by Phil Younts
More than 500 previous Camp Kulaqua staff members returned to the banks of Hornsby Spring located near High Springs in North Florida, September 22, to celebrate and to reminisce. “We are thankful for all the staff who dedicated their lives to camp ministry, and for 60 years of God’s blessings on Camp Kulaqua,” said Phil Younts, Administrative Camp Director since 1987.
From the original 273 acres purchased in 1953, the Camp has grown until it now encompasses more than 680 acres with housing for 1,000 people. More than 50,000 people use the facilities each year.
While developing into a year-round camp, the original purpose of bringing young people to the Lord in an outdoor setting has not diminished. During 2013, 75 young people were baptized, and hundreds more made commitments to Jesus.
Camp Kulaqua continues to improve its facilities to accommodate an increasing conference membership with the construction of three Woodland Lodges. Each lodge can house up to 120 guests in hotel-style rooms. A Visitor Center is also in the building process.
“We provide the opportunities. You provide the memories,” says Younts.
by Gladys Neigel
God is opening new doors in new facilities for His work to grow and prosper in Florida. During the month of October, three buildings were dedicated.
On October 26, members and friends gathered for the dedication of this Creole-speaking church congregation that was born into existence on January 5, 2013, after the merger of Shiloh and Morijah Churches in Miami, Fla. The dedicatory sermon was presented by Duane Rollins, Florida Conference treasurer.
Lay pastor Wesle Pierre shepherds this flock of 158 members. The church building at 10185 NW 7th Avenue in Miami was previously occupied by another denomination and, before that, a funeral home.
During the weekend of October 18-20, Fort Lauderdale members realized the fulfillment of a 27-year dream to dedicate a new sanctuary. Since 1986, the adjacent fellowship hall has served the 297 members as a place of worship.
Pastor Jeffrey Thompson led the weekend celebration that included guest speakers George Brown, former Inter-American Division president; Henoc Paulicin, Florida Conference ministerial field secretary; and Conrad Duncan, Florida Conference vice president for general administration.
Jupiter-Tequesta Church dedicated its new facility on October 11 as the first step in a building program that will eventually include a sanctuary. Florida Conference President Mike Cauley was the speaker for the worship service.
Church members currently are meeting in their fellowship hall. The campus provides ample seating, parking, classrooms, and amenities for the 115-member congregation under the direction of Pastor Richard Moseley.
by Robert and Thomas Broome
For the past three years, Apopka, Fla., Church has partnered with Florida Hospital Apopka for a Let’s Move Day 5K walk/run and health fair. On September 22, in addition to the main event with 130 participants, a Kids’ Fun Run was offered to youngsters 12 and under. The goal of this event was to encourage healthy kids and families in the community.
One success story was that of Shermin Tao, a return participant from last year’s race. Shermin did well in the race but was determined this year to win his age category. His preparation included running a mile every day and playing tennis in the evening.
However, just weeks before the event, Shermin was diagnosed with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He took the news in stride and promptly changed his diet to improve his health. Changes included more plant-based foods, a reduction in meat consumption, and staying away from his favorite fast food restaurant.
Confirmation of the results from Shermin’s efforts came just days before the race when both his high blood pressure and cholesterol numbers were lowered to within normal ranges. On September 22, a healthier Shermin Tao finished the 5K run and won his age category!
by Lennie Schiefer
The Pathfinder Club of New Port Richey received free CPR instruction from Tom Mazzant and Daryl Sample, two certified CPR teachers from Florida Hospital of North Pinellas.
According to Pathfinder Club Director Carol Koch, 18 Pathfinders and staff members took the three-hour CPR course. The teachers gave each Pathfinder a Red Cross booklet to remind them how to perform CPR. Instruction included a video and a how-to demonstration of each step in giving CPR to adults, children, and infants.
Pathfinders also performed hands-on practice with various-sized manikins loaned from the hospital, and they were instructed in Automated External Defibrillator (AED) usage.
After successfully completing the Family and Friends CPR course, each Pathfinder received a case containing an official CPR mask and gloves and a certificate of course completion.
These Pathfinders are ready and prepared to act in a time of emergency. Director Koch has approached the Church Board with this request from the Pathfinders, “Our church should look into obtaining an AED to have on the premises in case we should ever need one. They are simple to use and could save a life.”
by AG Publicity, Nashville, Tenn.
The King’s Heralds, the oldest active gospel quartet, has announced the addition of a new member. Hailing from DeLand, Fla., Jared Otto joins the group as their new lead singer.
Jared is 25 years old and single. Prior to coming to the Heralds, he was an IT professional for the State of Florida Health Department. Jared replaces Joel Borg who came off the road to spend more time with his family.
The Herald’s Tenor, Don Scroggs, stated, “We are proud to welcome Jared to our ministry team. He adds some youth and vitality to the group. The King’s Heralds is the first full-time group he has been with. He is very committed to the Lord and is excited about this opportunity to be in full-time music ministry.”
Jared commented, “This is certainly different than working with computers, but these guys are great men who love the Lord and make traveling a real adventure. Mostly, it’s exciting having the opportunity to sing about the most important message in the world and to see hearts and souls lifted up and lives changed forever.”
by Gladys Neigel
Lloyd Babb, Master Gardener and member at Forest Lake Church, Apopka, Fla., hosted a Fall Gardening class at the church featuring Tom MacCubbin, fellow Master Gardener who appears locally on media and writes a newspaper column for Orlando Sentinel.
Lloyd hosted and/or taught 12 lessons on various aspects of gardening during the past year. He calls this mission outreach “Gardening For God.”
“We are told in Spirit of Prophecy that the health message is the ‘entering wedge,’” says Lloyd. “However, I have found that gardening can also be the ‘entering wedge’ to talk to others, as many people today are looking for ways to grow their own vegetables for several reasons:”
- Vegetables have flowers, too. Striking flowers can be found in the midst of the vegetable patch.
- Vegetable gardening is healthier. Gardening provides the benefits of exercise and fresh air, and vegetables will supply the grower with nutritious produce loaded with vitamins and nutrients.
- Edible gardens are picture perfect. Gardens can be designed to offer just as much beauty, color, variety, and interest to your landscape as any ornamental-only garden.
- Vegetables are historical. Heirloom vegetables have been treasured and passed down for centuries, and many come with fascinating histories.
- Growing veggies can be profitable. Organic foods continue to rise in price, so a backyard vegetable factory may become a real moneymaker.
- Vegetable gardens are versatile. A simple garden can incorporate all manner of vegetation from fruits and vegetables, to herbs and flowers.
- Vegetable gardeners have more friends. Let word slip out that gourmet treats are growing in your backyard, and your popularity is almost guaranteed.
- Growing vegetables fosters creativity. You’ll be amazed at your ability to come up with new ideas for preparing loads of fresh produce.
- Cultivating independence. It is nice to know that your own two hands can put food on the table, reduce your dependency on the supermarket, and provide gourmet produce for your family’s enjoyment.
Let men and women work in field and orchard and garden. This will bring health and strength to nerve and muscle. Living indoors and cherishing invalidism is a very poor business. If those who are sick will give nerves and muscles and sinews proper exercise in the open air, their health will be renewed. —Medical Ministry, page 296.4
by Mark Reams
Mark Reams, pastor for youth ministries at Forest Lake Church, Apopka, presented this message during the June 22 worship service. “What a down-to-earth description of discipleship,” said one listener in attendance. “The heart of his message should be shared with Florida Conference members.” A condensed version of the sermon is below. You can also watch or listen to Mark’s sermon on the Forest Lake Church web site.
If you auditioned to become one of Jesus’ disciples, what would the criteria look like? If I, personally, had to stand before Jesus and audition for a disciple position, would I have what it takes based on His qualifications?
Luke 14:33 gives us a start in knowing what this looks like. This is Jesus speaking: “In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.” Now, that’s radical! Everything!
In case you think Jesus is just talking about stuff, let’s back up in Luke 14 to verse 26. Again, Jesus is talking: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross,” carry his torture device on his back, “and follow me, cannot be my disciple.”
To follow Jesus takes complete priority over all earthly relationships and all earthly possessions. He said, “You can’t call yourself a follower of mine if you’re not willing to give up all these things.”
That’s crazy, right? I’m curious how your audition is going now, because we’re going to get a little bit more uncomfortable.
Let’s turn a few chapters to Luke 9. This chapter has a subheading, “The cost of following Christ.” Look at verse 57. Crowds are following Jesus. “As they were walking along the road, a man said to Him, ‘I will follow you.’”
Hey, an eager beaver. “I will follow you wherever you go. I will follow you.” And Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes, birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
Jesus is saying, “If you want to follow me, it requires complete dependence on me. There is no guarantee of comfort.” We find out, in Matthew 8, this eager guy is actually a religious leader.
Jesus warns about these guys in Mark 12, because they would attach themselves to some form of a religious teacher in order to promote or enhance their position, their status, or their career—to climb the ladder, so to speak. And here you’ve got a guy who wants to follow Jesus as a means to an end.
So many times I’ve heard Christian language that portrays Jesus as a means to an end. “Come to Jesus so that you can get forgiveness. Come to Jesus so that you can get your best life. Come to Jesus so that you can get heaven.”
You don’t come to Jesus to get anything else. You come to Jesus, and you get Him. He’s the end. He’s not a means to anything. He is everything.
Jesus tells this guy, “I don’t have a roof over my head. If you follow me, I’m all you’ve got.” Do you want that kind of Jesus? If you answer, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you wherever you go,” you have to ask yourself, “Do I want comfort or do I want the cross?” Because that’s where Jesus is going.
Let’s get a little bit more uncomfortable by reading Luke 9:59 where Jesus is talking to another man. “Follow me,” He says. The man replied, “Lord, first let me go bury my father,” and Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Isn’t that amazing? It seems as if Jesus is trying to talk this man out of following Him. Jesus says, “Don’t even go back to pay your respects.”
Now, there are scholars who debate this whole deal. Some people believe this man’s dad had just a couple days to live, and he wanted to spend those last couple days with his father and then give him a proper burial, which is obviously something he would want to do.
But even more than that, there’s a deeper religious obligation that a son honor his father in such a way. Others believe his dad had just died, and once he buried his father, he would come and follow Jesus.
We all celebrated Father’s Day last Sunday. I hope you celebrated yours, because I am privileged that mine is still alive. I know some of you have already lost your father. I was happy to spend some time with my dad. I could not imagine if my father was either on his death bed or already dead, and Jesus telling me, “Let someone else go bury your dad. You go proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Ouch! That seems cold, doesn’t it? Let’s be honest. That’s harsh. What is Jesus saying here? What is He doing?
He’s saying there is a responsibility and an obligation which supersede every other responsibility and every other obligation in this world, even the thing you would most want to do or need to do. Jesus says, “No, you go proclaim the kingdom of God. It’s far more important.”
The Church, individuals, and families will always face two options: maintenance or mission, status quo/business as usual or radical abandonment to proclaiming the kingdom of God. And if you answer Jesus and say, “Ah, yes, I will follow you wherever you go,” you have to answer yourself, “Will I choose maintenance or mission? Do I want comfort or do I want the cross?”
In Luke 9:61, we read about another eager person who was in the crowd who opened his mouth and said, “Oh, Jesus, I will follow you, but first let me go back and say goodbye to my mom and dad and my family. I will follow you, but let me go say goodbye.” And Jesus’ response to that was, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Jesus was way ahead of His time. He said, “No texting and driving.” It will just mess up something. You can’t do that. Don’t even go say goodbye to Momma. Ooooo! That’s hard for some moms to hear.
Can’t you sense the indecision here on the part of this man? When Jesus tells us to obey, at least in my personal experience, I go through a series of justifying questions that may talk me out of it. Is it safe? Is it wise? Is it best for my family? Is it best for my career? Is it the right time? What will people think? How will this look? How can I even pull it off?
When Jesus says it, His follower does it. Period! Anything else is disobedient. Indecision hampers us from obedience to Christ.
What scares me is the implication of Luke 9. None of these three guys followed Jesus. What scares me even more is what we have done with what it means to follow Christ today. I wonder if Jesus would move right past us, and we’d still be standing there staring at His back walking away from us. That haunts me.
Am I a follower of Jesus? What does Jesus expect of us? What is expected of a Christian who lives in Florida? Sadly, not a lot really, not a lot. The bar is pretty low.
What is expected of a follower of Christ in Luke 9? Everything. What is expected of a follower of Christ in Luke 14? Everything. One hundred percent focus on Jesus. One hundred percent allegiance to Him. One hundred percent dependence. One hundred percent trust. One hundred percent undivided. Jesus is not willing to compromise for anything less. That’s what He wants. That’s what He requires.
Our hearts are like a pie chart where there are sections cut out to represent certain percentages for my career, certain percentages for my social life, certain percentages for the church thing, and God. See, God does not want a piece of your pie. He wants the whole pie, everything, undivided attention, and focus on what He calls us to do.
So, if you answer, “Yes,” and say, “Yes, Jesus, I will follow you wherever you go,” you have to ask yourself, “Will I be indecisive or undivided? Will I choose maintenance over mission? Will I choose comfort or the cross?”
These are the questions everyone must struggle with. When Jesus calls us to follow Him, He calls us to radical dependence on Him. He never promises this choice will be easy or comfortable. He never does.
What does He guarantee? There will be danger. There will be heartache. There will be loneliness and suffering. There will be confusion. There will be questioning and even doubt. And through all of that, Jesus says, “I will be with you even to the very end of the age. My presence is there. I am there with you.” To give up everything to follow Jesus regardless of earthly consequences requires absolute dependence on Him.
To live the gospel, you must first be a disciple. To be a disciple, you must hang on to Jesus for dear life, regardless of the consequences, because there will be unknowns that take place. There will be danger that makes you one hundred percent dependent upon Him.
Go through the questions once again, “Will I choose comfort or the cross? Will I choose maintenance or mission? Will I be indecisive or undivided?”
Could you imagine this Church—this body of Christ—moving in the same direction and saying with conviction, “We are true followers of Jesus Christ willing to surrender all.”
Are you willing?
Allan Andino Named Conference Auditor
Allan Andino was appointed to serve as auditor by the Executive Committee on August 22, 2013. His first official day was August 26, though he has been helping with auditing since October 2012 as an independent contractor.
Allan started his auditing career at Ernst & Young as a staff auditor. He then served for ten years with Adventist Health System in various accounting positions.
He loves to travel and study history, and Pathfindering is his number one non-work activity. He ministers to many young people as director of the Florida Hospital Church Pathfinder Club.
His wife, Leanne, is a CPA working for Shores, Tagman, Butler & Company, P.A. They have two children: Maurie, 13, and Adonna, 10, who attend Orlando Junior Academy.
Allan says, “I look forward to the challenge of helping our treasurers and churches by supporting them in their great work for God.”
Walter Castro Named Lay Pastor Coordinator
Walter Castro was voted as Lay Pastor Coordinator by the Executive Committee on April 30, 2013. He began his work with Florida Conference in July 2013 after coming from Allegheny West Conference where he has served as Multilingual Ministries and Church Planting Director for the past four years. More than ten churches were planted under his tutelage.
Walter immigrated from Argentina to the United States in 1995 and began his ministry in Potomac Conference where he served at multiple churches for 12 years.
On a personal level, he finds relaxation in doing mission work and playing soccer and tennis. His wife, Katty, is kept busy homeschooling their two children, Kevin (9) and Keyla (6).
“My dream,” says Walter, “is to see people from all nations throughout the Florida Conference territory growing as modern disciples of Jesus Christ.”
Henoc Paulicin Named Ministerial Field Secretary, Southern District
Henoc Paulicin was voted as Ministerial Field Secretary for the Southern District on May 19, 2013, by the Executive Committee. Since June 1, he has served in this capacity while continuing as pastor of Ambassador Church in Lauderdale Lakes where he has been since January 1, 2007.
During his time at Ambassador Church, he helped establish three new fellowships. Prior to receiving a call to Florida, he pastored in Northeastern Conference.
Henoc’s wife, Belinda, M.D., LCSW, is Director of Clinical Programs at the Advocate Program in Miami. They have three grown children: Chantel, Martine, and Henoc Jr. Henoc loves writing and music: piano, bass guitar, and singing.
“I believe my position is one of service to the pastors and churches in the southern district, ministerial team, Florida Conference leadership and staff, and, most of all God, who orders my path.”
Luis Reyes Named Planned Giving Field Representative
Luis Reyes was voted as a Field Representative for Planned Giving and Trust Services by the Executive Committee on July 30. His first day in this position was September 30, but he is not new to Florida Conference. Luis has been a pastor in Florida since 1992 with his most recent pastorate at South Orlando Spanish, Poinciana Spanish, and Haines City Spanish Churches.
His hobbies are international evangelism, singing, and playing tennis for recreation. His wife, Marcela, is Director of the Patient’s Experience Department at Florida Hospital. They have two sons: Nathanael (23) and Nicholas (19) who are both studying medicine at River Plate Adventist University in Argentina.
As Luis looks forward to his new position, he says, “It is my desire to be able to help advance Florida Conference’s vision about making disciples through the ministry of Planned Giving and Trust Services.”
Kristen Rodriguez Named Assistant Adventist Book Center Manager
Kristen Rodriguez was advanced to the position of Assistant Manager of the Adventist Book Center (ABC) by the Administrative Committee on July 1, 2013. She began working at the Camp Kulaqua General Store while in high school and was promoted to ABC Branch Manager in 2008.
In addition to her duties as Operations Manager at the Winter Park location, she will continue to manage the Camp Kulaqua ABC. “I feel I have the best of both worlds as I am in the Winter Park ABC Monday-Thursday and at Kulaqua on the weekends.”
Her husband, Carlos, has spent the last ten years in law enforcement. They have four pets that they refer to as their four-legged kids: two horses and two dogs. She enjoys spending time with her family and being outside with her animals.
“I want to keep the ABC relevant,” says Kristen. “This calls for us to be creative and stay on top of the fast-changing market.”
The Florida Conference family is shocked and saddened by the news of the death of Yesenia Suarez and her children, Thalia Otto and Michael Otto, members of Deltona Spanish Seventh-day Adventist Church, which is part of the Florida Conference sisterhood of churches. According to news reports, police have concluded Yesenia and her children are dead, although the search for their bodies continues at this time.
Our prayers as a church family are with all involved familes as they go through this tremendously difficult time. We are thankful for the expressions of love and compassion that have already been poured out.
Florida Conference of Seventh-day Adventists is a mainstream Protestant denomination with more than 61,500 members. We are Bible-believing Christians who base our faith, hope, and future in Jesus Christ.
I was recently energized by two experiences. The first was several weeks ago in celebrating the organization of Lighthouse Ministries into a church mission group. It was so inspiring to witness this group of young adults who have committed themselves to become agents for transforming lives through the gospel.
In addition, I was especially encouraged that the Florida Living congregation was the sponsoring entity. To see these older members who love the Lord and His church so much, committed to encourage, mentor, and pray for these younger missionaries, was a wonderful experience. Only in the Church would you ever see folks from a previous generation in such solidarity with a group of younger people around a common, glorious cause—spreading the gospel and good news that Jesus is coming again!
The second experience was on the heels of that Sabbath. The following week, I embarked on a short-term mission trip to Guam to hold evangelistic meetings. The Guam-Micronesia Mission was recently made a part of North American Division. Several administrators from North America converged on this field to hold evangelistic efforts across the islands as a gesture of welcome to the Division. I was privileged to take part through an outside donation.
I was assigned to conduct reaping meetings at a newly planted church mission group in the northern part of this island that is only 35 miles long. Night after night, I saw the Holy Spirit work to change lives and see people come to Jesus. The smiles of joy and satisfaction on the faces of men, women, and teenagers linger vividly in my mind. It was a beautiful experience when we saw 35 people baptized in the Pacific Ocean on Sabbath, September 14,
Two church plants—one in Central Florida and the other in Guam—are both about seeing God change lives. This is our purpose. This is the reason that God called the Seventh-day Adventist Church into existence.
Beginning in 2014, Florida Conference is launching an initiative called Mission To the Cities. The focus will center on a section of the Conference each year for five years to help pastors and congregations with their mission and support the planting of new churches. The regions we will target are:
- 2014: Miami
- 2015: West Palm Beach/Fort Lauderdale
- 2016: Tampa/Naples
- 2017: North Florida
- 2018: Central Florida
Facilitating the work of evangelism and church planting is the reason that Conferences were organized at the beginning of the Adventist movement and, by the grace of God, what we will re-embrace as our focus. May God bless us as we keep our vision focused upon the heart of our movement and calling.