October 2018

October 2, 2018
Recently, we have witnessed excessive polarization in our society and in different areas of life: politics, finances, security, education and, unfortunately, in religion. I intentionally use the word excessive, because since human beings have been in existence, we have always faced differences of opinions, perspectives and preferences. But in these times in which we live, it seems to have spun out of control.

This tension is primarily caused by differences in ideological perspectives. Instead of engaging in decent and civil dialogue, we are attacking and offending each other when the other party doesn’t agree with our position on the subject.

It seems that we are bombarded with information that stimulates our spirits in a negative way, to the point of being intolerant toward others. As I examine myself, the description of the fruits of the Spirit listed by the apostle Paul comes to my mind: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Photo by Kevin Camato.
Photo by Kevin Camato.

I pray that the Holy Spirit keeps working in my life, producing changes in me to reflect His fruits. I invite you to join me in prayer that we, as a Southern California Conference family, will bear these fruits of the Spirit in our lives.

Speaking of prayer, I'd like to share a report & a prayer request:

On Tuesday, September 18, our SCC Prayer Ministry Team organized a Pastor’s Prayer Day for all our pastoral team at the Van Nuys Church. We had an attendance of about 50 pastors, who were spiritually challenged by Pastor Iki Taimi to trust in the Lord in the midst of our personal and ministerial difficulties. Thank you, Janet Lui and your team, for the wonderful spiritual gift you prepared for us. It was a day of reflection, prayer, fellowship and partaking of a meal. 

Newbury Park Project.
Newbury Park Project.

My prayer request is in regards to the Newbury Park Project. As I reported earlier this year, the North Campus of our property in Newbury Park is back on the market. For the last six months, we have been in conversation with four different potential buyers, and with officials of the City of Thousand Oaks, exploring what is the best use of our property there. We are asking the Lord for divine wisdom so we can know clearly His will and follow His direction and not our own. Please, please join us in prayer. 

Elder Cress at International church celebration.
Elder Cress at International church celebration.

On Sabbath, September 22, Esther and I had the opportunity to visit the International SDA Church of La Verne (formerly Covina International SDA Group). After an inspiring worship service and wonderful fellowship meal, this congregation was organized as a Company by the SCC officers and Asian Pacific Region director, Sam Lee.

Last Sabbath, September 29, was a busy, but awesome, day for the SCC officers. In the morning, we participated in the Centennial Celebration of the Hollywood SDA Church. This church has a unique call from God to do ministry, and they are making a huge difference in the lives of people from all walks of life. Our SCC treasurer/CFO, Orville Ortiz, presented a gift of $10,000 to be used in evangelism in their community.
Watch the centennial celebration by clicking here!

After lunch at the Hollywood church, the SCC officers rushed to Chino Valley Chinese SDA Church to participate at the dedication and grand opening of their sanctuary/multipurpose building. This church has made history in SCC. In 13 years, it was planted, organized as a church, a brand new building built and dedicated — without taking out a loan. To God be the glory, and congratulations to the church members, who, under the leadership of Dr. Paul Cho and Dr. Mei Mei Cho, made this possible.
Watch the dedication celebration by clicking here!

The amazing stories of these churches will appear soon in the Pacific Union Recorder!

Your fellow traveler,



Velino A. Salazar
President
Southern California Conference


October 16, 2018

Me with my daughter, Melissa, at Annual Council 2018 in Battle Creek, Michigan.
Me with my daughter, Melissa, at Annual Council 2018 in Battle Creek, Michigan.

This newsletter is written from Battle Creek, MI, the “Cereal Capital of the World” and the birthplace of our beloved Seventh-day Adventist church. I am attending the General Conference Annual Council (click here) and it is thrilling to be in the place where so much history of our denomination happened. Delegates and attendees were invited to wear 19th century style attire. It was instructive and inspirational, regardless of the current political climate in our church.

“We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history” (Life Sketches, p. 196). This famous statement from Ellen G. White declared in 1902 has resonated in my mind this past weekend, and I’m convinced it is still relevant today, in spite of the upheavals and difficulties this church has faced and is still facing.

Dear fellow travelers to Heaven, I invite you to reflect on this statement in light of your personal, family, local church, conference, and denominational, experience. I have the personal conviction that God is still with us in spite of us. Praise to the Lord!

On Sabbath, October 6, Esther and I joined the 8th Anniversary Celebration of Los Angeles Thai SDA Church. We enjoyed the Thai music style, along with costumes and delicious food, but overall we were blessed by their welcoming spirit and the wonderful fellowship time we had together. We felt at home. Yes, we removed our shoes as we entered the chapel for worship following their practice in reverence to God.

Photo by Kary Camacho.
Photo by Kary Camacho.

That afternoon, I attended the Hispanic Region TMI (Total Member Involvement) Training event at the Spanish American church, where more than 300 church members were inspired by Pastor Alejandro Bullón to revitalize the region's existing 300-plus small groups in preparation the April 2019 NAD net series. I was so moved by seeing the commitment made by these members that I decided to personally become involved in this evangelistic endeavor as well, leading a small group. Kudos to Elder Luis Peña and his team for this great initiative.

 SECC officers re-elected at 2018 constituency, left to right: Elizer Sacay, Vice President for Asian/Pacific Ministries; Verlon Strauss, Treasurer; Sandra Roberts, President; Jonathan Park, Executive Secretary Robert Edwards, Vice President for Black Ministries; and Yohalmo Saravia, Vice President for Hispanic Ministries.
SECC officers re-elected at 2018 constituency, left to right: Elizer Sacay, Vice President for Asian/Pacific Ministries; Verlon Strauss, Treasurer; Sandra Roberts, President; Jonathan Park, Executive Secretary Robert Edwards, Vice President for Black Ministries; and Yohalmo Saravia, Vice President for Hispanic Ministries.

On Sunday, October 7, I attended the Southeastern California Conference Constituency Session. I was pleased to add my support of our dear friends and great neighbor conference leaders Elders Sandra Roberts, Jonathan Park and Verlon Strauss, who were re-elected for another five-year term. Congratulations and blessings to these Christian leaders. Knowing the complexity of organizing a constituency session, I was impressed by the masterful way the Secretariat Office prepared the delegates to participate well-informed in this session. (Click here for their session website.)

On Wednesday, October 10, our Quarterly Conference Leadership Meeting took place to address two important items: 1) our upcoming Constituency Session next year on September 22, 2019, and 2) the recent decisions made by the General Conference Administrative Committee. Before going to Battle Creek, I especially wanted to update our conference region/department directors and associates regarding the second item and invite them to read the official documents produced and published by the General Conference. Later, I will report more about this topic. In the meantime, for easy access, you can find them on the President page of our SCC website by clicking here.

Let us take encouragement by knowing that this church belongs to Christ who gave His life for her, and He will take care of her. Let’s remain faithful to our Savior Jesus Christ.

Your fellow traveler,



Velino A. Salazar
President
Southern California Conference