August 2018

Karen Cress
Karen Cress
August 7, 2018

Summertime often brings travel and fun, even when it is combined with work. On July 17-22, Esther and I traveled to Sunriver, Oregon, for the Adventist Health (AH) Strategic Summit. As the AH executive leadership gathered for spiritual renewal and strategic planning, the emphasis was on “love,” the core of Adventist Health’s mission statement: “Living God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness, and hope.” The dialogue was centered on these five points: Loving our Patients, Loving our Communities, Loving our Associates, Loving our Partners and Loving our God.

As I interact more with this health care organization, I see how the mission of our church is at its operational core. Obviously, to operate a multi-billion-dollar organization, it is necessary to watch the business side of it without losing the vision of carrying on the ministry of healing among the underserved population.  

In the hospital on my birthday
In the hospital on my birthday

On July 23, the SCC administrative leadership team met for our monthly Conference Strategic Planning. Elder Karen Cress has been helping our administrative team with this initiative for the past two years, and we are seeing encouraging results in our missional and organizational work.

BTW, Karen Cress is a specialist in strategic planning within our denomination; she has worked in two conferences (Rocky Mountain and Potomac) for more than 10 years assisting the conference leadership to define mission and values and to clarify the main goals for the conferences. She’s been contracted by several entities, including a few churches in SCC, who want to align their plans and initiatives in a more intentional and organizational way.

Preaching at the ordination of Elder Branden Stoltz
Preaching at the ordination of Elder Branden Stoltz

Her services for SCC have been funded by an outside source, and we still have some money available to help up to 50% for any church or school who wants to receive her strategic planning services. If there is any interest, please contact the President’s Office.

On July 25, I began my birthday in the hospital. Originally, I was scheduled for a simple biopsy of my left foot with local anesthesia, but when I arrived at the hospital, I was told that I should be completely sedated. 

Many of you know that I’ve been limping for almost three months without knowing the real cause. Finally, it was discovered: It is a recurrence of the Valley Fever disease that I had 9-11 years ago. I will visit the doctor and set up a treatment plan.

Although this is scary and has some risks, I’m at peace resting on the assurance of Jeremiah 29:11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Last Sabbath was an exciting day: Pastor Branden Stoltz was ordained to the Gospel Ministry for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. For the first time in many years, the Hollywood church was full. Church members from the churches where Pastor Branden has served (Simi Valley, Hollywood, Burbank) came to support him. More than 20 of his colleagues in ministry within and outside of our conference participated in the “laying on of hands” service reaffirming his call from God to the ministry. (Wait for more details about him and his ministry in the Recorder in the near future.)

Have a blessed month.

Your fellow traveler,



Velino A. Salazar
President
Southern California Conference


August 21, 2018
Earlier this month, I joined our 140 SCC K-12 educators in Chicago to attend the 2018 NAD K-12 Teachers Convention, where nearly 6,000 schoolteachers convened at the largest gathering our denomination has in North America after the General Conference Sessions.

I witnessed the vibrant spirit among our educational team. I was thrilled and inspired by seen these thousands of ministers of education, united by one common goal: seeking relevant ways to model Christ to their students. Yes, I’m intentionally using this title for this group of committed servants of the Lord who are molding and shaping our children’s characters for eternity. You can find more details by viewing the NAD Teachers Convention 2018 | Week in Review and Pacific Union “All God’s People,” August 10, 2018 Episode 211.

There were lectures, workshops, and hands-on activities. Kudos to Ricardorie Glaze, Rose Gorospe, Angel Nair, Marvin Martin, Judy Nunez and Josie Hirsch from our SCC educational team who were among the presenters of the 200-plus optional seminars.

While there, on Wednesday afternoon, Conference Presidents in North America met with the nine Union Presidents and the top NAD officers. The topics focused on: 1) How to reverse the declining enrollment in our SDA education system and 2) how to increase the remuneration of our K-12 educators. The dialogue was productive, and a task force committee was formed to prepare a proposal to present to the NAD Executive Committee for serious consideration the first week of November. I will report the outcomes at a later time.

Thank you, superintendents, for giving this opportunity to all our educators to attend this professional growth and encouraging assembly.

The Chicago Summit 2018 followed, where college and university leadership were joined by church leadership of the North American Division, Unions and Conferences. The purpose of this gathering was to envision the future of Adventist Higher education in North America planning strategically to ensure strong faith-based education in a financially challenging and increasingly secular environment.

The three full days of meetings were intense, with the intention to have a statement ready to share with our constituencies after leaving on Sunday noon. For details, please visit https://www.nadadventist.org/news/higher-ed-leaders-vote-explore-collaboration.

In preparation for our Conference Executive Committee meeting last Tuesday afternoon, Monday was spent interviewing candidates for the following openings here in our office: Asset/Risk Management and Senior Youth and Young Adults department directors.

Among the reports presented and decisions made by our Executive Committee were the following:

  • Our evangelistic growth by baptism and profession of faith year to date was more than 500. I praise God for these new members of the SCC family.
  • Our membership has declined as our members moved out of our conference territory for several reasons, and we have 40,663 members YTD.
  • Our tithe has increased by 9% for the first six months. Praise the Lord for this extraordinary blessing not seen in at least 15 years.
  • Elder Iki Taimi has been elected as director for the Senior Youth and Young Adults department. He will serve half time in this position as he still pastors Gardena Genesis Community church for the first year.

Last week, I met with our Empower Retirement specialist, and after reviewing the amount of my personal contributions, I realized that I need to make some adjustments to have sufficient money for my retirement years. I encourage you to visit the website at www.empowermyretirement.com or contact our representative at (866) 467-7756 and become well informed about your retirement fund. TODAY is the right day to think about retirement, even if you just started working this year — not when you are 4-5 years from retirement.

Early morning on Sabbath, August 18, Esther and I headed to Visalia to attend the annual iShare Conference where about 350 young people get together to conclude the summer Youth Rush program. More than 40 young people from SCC participated this year.

It was an inspiration to see our youth sharing what the Lord did through them this summer as they visited more than 210,000 homes, leaving more than 26,000 books or DVDs, and raising $142,000 for scholarships. Kudos to Heidi Carpenter and Marco Topete for the awesome job done here in SCC.

As we conclude this summer, I pray for the Lord bless us all to retake our regular responsibilities at home, at work, at church.

Your fellow traveler,



Velino A. Salazar
President
Southern California Conference