Archive for April, 2011
God asks each of us to become disciple makers. In order to do this, we must first become a disciple. This experience of discipleship comes from staying close to the Master. As disciples of Jesus, we work under authority and may enjoy being a part of something grand and significant. Also, discipleship at its core, involves prioritizing God’s agenda in your life.
Recently, I spent time with our Administrative Committee as we studied areas that we have identified as Conference priorities for the next few years:
Emphasis On Revival and Reformation
The experience of revival and reformation to which our new General Conference president, Ted Wilson, called the Church is foundational. It means a new way of thinking and doing.
Being a faithful follower of Jesus is intertwined with taking unhurried time with Him through emphasis of devotional practices such as: fasting, personal retreats or extended time alone with God, Bible reading, corporate and personal prayer, journaling, and stewardship. It is not so important what you say to God in your devotional time as much as being still before God in an unhurried setting for Him to speak to you through His Word and the impressions of the Holy Spirit.
Repositioning Florida Conference As a Missionary Society
We must reinvigorate our purpose as not being primarily about institutional preservation. We are called to be a “sending movement.” This is our purpose.
The reason for organizing conferences was to send missionaries—at home and abroad. Today, North America is much less permeated with Adventism than most of Central and South America, the Caribbean, or parts of Africa. So, we have to intentionally send volunteer missionaries throughout the state to plant churches by using lay-led small groups. This is especially needed in urban populations where the ratio of Adventists to the general population is so low. The strategy of training missionaries, planting churches in strategic areas, and planting mission schools is the future of Adventism in Florida. This was the vitality of the Adventist Church at the beginning.
We must continue to develop educators who exhibit key skills to become better leaders, departmental leaders trained in the coaching and leadership process, and pastors who function as leaders of transformation. Training for our pastors began in February, and training for educators continues.
Transformation of the Culture
In order to be a disciple-making missionary movement, we must change the way our churches and schools think and behave. There are opportunities all around us for need-based ministries to utilize such programs as Florida Hospital’s Healthy 100/CREATION Health concepts, reaching people where they are, and ministering to them in a relational setting.
Pastor Dan Forbes caught this transformation concept at a pastors’ meeting and shared it with his church board for their approval. In this story about South Orlando Church, you’ll be inspired to read how the members have caught the vision of disciple making. Also, you can read how Port Charlotte Church, under the direction of Pastor Tim Goff, has begun relational evangelism in that area of our Conference.
Collaborate as Departments
Our American mindset is to be independent. God’s mindset is for us to be interdependent; working together as a team. We have already begun to do this with the Integrated Youth Ministries Department. As we collaborate together in more extensive ways, I think we will become more effective in producing a disciple-making culture.
Being a disciple, who is making disciples, is the most challenging and at the same time the most exciting opportunity God has given to us. It is about making a difference in the lives of people so they become thoroughly changed and transformed into new creations in Christ Jesus.
I invite you to become part of this transformational process. Begin by setting your own priorities of an unhurried devotional life, take advantage of coaching and training availabilities, and then let the Lord lead you in utilizing your talents for Him in your community during 2011.
The idea for Ignite began when a few young people from different churches in South Florida saw the need for a church in Miami that related to everyone—especially those who were not in church or had left the church. The idea was simple—begin a church that was casual, modern, and Christ-centered. Basically, we wanted a church that made it a little easier for people who knew nothing about Christ to attend and feel relaxed while receiving God’s Word.
The core leaders met at a local Cold Stone Creamery ice cream shop to exchange ideas and thoughts, and we left with excitement in our hearts to show the city of Miami about God. We spent a few days praying that God would lead us in the right direction and that this new church would be guided by Him and Him alone.
The next step was to get the support of an Adventist Church, so Pastor Fidel Falcón and West Dade Spanish Church were asked to give their support which they were happy to do. Then, we began to pray that God would show us a location for Ignite. God answered that prayer within 24 hours.
Likewise, prayer was offered to obtain funding for needed equipment. Within two weeks, God provided the necessary funds to purchase everything. Advertisements were placed through the web site at myignitechurch.org, Facebook, and 90.9 Life FM Radio to announce the grand opening scheduled for December 4, 2010.
On the first Sabbath, 81 people were in attendance, including a large number of people who were not attending church. A month later, Ignite began its children’s program called Seekers. The children are able to praise, learn, and worship in a positive, fun environment that also includes participating in sign language with the Praise and Worship Team once a month.
The missions department has been working hard at giving back to the community. On December 26, 2010, the church spent the afternoon with migrant workers and their families in Homestead, Fla., and presented them with 150 collected blankets. The video is on YouTube: http://youtu.be/kf-rm3zTNGQ
Ignite has continued to grow with more than 100 in attendance on a recent Sabbath. The Praise and Worship Team has been asked to play at numerous events, and we are working on a couple projects in the community that include the Ronald McDonald House.
God has been so good to us. God has had His hand over this project from the beginning, and He will see us through. Please pray for us so that we can be a light in Miami and tell the city about God.
To prepare God’s people for the Kingdom Life and proclaim to all people the everlasting gospel in a modern, contemporary atmosphere.
To proclaim to all people the everlasting gospel of Jesus in a modern, contemporary atmosphere through teachings and music that will inspire, educate, uplift and motivate. To provide a place to nurture new and old believers in a casual environment and to connect to God first, then to the rest of the world.
In 1953, Florida Conference Executive Committee members sat on the bank of Hornsby Spring northwest of Gainesville and prayed, “Father, should we buy this property for a summer camp and year-round retreat facility?”
God answered their prayers in the affirmative, and Camp Kulaqua was born. Soon, a name contest was held, and a church member in South Florida suggested “Kulaqua” or “cool aqua” since the fresh flowing water of Hornsby Spring is 72 degrees year round.
Located near the town of High Springs, Camp Kulaqua’s early beginnings were very basic, with the first groups staying in tents amidst the natural surroundings of a beautiful spring and the great outdoors on 250 acres. In those early years, Conference membership was 6,519, and the Camp could accommodate up to 200 people.
In 1984, a new master plan was designed for Camp Kulaqua to accommodate up to 600 people so it could meet the needs of a growing Conference with 23,904 members. The master plan was completed in the late 1990s.
Today, Florida Conference membership is more than 60,000. Meanwhile, Camp Kulaqua, with more than 600 acres, can still only accommodate up to 600 people in cabins, mini-lodges, and chalets. It also offers multiple meeting facilities and a variety of activities for people to enjoy.
As a rule, 1-2% of a constituency base attends Conference functions such as youth events, women’s retreats, and men’s conventions. Clearly, the need for larger and more accommodating facilities has grown as membership has increased. This is especially true now that Camp Kulaqua is the host location for both English- and Spanish-language Camp Meetings.
Thus, Conference and Camp administrators have initiated a new master plan study and are soliciting input for ministry and facility needs. Your feedback is very important! Please take a few moments to go to CampKulaqua.com and click on the master plan survey link to give us your feedback. A hard copy of the survey can be obtained by calling (386) 454-1351.
Florida Conference anticipates continued growth through discipleship and evangelism. With expanded and improved retreat facilities, this quiet place will continue to provide a beautiful setting where constituents can escape the rigors of this world and commune with God.
by Gladys Neigel
God is looking for disciples today as He did by the Sea of Galilee more than 2,000 years ago. Becoming a disciple means communication with God on a two-way street with unhurried requests and then listening for His answers. The Master Designer will open doors, find funding for ministries, and place His people in the right place at the right time just as He has done for Pastor Dan Forbes and members of South Orlando Church.
It all began when Forbes attended a meeting where Florida Conference President Mike Cauley encouraged pastors to no longer just maintain status quo in their churches, but to think outside the box through community outreach. After getting permission of the church board to pursue possibilities, Forbes prayed for guidance of what to do and how to fund it.
A few days later, someone from Harbor House Agency visited Forbes asking for his help with grant-funded Project Courage, a pilot program to end domestic violence. This led to serving on the Orange County Domestic Violence Task Force and opportunities to connect with agencies which have resources for outreach programs.
“We are trying to develop programs to meet community needs,” says Forbes, “so we can make friends and let them know the neighborhood Adventist Church is home to people who genuinely care.” Members are encouraged to take their passion, dedicate it to God, and turn it into a ministry to reach others. A partial list of these ministry programs include:
Domestic Violence Awareness Seminar
Dr. Monica Mendez from Harbor House Agency has presented two seminars. Attendance for the Domestic Violence Seminar was 25, with more than 40 at the Action Plan Seminar. Presenters have already attended church services and potluck dinners.
Allied Medical School, in close proximity to the church, conducted a CPR/AED class for 25 people and will present additional first aid and/or CPR classes as needed. The school has a grant to train 1,000 people every year, so there is no charge for this service.
One fair has already been held with more scheduled. Forbes and a small group of helpers ran the fair with excellent assistance from entities such as The American Heart Association, The Orange County Bloodmobile, and the local fire department, as well as a local physician’s office.
Forbes is a co-host with Oliver Edwards, a professor at University of Central Florida, for a weekly show called Families by Design. Forbes and Edwards add credence to the program through the knowledge gained from their doctorates in social service areas.
English Language Classes
Classes are coordinated by a Spanish-speaking member who works with Forbes and other members to interact with the class attendees.
One gentleman asked the director to pray for him. Scars on his arms were visible as he told of three attempts to take his life. The church marquee sign with an invitation for English language classes drew him in. However, previously finding two books in a trash can—Steps to Christ and a book in Spanish by Evangelist Alejandro Bullón—helped prepare his heart to proclaim, “I need to get right with God. This year I want to know Jesus.”
Second Harvest Food Bank
Food is given out to the community on Friday mornings. Recipients are surveyed for future programs and given invitations for church functions.
While food is distributed in the parking lot behind the church on Friday mornings, free literature is made available to the community from tables set up in front of the church.
Another Friday morning service is the distribution of clothing. Noticing a need, Marcia Amarante, community services director, organized a meal at Thanksgiving and Christmas for more than 30 individuals who were homeless or facing difficult times. One gentleman said, “I’m a sinner. I can’t believe you are doing this for me.”
Bible workers Devon Lyons and Mike Shellong mentioned the church’s recycling program to business owners as they were working in the area. The church has a goal of raising $1,000 for additional community projects from the sale of recyclables brought to the church’s recycling center by local businesses.
Every church member is encouraged to use their talents for organizing small group ministries.
Mental health professional Sebastian Amarante created Revelation Health to treat substance abuse and addiction issues from a spiritual and practical perspective.
It is not uncommon to find nonmembers attending church through contact with the web site. Inquiries have come from as close as the church’s neighborhood to as far away as Australia.
A new method of inviting people to meetings occurred when Bible workers and members went out on the church’s sidewalk, stopped people who were passing by, and personally invited them to attend. The response from these people was favorable.
First Responders Appreciation
Firefighters, police, EMTs, etc. are honored at a special annual worship service.
Flea Market Evangelism
Every Sabbath afternoon, Oscar Dickerson, a former pastor of another denomination who became an Adventist, takes a tent, chairs, literature, and equipment to a flea market with the help of other church members. He preaches on general topics of Christ and salvation.
Youth leader Mavis Martin, known as Auntie Mel, noticed that text messaging is a major communication avenue for young people, so she made learning this technology her priority. She regularly sends text messages of encouragement, announcements, reminders, invitations to church, and other events. A Friday Night Youth Talk program encourages young people to attend and invite their friends. As a result, there is increased youth attendance at church activities.
Family Life Department
Individuals interested in the church often have issues in their lives to address and correct before baptism. For example, women in the church are prepared to organize a wedding ceremony when needed for new believers. Two weddings are already scheduled and a third couple is considering doing the same.
Crisis Help Line
An established Help Line System reroutes calls to trained volunteers in their own homes. A training event was scheduled at the church in March for members who had already signed up to become more personally involved in the church’s outreach to the community.
Career Counseling Workshop/Résumé Clinic
Bible worker Mike Shellong contacted a professional connected with the University of Central Florida and the Children’s Home Society who is scheduled to present a career counseling workshop in March.
Everyone’s Birthday Party saw members and visitors celebrating with new friends over good food.
Fitting It All Together
As a result of this growing web of ministries, new friends have been made, Bible studies given, and baptisms taken place because of outreach evangelism.
“I am grateful to Mike Cauley and members of the Florida Conference administration,” says Forbes, “for creating an atmosphere of acceptance and support for a church doing intentional ministry outside the box of traditional evangelism.”
by Tim Goff
Four years ago, the Port Charlotte Church Board entered into a partnership with the Florida Conference Ministerial Department to explore mission, ministry, visioning, and values with a purpose of growing with excellence. We began to visualize what our campus might look like if we became more intentional about giftedness and calling among our members and ministry through outreach to our community. Significant developments included forming the following:
- Ministry Development Team—includes classes on giftedness and calling.
- Ministry Fair—purpose is to invite participation in various ministries.
- Resource Desk—located in prominent place in church lobby.
- Ministry Council—surveyed community to find overlooked niche which led to supporting more than 200 homeless high school students living in Charlotte County.
In order for members, new believers, and seekers to become part of church life and continue to grow as disciples of Jesus, they are encouraged to connect in four ways:
- Connect To God.
- Connect To Church Family.
- Connect To Ministry.
- Connect To Others.
To further facilitate this message, a new logo to help capture the concept was developed (above).
After completing an inventory from Natural Church Development, members discovered a need for emphasis in relationships and small groups. To meet this need, two types of small groups were chosen:
- Bible Reading Group, which meets throughout the year, uses This Is Life Eternal, developed by Wretha Lang.
- Sermon-based Small Groups meet for three 10-week sessions a year. The lesson is based on the weekly Sabbath message. When launched in January, there were 11 groups and more than 95 people involved.
One year ago, a new discipleship class on Sabbath mornings called Journey of Faith was offered to acquaint participants with several key areas of faith and nurture including:
- Discovering what following Jesus means, using A Discipleship Journey by Dave Buehring.
- Exploring Seventh-day Adventist distinctive teachings.
- Learning and sharing our health message through CREATION Health from Florida Hospital (see below).
- Remembering Our Roots—a review of the beginnings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
- I’m Allergic to Witnessing, an eight-session seminar on faith sharing in natural appealing ways.
As participants complete this year-long walk with new friends and the Word of God, we anticipate they will be well-settled in faith, practice, lifestyle, and sharing their faith. Mature members also participate for the purpose of supporting new people and inviting them to join small groups that meet outside of service times.
Port Charlotte members pray this approach will prove faithful to Jesus who said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” —Matthew 28:19-20 NKJV.
Port Charlotte Hosts CREATION Health Seminars
Port Charlotte Church has integrated Florida Hospital’s CREATION Health into a year long program of discipling. “As soon as CREATION Health was presented to Florida Conference pastors,” says Pastor Tim Goff, “I saw it as an opportunity to touch the public in an excellent way.”
Nine CREATION Health seminars have already taken place. The first one was conducted by Bill Froelich in his workout gym with a mostly nonAdventist audience. The second was conducted at the Cultural Center in town with 50% nonmembers attending. Other seminars were conducted at the church. Most recently, a seminar was held at the New Event Center in Punta Gorda with 75% of the participants coming from the community.
CREATION Health is a total wellness program for individuals and is based on the eight essential principles of health:
Six videos that were shown to Camp Meeting guests at Camp Kulaqua, High Springs, Florida, April 7-10, 2011.
These videos come from the Florida Conference YouTube channel. They are also available in the Videos section of the Florida Conference Facebook page.
by Valrey Francis
Maran Walters Jr. is a student at William A. Kirlew Junior Academy in Miami Gardens, Florida. His parents made sacrifices to send him to Seventh-day Adventist church schools since pre-kindergarten because they are pleased with the quality education our schools offer.
Maran’s father, Maran Walters Sr., was recently interviewed for a more insightful understanding of his conversion story. The interview revealed that Mr. Walters’ family members belong to the Baptist church. Years ago, he had a friend who occasionally invited him to attend the Seventh-day Adventist church. However, he did not feel the desire to become a Seventh-day Adventist.
His son, Maran Jr., attended several week of prayer services at the school. He always wanted to get baptized, but the answer was always, “No, you are too young.” One Sabbath, Maran Sr. visited Maranatha Church, and an altar call was made at the end of the sermon. Maran Sr. mentioned that his son asked him to go to the altar with him, but he refused to go.
During another visit to Maranatha Church, another appeal was made. Sure enough, Maran Jr. wanted to go to the altar. He once more asked his dad to join him. Maran Sr. said, this time, he felt the Holy Spirit tugging on his heart, and he accompanied his son to the altar.
Maran Sr. submitted his name for baptism, and soon he was enrolled in a baptismal class. A few weeks later, he was baptized with prayers that his son and wife will also soon be baptized.
God calls little children into ministry, and the prayer at William A. Kirlew Junior Academy is that more students will lead their parents to Jesus. The teachers strive to model Christ to the students, and know that God will always use children for His glory and for the furtherance of His kingdom.
Frank Runnels Named Superintendent For Education
Frank Runnels was voted Superintendent for Education, January 23, 2011, by the Florida Conference Executive Committee. He replaces Arne Nielsen who has taken the position of Vice President for Integrated Youth Ministries. (Southern Tidings, February 2011)
Frank previously served Florida Conference Office of Education for two years as Administrative Superintendent. Prior to that, he was vice principal at Forest Lake Education Center for two years, handling the day-to-day operations of the school, including upper-grades curriculum, safety, teacher supervision, and spirituality. In addition, he has worked as a 7th-8th grade teacher, boys’ dean, academy history teacher, evangelist, missionary, and businessman.
Frank and his wife, Odette, have four grown children: Shana, Frank, Jelain, and Chantel, the mother of their grandson, Christopher Dumas Bates II.
Tim Goff Named Ministerial Field Secretary
Tim Goff was voted Central Region Ministerial Field Secretary, January 23, 2011, by the Florida Conference Executive Committee. He comes to this position from a five-year senior pastorate at Port Charlotte Church where he served the multi-staff, 770-member church.
His career began as Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Worship at New Hope Church, Burtonsville, Maryland. Three years later, he became senior pastor, focusing on preaching and worship to a congregation mostly of young adults which saw a membership increase by more than 100. In 2006, he was called to Forest Lake Church in Apopka as Pastor of Discipleship and developed a discipleship process for teaching and training members.
Goff replaces Tim Nichols who was voted ministerial director of Florida Conference last fall.
Goff and his wife, Carolyn, have two children, Arianne (grade 9) and Andrew (grade 5).
by Lesonie Walker
Ernest Folkes, a native of Jamaica, anticipates celebrating his 102nd birthday this summer. The former bookkeeper, general contractor, and farmer moved to Florida 10 years ago and joined Maranatha Church in Miami Gardens.
Folkes was born in Alexandria, St. Ann, Jamaica on August 5, 1909. His only sibling, a brother, lived into his late 90s. In 1985, he lost his wife and co-laborer of 49 years. The Folkes’ parented three children, two by adoption. He remarried in 1991, and his second wife passed away in 2005.
While a teenager, Folkes was introduced to the Adventist message by a colporteur and a lay preacher. Baptized in 1929, he has faithfully served God in many church capacities as a deacon, Sabbath School teacher, ordained elder, and member of the East Jamaica Conference Committee.
For years, Folkes would ride his bicycle more than 50 miles each way in order to lead a fledgling congregation in Sabbath services. In addition to being credited with building many churches in Jamaica, he is fondly remembered for providing low-cost housing to struggling local residents on lands which he had acquired with his own funds.
Folkes has a great sense of humor, a terrific memory, attends church regularly, and still likes to read. He does not take credit for his long life; yet, declares, “Hard work, a great diet, and a Godly life are great, but ultimately, long life is in the hands of God.” He is still enjoying his long walk with God.
by Irene Carvalho
Jupiter, Fla., Church recently held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new sanctuary that will seat 300 people and provide parking for 100 vehicles. The new structure will also house classrooms and amenities including a gourmet kitchen. “We are very excited about what God is doing to expand our presence in Jupiter,” says Pastor Richard Moseley.