Ron Halvorsen Jr Accepts Call to Pacific Northwest
November 11, 2019
Ron Halvorsen Jr, DMin, Ohio Conference president, has accepted an invitation from the Washington Conference to return to pastoral ministry. Halvorsen and his wife Beth “Buffy” Verico Halvorsen, MS, LCMFT, have served in the Ohio Conference since February 2014. During his tenure as president, Halvorsen has focused upon prayer, discipling, and young people.
Immediately upon their arrival, the Halvorsens began what they called “Ohio Prays,” a gathering of conference leadership who pray Mondays at noon for pastors, churches, educators and schools within the conference. This grew to include monthly prayer calls led by Buffy. Recognizing the need for many congregations to become healthier and more vibrant, Halvorsen initiated his idea for Disciple Ohio: a practical, tangible way to help churches regain their focus on growing spiritually while assisting members to become more effective disciples in reaching their communities. Because he has a heart for Christian Education, Halvorsen concentrated on strengthening opportunities for Ohio’s academy-aged students to benefit from an Adventist Education. Earlier this year, Halvorsen collaborated with Youth department leadership to implement the “Growing Young Adventists” initiative at 10 churches across Ohio.
Those who know the Halvorsens understand the importance of family to the couple. Buffy’s parents, who live 40 minutes from their new church, have been in poor health in recent years. “We sense God is saying that it is time for us to be a part of helping with them,” said Halvorsen. “While this move will allow us to be closer to our family, the Ohio Conference family will always remain close to our hearts.”
The Halvorsens will continue in their present positions through December 31, 2019, before transitioning to Washington, where both will pastor at the same church.
In accordance with Ohio Conference regulations, the Ohio Conference Executive Committee will soon convene to begin the process of finding new leadership; these meetings will be chaired by Columbia Union Conference President Dave Weigley.
Regular updates on the presidential search process will be released by the Ohio Conference Communication department via the website, www.ohioadventist.org, and Faithpoints electronic newsletter. Inquiries should be directed to Heidi A. Shoemaker, communication director, at 937.853.8468 or email@example.com.
About the Ohio Conference and Seventh-day Adventists
Organized in 1861, the Ohio Conference was among the first Seventh-day Adventist local conferences established. Today it is a network of 100 diverse congregations, 11 schools, one medical college, and 12,000 members.
As one of eight conferences within the Columbia Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, the Ohio Conference is known for its pioneering outreach initiatives and commitment to being a Christ-centered, transforming presence in the community.
Among the historic institutions birthed in Ohio were Worthington Foods (which later merged with the Kellogg Corporation), Harding Hospital (now part of the Ohio State University Medical Center), and Kettering Medical Center (now part of Kettering Health Network, a health care ministry of eight hospitals and 120 outpatient facilities).
The Ohio Conference is part of a larger, worldwide fellowship of more than 20 million believers who strive daily to develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ, to become more like Him, and to serve others as He did. The vision and mission for Ohio includes prayer, growing healthy churches, and helping others realize the hope found in experiencing a personal relationship with a living God and loving Savior, and to nurture them in preparation for His soon return.
CONFERENCE OFFICERS RE-ELECTED AT 42ND REGULAR CONSTITUENCY MEETING
May 6, 2018
At the 42ndRegular Constituency Meeting of the Ohio Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, held on Sunday, May 6, 2018 at the Worthington church in Worthington, Ohio, a quorum of the 378 delegates and delegates-at-large met to elect officers for the 2018-2022 quinquennial term and conduct church business. Dr. Ron Halvorsen Jr, president and Oswaldo Magaña, secretary, were re-elected; new treasurer and CFO Michael D. Gilkey, J.D. was elected.
"It hasn't been an easy journey these past four years, but God has been with us,” Halvorsen shared. "We need to bring help to the local churches...I see small churches dying...I'm tired of seeing us lose the younger generation...we need to focus more money and energies on youth and young adults...get them involved in the ministry of our church," continued Halvorsen as part of the conference report.
Delegates also voted to make the $3.2 million office building in Dayton, gifted to the conference last fall, the principal office for the transaction of business for the Ohio Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. The body then voted to discontinue use of, in as timely a manner as possible, the current conference office located in Mount Vernon. Officers of the Ohio Conference, working with both the finance and executive committees, were granted authority by constituents to take all necessary steps to sell the Mount Vernon property at fair market value.
Four new churches were voted into the sisterhood of Ohio Conference churches: these included the Dayton Korean church, Springfield Spanish church, Prince of Peace church (Ghanaian), and the Akron Hispanic church.
After a lengthy discussion about proposed changes by the Articles and Regulations committee, all revisions were accepted. Regular conference constituency sessions will now be on a quinquennial (five year) basis rather than the current quadrennium (four year) basis.
Unlike the meeting four years ago, conference finances were shown to be healthy and continuing to improve. Halvorsen reported that working capital will once again be at 100% in the coming weeks and months.
Stay connected with the Ohio Conference through our E-Blasts, social media platforms, and www.ohioadventist.org. Additional information and a short recap video will be available later this week.
For parties interested in the purchase of the Mount Vernon conference property, please contact Michael D. Gilkey, treasurer/CFO at 937.853.8453.
ANNUAL WOMEN’S RETREAT RECONNECTS WOMEN TO JESUS
November 2, 2017
“I never stay up late, and I never share personal things about myself,” shared Kim Whitford, a first-time attendee of the annual Ohio Conference Women’s Retreat. Kim went on to explain how she stayed up late the first night drinking cocoa in front of a fire in the Mohaven lodge, visiting with other attendees from around the state. Later the next day, one of her new friends came up to her, stating she “really needed to talk to her.” Turns out this lady had recently lost her child, and after hearing Kim’s story about losing her own son many years ago the night before, felt impressed to reach out to Kim. They ended up having a long conversation, prayed, and both walked away feeling God had helped them each heal a part of their hearts. “And to think I almost didn’t come to this!” said Kim. “God knew we each needed to be here this weekend!”
More than 100 women attended the retreat, many wearing their handmade infinity scarves all weekend long, gifts compliments The Tabithas women’s ministry team from the Mansfield church. Sabbath afternoon canoeing was the most popular weekend outdoor activity, with women of all ages enjoying the 90-minute ride. Ladies showed God’s love in a practical way through a “baby shower” for DIM, or Dominion Intercessors Ministry in Dayton, who assist refugee families new to the area. $861.80 was donated during a special offering, as well as gifts of diapers, clothing, strollers and other much needed items – so much so that it took two vehicles to transport the gifts to Dayton.
After the retreat Heidi Shoemaker, Women's Ministries director for the Ohio Conference, received a letter from DIM sharing how the donations would be used. "Your support will play a key role in upcoming baby showers for African refugees who reside (in) Dayton. Your support will also enable us to rent a small storage place for items we save for incoming refugees who seem to be in immediate need as they arrive," wrote Tabitha Uwimpuhwe, Chief Operation Officer for DIM.
The highlight of the weekend were the Christ-centered presentations by guest speaker Lori Farr, pastor of the Miamisburg church. Farr began the weekend reminding attendees that Jesus “wants nothing more from us, than for us to spend time with Him, to relieve our burdens...Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28 if you need it) Throughout a series of four, carefully crafted presentations, Farr successfully transported women to the feet of Jesus, reconnecting them to Jesus. “I belong to Jesus!” Farr exclaimed.
Discussing the intricacies story of Mary, her alabaster jar, and the extravagance perceived by her actions, Farr contrasts the story of two followers. “Mary had a heart of gratitude, Judas had a heart of greed...Mary put everything she had into loving Jesus,” Farr said of the “extravagant love” Mary had for Jesus, and Jesus has for us. “Thank God, Jesus never gives up on us!”
CLICK HERE FOR RETREAT VIDEOS & RECIPES
OHIO CONFERENCE ACCEPTS DONATED BUILDING WORTH $3.2 MILLION
September 5, 2017
The Ohio Conference Executive Committee voted today to accept the gift of a $3.2 million office building and furnishings located in the greater Dayton area.
A Christian couple who own a growing home healthcare company approached Kettering Adventist HealthCare with an offer to donate their 29,350-square-foot building on a 2.6-acre lot valued at $3,193,000 to a not-for-profit entity. The network, recognizing that the benefit of such an offer could further the mission and ministry in the Ohio Conference, notified Dr. Ron Halvorsen Jr, Ohio Conference president.
Members of the Ohio Conference Executive Committee, Finance Committee and Properties and Trusts Committee reviewed specifics of the offer and toured the facility. The Properties and Trusts Committee voted unanimously to recommend acceptance of the offer to the Executive Committee. After prayerful consideration, the Executive Committee voted to accept this gift.
Conference officials see merit in transitioning the Ohio headquarters to this new location. Nearly $80,000 is spent annually to operate the existing conference office, and increases each year due to the age of the building. The newly acquired complex consists of two adjoining buildings with two floors each. The Ohio Conference could use one building, and Kettering has agreed to lease the second for a minimum of 10 years. Funds generated through such a lease could save the conference nearly $1 million in overhead.
“This would allow us the opportunity to own outright a building that is much newer, in far better shape and would cost our conference next to nothing to operate,” said Halvorsen. “A percentage of the monies saved could be set aside yearly to help in harder times, while most of the monthly savings could be used to help our Ohio churches and schools fulfill their vision and mission.”
In light of the potential financial and missional benefits, the Ohio Conference Executive Committee voted to authorize use of the new facility. Full transition to the new building will need to be ratified at the upcoming constituency session on May 6, 2018.
The conference will schedule several opportunities for constituents to walk through the facility next spring.
Coming soon...Frequently Asked Questions about this property.
CENTERVILLE CHURCH ADOPTS AFRICAN REFUGEE CHURCH PLANT
“Most (Visitor) readers are probably familiar with the war between the Tutsis and Hutus in the early 90’s, when between 500,000 and 1,000,000 were slaughtered. It is one of the greatest genocides in modern history anywhere in the world,” shared Winston Baldwin, senior pastor of the Centerville church. “Many in the group have never lived in a setting like the one they are experiencing (in Ohio), because many of them have spent 20 years in refugee camps living only in tents. They had many challenges in their native countries and are just beginning to adjust to many of the different challenges living in a first world country.”
This, Baldwin explains, is the background of members attending the African Refugee church plant in Dayton. New to the area and seeking fellowship, church leaders from various Adventist churches helped refugees as they could. After consulting with Ohio Conference leadership, the group organized as a church plant in October 2016 with some 40 members. By mid-April 2017, attendance topped 80 people each Sabbath.
According to Baldwin, “Most of the refugees come from the African country of Rwanda, but there are also some from Burundi and Congo.” The majority do not yet know English, but are making efforts at this time to learn. Late last year, the Centerville church voted to officially become the “mother church” to the African group. “After a series of Bible studies, 17 precious souls were baptized (April 2017) at the Centerville church, with most of them being young people under the age of 25,” shared Baldwin.
Lay leaders Fidele Nsengimana and Jan Jewett lead the growing Dayton African Refugee church plant. The group meets at a church building courtesy Grandview Medical Center, part of Kettering Health Network. “It is a beautiful church facility which they can use for the foreseeable future every Sabbath of the year,” said Baldwin.
“God has truly prepared Fidele to minister to this group because he has one parent who is a Hutu and the other a Tutsi,” shared Baldwin. Fidele arrived several years ago without his family because he was the only one who could get out at that time. His wife and two children have since joined him here in the United States.
“As you can imagine, the physical needs of these refugees are great. They need everything from clothing to household goods to washers and dryers. One single mother with 10 children barely makes it each day,” Baldwin commented. The Good Neighbor House has donated a van, food and clothing while many Centerville members have donated clothing, appliances, and even plumbing repairs in refugee homes.
“It is our hope here at Centerville that one day in the not too distant future the Dayton African group will become a full-fledged church,” said Baldwin, “and we expect will happen because of God’s continued blessing.”
CHURCH PLANTS IN THE OHIO CONFERENCE
Ohio Conference constituents may be surprised to learn several new congregations have recently been established around the state. Though quite diverse, each are a direct result of prayer, study, and members intentionally reaching into their communities.
The Ohio Conference has set a goal of establishing 10 church plants by the end of 2017; we are well on our way to achieving that goal. Watch this video to learn more about church plants in the Ohio Conference, explained by Oswaldo Magaña, secretary.
“Members of the Columbus Ghanaian church have been talking, brainstorming and praying about planting a second Ghanaian Adventist church within the city of Columbus,” shared Kofi Adjei, church communication director. Many felt this was long overdue “due of the influx of many ethnic non-Adventist Ghanaians who have moved from Ghana, West Africa and settled permanently in different neighborhoods of the city.”
After considerable planning, extensive demographic studies and prayer, along with approval from conference administration, the Prince of Peace Ghanaian church was planted in northern Columbus. “This area was strategically selected due to its close proximity to so many non-Adventist Ghanaian immigrants. The few Ghanaian Adventists in that vicinity could be trained and used as conduit to evangelize their own fellow country citizens,” explained Adjei.
The group is quickly attracting new members and developing new ministries. Their core group of 60 has grown to more than 70, with a baptismal class preparing others for baptism. Their story will be shared in the May 2017 Mission Ohio in Visitor magazine.
“Massillon Connections was birthed with a vision to not duplicate ministries, but to ‘connect’ with area faith-based and civic groups to support existing causes, provide resources, and when possible, meet identified needs,” explained Cindy Ferguson, who with retired pastor-husband Ken are plant coordinators. Inspired by the NAD’s Plant 1000 suggestion to have one Adventist church for every 25,000 people, Ferguson and team from the Canton church saw Massillon as a mission field.
Through multiple church plant studies and community surveys, a target population was identified and outreach aligned to the data. “The results give indication that there is a harvest to be reaped,” said Ferguson. Presently the group has seven Bible studies in progress and commitments for 11 individual Bible studies and 13 community Bible studies, as well as over 100 registrations for a variety of seminars. “Clearly the harvest is ready!” said Ferguson. More about their story is shared in the April 2017 Mission Ohio in Visitor magazine. (Read more about Massillon Connections)
As these ministries unfold, prayers are coveted. Stay connected with these and other stories by visiting www.ohioadventist.org or subscribing to our Faithpoints e-newsletter.
MASSILLON CONNECTIONS "CONNECTS"
by Cynthia Ferguson, photos by David Halter
The Massillon Connections Seventh-day Adventist Church hasn’t opened its doors, yet. In fact, this new church plant at 308 Erie Street South doesn’t even have a sign, but that was of no consequence to Chris Potwora of Massillon, who on Saturday, March 4, 2017 became the first newly baptized member of this soon-to-be established fellowship.
Chris became acquainted with the church at the 2016 Massillon Funfest, and began Bible studies shortly thereafter. Because the church believes in baptism by immersion; because there is no baptistery in their underconstruction storefront sanctuary; and because they are right around the corner from the Massillon Family YMCA, the YMCA seemed like the perfect partner, opening their doors to Chris and the 22 guests who came to share in this celebration, including those who joined her in the waters of baptism: Pastor William Rodriguez of the Canton Seventh-day Adventist Church, Massillon Connections Coach; Pastor Ken Ferguson, Massillon Connections Coordinator; and Naomi Halter, Chris’ mentor and Bible study instructor.
Pastor William Rodriguez, Naomi Halter,
Members of the Massillon Connections
Massillon Connections' newest member,
Chris Potwora (left), newly baptized member of
NEW YEAR, NEW CHANGES TO OHIO ADVANCE
by Karen L. Senecal, Ohio Conference treasurer
High school chemistry, summer camp high ropes course, community health fairs, new boiler for a church heating system. What do these things have in common? All of them benefit from Ohio Advance.
It’s a new year. So many things change as a new year begins and this year, Ohio Advance is changing. The offering still benefits Ohio Conference programs, but the allocations have changed. Last December, our Executive Committee voted to allocate the funds to Outreach/Evangelism, Secondary Education, Camp Mohaven and church buildings and equipment.
Outreach and evangelism programs in Ohio will receive 30% of the money given to Ohio Advance. Churches and pastors can apply to the conference for funding for specific projects. Outreach projects include any project or program that is aimed at the community. Health fairs, health screenings at county fairs, cooking classes, health seminars, and block parties for the communities around our churches and schools are some examples of events that could receive funding from Ohio Advance.
For several years, we allocated a very high percentage of Ohio Advance to Mount Vernon Academy. This strong commitment to education continues. Starting immediately, 50% of Ohio Advance donations will be allocated to Secondary Education in Ohio. This will mean additional funds for our schools that offer grades 9-12. Currently, Spring Valley Academy is accredited for grades 9-12 and Northern Ohio Adventist Academy is accredited for grades 9-10. We have 128 students enrolled in those grades and we will use the Ohio Advance funds to enrich their educational experience.
Camp Mohaven provides all of us with a place to relax and recreate as we spend time in nature and with our God who created all that beauty for us. Improvements to the structures or buying new equipment at Camp Mohaven must be paid for with offerings, not with tithe. Camp Mohaven hosts summer camp and so much more. During 2016, lay pastors and elders, young adults, middle school and high school students, church groups, and even camp meeting guests enjoyed the peace and quiet at camp. Ohio Advance will help keep Camp Mohaven a place where we can enjoy nature and fellowship. Ten percent of Ohio Advance will be allocated to buildings and equipment at Camp Mohaven.
Each of us, as members of local churches, give offerings to maintain our buildings and improve or build new ones. As we give to Ohio Advance, we have the opportunity to help other churches around the conference. Ten percent of Ohio Advance will be used for buildings and equipment in Ohio churches and schools.
In summary, Ohio Advance will now be allocated: 30% for Outreach/Evangelism, 50% for Secondary Education in Ohio, 10% for Camp Mohaven Development and 10% for Church/School Buildings and Equipment.
Thank you for your generous support of the Ohio Conference. Your offerings are helping bring many people to the Lord.
SHARING JESUS WITH POKEMON “GLOW”
By Shane Mangroo, Centerville Church Bible Worker
The popularity of the game Pokemon Go has people breaking social norms. They are actually getting out, walking, spending time in nature and communicating with one another again. Where technology may have once estranged our culture, this app seems to be reversing that trend. It has even provided a new audience and venue to do what Jesus called us to do at the end of Matthew 28 (The Great Commission).
Thanks to this game, social walls are beginning to crumble. Anytime we see walls crumbling, whether in history or the Bible, we often see God taking advantage of this new territory to further His kingdom. We can even use this to introduce someone to Jesus. Pokemon Go has provided new needs which can open doors to impact someone spiritually. This is how Jesus reached others. These needs range from hunger and thirst, to charging a dying phone.
After walking around cities and parks for hours, players are tired, hungry, thirsty and have depleted batteries. Enter Centerville church youth pastor Jeremy Wong and interns. Equipped with bags filled with granola bars, Gatorade, and “Glow” tracts (hence the name Pokemon Glow), the crew set out to distribute bags to tired and hungry "Pokemon trainers." A tent was set up in parks where the game is played along with a battery bank, in an attempt to meet people and their needs.
The day of the first attempt, temperatures were in the high 90's. The crew had 18 bags. The park was uncharacteristically empty and they grew discouraged. Two interns decided to take a few bags to another area of the park inaccessible to the booth. People gladly accepted the bags, opening up about their life, and allowing team members to pray with them. Even as the park was clearing out, they were able to reach and pray with the exact number of people for which they had bags.
The next time 45 bags were made. Storms erupted as they entered the park; people began leaving. Uncertain, they prayed and set up their booth anyway. The rain stopped, and within an hour every bag was distributed and they prayed with even more people. Many asked for the church address and worship schedule. Everyone responded positively, and several promised to visit their church.
If people can “get up and go into all the world” for a game, we should do the same because that is what Jesus asks us to do. Do we love our neighbors enough to share Jesus with them? Whatever your opinion is about Pokemon Go, God has been using it to open doors and bless people. It is a great tool to meet the needs of many and connect with players. Traditional evangelism still works, even in nontraditional ways.
MISSIONAL MENTORING IN OHIO
“How could a congregation release and empower young people for ministry, and disciples for service?” asks Edward Marton, DMin, MDiv, Ohio Conference youth director in his book Mentoring by Design. Marton’s book looks at the model of mentoring from personal, Biblical, and Adventist historical perspectives. His passion for mentoring is clear, and the book explores the foundation of these models, adapted and applied here within the Ohio Conference by Marton, both as senior pastor and youth director.
Mentoring by Design explores mentoring and discipleship through the small group model. Potential leaders are mentored to lead future small groups, while all small group members are to be discipled to follow Christ and serve Christ in the community. Marton coins this philosophy “Missional Mentoring,” and has been using this model since his appointment as youth director in 2014.
Below is a new video produced by the conference youth department explaining the tenets of Missional Mentoring and how it is growing across the conference. “Think of the book of Acts – how Barnabas would invite Paul into a missional mentoring experience. Then Barnabas would invite John Mark, and Paul would mentor Timothy. Core tenets of missional mentoring would be groups coming together for prayer, fellowship, sharing, support, accountability, to go into the community to share Christ, through different types of activities with other young adults or others in the community,” explains Marton.
Young adults within the Ohio Conference have embraced the mentoring concept. This first video, Missional Mentoring: Ohio Young Adult Women in Ministry, shares stories where mentoring is growing in Ohio. After moving for graduate school, Kim DeGracia was church hopping in northeast Ohio looking for a “good fit.” Saying of her small group at Westlake, “You all have really strengthened my faith in God and help me realize that He shouldn’t be just a part of my life, but he should be everything to me.”
“Missional mentoring is going out of your comfort zone,” said Nicole Conn of Athens. “It means that sometimes when we are feeling vulnerable about sharing our faith, this is where God does his greatest work.”
Marton continually affirms young leaders across Ohio. “I’d like to invite our churches, and all our young adults, to continue to pray for the Holy Spirit’s leading as He designs for our communities to experience discipleship in missional mentoring.”
Are you involved in missional mentoring in your church? We would like to hear from you. Please share your stories via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #missionalmentoring, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PRAYER HELPS OPEN NEW SCHOOL IN NORTHEASTERN OHIO
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Members of seven churches in northeastern Ohio, along with the Ohio Conference, have been on a journey of faith this year. The July-August issue of Visitor magazine shared how educational evangelism grew a rural school in Clarksfield, Ohio. Having outgrown their building, students and parents, teachers and pastors, members and conference leaders earnestly prayed for a new building. Ron Halvorsen Jr, conference president, was often observed praying over a map of the Ohio – praying for a solution.
Tentative plans were made, but school leaders encountered numerous challenges. Resigned to the idea of temporary building, teacher Jeanne Sinka decided to search the internet “one more time” for a permanent location for the school. Her search turned up a recently closed public school building in Sheffield Lake, a suburb of the greater Cleveland area. Upon checking with their realtor, they learned the school had providentially not yet been entered into the MLS system. A showing was scheduled with the owner, which led to emergency board meetings with church and conference leadership. An offer was made only days after the property was discovered, and then everyone went home and prayed.
Their first offer, less than half the asking price, was accepted by the owner despite there being two higher offers from others. “He (the owner) felt they were different than any other group he had ever worked with,” explained the realtor. Closing on the 28,000 square foot school on 3 ½ acre property a mere block from Lake Erie came quickly, and work began the same day principal Leona Bange received the keys.
NOAA (Northern Ohio Adventist Academy) now had a home. Large classrooms wired for internet and projectors, a gymnasium containing folding lunch tables and wall pads, rooms suitable for a music room and future science lab, not to mention nearly $10,000 in equipment, materials, and supplies. A work bee was scheduled to clean and prepare the school to open September 6th.
Sheffield Lake residents are reportedly enthusiastic about a private school in their community. Neighbors and officials from city hall have offered to help clean and landscape. Visitors stop by regularly to inquire about what NOAA offers and look forward to attending their Christmas program.
While purchasing carpet for her school office at the nearby Home Depot, Bange was assisted by a friendly employee. After some polite conversation he asked, “Would your school have any need for us to do a project for you?” She soon learned she was speaking with the store’s Community Team Leader, who could not find projects in the surrounding wealthy school districts. Arrangements were made for a team of 10-12 employees to clean and repair the school playground this fall, with Home Depot providing all the supplies. They offered to complete two projects a year for the school. “It’s God pouring out the resources of heaven for these kids!” exclaimed Bange.
To learn more about NOAA, visit www.northernohioadventistacademy.org.
EDUCATIONAL EVANGELISM GROWS CLARKSFIELD ADVENTIST SCHOOL
Clarksfield, known as “the school in a cornfield,” is one of the oldest in the Ohio Conference. Built in 1897, this school once boasted nearly 100 students back in the days when Clarksfield was a stop on the railroad for nearby farms and their families, and who were unable to send their children to Mount Vernon Academy. They have produced countless Adventist overseas missionaries, teachers, and conference leaders. Sadly by 2012, as the population of the area declined, enrollment in the school was only five students.
That was the year teacher Leona Bange came to the school, wondering if this might be the final year. She quickly began reaching out into her community, and together with local church support and involvement, enrollment grew exponentially: from five students to 49 (K-12 and homeschool co-op) students in May 2016, the majority of whom are transported in from the greater Cleveland area.
How did this happen? Bange began making connections. First she offered a homeschool co-op. Then she began collaborating with pastors and members of Adventist churches as far away as Brooklyn. Soon she and her family were involved with Pathfinders and Adventurers at the Westlake church, where a friend credentialed to teach music began volunteering at Clarksfield. Before long, the Brooklyn and Elyria churches became connected through their Pathfinder and Adventurer programs. Due to these connections with children and their families, parents felt they knew the Clarksfield school leadership team, making an easier and more receptive transition into the school.
Interestingly, not all students or their families are Adventist. This does not deter Bange or her staff. “We’re here to support our Adventist families – whether in Clarksfield, homeschool, or public school – that’s how we build connections.” It has been the philosophy which has allowed the school to use education to minister to their community. Ken Knudsen, Superintendent of Education for the Ohio Conference shared recently at a conference committee meeting, “We are in a prime time for educational evangelism.”
Bange shares countless stories of connections Clarksfield has made. Most notable is the story of 16-year-old Jacob who wanted his family to return to church. After Bible studies last fall with the local pastor, he expressed interest in Adventist Christian education and was referred to Bange. “What do I need to do to go to your school?” he asked at their first meeting. Soon Jacob was enrolled, followed by his two siblings, and now the family attends church regularly – after learning that his mother and aunt used to attend Clarksfield as children. “This is the mission field,” noted Bange.
Prayer has been front and center for Bange, the students and her dedicated team of volunteers. Throughout this journey they have identified needs, prayed faithfully, shared news of God’s blessings before praying about their next need. “Where God takes it from here, I haven’t a clue,” said Bange. “We struggle to not lead ahead of God.”
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Be sure to watch the video from Griggs International Academy and their partnership with Clarksfield! Click video to play.
AUGUST 2016 UPDATE: The staff and students have outgown the historic Clarksfield schoolhouse. What is the next step in this journey? We will share their many stories of how God has blessed in articles and a video at the end of September, and introduce you to NOAA. What is NOAA? Stay tuned!
YOUNG ADULTS IMMERSED IN THE WORD
by Tom Albrecht
Last month, young adults from across the state of Ohio gathered at Camp Mohaven for the first Immersion conference. The young adults spent the weekend not in listening to a speaker, but in learning to study the Bible themselves. Ohio Conference Youth Director Edward Marton organized the event, and while he led out and instructed the attendees in the methodology of proper study, the actual study in each session was left to the attendees, which were organized in groups of about eight.
The attendees studied the book of Joel over the course of the weekend, and all came away with a better understanding of how to study the Bible, as well as a deeper appreciation for the book of Joel and its prophetic message.
Young adults came together from many parts of Ohio, and main cities such as Cleveland, Columbus, and Dayton were well represented, as well as the small country churches. The Bible-study focused nature of the event drew together the attendees and fostered a positive atmosphere.
Saturday night after study and outings in the unseasonably warm weather, the young adults came together and shared testimonies about how God has been working in their lives. Many shared their personal journeys and victories through the power of God. At the end of the testimony session one of the young men proposed to his girlfriend after sharing the story of their romance.
The event gathered more than 60 young adults from around the state, which was higher than initial expectations. Many drove in on Saturday from different areas in order to participate. There was a universal sense of community and spiritual growth, and the young adults are looking forward to continuing regional events, and for next year's gathering. The atmosphere and reception to the event were very positive, and the study-focused event was enjoyed by all.
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CLEVELAND AREA CHURCH A "VIABLE PRESENCE IN COMMUNITY"
“Twelve years ago, in a conversation with Raj Attiken (former Ohio Conference president), I was challenged by his statement that he thought it would be interesting to see a church become a viable presence in their community; a presence that made a measurable mark which would be missed if they closed up and left...That inspiration has driven this (program) as I see that model in Christ every time I open the Word,” said Dean Cinquemani, pastor of the Christ Our Righteousness (COR) church in Olmstead Falls (a suburb of Cleveland).
"Eating to Live" is the evolution of what began nine years ago as "Cooking for Life.” Originally a two-part program consisting of a one-hour medical presentation showing how the health tracks of many can lead to heart disease, diabetes and often cancer – all begin with diet. This was followed by an hour of cooking demonstrations, which included samples for attendees.
Over the years, the church has tried different focuses including the "Full Plate Diet" and some other variations. Three years ago COR member and program leader Dr. Polly Dengel urged the church to be more stringent in their focus, using the "Forks over Knives" format for stopping and reversing heart disease. From that point forward their classes would begin by showing the movie "Forks Over Knives" on Saturday night, followed by four two-hour classes over the course of two weeks. Today, they begin with a 20 minute healthy-cooking demonstration followed by a one-hour health lecture, and conclude each class by sitting down together to eat a dinner of the demonstrated dishes. “We never know how late we will be each evening as the participants often stay to talk late into the evening,” noted Cinquemani.
Participation has grown to the point where COR has had to add another class in the early summer, and recent classes have been running at full capacity (60-80 pre registering per class). They do not charge for classes, but accept donations. “I am very clear as we go along that it is our relationship with Christ that drives us to love the community and seek to help others to better living in all facets of life: spiritual, health, family, financial, and anything else we can find,” stressed Cinquemani. He is currently working on putting a special study together for some who have expressed interest in “knowing the God that has inspired us to care.” Visit www.thecommunityforbetterliving.org for more information on this program.
Dr. Polly Dengel interviewing Cinquemani's father, who came to the class for the first time two years ago. After following the diet taught, he has lost 45 pounds, significantly reduced his diabetes medicine, and reversed his heart disease.
OHIO SHARPENS VISION AND MISSION FOR 2016
Here in Ohio we are praising God for all He did for us in 2015 and look forward to what He will do in 2016. Our conference has been through difficult times, but we are praising God for the miraculous turnaround in our financial health. God is good and He has answered the prayers of His people in mighty ways.
It is with eager anticipation that we begin this New Year with Him. We started it out right with a focus on prayer on January 9; we will remain focused on prayer throughout this year. It is exciting to have come through a mighty storm and now be able to turn our attention to the work of sharpening our vision and the mission for God’s cause here in Ohio.
Sharing with you in broad strokes, this new chapter for Ohio will focus on “four E’s.” We in the Ohio Conference will seek to Equip, Engage, Educate, and Evangelize.
Equip: Focus on constant surrender to the Holy Spirit, allowing God’s Spirit to use us as tools in loving those within our immediate sphere. Leaders will be intentional about equipping members for ministry. We will spend resources, energy, talents, and time equipping God’s people for His service. We often use the phrase in church, “every member a minister.” With the Holy Spirit’s direction and power this can become a reality.
Engage: Commitment to work together, prayerfully seeking to engage with people for Jesus, asking ourselves how we can form holy and healing relationships that lead people to Christ and healthy Christian communities. Special focus will be given to finding ways we can better engage youth and young adults within our church as well as those not yet a part.
Educate: Focus on finding ways to have more of our Ohio young people receive Adventist Christian education. This focus will be on both elementary and secondary education. The goal will be to strengthen our ministry to young people as well as our schools. We have learned much from our journey these last 18 months which will aid us in the future.
Evangelize: This word has a lot of holy elasticity, and by God’s grace we in Ohio will find more and more ways of fulfilling the Gospel Commission given us by Christ Himself. We will prayerfully look at the territory God has called us to reach and be serious about reaching it for Jesus. This word is a reminder of the outward focus we need here in Ohio.
This will be achieved not by our wit or wisdom, might or power, plans or programs, but by God’s Spirit. This is only a start, but begin in Christ we have. We look forward to where God will lead in the coming year!
Ron Halvorsen Jr.
EASTWOOD CHRISTMAS PROJECTS BRING JOY TO HUNDREDS
Christmas 2015 at the Eastwood Seventh-day Adventist Church began when outside decorations were pumpkins, not snowmen and candy canes. In mid-October, members were introduced to Project Christmas Box, a campaign that enabled five families to have a much brighter Christmas.
“I’d thought about it for more than a year,” said Diana White, project coordinator. She kept pushing the thought back but one Sabbath in late September found herself discussing it with Eastwood pastor Milt Pruitt. After receiving approval and contacting several organizations, the Salvation Army’s Adopt-A-Family seemed the best fit. “Their first question was how many people we would commit to,” said White. “I had no idea. It was our first effort of this nature. I just imagined about how many members attended church each Sabbath and guessed that 15-18 might be about right,” said White. The congregation was initially shy about helping with the project, mostly because it was more than a month before they had the family data sheets.
The Salvation Army provided information for four families, with each member’s first name, age, gender and wish lists. (Eastwood added another family from within their membership.) Their one requirement was for each person to receive at least two gifts. “By mid-November there were still many names with no gifts spoken for. We had made a commitment and at one point, I honestly wondered if we could fulfill it,” noted White.
But weekly updates, bulletin inserts, church wide emails and meeting people one-on-one created synergy, moving members from mild interest to full enthusiasm. By the December deadline, every item on every list was marked off, with more to spare. Twenty-six church members contributed 114 gifts, $360 in gift cards, plus generous cash and food donations.
Alongside Project Christmas Box was Eastwood’s annual Gift of Warmth drive led by Cliff and Karen Chapman. This couple works tirelessly throughout the year with numerous retailers, purchasing coats at extremely deep discounts for Westerville Caring and Sharing, a nonprofit that serves children exclusively. It began in 1997 when the couple’s earlier home church in Westerville was looking for an outreach project. That first year they procured about ten coats. In recent years, they have acquired as many as 316. Karen estimates the full retail value could be as much as $21,000.
The hundreds of children receiving these coats receive matching hat and mittens knitted by inmates from the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. Cliff and Karen also shop through the year for yarn and materials which they donate to the prison program. “In turn, we receive their finished products to compliment the coats,” said Karen.
When asked how they’ve kept up their momentum Karen’s answer was simple. “We never get to meet the children personally, but we hear stories about their excitement when they get the gifts and come to school dressed warm – and I like to shop,” she laughed.
The satisfaction from both projects is equally rewarding. Now with one successful year for Project Christmas Box, plans are underway to work hand-in-hand with the Gift of Warmth. “Next year’s strategy will include getting more members to help with details. Turns out, it takes a lot of work!” said White. But greater the effort, greater the rewards. And blessings are ensured for all.
* Diana White is a retired health care public relations professional living in Westerville, Ohio.
OHIO PASTOR ACCEPTS INVITATION TO GENERAL CONFERENCE
Pastor Jerry Chase and his wife Brenda recently accepted a call to the General Conference. The following is an article he wrote about this transition for his local church e-newsletter.
There just isn’t any way to put a good spin on saying goodbye. And that is the hard part of being a pastor. One knows from the moment one steps into a new parish that someday, sooner or later, one will be saying “goodbye.”
For those who are curious, here is a little bit about where we are going, what I will be doing, and my journey that has brought me to this point. I have accepted an invitation to work at the General Conference (GC) of Seventh-day Adventists (world headquarters) in Silver Spring, MD. I will begin my new work at the GC on January 4, 2016. We have begun the tedious work of searching for a new home in Maryland, but anticipate that it will take a number of months for this transition to be complete.
My new work will be divided between assisting in the implementation and support of the Adventist Church Management System (ACMS) and developing Geographic Information System (GIS) suite of tools and services as an extension of the Adventist Membership Software (SDAMS) department. In this role, I hope to assist the leaders of our world church in better utilizing technology and data in mission assessment and strategic planning.
On a very personal level this brings me full circle to where I was fifteen years ago. When I graduated from the Adventist Seminary, I prayed about where I was to serve. My first choice was to serve in a mission context, perhaps among Native Americans. But after an all-but-certain ministerial call fell through, I felt that God was leading me to stay in the Andrews University area for the sake of my children’s education. Sometime after this episode, I was encouraged to apply for a newly developed position, Research Project Director, at Adventist Frontier Missions (AFM).
The purpose of this research project, subsequently dubbed People Group Information System (PGIS), was to identify the people groups yet unreached by the Adventist Church. This propelled me into a whole new world of computer technology, data collection and analysis, and strategic planning for missions.
Early on in this journey, I remember how I felt a unique sense of calling with an accompanying passion and energy for the task at hand. As I understood the possible ramifications of this project, I felt that I had found my God-given destiny.
For a year and a half, I worked at AFM developing the concept, networking with mission specialists in and outside of the SDA Church, and developing core skills in GIS, database development, and programming.
But over time it became evident that the Church was not ready to support a project of this type and magnitude. AFM, unable to financial carry the project alone, especially in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, reluctantly was forced to cut the budget for this research project. With no salary from AFM, I accepted freelance work in the community and for a time returned to the AFM office as a volunteer to wrap up ongoing data collection and software enhancements.
Despite pockets of enthusiasm for the research project, it appeared that the concept and my involvement in it were on hold. Eventually, one of the freelance jobs turned into a permanent job offer and I joined the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission. For five years, I served as the GIS Specialist, providentially extending my GIS skills which I had originally learned for the project at AFM. Incidentally, it was during this “holding time” that I met and married Brenda. Had I received a call at an earlier time, we would have never met.
When I least expected it, I received an inquiry from the Ohio Conference about my interest in ministry. Fully engaged and satisfied in ministry as a lay leader in my local church, I was not actively searching for a pastoral position. Additionally, my son was still in college and my wife Brenda was fully immersed in her Ph.D. program. Needless to say, we had no personal motivation to move at that time.
But Brenda and I, committed to doing God’s will, prayed that God would make His will known. When we received the call to the Akron First Seventh-day Adventist Church, we did not hesitate in saying “Yes!” Thank you for the opportunity to join you in God’s work here in Ohio. I have been immensely blessed by the friendships and shared ministry. And now after eight years in Akron, Ohio, I understand even better how God so marvelously weaves, like a tapestry, experiences to enrich each other’s lives.
Now as I rejoin a dream born fifteen years ago, I do so with a richer experience and understanding of real life ministry. For that I thank you. I don’t know what the next five or ten years has in store for us, but I am confident of this, that as long as we are faithful in following His will, He does not waste a single thread. Every twist, every turn, every thread, every color is part of His beautiful master plan.
It is with sadness that Brenda and I begin to say our goodbyes to all of you. Our prayer is that “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus!” Although there is no easy way to say “goodbye,” for those of faith, goodbye is really see-you-later, as we all look forward to a grand reunion around the Great Banquet Feast of Grace. I trust you will join me in tempering the sting of goodbye with the joyful expectation of the day when there will truly be no more goodbyes.
This piece was written by Pastor Jerry Chase, and first appeared in the Akron First News e-newsletter, December 2015.
OHIO USING TECHNOLOGY TO REACH YOUTH
Dear Conference Family,
We have faced several major challenges as a conference over the last couple of years, but through it all we have seen many miracles. I would like to share a recent one with you.
Deep within the core of our values is the desire to minister to our youth and young adults more effectively and to reach out to those who are not yet a part of our church family. Studies and reports on these demographics in recent years in North America, not only within our denomination but within Christianity in general, are not promising.
As I travel around our conference, I often see many places where there are few youth or young adults. In many of our churches there are not enough to have an active youth or young adult group. There have been times that I find there is just one young person at a church. Somehow these few need the opportunity to be engaged by the church family and connected with other young believers. As a pastor who has spent much of his ministry in settings that specifically focus on these age groups, I am deeply concerned for these scattered and few.
Recently we have had a miraculous opportunity shared with our conference. An anonymous donor has provided funding for one of our pastors, Kasper Haughton, to use his gifts with technology, media and social media, to help us connect our youth and young adults – building a community for them via technology. I praise God for this opportunity. For years I have been hearing the problem discussed time and again in meetings at every level of our North American Division. I for one am tired of us just talking about it; I believe it is time to try some tangible things in God’s power and see things change for the better.
Here is where you come in. I need you to pray. Pastor Kasper has accepted this call even though he knows that it is a short-term financial commitment on the part of the donor. I ask you to pray for Pastor Kasper, Edward Marton (Youth Director), Ken Knudsen (Superintendent of Education) and myself as we work with others within our conference to see God glorified and His young people ministered to and discipled through this mission.
I praise God for opening doors during hard financial times to see His work and His children Prosper.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Ron Halvorsen Jr
NOTE: Pastor Haughton begins his new role January 1, 2016. Prior to this new role, he was the Technical Director & Pastor for Youth at the Kettering Church
PASTOR, TEACHER, CREATIVE MINISTRY EXPERT BILL LIVERSIDGE DIES
"Bill (Liversidge) had a huge influence here in the Ohio Conference, preaching and teaching at campmeetings and other conference and church events as well as individual church-sponsored seminars," said Alice Hoffer, lay leader for an innovative small group in Strongsville. "My husband and I first met and became friends with Bill when he was the weekend speaker for a mini-campmeeting that was held in downtown Cleveland in the early 80s. When he came back to Cleveland in 1985 to do an Ohio Conference Men’s Weekend retreat, my husband Mike Sinyard, who was not an Adventist at the time, was so moved that he decided to begin Bible studies with our pastor and was subsequently baptized."
A native Australian, Bill had a big impact on many here in the Ohio Conference. He presented many seminars at churches across the state, including Worthington, Barberton, Medina, Lakewood, and Centerville. A teacher at heart, he taught and encouraged many to set up inductive Bible studies at work. Hoffer herself set up a lunch-hour Bible study at American Greetings, which she ran weekly for nearly four years (growing from 10-12 to 20-25 people each week). Liversidge practiced what he preached, establishing a corporate study at the World Bank when he lived in the Washington, D.C. area several years ago - which continues to this day.
A memorial was held last week, which may be viewed here.
Read more about Liversidge and his life in this Adventist Today article.
Hoffer's husband Mike shares his thoughts:
"No one lived life more fully.
Had such a profound effect on so many lives around the world.
Was an anchor to so many people.
Absolute riot to travel with.
Nobody more connected to God.
Wisest person I ever knew.
Full of love.
Great sense of humor.
Larger than life.
The world is a darker place without him.
Miss him so much."
OHIO HEALTH MINISTRIES CONNECT WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES
The summer of 2015 has been active for Health Ministries in Ohio, with two churches finding unique ways to connect with their local communities.
“When was the last time you saw your church parking lot full and your sanctuary with standing room only?” asked retired pastor and outreach coordinator Ken Ferguson. For members of the Canton church, it was at their second annual Health and Wellness event. Co-sponsored by Aultman Hospital, the health fair grew from 11 hospital partners and 75 visitors, to 34 community exhibitors and 200 visitors in 2015.
Canton’s unique approach combined traditional wellness checks and seminars while children were engaged in health-related activities of their own. Relaxing music was provided by a church member’s dulcimer group, along with a free ethnically-diverse vegetarian lunch. One exhibitor stated, “I’ve worked many health fairs in my career, and this is the first health fair I’ve ever participated in that offered a healthy lunch!”
Another exhibitor asked Ferguson about the Sabbath, which led to a one-hour post-health fair discussion and possible future Bible studies. Others were interested in the vegetarian lunch and whether or not all members were vegetarian. According to Ferguson’s wife Cindy, “They were impressed that as a faith we cared about people holistically, stating this is just the kind of church we are looking for.” Future health events are on Canton’s calendar throughout the remainder of the year, as well as plans for a 2016 Health Fair in June.
Ohio Conference Health Ministries coordinator Dan Thorward directed a partnership between the Ohio Conference and the Worthington church for the 10TV Commit to be Fit Expo at the Columbus Convention Center. This is the second year the group collaborated for this event, where more than 100 volunteers from across the state staffed the booth along with nurses from The Ohio State University. Harding Heritage Foundation offered a grant to supplement contributions.
Over the two-day event, 580 people were screened. Free tests included free cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure, pulmonary function, exercise tolerance, and BMI testing. "It is wonderful to see so many working together in service to our community. We have volunteers from all around Ohio, and some with no direct affiliation with the Adventist Church, who came together under the name Adventist Health Ministries. For most of the participants, this was their first contact with the Seventh-day Adventist church, and I hope they take away that we care about them as people, just as Christ does".