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Archive for December, 2011

Camp Meeting’s New Country Home

posted on December 21, 2011, under Conference by

A Peaceful Place To Meet With God

written from comments of 2011 Camp Meeting attendees

2011 Camp Meeting Featured Speaker Henry Wright. (Photo: Lori Bennett)

“Welcome to Camp Kulaqua and Camp Meeting 2011!” That was the warm greeting extended to us as we approached the Camp on a pleasant Thursday evening last April.

Before us was a tranquil scene, far removed from the noise of the interstate we left behind and the hustle and bustle of a 9-to-5 job. We felt our senses sharpen when we left the everyday same-old-same-old and turned our thoughts heavenward in thanksgiving for the blessing this peaceful place has to offer.

We were soon whisked through registration by efficient and friendly workers. Quickly, we settled in and took a walk by the horse corrals and the Adventist Book Center with its wraparound veranda and inviting chairs which seemed to say, “Stop with a book to read and rest a while.” Along the way, we met old and new friends in a family-type atmosphere.

The weekend weather was perfect for holding seminars outdoors. (Photo: Lori Bennett)

The much-anticipated hour drew near for the evening meeting to begin. The transformation of the gymnasium into a worship place with its beautifully decorated stage was a pleasant surprise. Comfortable webbed mesh chairs replaced the old metal chairs of Camp Meetings past, allowing the audience to concentrate on the message instead of fidgeting throughout the meeting, trying to find a comfortable position.

The daily schedule had many options for renewal of spirit and soul, from a prayer session for early risers to a wide choice of seminars. Two of the most-attended presentations were CREATION Health taught by Lynell LaMountain from Florida Hospital and Lessons From the Pioneers by Jud Lake from Southern Adventist University, but all seminars were good.

It is difficult to convey on paper the sound of uplifting music that swelled through the gymnasium, such as that from the Miami Temple Praise team. Hearts were touched with the music of Ralph Henderson, Moses Brown, sisters Ashley and Brittany Howard, and Terri McEndree who sang under the coordination of Camp Meeting Music Director Kelly Mowrer.

The Miami Temple Praise Team were among the performers at a refreshing outdoor concert. (Photo: Lori Bennett)

Sabbath afternoon was an ideal time to visit the zoo, and many of us did. Stories of the animals were of interest as workers told how many came to their Camp home after being rescued. There was even a new young lion to be enjoyed, but the big tiger is still a favorite for most.

Sabbath’s afternoon concert down by the spring provided a relaxing time as we sat in lawn chairs under the sweeping trees. The diversity of music was performed by young and old. The capstone of the service was when four individuals were baptized in the spring.

Youth and children’s programming took place throughout the campus. Youth were enthusiastic about Flame, a drama team comprised of young people from Tallahassee, and inspired as author Rainey Park told of lessons learned while writing her book, Love, Kirsten. The excellent children’s programing brought a tremendous blessing, such as Pandamania for little people.

Joy was evident in the hearts of those baptized in the cool spring water during Camp Meeting 2011. (Photo: Walter Maier)

Saturday night, after the evening meeting, campers of all ages were found climbing a rock wall outside the Adventist Book Center. Inside, guest authors and musicians signed books and CDs purchased by happy shoppers.

Sunday dawned as this spiritual retreat drew to a close with morning meetings followed by afternoon family activities. Driving down a dusty lane to the highway, departing thoughts reflected on spiritual truths learned and friendships made or renewed. While offering thanks to the Maker for the opportunity to visit this beautiful place, there was quiet peace knowing we had drawn closer to God.


On a Personal Note, 2011 Was a Great Year

posted on December 21, 2011, under Conference by

by Mike Cauley, D.Min.
Florida Conference President

In many respects, this past year has been a great one for the Florida Conference family. Jesus has drawn many to Him as His Word has been lifted up through evangelistic preaching. Many people have been introduced to the Savior. Churches and schools are becoming more and more characterized by a sense of mission in recognizing their purpose is to be God’s instrument to reach a world in need of His saving grace.

We have seen continual growth of enrollment in Christian education, and several churches are considering opening new schools. The publishing ministry in Florida continues to impact hundreds of thousands of homes each year, and our youth and young adults do most of this work!

We continue to see young and old members alike make decisions at special events, local church retreats, and Camp Meetings that are held annually at Camp Kulaqua in High Springs. After having conducted Camp Meeting at Camp Kulaqua for the past two years, I have been blessed to hear many testimonies of our members attesting to the blessing of this experience and how it is so reminiscent of the way Camp Meetings used to be.

Many churches are involved in some phase of building to further provide for the needs of congregations regarding facilities. Having the privilege of hearing reports from all across our field, it is gratifying to hear of so many miracle stories about how God is opening doors for congregations to expand facilities or occupy their own property for the first time.

Mike and Dottie Cauley in Redlands, California, on September 18 with their daughter, Kelly, and new son-in-law, Brandon Rivinius. (Photo: Tawny Alipoon)

On a personal level, my family has much to be thankful for. We celebrated the marriage of our daughter and her husband in September. We continue to enjoy the precious times we have with our son and his dear family, including our grandchildren.

As we open 2012, my heart is filled with expectation of God’s continued guidance and blessings. We will face challenges. Some of our members suffered great losses in 2011, and others may face hardship, but Jesus is coming. He is still in charge! Even in the face of difficulties, He will be at work and faithfully guide and comfort His people.

On behalf of the Cauley family and the Florida Conference family, I wish you and yours a very Happy New Year. Trust Jesus! He will never forsake you.

May God bless your hearts and bring joy to your family during 2012.

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My Lord, the Strength of My Hope

posted on December 21, 2011, under Member by

by Adriana Pasos, Spiritual Ambassador Coordinator, Florida Hospital Mission Development, Orlando, Florida

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…” —Romans 1:16

Adriana Pasos reads from a near-100-year-old Romanian-language Bible used by her grandmother. (Photo: Lee Bennett)

The larger-than-life Bible stood open on the round, beveled glass table in my grandmother’s bedroom. The sunshine flooded the room through the opened, sky-blue French louvers. As I lazily opened my eyes, I could see Buni, my dear grandmother, kneeling down to pray. As I tiptoed my way out of bed, I quietly knelt down beside her. Even at the tender age of 7, I understood those moments were sacred.

Every morning, without fail, Buni would read from that huge, red Bible that covered nearly half the table. Its pages tattered by use, the red and blue markings and notations were a clear indication this Book had been read many times. It was only later on I would realize the courage it took for her to even own a Bible, much less have it displayed in plain sight, in a country where Christians were persecuted for much less.

Every morning when I would get up, she would read a verse out loud from that Ancient Old Book. Then, my mother and I would harmonize soprano and alto voices, giving praises to God through precious hymns.

I couldn’t wait for evening to arrive. It was then that Buni would recount to me the wonderful Bible stories in such a vivid way. My favorite was Joseph. His faithfulness to God, his courage in the face of adversity, and the power to stand for what is right, no matter what, would leave an indelible mark on my life that I would only later discover.

As I look back at those experiences, I realize now how they shaped who I am today. They painted the picture of a Saviour who is real. A Saviour who hears me, who forgives me. A Saviour who will never, ever leave me. A Saviour who loves me “immeasurably more than I can hope or imagine.”

Today, so many years later, I am convinced that starting my day with God is the most important thing I can do for my own sanity and that of my own family. I have found that when I don’t, my actions and reactions are quite different than I would desire. My husband and my children have experienced the difference first hand and have lamented many times, “Oh, no. Mom has not had her time with Jesus today. Watch out!”

So, I am learning, in a world that’s running at warp speed, I need Him above anything else. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) The world in which we live screams for our attention, through every device possible and every application. Each one can be used for my good or for my bad. The choice is mine.

I have found, however, that one timeless invention—the Sabbath—is still at the top of my list as the true oasis from the chaotic, crazy pace I run. That piece of eternity in a dying world, linking us to Our Eternal Creator God as a reminder of Who He is and whose we are, is a most precious gift. Just as in years past, our family still gathers together as a third and fourth generation, around the piano, singing those hymns, talking about what God has done in our lives, and watching our own children now play out the Bible characters they’ve learned. No doubt, “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17)

2012 Camp Meeting Speaker Releases New Book

Sperantza Adriana Pasos grew up under the stronghold of Communist Romania. At age 14, she and her mother braved a daring escape plan, evading government officials and armed guards, with the teenager wondering whether she’d ever see her four-year-old sister and adoring father again.

This heart-stopping venture is now told in a new book, Hope In Present Danger, and set for release January 13 through Florida Conference Adventist Book Centers (ABC). The ABC will also host a book signing at Camp Meeting 2012 after Adriana tells her dramatic story.

“You will be inspired as you read this amazing story of hope and courage,” says international speaker Mark Finley. “Adriana’s story, in the face of overwhelming odds and insurmountable obstacles, will touch your heart, lift your spirits, and increase your faith.”

Pick up Hope In Present Danger at the ABC beginning January 13, by telephone order at (877) 553-5222, or at Camp Meeting.

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Blessings Without Measure

posted on December 21, 2011, under Member by

by Gladys Neigel

Indiana Academy faculty members Fred and Gladys Neigel.

It was a cold, blustery winter evening, far removed from the balmy Florida nights I would later enjoy. It was home leave for Indiana Academy students, and the empty campus was covered in deep snow. A blizzard howled about us as my husband, Fred, and I trudged through the snow from an evening meal and fellowship with the boys’ dean’s family.

When we arrived back at the girls’ dean’s apartment, I discovered my watch was missing. Not just any watch—the white gold watch with its slender band was a statement of commitment to a marriage still in its beginnings.

What was a dutiful husband to do but retrace the lighthearted steps of the evening in response to his wife’s tearful entreaties while the hosts of the evening searched their apartment. The watch was not to be found.

Upon the students’ return to campus two days later, they looked up and under and around snow banks searching for the missing watch. At first, I prayed that my husband or one of the students would find the watch. While appreciative of their efforts, I had lingering doubts of ever seeing my watch again.

From the beginning of our life together, returning tithes and offerings was part of a pattern that we each brought to the marriage. I began to claim the promise found in Malachi 3:10:

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

The engagement watch, shown in its original case (with a new band), was lost in the snow and miraculously found. Even today, the experience reminds Fred and Gladys of God's care and concern for large and small details in life. (Photo: Lee Bennett)

Claiming this promise gave me hope. One week went slowly by and then another began with no watch to be found. On the last day of the second week, the rains came and made short order of all the snow piles. That afternoon, my husband grabbed an umbrella and headed for a class he taught in the administration building, which was quite a distance from the dormitory. As he was about to open the door to the building, much to his surprise, he saw a shiny object in the mud and rain. Yes, there was my watch! After a little cleaning, it was as good as new.

The watch still resides in its original case, and the young couple who have become seasoned veterans of marriage still work for the Lord from a warmer climate. However, the remarkable recovery of the watch has not lost anything in telling and retelling the story. God’s Word is still sure—the God who rewarded our faithfulness still opens the windows of heaven and pours out blessings without measure to those who steadfastly return their “tithes into the storehouse.”

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Small Group Lessons Transform Lives

posted on December 21, 2011, under Conference by

“Without question, the Spiritual Body Building group is the most meaningful experience I’ve had in my 40 years as a Seventh-day Adventist.”
—Participant testimony

Lesson author Kim Allan Johnson displays the three sets of small group materials that are bringing new life to individuals and churches throughout Florida Conference and elsewhere. Johnson comments, “They are designed to be like the three stages of a rocket, taking churches to new heights of effectiveness and spirituality.”

Spiritual Body Building
The Spiritual Body Building small group lessons are designed to help Seventh-day Adventists both understand and experience God’s amazing vision of how to be church. This engaging, thought-provoking series of 13 lessons will challenge your pre-conceived ideas, open new areas of understanding, and invite you to step into a future of greater happiness and fulfillment. Originally published in 1997, these lessons have been used by hundreds of Seventh-day Adventist churches throughout the United States and have impacted the lives of thousands of people.

I’m Allergic To Witnessing
The I’m Allergic to Witnessing small group lessons will remove forever any guilt or fear you may feel whenever you hear the word, “witnessing.” They will redefine what evangelism means and enable you to serve others in a relaxed, upbeat, natural way. The emphasis is on treating people as Jesus would and meeting them at the point of their felt need. No pressure, no arm-twisting, no salesmanship, and no theology degree needed. Learn how to let God’s love flow through you to bless others.

Trust, Belonging, and Hope
The Trust, Belonging, and Hope small group lessons will take your relationships to a whole new level. These three crucial values become the keys to fulfilling Jesus’ compelling prayer for oneness in John 17. Expand your sphere of acquaintances and friendships by learning how to carry on meaningful conversations with anyone, anywhere. Experience the joy of being God’s instrument for building trust, belonging and hope into the lives of others.

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The Impact of One Life

posted on December 21, 2011, under Conference, Member by

by Gladys Neigel

“Without the blessing of God and the dedication of our Pathfinder lay leaders, this could not have happened,” are words Cheeko Cotta often repeated when constituents approached him with accolades about the Florida Conference Pathfinder program.

Cheeko, your team thanks you for the impact you've had on their lives and the lives of young people in Florida Conference. (Photo: Tamara Fisher)

Cheeko burst onto the Florida Pathfinder scene in December 1983. At that time, there were approximately 2,000 Pathfinders. When he retired in May 2011, there were more than 5,000.

“No one can measure the impact Cheeko has made in Florida,” says Micky Santiago, a fellow staff member. “His service was always consistent and unselfish.”

Cheeko knows no strangers. Everyone he encounters is rewarded with his friendly smile and words of cheer. “He is a man of God, a leader, and a friend to everyone,” says Stu Davis, Brazilian Chapel Pathfinder director in Deerfield Beach.

“When Cheeko accepted the challenge to direct the Pathfinder program in Florida Conference, his vision was for growth,” say Calvin and Myrlin Brooks, south area Pathfinder administrators.

“His philosophy was to allow lay leaders to build the program under his direction, and it worked. He left a defined mark on the Pathfinder program in Florida Conference and on our lives.”

Lisa and Brad Gary, Conference lay Adventurer directors, add, “We have always considered Cheeko as our close friend and confidant. In the years we worked together, he not only taught us so much about Adventurer ministry, but he taught us to have confidence in ourselves and in our ability to help others.”

When Cheeko received a Ministry Award from the North American Division, he was cited for “his commitment to a caring Pathfinder ministry, his steadfastness in teaching Pathfinder values, leading young people to meaningful spiritual experiences that blessed the lives of thousands of young Adventists, and being an example to other Pathfinder leaders.”

How can you measure the results of 28 years of Pathfinder ministry in Florida Conference and more than 14 years in Potomac Conference? Any report would include: thousands of young people baptized, mission trips, Reveilles, Red Zones, camporees, drill and drum corps competitions, and Bible Bowls.

Every winning team has an encourager, guide, trainer, planner, and leader. Cheeko was that person. Through it all, he would say, “With the Savior’s blessing and thousands of dedicated volunteers, these things were accomplished.”


CREATION Health Report – Robert Hayes

posted on December 16, 2011, under Church, Video Report by

This video is the first of Florida Conference’s new monthly Florida Conference In Mission videos, a series about people reaching people.

This report is from Robert Hayes, pastor of Palm Coast and St. Augustine Churches, describing how CREATION Health has made such a dramatic impact on members of both the churches and their communities.

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Nine Days That Changed My Life

posted on December 05, 2011, under Member by

by Mason Sumner

"As I looked over the desolation, I couldn't even think of where to begin helping." ---Mason Sumner (Photo: John Sumner)

My name is Mason Sumner. I am 15 years old and live in Nobleton, Florida, with my dad, mom, and twin baby sisters. We were baptized into the Adventist Church in 2006.

My family and I are currently members at an elderly church in Inverness; however, we are searching for a church with younger people. With a youth group, we could help change lives by showing God’s love. Until that happens, I am going to keep doing all I can to positively impact lives, just as mine was forever changed in nine short days during the month of June, 2011.

Mason Sumner. (Photo: John Sumner)

You may recall the headlines in the spring of 2011 when disaster struck Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with no mercy. The after effects were devastating. Tornadoes destroyed everything, not caring if you were rich or poor, big or small. They came with one purpose; to completely desolate.

Out of that destruction, God put together a plan that sent me on my first humanitarian mission trip with my dad through our family’s 5 Loaves 2 Fish Ministries. I have grown up with a commercial contractor dad who, on the side, loves to give—whether it’s helping a neighbor put on a new roof or an elderly woman paint her weathered home.

When I saw the path of destruction the Alabama tornadoes left behind, it was hard to comprehend. Those people were left with only fragments of their home, scattered county wide. As I looked over the desolation, I couldn’t even think of where to begin helping.

This tent in a campground served as Mason's living quarters during her volunteer time in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo: John Sumner)

During the next nine days, my dad and I worked hard in many different places for multiple organizations while staying in individual tents at a campground. It was eye opening. God showed me how blessed I am and how fortunate my family is. Our mission trip wasn’t to deliberately preach God’s word, but to show Christ’s love through our actions. We went in the name of God to be servants of the Lord for others. Wherever we picked up a branch or pieced a home back together, footprints of God’s love were left behind. As a result of this mission endeavor, I developed a stronger love for helping people in their time of need.

One memory that stands out above all the rest is the day I was volunteering for Salvation Army. A women and her son came for help to get back on their feet after they lost everything. Their home was no more, and their belongings could not be located. The fear and pain I saw in their eyes was heartbreaking. I couldn’t help but ask her, “How do you recover from this?” She replied, “God has a plan; He will provide.” Hearing that response from a person who just lost everything was such a powerful witness of faith—that there is still hope on this earth.

The enormous impact that one person can have on another is incredible. Just imagine that impact if we all came together and worked as one, united in the Body of Christ. It took a disaster for me to realize that, so it is my job to spread God’s love to other people of all ages now, before another disaster strikes.

I think we all see that some churches are failing to embrace their youth. As an effect, the youth are leaving the church to find unhealthy places where they feel truly welcomed. The whole church—not just a few pastors or youth group leaders—needs to embrace each other so, when disaster strikes, we can all help change lives by showing God’s love.

Disasters do not care if you are young or old, and neither should we. We are all God’s children.

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Elmer and Violet Jones Celebrate 65th Wedding Anniversary

posted on December 05, 2011, under Member by

by Naomi Zalabak

Elmer and Violet Jones.

Elmer Jones and Violet Sickler were married in Bridgeton, New Jersey on November 3, 1946. Their first date occurred after Violet’s mother twice introduced Violet to Elmer—once by a picture and then in person.

Elmer was a horticulturalist near Trenton, N.J., until they moved to Kettering, Ohio, when Violet was asked to help establish Kettering Memorial Hospital, now Kettering Medical Center. As the head nurse, she admitted the first patient.

Returning to their farm in New Jersey, Elmer started working in the greenhouses at Rowan University. Violet studied for a masters in public health at Loma Linda University while working as a public health nurse and teaching nursing.

For several years, Violet and Elmer visited Florida as snowbirds. In 1976, they moved to Sarasota, then retired in Avon Park in 1992. Violet’s nursing and health education skills gave her opportunities to conduct cooking classes and help more than 1,000 people quit smoking through Stop Smoking clinics. She also served as a church elder, and Elmer served more than 40 years as a deacon.

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South Palm Company Mission Trip Results In 72 Decisions for Christ

posted on December 05, 2011, under Church by

by Sheila Claudelle Clarke

The Peru mission group from South Palm Company was invited to the office of the Mayor of Municipalidad Distrital Alto de la Alianza for a reception and special recognition.

Thirteen South Palm Company members departed for a 10-day mission trip to Tacna, Peru, September 22, 2011, which culminated in 72 people giving their hearts to the Lord. In addition to preaching the Word, the Peru mission group, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, offered medical services centered on natural cures for common diseases, presented nutrition and other health-promoting interventions, and offered mental health services.

Medical services and nutrition tips offered by the Peru mission group were appreciated by young and old, alike.

The group, under the direction of South Palm Pastor Carl James, consisted of Ryan Wiggan, Sheila Claudelle Clarke, Katia Cherisol, Leslie Shaw, Loreta Mangru, Lloyd Mirage, Norma Mirage, Duval Hutchinson, Kizzy Hutchinson, Natalie Williams, Eric Timothy, Joseph Charles, and Ovalle Marley.

The Mayor of Municipalidad Distrital Alto de la Alianza and the Peru Mission President recognized the group for their efforts. The inspiration behind the Peru mission group trip came from reports of a previous Peru mission trip taken in 2006 by Florida Conference staff.

“We are grateful that God used the Peru mission group in a special way to bring souls to Him,” says Pastor James. “God truly has a work for us as we continue to serve and harvest for God’s kingdom.”

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