While it’s often said that “our children are our future,” what steps are we taking to nurture our children in the way of the Lord?
In the Southern California Conference (SCC), children’s ministries have never ceased to be a priority. Due to changes in organizational structure, children’s ministries was once a separate department before becoming the responsibility of the Hispanic Region director.
So when Jaime Heras became the Hispanic Region director in 2019, he also picked up the children’s ministry work. Holding a Doctorate in Ministry with an emphasis on Family Life, Heras was well suited to lead in this area. Since 2019, SCC has offered eight robust children’s ministries training events.
In the meantime, SCC leadership collectively felt a call to reestablish this department. “Healthy churches are built on families,” said John H. Cress, SCC executive secretary. “The executive officers shared a burden that a Children’s Ministries Department was essential. It came up in our conversation and took over the agenda. We’re excited to see what happens. We believe, one, that the burden that we had for this department is from God, and two, that when you analyze churches, it’s obvious that a healthy children’s ministry can lead to a healthy church.”
So this May, the SCC executive committee reestablished a Children’s Ministries Department that would be operated by a full-time director. “I’m delighted to see the reestablishment of the Children’s Ministries Department in SCC for a couple of reasons,” said SCC President Velino A. Salazar. “We will be able to reinforce the ministry of the Christian Adventist homes, and we will be able to secure our church’s existence in the following decades by instructing our children in the Lord’s way.”
Upon the launch of this department, Heras transitioned into the role of children’s ministries director. “It is a true honor to lead this important ministry in our conference,” said Heras. “Statistics are true. Children’s ministries is the most effective evangelism we have. In all churches I visit, at least onethird of all present church leaders accepted Jesus as their Savior before the age of 14. A wise person once said: ‘If we do not invest now hundreds of dollars to keep children in our church, we will spend thousands later to bring them back.’”
The first training event under the new department was held in October 2023, spanning two days and attended by 205 people representing 37 churches. The intense training offered general sessions and 10 breakout sessions, including practical tips attendees could implement in their churches right away. Presenters joined from the North American Division; Arizona, Central California, and Southeastern California Conferences; SCC churches, and more.
Jenny Heras also joins the department as the departmental assistant. “I’m fully confident that Elder Jaime Heras and his wife, Jenny, will continue helping our churches develop a solid ministry in favor of our children,” Salazar said.
“Thank you in advance,” Salazar said, “for your full support to this crucial ministry in our SCC.” Visit SCC children’s ministries online for the 2024 calendar of events and other resources: scc.adventist.org/departments-ministries/childrens-ministries.
SCC Children's Ministries Training
October 13-14, 2023
205 attendees, 37 churches represented
On Friday evening, Jaime and Jenny Heras shared the philosophy, dynamics, and components of our Adventist Sabbath School curriculum for children: GraceLink. Sherri Uhrig and Gerry Lopez from the NAD Children’s Ministries Department taught the class of ministry description for Sabbath school leaders and teachers.
On Sabbath there were four trainings:
- Combined-age Sabbath School advice and recommendations by Lisa Plasencia, Central California Conference Children’s Ministries Director
- Sabbath School master classes for all children departments by expert teachers in their field
- Children's Church model program by Sarah Grover, associate pastor at Camarillo church
- Go Fish Spiritual Gifts Lab by Sherri Uhrig and Gerry Lopez, NAD Children’s Ministries Director and Associate Director
- Sherri Uhrig, NAD Children’s Ministries Director
- Gerry Lopez, NAD Children’s Ministries Associate Director
- Gladys Gonzales and Valeria Ontiveros, Arizona Conference
- Letty and William Fonseca, Southeastern California Conference
- Lisa Plasencia, Central California Conference Children's Ministries Director
We are thankful to all the experts in Sabbath School that taught all the Master classes. They demonstrated their talent and expertise, but above all their passion for sharing the gospel to children:
- Beginners — Becky Perez (English), Avangie Guzman and Marisabel Ramos (Spanish)
- Kinder — Bonie Naranjo (English), Patty Coronel and Lorena Villalba
- Primary — Bob Cañete (English), Cristina Gonzalez and Cindy Díaz (Spanish)
- Juniors — Lisa Plasencia (English), Gladys Gonzales and Valeria Ontiveros (Spanish)
- Earliteens — Frank Aguilar and Myrna Sanchez (English), Leticia and William Fonseca (Spanish)