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Archive for March, 2015

A Special Invitation to 2015 Florida Camp Meetings

posted on March 16, 2015, under Conference by

by Mike Cauley, D.Min.
Florida Conference President

It’s time for Camp Meeting 2015! I believe the Lord has led in the selection of speakers, seminar presenters, and committed, talented musicians. I am convinced that you will find this Camp Meeting to be one of the most inspirational you’ll have ever experienced. Please accept this invitation to attend English-language Camp Meeting, April 9-12, Spanish-language Campestre Hispano, April 17-19, or both.

If you’ve never before attended Camp Meeting at Camp Kulaqua in High Springs, you are in for a great blessing. The beautiful atmosphere of more than 600 acres of nature in North Florida, combined with time for walks and interaction with fellow believers, spiritually uplifting presentations, and music, will strengthen and nourish your soul.

The additional RV sites, tent camping areas with a new bathhouse, or housing in the new Woodland Lodges will also be a special blessing to those who can come for the entire time.

A weekend schedule and registration for meals and accommodations is online: http://www.floridaconference.com/campmeeting/

May the Lord bless you and give you a special experience in God’s presence.

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Thank You for Your Faithfulness to God

posted on March 16, 2015, under Conference by

Conrad Duncanby Conrad Duncan
Florida Conference General Vice President

In spite of the increased ministry activities and the growing challenges of 2014, you joined our pastors and other employees in faithfulness to God.

We started the year with much faith and prayer that God would bless His work in Florida Conference, and He answered greatly. You allowed Him to work through you in mighty ways. You gave your service to your church. You also consistently and generously returned His tithes and faithful offerings. These enabled us to keep 100% of our staff on their jobs, sponsor new church plants in our state as well as in China, expand our education system, support evangelism, enable several churches to acquire a place of worship, and conduct training/equipping seminars.

Many of our churches, though not all, reported that 2014 was one of their best years in the areas of local giving and tithes. To God be the glory!

While not funded by tithe, rather based on steadily firming up finances, the Conference effectively responded to the State of Florida’s upcoming Interstate 4 improvement, necessitating our relocation to Altamonte Springs. God knew the needs for serving a doubled membership that grew during 22 years in Winter Park and “forced” us, in a manner of speaking, to transition to a more spacious and ministry-accommodating headquarters in which to manage a growing membership.

The year 2014 also included completion of another nontithe-funded project at Camp Kulaqua. After five years of planning, the housing expansion became a reality.

The Woodland Lodges housing expansion at Camp Kulaqua---a nontithe-funded project---became a reality in 2014.

The Woodland Lodges housing expansion at Camp Kulaqua—a nontithe-funded project—became a reality in 2014.

We pause at this time to thank you for your faithfulness in stewardship. As Benjamin Maxson and Jean-Luc Lezéau said, “Effective stewardship takes place at the local church level, and what is done at the other levels can only support what is done at the local church.” Scripture makes it clear that faithfulness at any level is dually rewarded by God. As we rightly manage His resources to us, He will entrust us with more and more. (Matthew 25:15-24)

As you continue to model what it means to be faithful in every aspect of the Christian life, you will see God’s response to you, your immediate family, and your church. Continue, therefore, to be faithful.

This year will not be less challenging, yet God will still provide for His work. He will use you, and us, to accomplish His will.

I pray that 2015 outshines 2014 in your Christian experience. We pledge to be faithful managers and participants in the work God has entrusted to us.

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Departmental Staff Changes

posted on March 16, 2015, under Conference by

Murray Cooper Named Associate Superintendent for Administration
Murray CooperMurray Cooper was voted Associate Superintendent for Administration in the Office of Education, September 29, 2014, by the Florida Conference Executive Committee. Since his arrival at the beginning of November, he has visited every Conference school and has begun working extensively with teachers and principals.

He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in administration and leadership as a teacher, elementary principal, academy principal, and superintendent. Most recently, he was Headmaster of Greater Collegedale School System comprising: A.W. Spalding Elementary School, Collegedale Adventist Middle School, and Collegedale Academy.

Murray is an accomplished musician with a Master of Arts in Music Education from University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada; and a Master of Educational Leadership from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

He and his wife, Kathy, a registered nurse at Florida Hospital, Winter Park, have three children: Mason, who lives and works in Canada; Austin, a nursing major at Southern Adventist University, Collegedale, Tennessee; and Katara, an accounting major at Southern Adventist University.

“My family and I are very grateful to Florida Conference for the warm welcome we have received here,” says Murray. “I look forward to embracing the vision and working with the team to accomplish great things for the Lord.”

Nancy Enriquez Named Internal Church and School Auditor
Nancy EnriquezNancy Enriquez was appointed as an Internal Church and School Auditor by the Florida Conference Executive Committee on January 25. Employed in the Treasury Department for more than six years as a Senior Accountant, Nancy is the recipient of numerous recognitions for her work.

She received a bachelor’s degree in business education and a master’s degree in library science from University of Central Florida, Orlando. She also received a graduate level accounting certificate from DeVry University Orlando campus.

Nancy served as Business Manager at Orlando Junior Academy, Orlando, and as a Business Education Teacher at University High School, Orlando.

Mission is a big part of her life. She has completed six mission trips to Mexico, Africa, Guam, and three times to Costa Rica. She loves working with the children in Vacation Bible Schools such as one in Africa where 400 children came from neighboring villages.

In her spare time, Nancy enjoys reading, hiking, and sewing. She has two sons, Pablo (Rinita) and Juan (Daniella), and two grandchildren ages 13 and 6.

“I am looking forward with excitement to this opportunity of working and befriending church and school treasurers,” says Nancy. “Together, we can make a difference for Florida Conference and the Kingdom of God.”

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MagaBook Students Shine for Jesus

posted on March 15, 2015, under Conference, Member by

by Les McCoy

Brittany Hodges.

Brittany Hodges.

Florida Conference sponsored two MagaBook programs this winter at Fort Myers and Lady Lake Churches. From mid-December through January, 49 students contacted more than 75,000 people for Christ. They delivered more than 6,000 books, prayed with more than 10,000 people, and received $86,636 in donations with 70% going toward school scholarships.

One of our most important ministries is getting our publications to the people so they can know what God requires of them and to be ready for His coming. These students did exactly that.

Brittany Hodges shares an experience from this past winter’s program which she calls, “Let the Lord Lead.”

I was in my last neighborhood of the night. It was a miracle how we gained access into the neighborhood because it was a gated, upper class community. My prayer was that the Lord would keep all of the canvassers in this neighborhood invisible until His perfect will was accomplished, and He did just that.

After a knocking on a few doors, I eventually reached that one person who the enemy uses to frighten us and say that we “shouldn’t be soliciting, and someone will call the cops.” I knew, once I got this message, my divine appointment was soon to come.

Not moments after, the Holy Spirit told me to turn around. Lo and behold, a man and his daughter were walking toward me. I began my speech about what I was doing in the community, and instantly the father was interested. He stood there with copies of Foods That Heal, Bible Answers, and The Great Controversy in his hands.

During our conversation, he asked, “What do you believe?” (The question I usually hear is, “What denomination are you?”) After giving my most tactful answer, he inquired about other books and soon received a copy of Desire of Ages, Lessons of Love, and Plants That Heal.

The testimony is not so much that he received six books on the spot, but it was as if the angels were literally pulling us toward each other. Mr. Paul’s house was not on my side of the street, but the Lord saw fit for us to meet at that time.

There were hundreds of experiences like this one. As Brittany concluded, “I’m grateful for how the Lord orchestrates these divine appointments, but we have to be in tune with Him in order to hear His still, small voice, and let the Lord lead.”

We are very thankful for the dedication and commitment our young people are willing to make for Jesus.

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She Witnessed on the Go

posted on March 15, 2015, under Member by

by Lesonie Walker

Erwin Rodrigo and Myret Howson-Stewart. (Photo: Guibert Etienne)

Erwin Rodrigo and Myret Howson-Stewart. (Photo: Guibert Etienne)

When Myret Howson-Stewart encountered Erwin Rodrigo in the parking lot for just three minutes, she had no idea she was pointing him to Christ.

Myret was leaving Miami to start a job in New York. While loading her car, a man from the neighborhood approached and remarked, “I see you are leaving us.” She affirmed and, while exchanging pleasantries, briefly told him about Christ. Myret promised to call Erwin from New York to continue their conversation, and she kept her promise.

During several conversations that followed, she discovered that he had serious medical and personal problems. Erwin’s health had deteriorated to the extent that he believed his suffering was caused by necromancy instigated by his unhappy wife.

Myret encouraged Erwin to visit Maranatha Seventh-day Adventist Church in Miami Gardens to meet with Pastor Newton King who, like him, was from Trinidad. Erwin later confessed he had no intention of meeting with an Adventist pastor.

Although Erwin would not visit the church, Myret was not discouraged. She kept witnessing to him for more than seven months by sending religious tracts, praying for his salvation, and encouraging him to seek proper medical attention. The nausea, vomiting, and other complications intensified, forcing Erwin to finally accept that he needed spiritual help to free him from what he described as “evil spirits.” In the mean time, “the praying lady in New York” alerted the pastor to expect a call from Erwin.

One Sabbath, Pastor King, who has a burden for souls, petitioned God to send someone who needed Christ. The next day, Erwin reluctantly called the pastor and expressed his need for spiritual help. The pastor rejoiced for Myret’s insistence and faithfulness and God’s immediate answer to his prayer. Erwin and the pastor met for prayer and Bible studies at least twice per week for one month. Erwin accepted Christ and was joyfully baptized.

Soon after, Erwin received a triple bypass cardiac surgery. He was hospitalized for three weeks, but experienced a remarkable recovery. Myret, who was unavoidably absent from his baptism, later surprised him at Maranatha Church. It was a picture-perfect moment when Myret and Erwin embraced each other—a soul had been born for Christ.

Erwin now praises God for his spiritual and physical healing, and declares that he is eager to share his faith with relatives and friends.

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Church Members Step out of Comfort Zone to Reach Community

posted on March 14, 2015, under Church by

by Harold Altamirano

More than 400 people from the community enjoyed the Easter Sunday festivities hosted by Life Fellowship of Coral Springs Church. (Photo: Harold Altamirano)

More than 400 people from the community enjoyed the Easter Sunday festivities hosted by Life Fellowship of Coral Springs Church. (Photo: Harold Altamirano)

Phobias and fears paralyze us. When my daughter was little, fear kept her from going into water. However, little by little, she got over it. She first dipped her toes in, then her feet. Soon, she was waist deep in the water. Not long after that, she was splashing water everywhere. Now, she is a great swimmer who can’t get enough of the water.

The joy of outreach is not experienced by many churches because they might be afraid and paralyzed. This realization prompted members at Life Fellowship of Coral Springs Church to decide it was time to get courageous. It is challenging that many in the community do not attend church; so, we had to leave our comfort zone to meet people where they are.

We started with a Celebrate Easter event since this holiday is so important for many people. We spread the word by distributing more than 2,000 invitation cards and placed advertising on web sites and social media. Although we didn’t know what to expect, we were prepared to receive 50-100 people at the local high school venue. We realized God had greater plans as more than 400 people came from the community.

The fellowship was amazing, and this event brought awareness of our presence in the community. As the next step in our mission, those who came received an invitation to an upcoming Kids’ Fest event.

As we began to dream even bigger, we realized that Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

We are praying for people in our community who don’t know Jesus to become acquainted with Him through Life Fellowship of Coral Springs. He is with us as we go and seek to reach the lost. If He is with us, He will bless!

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A Christmas Gift for Jesus

posted on March 14, 2015, under Church by

Eliana Morales brought the coins she collected to church for the China missionary project. (Photo: Dianna Bass)

Eliana Morales brought the coins she collected to church for the China missionary project. (Photo: Dianna Bass)

by Dale Bass

Oh, how we love to see the joy and excitement on children’s faces when they open their gifts on Christmas morning. How it warms our hearts with feelings of compassion and love toward them. Just think how great it would be to send Jesus a gift at Christmas!

I remember in years past how we saved our pennies, nickels, and dimes and put them into a special 13th Sabbath mission offering can to bring to church. Recently, when I learned about Florida Conference’s plan to support Bible workers in China, I thought, “Why couldn’t my church give the gift of a Bible missionary to China as their offering to Jesus for Christmas?”

Adia Myles, our Midport Church Sabbath School mission leader, joined me in setting a goal of raising $1,500 to support a Bible worker in China for an entire year. By our calculations, we only needed to raise eight cents a day per member to reach our goal. What better place to invest our efforts and money than on a Bible worker who would tell the story of Baby Jesus who grew up and taught about the love of His father and then was crucified so that each one of us could be saved and live with Him forever?

The children of our church were challenged to clean out a peanut butter jar and use it as a 13th Sabbath offering container to hold their gift for Jesus. Labels for the jars were printed with the words China Missionary Project. Sixty-five families became involved in the program, and the children began bringing in their pennies week after week. When the pennies were counted, the children had raised more than $300.

After Thanksgiving, a Christmas tree adorned with stockings received the adults’ presents to Baby Jesus. The gifts in the stockings on the tree amounted to more than $1,000. A heart-warming appeal from the pulpit brought the total to a few dollars more than the original goal of $1,500, giving us a jump start on next year’s gift to support another Bible worker in China.

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This Little Light of Mine, I’m Going to Let It Shine

posted on March 14, 2015, under Church by

Children in Florida Camp Meeting’s Primary division partnered with Advancing Native Missions in 2014 to provide much-needed hygiene packs for the Philippines. (Photo: Martin Butler)

Children in Florida Camp Meeting’s Primary division partnered with Advancing Native Missions in 2014 to provide much-needed hygiene packs for the Philippines. (Photo: Martin Butler)

by Darren Casteel

Children’s and Family Ministries continues to provide new and exciting outreach opportunities in an effort to touch the lives of children and families for Christ:

Go Fish for Kids
This outreach event for children age 8-12 provides the opportunity to learn creative ways of sharing Christ. Children get hands-on experiences along with Bible lessons using science, nature, art, and puppetry. After a full day of training, children can take all their tools home to share with their nonChristian friends.

Go Fish for Families
A twist to Go Fish for Kids, this new program teaches the entire family how to share the gospel in innovative and fun ways. Families will work together while learning about nature, puppetry, science, and art, while moms, dads, and children get to laugh, learn, and build better relationships. A family who ministers together stays together.

Vacation Bible School
This fun-filled program connects the church, families, and neighborhoods while reaching children who don’t normally attend church or have someone to share the gospel with them. VBS uses skits, songs, crafts, outdoor activities, and Bible stories based on a child-friendly theme.

Service Projects

  • School packs for Africa and hygiene packs for the Philippines after a tsunami through a partnership with Advancing Native Missions.
  • Bottled water with the ministries logo to help start conversation.
  • Happy Boxes that included supplies to help families at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. (This is the upcoming service project for 2015 in the Primary Division on Sabbath afternoon at Camp Meeting.)

Learn more about these ministries at http://www.floridaconference.com/iym/childrenandfamily/, e-mail judy.smith@floridaconference.com, or call (407) 644-5000 x2440.

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Homestead Spanish Church Nurtures Its Children

posted on March 14, 2015, under Church by

by Roberto Blanco

“Even the sparrow has found a home,
And the swallow a nest for herself,
Where she may lay her young—
Even Your altars…” —Psalm 84:3 (NKJV)

Boys and girls from Homestead Spanish Church, along with their Children’s Ministries leaders, bring sunshine to the hearts of the elderly at area nursing homes. (Photo: Benjamín Terrero)

Boys and girls from Homestead Spanish Church, along with their Children’s Ministries leaders, bring sunshine to the hearts of the elderly at area nursing homes. (Photo: Benjamín Terrero)

As I read the pages of We Can Keep Them in the Church, this gem of a book impressed me. In prayer, I could visualize Homestead Spanish Church as one that loves children and involves them in its programs.

We often refer to the 78 children of our congregation as “the children’s church.” We organized these children in groups of praise which, together with the music directors, fill our church with their melodious voices.

Sometimes, they visit the sick to sing, read from the Bible, pray, and share words of encouragement. They also visit nursing homes, accompanied by church leaders, where they pray and sing for the elderly, talk to them, and share crafts they make in the Pathfinder and Adventurer Clubs. The grateful seniors often share goodies with the children.

Our children distribute Adventist magazines in public places and invite people to our church. Sometimes, adult church members accompany them to residential places where they distribute leaflets door to door and invite people to visit our church. Nonperishable food is collected in our church, and food baskets are prepared for children and their parents to share among the neediest families in our church and community. Occasionally, they prepare breakfast, package it in disposable containers along with Adventist magazines, and share it with the homeless in parks and other areas in town.

Each year, as a result of these outreach efforts, we have an average attendance of 90 children in our Vacation Bible School—many of whom have since been baptized. All these activities are supported by the church board and our youth. The children know they can count on our financial support and our presence.

Our children are already leaders and will continue to be so in the future. There is no better place for them than at the courts of the house of the Lord, close to the altar. They are the present and the future of our church.

May God continue to bless our children, not just those in Homestead, but each child on the face of the earth.

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Youth Ministries Department Report

posted on March 13, 2015, under Conference by

Youth Ministries Logo

Pedro Perez, Florida Conference Youth Ministries Director. (Photo: Freddy Fernandez)

Pedro Perez, Florida Conference Youth Ministries Director. (Photo: Freddy Fernandez)

The Florida Conference Youth Ministries Department is excited to share its official logo (above). It represents one Youth Ministries Department in three areas (north, central, and south). Since 2010, at the request of Florida Conference administration, the two departments, Youth and Pathfinders, merged into one department that oversees Adventurers, Pathfinders, Youth, Young Adults, and Adventist Campus Ministries. We still have the other individual ministry identities, but this Youth Ministries logo represents the whole department.

Train-Equip-Deploy

Our mission statement is: To Train, Equip, and Deploy an Army of Young People. We are asking all our ministry leaders to focus on these action words and evaluate all they do in ministry for young people through the lens of the mission statement. This is designed to help us stay on track and be intentional about preparing an army of young people for service.

Life On Fire

Life on Fire is our theme for 2015. We want to see young people and leaders challenged, encouraged, and inspired to live a Life on Fire. We have created unique resources (small group study guides, weekly videos, a how to start a ministry pamphlet, etc.) to help make this happen, and we will continue to promote Life on Fire as a vital part of growing young people to maturity as followers of Jesus Christ. The theme is based on II Timothy 1:6, and there’s even a theme song.

Impact Fort LauderdaleTo help promote our mission statement and raise up an army of young people, we started Youth IMPACT Mission Trips in summer 2013. In 2014, we connected this to Florida Conference’s Mission to the Cities movement to work in the same cities of emphasis as the Conference. In 2015, we are in Fort Lauderdale, and in 2016, we will be in the Tampa area. The goal of this week-long mission trip experience is to give young people training in ministry and practical experience in doing those ministries. Then, the benefit to local churches and communities comes after the mission trip when young people go home and are encouraged to start their own ministries and be a blessing to their community as well. We need pastors, churches, and youth ministries leaders to help open opportunities for young people to serve locally and keep this spirit of service alive and maturing.

ONCE logo

The ONCE Project is an evangelistic activity where all ages of young people gather at one church in their Cluster (a grouping of 7-12 churches) to conduct door-to-door surveys and invite people to start Bible studies. This has already resulted in baptisms because young people were willing to let God use them. Each Cluster has a bin with lanyards, name cards, surveys, clipboards, pens, books to give away, Bible study invitation cards—everything needed to mobilize the young people. In addition, all these materials are available online.

Blaze Logo

The Blaze: Ministries Training Weekend is another opportunity to be trained, equipped, and deployed. We were holding separate preacher trainings, CREATION Health trainings, small group trainings, etc., but they occurred on different weekends. We thought, “What if we combined all these ministries, added more options, and gathered hundreds of young people for one weekend, training them in specific ministries that fit their gifts and interests?” We launched in 2014 with a dozen options. In 2015 and beyond, we will continue instructing young people to blaze a new trail and put their talents to use in their local church as a way to bring people to a knowledge of Jesus Christ.

High School Bible Retreat

The High School Bible Retreat is an annual retreat for all teens (both in public high school and our academies). It happens every autumn (usually the second weekend in October) at Camp Kulaqua in High Springs. Hundreds of teens attend to be together and have joint worships, small groups, solo time, service opportunities, group games, and baptisms.

Red Zone 15Red Zone is the annual event that brings the Adventurer and Pathfinder ministry to a close each season. Thousands of young people gather together for worship, fun, a chance to display what they have worked on over the course of the year, and, of course, the Drill and Drum Competition.

Listening Session PosterYoung Adult Listening Sessions is a new initiative in 2015. The Youth Ministries Department is partnering with Florida Conference administration to conduct four listening sessions around the state. Our goal is to let young adults know that we are listening. We want to know what they think and how we can best serve and minister to them. From these listening sessions, we plan to develop a Young Adult Council that will serve as a steering committee for young adult ministry.

The Weekly Update is an electronic notice sent by e-mail once a week to anyone who wants to be in the loop about what is happening in Florida Youth Ministries. Visit http://bit.ly/flcyouthnews to find past updates. A link is included in each update to receive e-mail delivery of future updates.

We are looking for qualified leaders who are ready to help us grow Youth Ministries in Florida Conference even stronger. If you are interested in becoming a part of our team of officially appointed volunteers, please contact us at FLYouthMinistries@floridaconference.com

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