April 2019

April 2, 2019
I began and ended the second half of March with funerals. Although funerals always bring sadness and sorrow, very few can also bring joy at the celebration of a beautiful life. Both funerals were an opportunity to celebrate the lives of two godly Christian women. Both women were very different, yet had similar lives. The first one was soft-spoken; the second one had an outgoing personality. One served at the Glendale Spanish SDA Church as a singer and deaconess; the other served as an elder at the East Los Angeles Bilingual SDA Church.

Valentina Hernandez
Valentina Hernandez
Lucy Gudjemian
Lucy Gudjemian

These two ladies represent the beautiful kaleidoscope of thousands of our dear sisters in the Southern California Conference who faithfully serve God according to the spiritual gifts given by His Spirit regardless of their social status, education, nationality, family heritage, etc. Thank you, Lord, for your loving inclusiveness!

Today I want to honor the memory of Lucy Gudjemian and Valentina Hernandez; two wonderful lives devoted to Christ and service of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Southern California Conference community.

May these words of Jesus, “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” (John 11:25-26), bring comfort to both families during this time of loss. We will see you again, Lucy and Valentina!

The Pacific Union Conference held its quarterly Executive Committee meetings from March 19-21. Inspiring reports were presented, and encouraging decisions were made. (For details, visit www.adventistfaith.com.) I want to highlight what pertains to our conference:

  • Pastor Lemuel Niere (Glendale Filipino Senior Pastor) was appointed as a member of the PUC Executive Committee replacing Pastor Edgar Lloren who accepted a call to serve in Guam. He, along with Kathleen Myers (Valley Crossroads), Alejandra Quinteros (Kalēo), Cherise Gardner (Eagle Rock Associate Pastor), and Richard Guy (Santa Clarita) represent our conference in that committee.
  • About $160,000 was approved to enhance the ministry of our churches in SCC.
    • $67,000 for four churches who applied for Evangelism Endowment Fund.
    • $91,000 for church purchases or property improvements in our congregations.
  • The Ordination to the Gospel Ministry of Pastor Denilson Reis was approved.
Marco A. Topete
Marco A. Topete

On Sabbath, March 23, Esther and I attended the conclusion of Revelation of Love at the Camarillo SDA Church. This three-week evangelistic effort was conducted by David Machado (Kenneth Cox Evangelism team member), and he did an outstanding job. (To listen to the messages, visit www.camarillosda.org.) In my interaction with church members, I heard nothing but positive comments about the impact these meetings had on all those who attended. Every night they had over 100 people in attendance, and 35 decided to be baptized. That morning nine were baptized, and the rest will be in the following weeks. Kudos to Pastors Erwin Joham and Jason Whitley for facilitating this intentional evangelistic outreach.

Last week, I was in the office attending regular meetings and appointments with standing committees. However, the highlight of the week was the interview of candidates for the position of Literature Ministries Coordinator. It was inspiring listening to these candidates and their vision for this front-line ministry. Wow! There is so much potential for such a challenging evangelistic task. After prayerful consideration, Marco A. Topete was selected to lead this ministry that our dear friend Heidi Carpenter extraordinarily led for eight years. She and her husband, Andrew, will be the parents of a wonderful girl this month, and she decided to be a full-time mom. Right decision, Heidi, and congratulations, Marco. Let’s keep in prayer these two leaders as they assume their new roles.

This past Sabbath, I had an uplifting experience at the International Day at Smyrna SDA Church. This diverse church has members and guests representing 15 different nationalities that make this group of believers a very enthusiastic and inclusive congregation. That day, many wore typical dresses from their countries, brought delicious food and displayed their national flags (for details, visit their church Facebook page). Thank you to Pastor Trevor Stewart and Smyrna church members for making me feel at home. Thank you to Brother Lawrence Klutse for giving me such a wonderful Ghanaian dress. Your gift is a meaningful treasure to me.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

  • Adventist WestPoint: April 21-24, 2019 in Reno, NV. Click here for details! 
  • SCC Session Delegates List Submitted to SCC: No later than May 19, 2019, all SCC churches and companies need to submit the list of their delegates to the SCC Executive secretary as indicated in a previous communication to pastors, first elders and church clerks.
  • 65th SCC Constituency Session: This important meeting will be held on Sunday, September 22, 2019, at the White Memorial SDA Church from 7:55 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Your fellow traveler,

Velino A. Salazar
President
Southern California Conference


April 16, 2019
April 1 was a full day of blessings (not an April Fool’s Day joke) to start our Semi-Annual Week of Prayer for our SCC Office personnel. Our Compton Community SDA Church pastor, Gamal Alexander, presented Christ-centered, straightforward, profound and practical messages encouraging us to trust in Jesus truly. He used modern parables such as “The Bleach,” not the TV or the comic series, but the chemical product, describing in detail the powerful and permanent effects this whitening detergent has. Likewise, our faith in Jesus has powerful, thorough and lasting results in our own lives when allowing Him to influence us.

His messages are part of two books he is working with a publisher to release this summer. I encourage you to check these books out; I’m sure you will be blessed by reading it as we were two weeks ago. Thank you, Pastor Gamal, for your inspirational messages reminding us to trust more in Jesus.

On Sabbath, April 6, our SCC Treasurer Orville Ortiz and his wife Rachel, our Asian Pacific Region Director Elder Sam Lee and his wife Soon Ja, and our Communication team, Lauren Lacson and Araya Moss, along with Esther and I, had the opportunity to attend the 50th Anniversary of Rosemead Korean SDA Church. It was a delightful celebration listening to the beautiful music and the inspirational church members’ stories told in the context of the big church’s story. Based on the theme for that day, my sermon aimed to kindle their missionary vision to reach out primarily to the Korean-speaking community in the San Gabriel Valley and beyond, including Tijuana, Mexico, where many people of Korean descent live. (The full story is coming up in the June Recorder.)

Last week, I was involved in the Adventist Health (AH) Spring Meetings in Northern California. I was thrilled to receive reports of what the “right arm” of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is doing in communities where underserved people struggle to supply their basic needs, not counting health care, which definitively they lack. Click here to see how AH is making a difference in thousands of lives through the compassionate ministry of healing.

As Corporate Board, we toured the Brand-New AH Headquarters Building. Today about 1,100 employees have started moving in from the six buildings spread out in the Roseville area. This building was built with a two-fold purpose in mind: first, to have all the executive leadership, administrative management and support staff in one single place, increasing the sense of unity; second, to stop paying leases of five of the six buildings AH is using for more than 10 years, reducing the operational costs . It is calculated that the investment in this new building will offset the leasing cost in the next 12 years. Click here to learn more about the AH Roseville Campus.

On Wednesday afternoon, I drove to the Lake Tahoe area (Olympic Valley, CA) to attend the annual AH Mission Integration Summit. This two-day event was for employees, physicians, board members, management and executives of all the 20 hospitals in the AH West System. This was the most inspiring AH event I have ever attended; it was very open about the Vision, Values and Mission within our Adventist heritage. Many of the attendees are not Seventh-day Adventists, and for them, there were enlightening moments about our church and our faith. These two days were intense but worth it. Click here to see the schedule.

Last Sabbath, Esther and I had a high day attending the Newbury Adventist Academy (NPAA) 70th Anniversary. It was an outstanding occasion as more than 200 former faculty and alumni came to celebrate this long journey of Adventist Christian education. Many memories were shared by the alumni, and many expressions of gratitude were offered to former faculty. On behalf of the SCC, our Treasurer, Orville Ortiz, presented a gift for $5,000 for capital improvement. Look for the full story in an upcoming issue of the Recorder.

After a fellowship meal with the NPAA faculty, students and alumni, I headed to the conclusion of our SCC Prayer and Spiritual Renewal Weekend in Glendale. The speaker was Elder Debleaire Snell, senior pastor at First SDA Church in Huntsville, AL. More than 500 people participated and were blessed this weekend. Thank you to Janet Lui and her team for such a marvelous ministry interceding for our thriving conference.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

  • Adventist WestPoint: April 21-24, 2019 in Reno, NV. Click here for details! 
  • SCC Session Delegates List Submitted to SCC: No later than May 19, 2019, all SCC churches and companies need to submit the list of their delegates to the SCC Executive secretary as indicated in a previous communication to pastors, first elders and church clerks.
  • 65th SCC Constituency Session: This important meeting will be held on Sunday, September 22, 2019, at the White Memorial SDA Church from 7:55 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Your fellow traveler,

Velino A. Salazar
President
Southern California Conference