Attendees get up to hug one another and affirm their unity in Christ as the choir sings “Make Us One,” following Salazar’s appeal. Photo by Donald McPhaull
Attendees get up to hug one another and affirm their unity in Christ as the choir sings “Make Us One,” following Salazar’s appeal. Photo by Donald McPhaull

What does it mean to be fully alive? What steps can one take to pursue a life of health and hope?

This September, the Southern California Conference family explored these questions through the theme of its first conference-wide convocation in more than 16 years: “Alive: A Journey to Health & Hope.” Church members and leaders from throughout the SCC gathered at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, which a sponsor helped make possible.

Oakwood University President Leslie Pollard presented the morning devotional titled “Delivering Critical Care,” examining what it means to deliver the highest level of care possible to the people Jesus has called us to serve. Karl Haffner, Kettering church senior pastor and Kettering Health Network mission strategist, spoke in the afternoon, sharing four vital behaviors of health, hope, and happiness, found in 1 Thessalonians 5. 

Singer/songwriter Melissa Polinar; author, motivational speaker, and singer Lydia Elle; and NBC executive producer Jared Kiemeney share their experiences integrating faith with their careers as part of a panel moderated by Diana Escobar, Temple City Spanish church member, and Rahshan Wall, Greater Los Angeles Region youth coordinator. Photo by Brian Martinez
Singer/songwriter Melissa Polinar; author, motivational speaker, and singer Lydia Elle; and NBC executive producer Jared Kiemeney share their experiences integrating faith with their careers as part of a panel moderated by Diana Escobar, Temple City Spanish church member, and Rahshan Wall, Greater Los Angeles Region youth coordinator. Photo by Brian Martinez

The day-long program also featured health messages from three speakers. Nerida McKibben, host/co-producer of Hope Channel’s Go Healthy for Good, affirmed the importance of a healthy lifestyle and offered tips for a longer, healthier life. Schubert Palmer, cardiology section chief at Adventist Health White Memorial, told attendees that God’s ultimate purpose in giving the health message was to help His children connect to Him. Weimar Institute President Neil Nedley offered the audience 10 commandments of emotional intelligence and hope for improving it.

Two mass choirs were assembled just for the event — Ricky Ferrando, Central Spanish church choir director and pianist, directed a children’s choir with 30 members; and Fred Settle, Valley Crossroads church music coordinator, directed a multicultural adult mass choir with more than 150 voices. Royal Harrison, Greater Los Angeles Region director, and Connie Jeffery, trust services officer, served as emcees to ensure a smooth flow throughout the day.

Mt. Rubidoux church Senior Pastor Michael Kelly II gave the message for the evening program. The program also focused on “The Art of Faith,” with a panel of young professionals who discussed the intersection of faith and their career.

Many attendees commented about the impact of one specific appeal during the day. After the adult choir had sung their final song, “Make Us One,” SCC President Velino A. Salazar made an unexpected, Spirit-led appeal. “This song is what we as Christians are all about as children of God,” Salazar said. “We need to become one in Christ,” he said emphatically. “We are pleased that we are different, but we don’t have to live in those differences.” Inviting the choir to sing the song one more time, he gave attendees a task — find someone different, give that person a hug, and say, “I’m glad that you and I are different, but we are one in Christ.”