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Archive for April, 2014

Braille Readers’ Club Studies Adventist Beliefs

posted on April 29, 2014, under Church, Conference by

by Dexter Thomas

Dexter Thomas, second from left, has a doctor of ministry degree and teaches a braille class at West Palm Beach Braille Readers' Club. "Visually impaired individuals are accustomed to people rushing by and feeling lonely in a sighted world," he said. "When we reached out to them, we were able to bring confidence and assurance that there are still people in the world who care." (Photo: William Verdekal)

Dexter Thomas, second from left, has a doctor of ministry degree and teaches a braille class at West Palm Beach Braille Readers’ Club. “Visually impaired individuals are accustomed to people rushing by and feeling lonely in a sighted world,” he said. “When we reached out to them, we were able to bring confidence and assurance that there are still people in the world who care.” (Photo: William Verdekal)

Every week, a secular organization for the blind, located in West Palm Beach, hosts an educational ministry—the West Palm Beach Braille Readers’ Club—where visually challenged adults learn to read braille using the 28 fundamental beliefs of Adventism as their study materials.

Dexter Thomas, Florida Conference Disabilities Coordinator, designed the curriculum with the help of members from several local churches. Because of its brevity and simplicity, Dexter used the children’s version of the 28 fundamental beliefs as the basis of the study materials.

Each lesson highlights one of the fundamental beliefs to illustrate a braille concept. He explains one of the many contractions in braille, then the students read a fundamental belief to see how it uses the contraction. “Blind individuals improve their braille literacy and, at the same time, learn these precious biblical truths,” said Thomas, who is blind.

The West Palm Beach Braille Readers' Club studies the Seventh-day Adventist Church's 28 fundamental beliefs while learning to read braille. Leaders chose the children's version for its simpler presentation of the beliefs. (Photo: Pacific Press)

The West Palm Beach Braille Readers’ Club studies the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s 28 fundamental beliefs while learning to read braille. Leaders chose the children’s version for its simpler presentation of the beliefs. (Photo: Pacific Press)

Every bit as important as the lessons is the fellowship. “We advertised our free braille classes as a fun and exciting learning experience with food, friendship, and fellowship,” said Thomas. “The food and fellowship doesn’t only attract the visually challenged. It also attracts their caregivers and other church members who create a warm, nonthreatening ministry environment.”

Five local Adventist congregations staff the West Palm Beach Braille Readers’ Club: First Church of West Palm Beach, Communities West Church in Loxahatchee, Palm Springs Church of West Palm Beach, South Palm Company of Delray Beach, and Boynton Beach Church. The generosity of members in these churches has also funded the braille books used in the sessions.

Thomas would like to see these Braille Readers’ Clubs formed in communities throughout Florida. It is surprisingly easy to run such a Club. The church receives a manual that explains how to organize and run a Club, and the church provides volunteers and refreshments.

“Our prayer is for such a ministry to spread throughout the Conference. Churches can partner with the disabled and their families for their wholeness, and give them a foretaste of the unconditional love and acceptance we will all experience in the earth made new,” said Thomas.

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Ocala Church Promotes Healthy Lifestyle

posted on April 29, 2014, under Church by

Forty Ocala Church members participated in the Let's Move Health Walk. (Photo: Herb Pritchard)

Forty Ocala Church members participated in the Let’s Move Health Walk. (Photo: Herb Pritchard)

by Herb Pritchard

During a cooking demonstration, Lori Doperalski displays freshly made raw granola with help from volunteer Louise Ostgard, left. (Photo: Herb Pritchard)

During a cooking demonstration, Lori Doperalski displays freshly made raw granola with help from volunteer Louise Ostgard, left. (Photo: Herb Pritchard)

On a Sunday morning at Jervey Grant Park, 40 Ocala Church, Fla., members of various ages gathered to launch the Let’s Move Health Walk. Each participant wore a shirt that emphasized his or her commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

The following week’s speaker for church service was Grace Daley, a former 15-year Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) player. Daley shared how God orchestrated her journey to bring about a greater understanding of the Sabbath. The journey also led her into BeSmart, a ministry which promotes health and worship in a positive light. Many people, including nonAdventists, now join the BeSmart team in weekly Sunday morning exercises at Ocala Church.

Church temperance leader Lori Doperalski, and her assistant, Cheryl Rilea, followed up with cooking demonstrations. At the latest program, “Better Breakfasts,” 67 attended, including 12 community members. Recipe demonstrations for banana splits, “unsausages,” and more whetted appetites for the samples that followed.

Doperalski states, “We are beginning to have community participation at no cost to them. We pray God will use the health ministry to familiarize people with their physical and spiritual well-being.”

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Journey Stories Highlight Baptism

posted on April 29, 2014, under Church by

by Nancy Bartolet

Pastor Robert Ferguson baptized seven Candidates at Fort Myers Shores Church. From left: Nigel Loney, Roger Johnson, Pedro Nunez, Jean Paul, Nancy Bartolet, Sarah Noack, and Claudette Loney. (Photo: Lani Nacua)

Pastor Robert Ferguson baptized seven Candidates at Fort Myers Shores Church. From left: Nigel Loney, Roger Johnson, Pedro Nunez, Jean Paul, Nancy Bartolet, Sarah Noack, and Claudette Loney. (Photo: Lani Nacua)

It was a high Sabbath at Fort Myers Shores, Fla., Church when Pastor Robert Ferguson baptized seven candidates who recently finished Bible studies.

Three candidates for rebaptism each had different stories. One woman, who was already a member and baptized with her new husband, wanted to start their journey together with the Lord. Another felt the need to be rebaptized, so she asked her friend to join her. They met 24 years ago when they heard the Adventist message for the first time. Since then, they have seen each other through many of life’s misfortunes.

After the baptism, Pastor Ferguson shared his sermon, “The Joys of Life,” followed by a blessing of physical food and fellowship.

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Original Play Recreates God’s Warning

posted on April 29, 2014, under Church by

Cast and crew acknowledge the audience's appreciation  at the conclusion of The Midnight Cry production. (Photo: Lani Nacua)

Cast and crew acknowledge the audience’s appreciation at the conclusion of The Midnight Cry production. (Photo: Lani Nacua)

by Nancy Bartolet

Members of Fort Myers Shores Church performed The Midnight Cry in March before an audience of nearly 100. The play’s theme was based on the warning God has continued to give over the years, “Don’t let it be too late.”

Written and directed by Olive Ferguson, the pastor’s wife, the play featured Jacques Sinjuste as the main character, Lot. There were 19 other cast members, and church young people provided musical numbers.

During the closing song, Go Light Your World, the entire cast and audience joined the song leader, broke open glow sticks, and brightened the room with colored candles.

In the last scene, Lot walked away saying, “It was too late, too late.” The cast members greatest wish is that it will not be too late for those who saw or heard about their performance.

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Communities Reached on Global Youth Day

posted on April 29, 2014, under Church, Conference by

by Yolanda Acevedo

A 93-year-old man from Bolivia welcomed literature and a Bible study card from Andrea Bennett of the Tampa First Pathfinder Club. (Photo: Christopher Bennett)

A 93-year-old man from Bolivia welcomed literature and a Bible study card from Andrea Bennett of the Tampa First Pathfinder Club. (Photo: Christopher Bennett)

Part of Global Youth Day (GYD), a General Conference initiative, was designated for young people to reach out to communities worldwide. Tampa First, Brandon Spanish, and Riverview, Fla., Churches, converged on the Tampa Bay area for a day of service to distribute lunches, literature, and clothes as they visited with the homeless.

Of particular joy for one man, was a book tucked into the sack with his lunch. “People help us with food, and we’re grateful,” he said, “but we eat and have nothing again. This book gives us something to hold on to.”

Over at MacFarlane Park, 14-year-old Victor came to meet a friend and found many other young people talking about Jesus. He spent the afternoon with the Global Youth Day Activities, including the prayer walk.

Young people talked with individuals as they gave out literature and clothes packed in clear bags and labeled according to gender and size. The recipients’ gratefulness was evident in one homeless person’s response, “That’s so sweet! We need clothes so bad!” Florida Conference office employees cleaned out their closets and donated almost 100 articles of clothing for the young people to give to the homeless.

Ten other GYD events throughout Florida Conference included: blood drives, concerts, visiting shut-ins and missing members, free lunches and dinners, beach cleanup, street ministry, homeless youth ministry, a donation center for needy mothers, literature distribution, Vacation Bible School (VBS), and drive-through prayer.

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“Go Ye Therefore” into Prison

posted on April 29, 2014, under Church by

Mirlene André distributed certificates to participants who successfully completed prison ministries training. (Photo: Nancy Bartolet)

Mirlene André distributed certificates to participants who successfully completed prison ministries training. (Photo: Nancy Bartolet)

by Nancy Bartolet

Ambassador Church in Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., hosted Prison Ministries Day for 50 attendees representing 15 congregations. Fort Myers Shores Pastor Robert Ferguson, presented the theme, The Joy of Ministry. Ferguson also serves as Florida Conference’s south region Prison Ministries coordinator.

After a fellowship meal, an afternoon training program began for prison ministries certification. Twenty-five individuals who completed an earlier certification training program were awarded their certificates.

New Prison Ministries team members will join their counterparts in service opportunities by giving Bible studies, being part of the pen pal ministry, and getting involved in the Love A Mother’s Baby (L.A.M.B.) program.

Prison Ministries is a rewarding program, but church members won’t have that experience if they don’t step out. So, “Go Ye Therefore” into prison.

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