May 1, 2018
On April 15 and 16, the Los Angeles Adventist and San Fernando Valley academies, respectively, held their annual constituency meetings, and the SCC Officers had the opportunity to attend both. The main topic for discussion was whether or not they had the viability to keep open the high school program. Both voted to request the SCC Board of Education for authorization to continue offering it, subject to fulfilling their pending financial obligations.

On Tuesday night, I headed to Sacramento to attend the two-day quarterly meeting of the Adventist Health System Board. The first day was very intense; I participated in three subcommittees of which I’m a member, in preparation for the Board meeting the next day. The Board is very efficient in terms of receiving reports; there is the expectation that every single board member will read the reports uploaded to the Board webpage, so when we meet, we are ready to make informed decisions.

Over the years, the president of the Southern California Conference has been a member of the corporate board and the three hospital boards (Glendale, White Memorial and Simi Valley) in this conference territory. My involvement with the top leadership of this organization has enlightened me regarding the operation of our hospitals. Although they are required to fiscally perform like any other hospital in compliance with state regulations, I have witnessed these medical institutions carry on the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

On Sabbath, April 21, my wife and I were so delighted attending the 51st Convocation of our Greater Los Angeles Region. Wow! What a worship service! The music, the message and the Christian fellowship were uplifting, inspirational and encouraging! Dr. Keith Morris, Senior Pastor, Kansas Avenue Church, challenged us to prepare ourselves for “midnight” experiences in life. Once a year, the pastors in this Region take the lead in preparing this event for their church members to get together in a large gathering, fostering the sense of family and focusing on the unique mission and values of this Region. It was a blessing to be a part of the GLAR Convocation 2018!

On a personal note, I started the week with my Annual Physical Exam, and after all the routine exams and tests (blood, EKG, treadmill, bone density, etc.) already completed and sent to my doctor, I was told that I’m still in good health. I’m so grateful to God for this great blessing. I praise the Lord for the strength He gives me and the stamina he provides me to fulfill my responsibilities in a hectic schedule of meetings and appointments. BTW, I encourage you, my friends, to go and get your annual check-up as well. It is well worth it.

Last week was Administrative Professionals Week, and here at the SCC Office, we expressed our appreciation to each person in the role of supporting and managing our offices. We thanked them in person for the ministry they provide every day. This appreciation was expressed through cards, flowers, a gift certificate and a delicious lunch. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful people in this vital role in our conference office.

This past Sabbath, Esther and I visited the West Los Angeles Japanese Church for the very first time. This is the smallest congregation in SCC. After our worship service, we enjoyed a wonderful fellowship meal, and I had the opportunity to talk with the key leadership about their mission in the community, and I became aware of a couple challenges they face. After exchanging ideas and possibilities, the brethren told us how pleased they were with a visit by the SCC President. Although their numbers are small, they felt affirmed and valued in the mission and commitment.

In my message and in my conversation with these brothers and sisters, I reminded them of the words of Jesus Christ when He said: “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Praise the Lord that His presence is not limited to the number of worshipers! He is, and He will be, wherever we worship Him, including our one-to-one worship in our daily devotions.

In His Service,

Velino A. Salazar
Southern California Conference

April 17, 2018 
The week of March 26-29, our SCC office personnel had our Spring Week of Prayer. Elder Injong Moon, Cerritos Korean SDA Church pastor, presented four inspirational messages calling our attention to our Christian duty as followers of Jesus to take care of our children, our young adults, our elderly people, and the immigrants in our communities. We were greatly blessed, and we learned a few words in Korean: “yesu saranghaeyo,” which means “I love Jesus,” and “jjang,” which is slang for “cool.”  

By the way, for those who do not know, for the last 12 years, the SCC office personnel has been having two weeks of prayer per year. These meetings are presented by our SCC pastors who have done an excellent job always inviting us all to look at Jesus as the ultimate leader of this conference.

The first four days of April, I was delighted to attend Adventist WestPoint in Long Beach, CA. These lectures were organized by the Pacific Union Conference Ministerial office. Since you may already have heard about it through the Pacific Union’s weekly video program, “All God’s People,” presented by Connie Jeffery, I will not say much about it, just that those who attended were truly blessed.

The first weekend of April, Esther and I went to visit our daughter Melissa, who teaches fourth and fifth grades at South Bend Junior Academy in the Indiana Conference. We had a wonderful time with her and her new community, especially with the church and school leadership. Although the school is small, their enrollment is growing slowly but steadily with solid projections for expansion. I was positively impressed how the church and school leaders spend time together planning and working toward the growth of both institutions.

Last week was a kind of classic week with appointments with church members and employees along with meetings for standing committees we have here in the office. Thursday at noon, I headed to La Sierra University to participate in an interview done by WASC  the Western Associations of Schools and Colleges (WASC) as part of the accreditation process. The following morning, the WASC team gave the University Board of Trustees and campus family their positive Exit Report with their commendations and recommendations as result of this visit. The complete report will be delivered to the LSU leadership in a few weeks. Congratulations to LSU leadership for the hard work in preparation for this visit to retain LSU accreditation status.

Last Saturday was a day with mixed emotions. With great joy, Esther and I had the opportunity to worship with the Panorama Spanish SDA Church. Elder Carlos Varona invited me to visit his church and help him to promote Adventist Christian education. I was more than happy to accept his invitation and highlight the importance of having Adventist Christian teachers as allies to educate our children. I made an appeal to the parents to consider sending their children to our Adventist schools.

In the afternoon with sadness, we attended the Celebration of Life of Roschelle Ray-ee Lu Fisher, Elder Cary Fisher’s wife who passed on March 27, 2018. The Glendale City SDA Church sanctuary was packed with Roschelle’s family, friends, classmates, coworkers and church members. It was a simple, meaningful and very comforting service honoring this beautiful person who was a devoted follower of Jesus. Let’s keep our dear pastor Cary, and precious children Johanna, Ella, and Grant, in our prayers.

That evening, we ended our day remembering Jesus’ words of hope and encouragement in our hearts: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

Dear Cary and children, yes, your brothers and sisters believe in these words, and Jesus will come and reunite you with your beloved Roschelle.

In the Blessed Hope,

Velino A. Salazar
Southern California Conference

April 3, 2018
What a wonderful Sabbath Esther and I had on March 17. We began our day at Philadelphian church, by attending the inspiring worship service which concluded a two-week evangelistic meetings presented by Dr. Carlton Byrd, Breath of Life Ministries. Wow! This was an uplifting experience with joyful music, a reassuring message of salvation in Jesus Christ and an inspirational baptismal ceremony of 33 people joining the “Church of Brotherly and Sisterly Love: Where Love Hopes, Heals, and Helps,” as the members of this church identify and guests and visitors verify. Kudos to Pastor David Zaid and his pastoral team for the awesome spiritual impact made in the city of Long Beach.

Then we headed to Pasadena to the organization of the Light Above Seventh-day Adventist group attaining the status of Company where 85 committed church members took higher responsibilities in this mission of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in the context of the Three Angels Messages. Back in 2002, a handful group of mission-oriented Seventh-day Adventist church members decided to plant a church for the Visayan speaking people of Philippines.

The week of March 19-22, I attended the Pacific Union Conference Spring meetings. At these meetings, conference leaders of this Union (conference and college/university presidents) get together to address matters pertinent to the mission of the Church in this Union territory. Among the items to address are initiatives presented, reports received, leaders appointed for vacant positions in Union leadership or ministries posts, funds distributed for evangelism and capital improvement, etc. (more details in the next issue of the Pacific Union Recorder magazine). Overall, the mission of the Church across the conferences in this Union is carried in unity using distinctive methodologies and different approaches for diverse communities.

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to visit the Pomona Valley Spanish church, and we had an enjoyable experience in worship and Christian fellowship, and we all were blessed. I started my message acknowledging what was happening across our nation that very morning, especially in Washington D.C.: hundreds of thousands of people got together to march as an act of protest for INACTION regarding gun control, basically saying enough is enough to this type of violence. Then my message that day for that congregation was encouraging them to be a church that makes the difference in their community, presenting a Savior who will come to bring peace among the nations, but in the meantime can bring peace to our troubled hearts.

I conclude with the words of Jesus to His disciples: “My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.” I invite you to share this e-newsletter with those who are part of this large family in Southern California Conference, and invite them to subscribe by clicking here:
In His grip of grace,

Velino A. Salazar
Southern California Conference

March 20, 2018 
Our new In Touch has arrived! We have been waiting for it for a long time, and now it is my privilege to introduce our brand new e-newsletter to our Southern California Conference family.
It has a new face, a new format and new facts making it facile to read. With pictures, graphs and artwork, we intend to communicate more in less time while fostering a family atmosphere.
As I have interacted with members and pastors, I have been encouraged to develop a better way of communication between the Office of the President and our constituency, and here it is.
From now on, it is my intention through this communication to keep you in touch with what is happening in our churches, our schools and at our conference office, by highlighting the most meaningful news, sharing plans and projects, offering you the available services to enhance your ministry at the local church while at the same time giving you a heads up of activities happening in the future.
When we hear this common idiom “in touch,” it gives us the meaning of relationship and interaction, connection and closeness, and this is exactly what I experience as I visit and interact with our constituency across our conference territory. Wonderful and inspiring things are happening in our churches and schools, and as a conference family, we all need to be in touch, not out of touch.
Today, you are receiving this e-newsletter because you are an employee of this conference, but it is our goal to reach every single household in our constituency.
I invite you to read this bimonthly e-newsletter and stay in contact with what is happening among our extended family of 40,000 church members.
I conclude by paraphrasing the words of Jesus to a man who was recently healed and restored: “Go home to your friends and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you…” Likewise, I invite you to share this e-newsletter with those who are part of this large family in Southern California Conference, and invite them to subscribe by clicking here:
In His grip of grace,

Velino A. Salazar
Southern California Conference