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Archive for November, 2011

Publication PDF Files, MP3 Audio, and Other Media Temporarily Offline

posted on November 28, 2011, under Conference by

Please bear with us as we troubleshoot an issue that took down our media server over the weekend. For the time being, Adobe Acrobat files of our publications, such as Florida Focus, as well as audio and video media, such as Camp Meeting sermons, are unavailable. We are working to restore access to these resources as soon as possible.

UPDATE: We’re cautiously optimistic that the issue has been resolved. Our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused.

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Forest City Spanish Church 2011 Family Fair (video)

posted on November 07, 2011, under Church, Video Report by

A video report of Forest City Spanish Church members reaching out to the community through this year’s Family Fair.

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My Journey Home: How Did God Get Me Here?

posted on November 04, 2011, under Member by

by Joan Smith

Joan Smith, right, preparing for baptism by Pastor Dave Swinyar, serves the Ocala Church in communication and developed an interactive web site with hopes of making members' lives easier. "I hope their smiling faces on the pages will lead someone else to our church, just as it was their faces on the web site that invited me in when I was searching for truth." (Photo: Sam Minosh)

My journey started a little more than a year ago. Life seemed fine the way it was; yet, God obviously had different plans.

I had settled spiritually into New Age after years of searching different denominations and facing disappointment in teachings and people. It seemed being alone with God and my books was enough.

For years, a friend tried getting me to church. I didn’t want to hear of it, but God kept working on my heart. Lying in bed one morning, I prayed, “If You want me to change course, then You have to show me the way. Just show me the truth, and I will follow wherever You lead.”

God started to do just that in a peculiar way. He began waking me each day at 3:00 A.M. It was perfect—no distractions just learning at the computer. I thought at the time He was validating my beliefs in New Age.

One day, I heard a speaker say the Garden of Eden wasn’t real. I knew this was untrue. Here, my journey took a new path as I began searching on my own instead of waiting for direction.

While sitting at the computer one morning, I typed, “What is truth?” in the search box. A list of comments about truth appeared, and two words caught my eye—Amazing Facts. I had watched this program some 15 years earlier and thought it interesting. I went to their web site and, day after day, listened to sermons.

Soon, Amazing Facts led me to 3ABN (Three Angels Broadcasting Network). Then, my search led me to other ministry sites. I couldn’t satisfy my thirst.

After months of studying, I knew I had found the truth. I started observing the Sabbath at home, but Doug Batchelor and Ken Cox kept telling viewers to become involved with a church.

The day I chose to visit Ocala Seventh-day Adventist Church, my true journey began. When my husband dropped me off, he said he’d wait for 10 minutes in case I decided not to stay. I told him, “Don’t worry, I’m staying.”

As I walked through the doors, I was greeted by warm, smiling faces. I explained I was new and was given a welcome packet. Heading for the sanctuary door, frightened to death of unfamiliar surroundings, I approached a gentleman who greeted me. I explained it was my first time to visit the church.

Jay Dewitt took my hand, said, “Come with me,” and led me to his wife, Joan, which caused us both to chuckle that we shared the same first name. Jay whispered in his wife’s ear, “She is new.” From that day, they have taken me under their wings and guided me through my journey.

When I recall that first Sabbath, tears fill my eyes. If I hadn’t been treated so kindly, I may not have returned. I’m a testimony that a simple smile or friendly gesture to a new face can literally save a person’s spiritual life.

After studying God’s truths for several months with Pastor Dave Swinyar, I was baptized December 10, 2010. The church members, surely a chosen generation of people, have accepted me so warmly.

Now, I pray for God to show me how I can be an active part of this body of Christ. My desire is to serve God with love, compassion, and grace.

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A Call to Service

posted on November 04, 2011, under Member by

by Deena Kemp, Karmin Rempfer

Marvin Williams, Florida Conference Ministerial Field Secretary for North Florida, left, offers a prayer for the ministry of Claudette Aleman, center, and her husband, Rene. Also present: Bill Kilgore, Claudette's Southwestern Adventist University mentor and former teacher, right; Tampa First Church Pastor Brad Cassell, behind Kilgore; and representatives of Florida Conference administration, background, from left, Mike Cauley, President; Tim Nichols, Vice President for Pastoral Ministries; Carmen Rodriguez, Executive Secretary; and Duane Rollins, Treasurer. (Photo: Ruth Pryce)

At Tampa First, Fla., Church, they call her Pastor Claudette. Around the theology department at her alma mater, Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU), she was affectionately nicknamed the Apostle Paulette. “She told people about Jesus everywhere she went,” explains Dr. Bill Kilgore, Claudette Aleman’s mentor and former teacher at SWAU.

For Claudette, the call to ministry began as a little girl when she and her mother first moved to the United States. She had a hunger for God and a craving to learn more when an Adventist family adopted them and offered fellowship and Bible study.

The seed planted in her heart during her young years, blossomed even more on August 27, 2011, when her family, dear friends, and members of Florida Conference gathered for her commissioning service.

In his message about the call to ministry being a call to service, Kilgore reminded the church that the first criterion for ministry is to be a Christian. We are all called to minister in some way, and we should let the Holy Spirit be our guide. “Claudette may be a small lady,” says Kilgore, “but she is powerful on the inside.” Speaking directly to her, he offered the assurance, “Know that God will continue to lead you.”

Mike Cauley, Florida Conference President, and other ordained ministers joined Kilgore in laying of hands and saying a prayer of dedication for Pastor Claudette. She was welcomed into the ministry, and Carmen Rodriguez, Florida Conference Executive Secretary, presented her with the official credentials.

The service ended with a celebratory rendition of He Lives. For Claudette, her true purpose is to let this message ring clear to whomever she meets, and it is a motivating factor in her ministry.

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Belleview Members Break Ground

posted on November 04, 2011, under Church by

by Zlata Sabo

Thirty years of saving and planning for a new church sanctuary led Belleview Church members to the joyous June 12 groundbreaking. (Photo: Zlata Sabo)

After many years of planning, it was a joyous day for members of Belleview, Fla., Church as they broke ground on June 12 for a new 250-seat sanctuary. Mike Cauley, Florida Conference President, participated in the groundbreaking service.

The 160+ members and Pastor Ric Pleasants expressed excitement that their dream for a new sanctuary will soon be realized. The new edifice will be built on the present church property.


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Bill and Mavis Sager Celebrate 60th Anniversary

posted on November 04, 2011, under Member by

by Naomi Zalabak

Mavis and Bill Sager. (Photo: Tom Amos)

Bill and Mavis Sager were married September 2, 1951, at Oakdale Sanitarium, Oakdale, Iowa. After graduating from high school, Mavis worked in this Sanitarium where her mother was a patient.

During their early years together, Bill drove a delivery truck for Loma Linda Foods and owned a service station in Iowa. In December 1958, he sold the station and began working for the denomination at Oak Park Academy in Nevada, Iowa, where he wore several hats. Among them were: operator of a commercial laundry that serviced motels, hotels, and the hospital in the area; assistant boys’ dean; and bus driver for student trips. In 1965, he helped build and administer a 70-bed nursing home on campus that provided work for students.

In 1967, Highland Hospital, Portland, Tenn., called Bill to be administrator. During the 12 years he served there, the Sager’s five children grew up, and Bill became involved with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Tennessee, Rotary, and other community organizations.

In 1979, Bill accepted a call to become the administrator of Walker Memorial Hospital in Avon Park. He continued his involvement with Rotary and Salvation Army, and he served on hospital boards. He was also in charge of the building of Florida Hospital Lake Placid.

Bill and Mavis so loved their church family and the community they chose Avon Park as their place of retirement in 1991. For a number of years afterward, Bill served as treasurer for Walker Memorial Academy and, until this year, Mavis served as Sabbath School superintendent.

The Sagers have five children: Mark, Kyle, Scott, Jan, Brent, and Pat; 16 grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren.