspersed with times for prayer. Three of these decisions were spurred by a vote taken at the recent NPUC Constituency Meeting on Sept. 25.

    At that meeting, delegates approved a constitutional change that mandated vice president positions be elected, not simply appointed. Between constituency sessions, those elections are conducted by the NPUC nominating committee, which consists of the current union executive committee and several additional local conference and lay representatives.

    Hence, at the Nov. 6 meeting, the nominating committee elected Dennis Plubell to return as vice president for education and César De León as vice president for Hispanic ministries for the next five-year term. Plubell has served the NPUC in this capacity since February 2014. De León began his work with the NPUC in June, replacing Ramon Canals who joined the world church ministerial team in 2015.

    For the remaining position of vice president for regional affairs, the committee overwhelmingly determined to encourage opportunities toward new vision and direction. They did not re-elect Alphonso McCarthy who has filled that role and directed regional work in the Northwest since 1998. In addition to his vice president duties, McCarthy has also directed other areas of need for the union, including youth ministries, Pathfinders, family ministries, and multicultural ministries. The election of a new vice president for regional affairs will follow serious dialogue about expectations for the role and how many other areas of emphasis may be included in those expectations. No names were brought forward as potential nominees at the Nov. 6 meeting.

    “This is going to take special prayer and thoughtful action over the next few months,” said Freedman. “We are so grateful for the commitment Alphonso and his wife, Judith, have given to the Northwest regional ministry, and pray God will guide them to continuing opportunities in His service.”

    The NPUC executive committee (minus additional nominating committee members) also re-appointed current departmental directors, associates and assistants to new five-year terms. Returning to their roles at the union are: Loren Bordeaux, information technology director; Daniel Cates, information technology associate director; Allee Currier, association treasurer; Greg Hamilton, Northwest Religious Liberty Association president; Stan Hudson, Creation Study Center director; Christiana Parris, association assistant treasurer; Patti Revolinksi, elementary education director; Robert Sundin, undertreasurer; Steve Vistaunet, assistant to the president for communication; Anne Vu, assistant treasurer; Andre Wang, legal counsel; and Keith Waters, secondary education director.  

    To fill the role of planned giving and trust services director, which has been vacant since Kimberly Schroeder left at the end of August, the executive committee voted to invite Chuck Simpson, currently world church associate director for planned giving and trust services.

    Freedman capped off the day’s business with another call to prayer and an exhortation for committee members to keep Jesus in the center of their lives. “A lot of things can distract us from Him,” he said. “Don’t let it happen. Let’s fulfill our calling. Let’s lift Jesus up and let Him draw our communities to Him.”

    It’s a call to mission that Northwest members will be hearing frequently in the weeks and months ahead.

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    Charles Simpson has accepted the invitation of the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) executive committee to become NPUC planned giving and trust services director. Simpson has served as associate director for the planned giving and trust services department of the Seventh-day Adventist world church headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, since 2002.

    A 1974 graduate of the La Sierra campus of Loma Linda University, Simpson holds a Master’s of Divinity degree from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University and a number of professional certifications in the area of planned giving.

    Before beginning his ongoing emphasis in planned giving and trusts, Simpson served as a pastor in California (1974–1988) and Idaho (1988–1992). He moved to the Illinois Conference in 1992, serving for five years as trust services representative and achieving the top North American Division (NAD) trust certification level. An additional five years were spent in the Michigan Conference, reaching the top NAD accreditation level as planned giving and trust services director.

    Simpson is an acknowledged leader for the church in planned giving and trust services. He has been lead instructor for denominational seminars, editor and contributor of resources materials, and a mentor to many new trainees in this important area. He is highly respected and eminently qualified to take this new position for the NPUC, which he plans to begin in January 2017.

    Simpson, who normally answers to “Chuck,” and his wife, Joetta, have three adult children and give grandchildren. Joetta is an early childhood special education public school teacher.

    The North Pacific Union Conference warmly welcomes Chuck and Joetta to the Northwest team.

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    John Freedman, North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) president, has called for Northwest prayer teams to set aside Jan. 18 and 19 as days of fasting and prayer. The purpose: to ask for the Holy Spirit’s presence and guidance during an upcoming meeting on Thursday, Jan. 19, of North American Division union conference presidents and General Conference leaders to seek progress and find understanding on the volatile issue of world church “unity in mission.”

    In preparation for that meeting, Freedman has sent the following statement along with further instructions to prayer team leaders in each local conference throughout the NPUC:

    “Since the Holy Spirit is poured out in answer to sincere and urgent prayer, now is the time to activate our prayers teams across the NPUC to pray for an anointing of the Holy Spirit to fall on everyone involved on the 19th. Only the Holy Spirit is able to bring about true unity in the church. Only the Holy Spirit will be able to make the meeting on the 19th productive and successful. Dwight Nelson shared with me the other day, ‘God already has the solution in mind for this logjam. And the Holy Spirit is the only One who can lead us to it.’ Very true!”

    Freedman welcomes the prayers of each Northwest church member toward this end. More information following the Jan. 19 meeting will be provided when available through GleanerWeekly and social media channels.

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    You know you’ve arrived as an organization when everyone recognizes you by an acronym. Read NFL, CSI, FBI or NASA in a sentence, and you’re likely to know exactly what’s meant without any further ado. In Adventist circles, of course, we quickly recognize GC, EGW, ADRA and … ASI. But what does ASI really stand for, and what does it do?

    ASI's history is rooted in Madison College, an Adventist self-supporting institution established in 1904 near Nashville, Tennessee, by E.A. Sutherland and Percy Magan. As Madison expanded, it began to plant satellite schools and institutions around the country. These self-supporting entities formed the Association of Seventh-day Adventist Self-Supporting Institutions, or ASI, in 1947.

    At the time, ASI emphasized educational or health groups, but it later began to include businesses and Adventist entrepreneurs and professionals. To better reflect ASI’s growing diversity, the organization's name was changed to Adventist-laymen's Services and Industries in 1979. An annual convention for the national organization is typically held every summer.

    The Northwest chapter for ASI, which covers the territory within the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC), exists to inspire and support lay member efforts in sharing the Adventist message and mission. It also convenes an annual meeting — the next one is coming to Boise, Idaho, April 21–23.

    More about the vision for ASI Northwest (ASI NW) was recently shared by three integrally involved leaders: Fred Cornforth, ASI NW vice president for communication  and Boise, Idaho-area businessman; James Rafferty, ASI NW president  and Light Bearers Ministry co-founder/co-director; and Rick Westermeyer, ASI NW executive vice president and a Portland, Oregon-area physician. We’ve excerpted a few of the questions and answers here. The full interview is available online at gleanernow.com.

    Why are you personally involved with the mission of ASI?

    RW: A few years ago several lay friends and I started a nonprofit organization to support orphans at a children’s home in Zimbabwe. ASI members have been extremely valuable in helping us reach several objectives for that project. Garwin McNeilus of the ASI-sponsored One-Day Church project shipped us two containers of building materials for a chapel and vocational training buildings and sent some of his builders to help put them up at no cost. Light Bearers Ministry included a stained-glass window for the chapel in a container full of literature to Zimbabwe. We have greatly benefited from the collaboration and networking with ASI.

    FC: Being an entrepreneur is, I believe, a type of spiritual gift, something God can really use in the marketplace for His purposes. I want to be part of anything we can do there to fulfill the potential of reaching others. And, I believe we can do more for Him when we work together.

    In collaboration with the national ASI organization, what is the unique role for the NW chapter?

    FC: This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road, where we can enhance personal relationships on a local level to flesh out the structure of our national efforts. 

    RW: It also allows more direct contact with Northwest-based lay-run ministries of global impact such as Gospel Outreach, Light Bearers and Caring Hands, just to name a few.

    JR: This gives us an opportunity to raise the vision of our general membership. We locate our annual Northwest meetings in different spots throughout the NPUC each year, to allow local laypersons in each area to get a taste for what ASI offers.

    What areas of critical growth do you envision as ASI NW moves forward?

    FC: We need to increase our connection with a younger age group. We are laying the ground work to work more closely with Walla Walla University and other Northwest schools to raise the vision of our youth and young adults to encourage them to share Jesus in whatever vocation they choose. We’d also love to have a more active presence in regional rally’s and at NPUC-area camp meetings, where we can learn from each other how to more effectively share the good news.

    JR: One of our current goals is to provide support to every Northwest ASI ministry actively engaging the world for Christ.  In the past some ministries have gone without support while others have received support again and again. We are presently experimenting with a rotation process. Last year we were able to give $5,000 donations to seven ASI ministries, and this year we hope to do the same for seven more ASI NW ministries.

    Is ASI membership and involvement limited to members and ministries with a particular view of Adventist beliefs and practices?

    RW: Traditionally, many of our members have come from the more conservative side of Adventism. Yet the vast majority have a focus beyond broad labels. They are sincere, dedicated laypeople who want the mission of the church to go forward.

    FC: I see ASI eager to bring all hands on deck, to empower and encourage them to reach out to others, to respond to the Lord's call to serve others as He did, always desiring their best good. A spirit of grace and wisdom will guide us to avoid reducing people to mere labels of left, right, liberal or conservative. In my opinion, if we have clarity on our core values and beliefs, diversity in practice becomes a strength. If our focus is on Him, we will find unity in a common mission. This is a necessary area of growth for us, both within ASI NW and in our varied church congregations.  

    JR: Let’s remember too that ASI is first and foremost a church entity headquartered at the General Conference, and as such it lines up with the specific beliefs of our beloved church — as does each regional chapter, including the Northwest. Within these borders there is lots of wiggle room for diversity, and ASI, like most of our church institutions, wrestles with that diversity. Yet for most ASI members the mission of the church takes precedence over these ongoing challenges.

    So events that bring a wide range of members together in service such as Impact Your Health are an important part of ASI’s plan?

    RW: Yes, the Impact Your Health Portland event last year, to be repeated this year for Boise just before our Northwest chapter convention in April, has borne this out. ASI and community members joined together to make a major impact for good.

    JR: One key way we can represent this unity is through shared support for the various lines of ministry that make up ASI NW. Nobody gets left out. Nobody is marginalized. We need each other, and working together means a stronger, greater impact for reaching our brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. Joining ASI means uniting with an organization that receives to give. Together in ministry our God-given talents go further to reach more.

    Our ASI NW leaders are eager to meet as many new faces at this year’s convention as possible. Fred Cornforth says, “The testimonies each night at both the regional and national events are nothing short of amazing — a dramatic demonstration of how God is working in our communities and around the world. Old and new members will be inspired.” The ASI Northwest Spring Conference is April 21–23 at the Grove Inn in Boise, Idaho. More information on registration is readily available online at asinw.netasi.org.

    “Come join us,” says Cornforth. “We will all put our heads together and prayerfully determine what God wants this organization to be and where He wants us to go in the months ahead.”

     

    More information about the convention on the ASI NW website.

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    SOULS Northwest, the Bible worker training and literature ministries program sponsored by the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) and local conferences within the union since 2012, will be phased out of operation this June with the completion of the current term.

    The March 8 decision by the NPUC executive committee to close the program comes after much discussion and prayer. It factors in trends toward an insufficient number of paying students recruited to adequately maintain the program’s budget, in addition to increasing redundancy with other regional or conference-led efforts. The NPUC decision will refocus unionwide efforts toward encouraging the Youth Rush programs of literature ministry in each local conference.

    Five students plan to graduate this June from SOULS Northwest. Eleven others, who are completing the first year of the two-year program, will determine what alternate directions to take.

    In a report for the 2016 NPUC Constituency Session, Jason Worf, program director, shared at that point more than 235,000 books and 1.3 million pieces of free literature had been distributed during 2 million home visits within the Northwest. Since its inception 58 students have attended the SOULS Northwest program, with 36 graduates, not including this June’s expected graduation.

    After wrapping up things in June, Worf will move with his family to College Place, Wash., to begin duties on the pastoral staff of the Village Church.

    “God is not encumbered by our human limitations,” says Worf. “The opportunity to have used this training program for His glory during the past five years has been amazing. I have no doubt that we will see more evidences of how He has blessed and will continue to bless the efforts of our students as they transition to other opportunities in the months ahead.”

    Vince Onkoba, who has served as Worf’s associate, and four additional stipend workers for the program will also be seeking new tasks once SOULS Northwest closes in June.  

    The NPUC is committed to a strong and growing Youth Rush literature ministries program in each Northwest conference. Union conference leaders will collaborate with each conference leadership team to consider ways literature ministry, with strong youth leadership components, can be strengthened in the months and years ahead.

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    Pathfinders from 11 clubs across the Pacific Northwest gathered in the Walla Walla University Church in College Place, Wash., on March 11 to test their knowledge of the Bible.

    The regionwide gathering of Pathfinders was part of the Pathfinder Bible Experience, a team challenge that focuses on immersion in the Word of God. Four levels of play each year culminate in an official North American Pathfinder event held on the third Sabbath of April. This year’s division event was held in Chicago, Ill.

    While it was a rainy afternoon outside, inside the church papers rustled and young people whispered in hushed voices, excited for the challenge about to start. This year’s challenge covered six New Testament books by Paul: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 and 2 Timothy.

    Each group of Pathfinders faced the formidable task of learning these books by heart so they could answer 90 very specific questions from any part of these books. Pathfinder coaches and parents spent more than 1,000 hours preparing questions, teaching study and memorizations skills, and studying with the teams.

    When asked what was the most impactful thing learned, one Pathfinder said, “God never gave us a spirit of fear so we have no reason to fear anything.”

    Participating in Pathfinder Bible Experience makes a difference in the Pathfinders’ lives. One of the coaches shared how they had a team member who had trouble reading. They encouraged all their team members to read, and that young person’s reading level and comprehension went way up from reading the Bible.

    It also makes a difference for other family members. One of the judges for the event shared a story about a younger sibling who memorized Scripture just from hearing her older sibling practice. When the same verse came up as a memory verse in school, she didn’t have to learn it because she already knew it.

    So what did kids say was their favorite part of Pathfinder Bible Experience? Many of the young people said they enjoyed spending time with friends and learning the Bible together.

    “It’s a great way to memorize Scripture and see what God has to say to us,” says one Pathfinder from the Sunrise Pathfinder Club in Walla Walla, Wash.

    Of the 11 clubs present at the union-level event, eight placed high enough to move to the final divisional challenge in Chicago.

    Randy Hill, Oregon Conference, Pathfinder director, says, “I derive much joy watching the kids give each other high-fives after getting a really hard question right. The impact of this event today won't be felt immediately. The real impact of this event will be seen in the long haul as the kids become adults. Suddenly these texts will come back to guide them.”

    Now for the results:

    Cascade Eagles — 1st Place

    Chehalis Messengers — 1st Place

    Chehalis Pauliticians — 1st Place

    Evergreen — 1st Place

    Fort Vancouver — 1st Place

    Hayden Ponderosa Pathfinders — 1st Place

    Pleasant Valley Faithful 5 + 1 — 2nd Place

    Pleasant Valley The Truth Travelers — 1st Place

    Vale Explorers — 3rd Place

    Walla Walla Sunrise — 1st Place

    Wind Valley Arrows — 2nd Place

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    On April 22, 80 Pathfinder teams met in Chicago Ill., for the sixth annual North American Division (NAD) Pathfinder Bible Experience final testing event. Four Pathfinder club teams in the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) placed first place at the final level of Pathfinder Bible Experience testing, with four more teams placing second.

    Pathfinder Bible Experience is the official NAD Pathfinder Bible study program in which teams of six club members study a book of the Bible, memorizing large portions of God's word. The Pathfinders are tested over the assigned study books as well as the SDA Bible Commentary introduction to each study book. The program incorporates Total Member Involvement with study coaches and involvement from church elders and members.

    Placement is based on the percentage of correct answers a team gives with first place scoring 90 percent, second place scoring 80 percent and third place scoring 70 percent.

    There are four levels of competition testing to the program which include local area, conference, union and division.

    North Pacific Union Winning Teams (8)

    Oregon Conference (2)

    • Fort Vancouver, Second Place
    • Pleasant Valley Panthers Truth Travelers, Second Place

    Upper Columbia Conference (2)

    • Hayden Lake Ponderosa Pathfinders, First Place
    • Walla Walla Sunrise, Second Place

    Washington Conference (4)

    • Chehalis Mountaineers The Messengers, First Place
    • Chehalis Mountaineers The Pauliticians, First Place
    • Cascade Eagles, First Place
    • Startup Evergreens, Second Place

    See the full list of this years winners.

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    The North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) executive committee has adopted three general strategic priorities for Northwest ministry through 2020: 1) Re-engagement and relationship-building with young adults in every local church and community; 2) An emphasis on becoming one in Christ — finding unity centered in Him; and 3) Total Member Involvement (TMI), an initiative already gaining momentum around North America.

    During their regularly scheduled meeting on May 3 in College Place, Wash., committee members also spent three hours in active training on priorities for young adult ministry. Moderated by Gene Heinrich, pastor of the Rockwood Church in Portland, Ore., members held multiple small group discussions on topics addressed by recent Adventist millennial research from the Barna Group. This training and emphasis will continue in the months ahead for various church leaders and committees throughout the Northwest.

    Committee members also approved a new NPUC mission statement consistent with the North American Division mission and in harmony with world church priorities. The short version of the revised mission is “to reach all people within the North Pacific Union and the world with the distinctive, Christ-centered, Seventh-day Adventist message of hope and wholeness.”

    A longer version of the mission expands the core statement: “This mission statement is a concise expression of the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church which is — To make disciples of all people, communicating the everlasting gospel in the context of the three angels’ messages of Rev. 14:6–12, leading them to accept Jesus as their personal Savior and unite with His remnant people, discipling them to serve Him as Lord, and preparing them for His soon return.”

    NPUC leaders will update specific goals, objectives and core values to undergird this fresh look at mission.

    The next official meeting for the executive committee is scheduled for Aug. 17, 2017, in Ridgefield, Wash.

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    The North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church (NAD) issued the following statement in response to the hate and violence in Charlottesville, Va. The North Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists affirms these thoughts and encourages Northwest members to lift the character and values of Jesus up to a world that needs Him more than ever before.

    Tragedy struck the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017, when demonstrators at a white nationalist rally, after a day of protests and clashes, were hit by the car of an Ohio man whom authorities claim held radical views. Thirty-two-year-old Heather Heyer was killed; according to news reports, nine pedestrians were injured in the crash with injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening.

    The local Adventist churches are working together to help with the healing process. The Allegheny West church in Charlottesville, Bethany Seventh-day Adventist Church, took part in the counter rally on Sabbath; members of the Potomac Conference’s Charlottesville church have banded together in prayer.

    [Click to read Columbia Union, Allegheny West and Potomac Conferences joint response.]

    Daniel R. Jackson and G. Alexander Bryant, the president and executive secretary of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, issued the following joint statement on August 14, 2017:

    “We are deeply disturbed by the violence and hate that descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend. We are heartbroken by the tragic death of Heather Heyer, who was standing up against bigotry and hate when her life was senselessly cut short. We pray for Heather’s family, the community of Charlottesville, and all of those who were injured by the attack on those who rose up in solidarity against evil. As Christians and followers of Jesus we stand with Him against the white supremacist groups that spread racism and violence. We pray for the day when all of God’s children, of all races, treat each other with love and respect rather than bias and hate.”

    Below is the response Daniel Xisto, the pastor of the Charlottesville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Virginia, shared on Facebook in a commentary titled “I’m Not OK.”

    Xisto started by addressing the numerous messages he had received from concerned friends who knew he and his family were in Charlottesville. He responded by writing “in all honesty, I’m not OK,” and listing reasons why in several statements.

    [Click here to read the full version.]

    His first statement: “I’m not OK because white supremacy, white nationalists, neo-nazis, KKK members, and other domestic terrorist groups thought they could come in to my town and cause my friends to fear.” Xisto continued, writing that he wasn’t OK because a young woman and two police officers died as a result “alt-right, fragile-ego foolishness.”

    The commentary, which initially was a blog post that Xisto decided to share on Facebook, ended with declarations that Xisto is going to be “alright.”

    He writes, “I’m going to be alright because I have so many friends and family who have been checking up on me. I’m going to be alright because Scripture foretells that the days of the hate groups who came into town this weekend are numbered. … I’m going to be alright because our church will continue to gather, sing, pray, read, and respond. … I’m going to be alright because one day soon, we will live in freedom together, in the garden of the Lord.”

    The original post by the NAD can be read here.

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    John Loor Jr., North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) executive secretary/vp for administration, has announced plans to retire on Jan. 1, 2018. His announcement was shared with the NPUC executive committee during its regularly-scheduled meeting on Aug. 17, in Ridgefield, Wash.

    Loor who has served the church throughout the Northwest for nearly two decades, has been the NPUC executive secretary since 2010 when he replaced Bryce Pascoe in that role upon Pascoe's retirement. Loor came to the NPUC from Montana Conference where he served as president from 2000–2010. Prior to that he spent two years in the Upper Columbia Conference as assistant to the president, communication director and director of the BibleInfo.com ministry.

    In addition to his years in church administration, Loor served for 12 years as pastor and more than another decade as a conference youth director. That passion has maintained his pastor's heart and kept him active in consultation with the Association of Adventist Camp Professionals on behalf of camp ministries across North America.

    "John's 44 years of service have been stellar throughout," says John Freedman, NPUC president. "Countless people have been touched for eternity by him — myself included. In my first year here as president, we have blended together as a team, so I will greatly miss his partnership. His attention to detail and passion for God's church have inspired me beyond measure."

    "God has blessed us so much with more than four decades of ministry for His church and His people throughout North America," Loor says. "And, during these past 19 years in the Northwest, we have grown to love each region and every member. As much as Susan and I know God will use us in retirement, we will greatly miss the daily, weekly interaction we have been privileged to enjoy."

    A search process will begin soon to seek qualified individuals to replace Loor upon his retirement. A final election will be the responsibility of a future NPUC nominating committee meeting. The nominating committee is made up of the NPUC executive committee and several additional individuals. More details about the process will be shared when available.

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    More than 120 volunteers and adult staff participated in the 2017 Maranatha Volunteers International Ultimate Workout, held July 19–30 in Panama. Maranatha sponsors the Ultimate Workout annually for high school students. 

    Six volunteers from the North Pacific Union, participated in this year's mission project. They helped construct a school, church, and a community services building in western Panama. The teenagers also assisted with medical clinics and community outreach programs. 

    This was Maranatha’s 27th annual Ultimate Workout, with 126 volunteers from eight countries around the world. Next year’s projects will take place in Bolivia and the United States. Go to www.maranatha.org or email uw@maranatha.org for more information

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  • 08/24/17--16:57: Reflections on a Dark Day
  • The last total eclipse of the sun to cross the Northwest happened Feb. 26, 1979. Montana rancher Leroy Bieber was so impressed by the spiritual significance of the event that his written reflections were later printed in the Jan. 7, 1980, edition of the Gleaner. In the aftermath of this month’s most recent eclipse, step back nearly four decades to read Bieber’s comments.

    Leroy Bieber is a rancher in the northeastern section of Montana. He was born and raised in that area and after attending local schools went to Walla Walla College. He takes great pride in his family—his wife, the former Lynda Heid, a son Scott, age 10, and daughter Amy, age 2. Leroy's inter- ests, besides his work, include car- pentry and flying. In fact, he is build- ing his own home. He is a Christian gentleman who loves Montana and the work of God.

    The morning of Feb. 26, 1979, is one day in my life I will always re- member. It started out as any other day, but the event that took place only made me realize the more that there is a very loving God who di- rects this universe.

    Astronomers had predicted that at 9:25 a.m. the moon would pass be- tween the sun and the earth. Those of us who lived in its path would see this great event. As the moon crossed the sun's path, the sky grew dark. All nature responded to the dusk that began to set in, even though the morning had begun only two hours before.

    I have often thought of this event and contemplated the kind of God we worship, a God that has been the same kind and loving God through- out this earth's existence.

    Malachi 3:10 gives us this declara- tion: "For I am the Lord, I change not." How can this be? This world as we know it is changing from one day to the next. We as human beings are so accustomed to change that we can't understand how God can be this way.

    Let's stop and contemplate God for a moment. What makes God changeless? As I study my Bible, I become increasingly aware of one facet of God—His love. A love that is given to each of us no matter what our state in life may be. He doesn't stop loving us because we don't love Him. He keeps reaching down and beckoning us to Him. He wants us to respond to His invitation to love Him, but He doesn't demand us to do this. As we accept His invitation, something happens in our life, a change in our attitude about God and our fellowman. Slowly we come to depend more on God, and then we begin to understand more the depth and meaning of love.

    As I witnessed the darkening of the sun during the eclipse and mar- veled at the scene that passed before my eyes, I thought that we should also marvel at what God's love has done for us and how He has brought us to a deeper meaning in our life. As we grow in this love, we should also allow this love to flow out through us to our fellowmen: our family, our neighbors, and especially to our brothers and sisters in our church who also love God.

    What a day we live in! Great events have taken place throughout history, but the greatest day in earth's history is yet to come. When the final events take place and Jesus comes to take us home with Him— what a day! What a love!

    Let us all accept His love, and then let Him direct us that we will be ready for the final event in this earth's history.

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    As the devastating effects from wind, rain and flooding grow in Texas, Louisiana, and beyond, Northwest Adventists have several ways they can help with relief efforts for the areas and people hit hardest. Adventist Community Services (ACS) is collaborating with ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency), the Red Cross, the United Parcel Service and other organizations. They are on the ground serving in a mega-shelter in San Antonio, and negotiations are also underway for ACS to operate multiple warehouses/distribution centers in several places. 

    To Volunteer Your Time and Experience

    Larry Mays, North Pacific Union Conference disaster relief coordinator, says trained volunteers are needed. Have you taken ACS disaster response training in donations operations or crisis intervention, or have feet-on-the-ground experience in an ACS warehouse environment?  If so, consider the following:

    1. Are you willing to serve for a minimum of one week?
    2. How long?
    3. When are you available?  Note:  Teams are being scheduled for weeks and months ahead.

    To volunteer or seek additional information on how you can help, contact one of the following local conference ACS coordinators as soon as possible (even if your conference is not listed) since support teams are currently being formed and scheduled.

    The American Red Cross is also seeking volunteers, especially those with training from the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation (ICISF). These are trained to provide psychological support in the midst and aftermath of traumatic situations, both for victims and relief workers. For more information about this need, make application with the Red Cross.

    To Donate Funds to Help in Our Church’s Relief Efforts

    • Make a donation via your local Adventist church labeled “ACS Disaster Response”
    • Make a donation by calling 1-800-381-7171
    • Make a donation through your local Adventist church for the special North American Division "ACS Hurricane Relief" offering on Sept. 9
    • Make an online donation at through AdventistGiving.org for "Adventist Community Services—Hurricane Relief"
    • Mail a donation to: Adventist Community Services, 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring, MD  20904

    To Provide Personal Supplies for Those in Need

    THIS ITEM IS PENDING: We have been unable to verify online messages that encourage shipping specific supplies via amazon.com or walmart.com. Please disregard any previous information on this potential avenue for donating until we can be certain of the facts.

    Due to the scope of the flooding damage and lives displaced, relief efforts are going to be "a marathon, not a sprint," as some relief leaders have noted. It is well to reflect and then act upon the words from James 2:15–17. "Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, 'Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

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    The North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) communication department welcomes Nina Vallad to the team as a two-year North American Division communication intern. 

    Nina is a 2017 graduate of Andrews University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in documentary film and a minor in history. She was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but immigrated to the United States with her parents when she was 6 years old. She graduated from Newbury Park Academy in southern California, and took a semester of college at Southern Adventist University before transferring to Andrews for the remainder of her college program.

    She is entering her post-graduate career with an auspicious milestone already in her resumé. Her senior thesis project film while at Andrews, “Sisterly,” was selected as one of just seven finalists from more than 1,600 documentary film entries for the 2017 Student Academy Awards. The film highlights the relationship between Nina and her younger sister, Lisa, who is autistic. 

    She has enjoyed creating films ever since she and other grade school friends acted out home movies of biblical characters such as Esther and Samson. She discovered then that visual media not only captures attention, but also carries a powerful message that can be used for good.

    “I loved the focus of my Andrews University professor, Paul Kim, to capture visual stories in an authentic, life-changing way,” says Nina. “I hope to be able to partner with the NPUC team here to carry that mission forward in the months ahead for our church in the Northwest and beyond.”

    “We are excited to have Nina join us,” says Steve Vistaunet, NPUC assistant to the president for communication. “As a young adult, she will bring a fresh perspective to how we share what God is doing among us and in our communities.” 

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    Update 9/13 — WWU Athletics Helps Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

    In the wake of destruction, the University of Houston (UH) challenged each collegiate athletics program in America to donate apparel that UH could distribute to the victims of August’s category 4 hurricane. Paul Starkebaum, Walla Walla University (WWU) sports information director, and Jordan Stimmel, WWU interim athletic director, decided to participate. Within a few days, WWU had shipped a box of new athletic apparel that contained shorts, flip flops, and about 30 T-shirts.

    Read more about their involvement.

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    During the last week, Adventist Community Services Disaster Relief (ACS DR) volunteers throughout the North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) have been torn between increasing storm devastation needs far to the east and the potential of wildfire recovery efforts close to home.

    At this point, the loss of primary residences to forest fires has been minimal, so warehouse management, the customary strong point of ACS DR experience, has not been a current need in the Northwest.

    However, Oregon Conference ACS DR was one of two faith-based organizations asked to send staff to the Eagle Creek Fire emergency operations center in Troutdale, Ore., during the past week. Laura Pascoe, Oregon ACS DR coordinator, says they worked alongside the Multnomah County volunteer agency liaison to accomplish several tasks, including:

    • Planning community meetings in areas of need and informational press conferences;
    • Helping direct expressions of generosity to those directly affected by fire displacement;
    • Mobilizing other non-profits and faith-based organizations to participate in the community meetings.

    A group of ACS DR volunteers from Upper Columbia Conference (UCC) is currently in Houston, helping with a distribution center operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Hundreds have flocked to this center for resources. Patty Marsh, Upper Columbia ACS DR coordinator reports: "On their first day at the city of Houston's main distribution center housed in the expansive Adventist World Harvest Church over 400 families came through. One team member emailed during lunch, 'Super busy today — hit the ground running!!'  Housed in a 15-mile distant Berean Adventist Church, the volunteers gratefully enjoyed a home-cooked meal before resting in the borrowed Red Cross cots." The UCC Disaster Response team include two women and four men and a variety of ages — one with 25 years police dispatch experience, a former ACS Disaster Response director, the former NPUC Disaster Response director, IT specialist, a retiree who gave weeks to the Calgary floods of 2015 & Alberta fires of 2016, and a graphic designer who owns his business.

    Montana Conference ACS, led by Gabriel Laub, is assembling kitchen start-up kits for distribution to those who have been affected by the extensive fires within the state. The project will begin with 10 families and continue as needs arise. They are also collaboring with the Red Cross on shelter operations.

    Adventist ACS DR personnel from the Southwestern Union and beyond have partnered with many other civic, non-profit and faith-based organizations to reach out to the growing needs in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

    And now, in addition, Hurricane Irma’s recent devastation and resultant flooding will stretch all support organizations to respond. ACS DR personnel in Florida, the Carolinas and throughout the Caribbean islands are currently assessing the needs and evaluating how Adventist volunteers can provide the most efficient help. More details will be forthcoming soon.

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    ​The Seventh-day Adventist Church Annual Council will be held Oct. 8–11 in Silver Spring, Md. Important discussions will be held and critical decisions may be made that will impact the governance and unity of our church.

    With this important gathering in mind, North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) leaders are calling all Northwest members to join in a Day of Prayer, Sabbath, Oct. 7. There is no formal schedule for this, no specific format that must be followed. We encourage each member, in his or her own way, wherever and whenever possible, to lift up the mission of our church, and the hearts and minds of our world church leaders in prayer. We desire God's Spirit to be the unifying presence throughout these meetings, and that our divinely-inspired mission will be enhanced, not hindered, by decisions made.

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    Delegates gathered during October at the General Conference (GC) headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., for the 2017 Annual Council meeting of the world church executive committee. On Monday, Oct. 9, the agenda included discussion on a document that proposed to lay out enforcement procedures for issues of church governance and policy compliance. You can read the full document that was proposed HERE. Following is a report from John Freedman, North Pacific Union Conference president, with his personal observations as a delegate to that meeting.

    This past Sabbath, many of us around the Northwest joined together, each in our own way, to pray that the Holy Spirit would be present during this year’s Annual Council meetings for the world church. Specifically, we wanted the Spirit to lead in a proposed discussion on matters of church governance and compliance. Monday’s agenda brought that topic to the forefront. I participated in that discussion, and many of you watched and prayed via live stream on the internet. Here is my quick report on the proceedings, and why I believe our prayers for a Spirit-led decision were answered.

    Monday’s discussion on a proposed document from the world church’s Unity in Mission Oversight Committee was honest, insightful and discerning. The central purpose for such a document was to bring about conformity to all General Conference (GC) fundamental beliefs, polices and voted actions. Some delegates had requested that the material be given out ahead of time to allow for more prayerful consideration. That request was denied. Instead, delegates were handed the 14-page document just as Monday afternoon’s discussion began. This was immediately concerning to many of those present, including me. We all need adequate time to pray over and study important documents which have longterm implications for our beloved church.

    Prior to discussion from the floor, G.T. Ng. GC executive secretary acknowledged that the catalyst for this push for compliance was the ordination of women. Ted Wilson, GC president, who chaired the meeting, explained, however, that the proposed document also dealt with compliance issues at every level of the church around the world. It is indeed true that policy compliance concerns, including financial practices, are a challenge around the world field well beyond just the issue of ordination.

    Tom Lemon, a world church vice president, reviewed actions that had been initiated in response to the 2016 Annual Council, stating that he had meetings with every division and union determined to be out of compliance on ordination. Lemon made special note that all these meetings were very cordial and insightful — centered on prayer and efforts toward mutual understanding. He found a strong commitment to our fundamental beliefs and an inspiring focus on mission. As he listened to the comments from union conference leaders in these meetings, he observed "not one person who gave any hint of being in rebellion. Rebellion is an attitude before it is an action. I didn’t hear that anywhere. Concern but not rebellion. I want to allay that fear. We are children of God and we are in this together.” This was very encouraging news to me.

    I was also glad to hear Dan Jackson, our North American Division (NAD) president, dispel rumors that the division is preparing to break away from the world church — conjecture fueled in part by the recent NAD move out of the GC headquarters building to another location. There are indeed differences in how our church's mission is being applied to the various regions around the NAD, but there is no sanctioned spirit of rebellion here either.

    As delegates perused the document being proposed by the GC, they began to note potential conflicts in the proposed steps with existing content in the world church constitution and bylaws. Some pointed out that the proposed document significantly limited freedom of speech and the ability of church leaders and representative delegates to express differences of opinion. One delegate observed that, under the proposed provisions, even Ellen White would have been forbidden to speak against any issue, policy or voted action at an Annual Council. Another person pointed out that the document, as presented, was a direct move away from our denomination’s Protestant roots—an ironic and troubling commentary, in light of this year’s 500th Anniversary celebration of the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. 

    I do want to point out that there was clear understanding among delegates in the room about the need for our world church to have policies and voted actions that help govern the church and move it forward in mission. That was affirmed many times. And all understand the need for unity in our church. The question on Monday was: Is this 14-page document focused on enforcing conformity really the road we want to go down? Is there a better way?

    Policy enforcement indeed is necessary at times. But I don’t believe enforcement is the best or most productive pathway to unity. Instead, it often only causes more division. Ellen White understood this. She said, "The church may pass resolution upon resolution to put down disagreement of opinions, but we cannot force the mind and will, and thus root out disagreement." E. G. White, MS 24, 1892. I agree with her. There is a better way.

    While the discussion on Monday was long, the spirit in the assembly was very good and respectful. After six hours of thoughtful discussion, delegates voted 184 to 114 to send the report back to the Unity in Mission Oversight Committee for further review and work. This will likely delay any further official decision on world church policy compliance until the 2018 Annual Council.

    This gives us an opportunity to pray for the members of our world church Unity in Mission Oversight Committee as they rework the document. May the Holy Spirit anoint and guide them in their work and help them find a better way forward. Pray also for our GC leadership, that God would help them to effectively lead our world church in a manner that honors the principles of His Kingdom. They have a daunting responsibility.

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    The North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) executive committee has formally voted to invite Byron Dulan to become the NPUC vice president for regional affairs, pending his response. He currently serves as the outreach director for the Washington Conference. If Dulan accepts the new role, he will fill an updated NPUC job description which also adds the responsibilities of directing human relations, community services, prison ministry, and disaster preparedness and response. A more in depth article will follow in the event of Dulan’s acceptance.

    The committee’s action came during the regular fall meeting of the group held Nov. 8, 2017, in Ridgefield, Wash. A recommended person to replace John Loor Jr. as the NPUC executive secretary, will likely be brought to the first executive committee meeting of 2018, on Feb. 28. Loor will be retiring at the end of 2017.

    Among other agenda items, Ben Lundquist, young adult director for the Oregon Conference, presented an update on the relatively new Growing Young Cohort initiative which began in October. Representatives from 11 churches throughout the NPUC have received intensive training from the Fuller Youth Institute. The institute has done extensive research on the topic of young adult engagement with church mission and has produced training material focused on six essential strategies to help young people love their church. The cohort process means these 11 churches will be working together and learning from each other how to adapt these principles to the Adventist mission in their own congregation and community outreach. More information will be shared through the Gleaner in the months ahead.

    The NPUC has been asked to provide professional mentoring and ministry partnership for the Adventist mission on the island of Palau. It is the western most island in the Guam-Micronesia Mission, which is part of the North American Division (NAD). The other eight union conferences within the NAD have been partnered with the remaining island groups within that remote territory. Dennis Plubell, NPUC vice president for education, explained to executive committee members that while initial support will be focused on the educational work there, other areas of ministry and community outreach may follow. The NAD is covering the cost for three NPUC leaders to make the first trip to Palau in early 2018 to assess the need.

    Watch this short video that shows the scope of the Guam-Micronesia Mission project.

    Committee members approved the request by Oregon Conference to ordain Keith Bowman II to gospel ministry. Bowman has worked in a number of ministry endeavors within the conference and has been instrumental in the independent outreach of a young-adult-friendly website, thehaystack.org.

    The committee also dealt with a less joyful item in voting to remove ordination credentials from Stephen Vicaro, who most recently has been a pastor in the Alaska Conference. Vicaro has acknowledged his inability to remain with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, is no longer in Alaska, and is involved in other pursuits. The committee offered special prayer for him and his family.

    Tithe giving for Northwest members has increased in 2017 year-to-date, according to Mark Remboldt, NPUC vice president for finance. Income is over budget and expenses are under budget — a positive trend reflective of careful management of ministry resources and the mission-minded members.

    Chuck Simpson, director of the NPUC association, noted that some annuities issued through the union trust department run into deficits when the respective recipients outlive the average life span. While the trust department will, in each case, continue to honor the annuity contract, it will work with local conferences connected with those annuities to initiate an appropriate manner to erase any deficit amounts.

    Members with any questions or comments about executive committee actions may email talk@gleanernow.com, or contact the executive secretary’s office at 360-857-7013.  

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