Author Archives: Marella Rudebaugh

From Leader to Leader – Evangelism Phobia

(Summary of a Podcast by Gerry Pool)

by César De León Ph.D LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference

I was listening to a Church Leaders Podcast, with host Jason Day, where he interviewed Gerry Pool, a well-known, outreach strategist, church planter, best-seller author, and lead pastor.

I appreciated Gerry’s simple ideas on how we can embody God’s mission as we reach those in our circle of influence, who need a Savior.  Gerry is best known for shifting church cultures and turning up the evangelistic temperature of its members. 

In this particular episode, Gerry shared why he thinks many churches are struggling with evangelism. He suggests that adopting a multi-generational approach, creating trust among those who are not believers and being intentional about evangelism without seeing unsaved people merely as the end result of a project, is foundational. 

The premise is that most churches are struggling with evangelism.  A majority of churches are rating themselves a “3”—on a scale of 1-10—with some pastors even rating themselves in negative numbers.  Many Christians report they don’t know what their church’s evangelistic expectations even are. Gerry reminds his listeners that evangelistic conversations typically will not take place by chance.  Actually, they tend to take place when we have intentionally prayed and planned to be open to the Spirit’s promptings about who, how and when to have these transformational conversations.

Some people are quick to excuse themselves from evangelistic conversations by arguing that these are not their gift; however, if we are disciples of Jesus, we need to become fishers of men as our divine Master was.  Gerry’s evangelistic approach is organic and natural, but also very intentional.  As he presents his approach to groups, he likes to start with a simple exercise that he recommends as part of evangelism training. After the group is divided in half, one half is asked to: “discuss all the reasons you think non-Christians avoid Christians”.  The other half is asked to “discuss all the reasons Christians avoid non-Christians”.  He gives both groups 15-20 minutes to come up with some bullet points identifying why this mutual avoidant phenomenon exists and what the primary challenges are to engage with non-Christians. 

Gerry believes that many Christian are afraid to witness because they may be asked questions that they don’t know, because they are afraid that their friends will think they just became “projects”, or because they’re afraid of not being politically correct.  On the other hand, non-Christians are often afraid they are going to be judged, preached at, sermonized, not heard, and may even feel devalued in the process.

Gerry developed a strategy to minimize these common obstacles while honoring non-Christians and facilitating engagement in spiritual conversations.  He calls his strategy 3-D-1 and believes that this is a user-friendly framework to help an average Christian feel more comfortable about becoming a mission-focused disciple.

Identify One-life

One person in your sphere of influence who is far from God, someone where you live, work or play; one person that you can pray for and eventually strike a spiritual conversation with. Pick one person that God has put on your heart to reach.  Don’t make him/her “a project”. Be intentional about creating a genuine friendship as you keep in mind that this person really matters to God and therefore, should matter to you. Once you have identified your One-life, you are ready for the 3D’s.

Develop Friendship

Develop an ongoing, authentic, genuine friendship.  This friendship should be intentionally grounded on common interests, with the purpose of developing bridges that will eventually develop trust.

Discover Stories

This is the paradigm shift in evangelism.  Invite Christians to develop the curiosity to discover the stories of their One-life. Ask questions and really listen and understand where people are coming from, which typically is not a Christian perspective. Discover their life stories and explore their life experiences.  The emphasis here is that we, as Christians, need to earn the right to tell our stories by listening and being curious about learning the story of the One-life before we tell our story and share the story of Jesus.  “In other words, seek to understand before you seek to be understood”—explains Gerry.  “You show empathy, learn their perspective, learn to see things through their eyes”.  This develops trust because you learn to care for and deeply value your One-life friend.

Discern Next Step

We ask Christians to pray and rely on the wisdom and discernment from the Holy Spirit to determine what the next best step to take with your One-life is.  “We ask people to pray—says Gerry—”so based on a person’s story we can discern what is the best next step in their spiritual development.”  Is it to just continue hanging out, or to invite them to dinner, or start Bible studies? Is it an invitation to a small group or church?  Or maybe we’ll be prompted to invite them to accept Jesus into their lives.

This method is an organic, natural way of reaching out to the non-Christians in our spheres of influence without making them feel uncomfortable, judged, or as objects of a project.  As we go through our summer and the rest of this year, can you think of One-person that you can start praying for that you can eventually strike a spiritual conversation with?  Perhaps the focused intentionality in your prayers might change everything; after all, Jesus said “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7,8).  Would you be willing to try out this simple, 3-D-1 method and possibly experience God not only taking away your fear/apprehensions about evangelism, but actually surprising you with unexpected transformational friendships, as you become a joy-filled fisher of men?

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Why Not Try This? – Surviving Without Announcements

by Roger Hernandez
Source: NAD Ministerial

I was worshiping in a congregation (in the last year) that had Adventist Church on the sign, but might as well have called themselves the Announcement Church, because that’s all they did. They had one person do announcements from the front in Power Point, followed by another person who reaffirmed the previous announcements with no power point, followed by the pastor who highlighted yet some others. It easily took almost 20 minutes, probably closer to 30.

This does not happen every week, but too often to be overlooked. I personally believe, through experience and research, which guests don’t really come to church looking to find out when the next fund raising car wash is. I have also been to enough growing, healthy churches that do minimal announcements from the front to know a church can thrive with a change in this area. Here are five suggestions you can use if you want to be more sensitive to guests (and members): Continue Reading…

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Momentum – A New Day Dawns

by Linda Anderson

Pastor Brian Yarbrough hosted an ‘end time’ seminar in our small church at the Irrigon Seventh-day Adventist Church in April of 2019.  Two meetings were held every night with a light meal in between.  For those who attended at least 7 of the meetings, a beautiful Strong’s Concordance was given.  Many were able to take one home with them.

The meal was simple and contained very nutritious soups, salads and breads.  The meal time was a wonderful sharing time with all the people who were attending the meetings.  It was nice to get to know these people. We had a small group that attended all of the meetings.  It was a very gripping message due to Pastor’s gift to communicate very clearly and all were able to understand. 

As a result LindaLee was baptized on April 27,2019.  She had been studying with Pastor for several weeks before she took the plunge and received the Holy Spirit in Baptism.  In addition there are two other adults and two minor children who are studying with Pastor for baptism sometime in the near future.

In conclusion, this seminar was a wonderful success and we are looking forward to holding another in the near future. 

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Changed Lives – Two More Churches

The following story is the personal testimony of Larry Richardson who was recently baptized into Christ as a member of the Selah Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Two more churches to check out and I am done searching.  That was my feeling toward churches until, a cheerful woman rang my doorbell.  She had a wonderful smile and shared Amazing Facts Bible Study guides with me.  I had no intentions of reading them until I saw the questions on the back.  I became interested in them and looked forward to her returning and getting the next lesson.  One day she did not return.  I thought, “What did I do to keep her away?”

I did not have any interest in attending another church.  I did have a different interest in one church that was across the street.  It was down the hill behind my house and I could watch from my porch what was happening there.  I would watch them arrive every Saturday all dressed up to worship and would wonder, “What are those crazy people doing going to church every Saturday?  Don’t they know that you’re supposed to go to church on Sunday?”  Why do those people attend church on Saturdays and not Sundays?  What’s wrong with them?  Each Saturday I would watch these people attend church and wonder why?

One day I needed help putting together a gazebo.  I decided to ask for help from the members of that church.  I found out the name of the church was Selah Seventh-day Adventist Church.  I decided to go to the church and walk in and I met Pastor David Morgan.  I was expecting to meet an over-weight, pushy, non-caring and womanizing person.  I was wrong.  He gave me an overview and tour of the church.  To my surprise, there was the woman who used to come to my door and drop off those lessons.  It was the Pastor’s wife – Annie Morgan.  My shaking knees were no longer shaking and I started to feel better.

A few days later, Pastor David Morgan and a few members came to my house ready to work.  Pastor prayed and we worked together to install the gazebo.  They were as one, treating me as family, even though they did not know me.  We had a great time.  I decided to attend their church to see why they were as one.  They were friendly, caring, and helpful.  The Pastor encouraged us to read from our Bibles and not take his word.  He read from the Bible often.  I have been waiting for this type of message rather than others who do not use the Bible.  One Sabbath I approached the head elder and asked what it took to be baptized and become a member of this church.  Pastor Morgan studied with me until I was baptized.  My question about the Sabbath was solved.  I now serve as a greeter and in the Selah Adventist Community Services ministry.  Now my wife, Guadalupe, is preparing to be baptized.

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Lifelong Learning – The Science of Sabbath

In a world saturated with technology and social media, more and more people are becoming burned out. Is taking a day off every week from the stresses of life important? As Seventh-day Adventists, we believe it is. But what about taking a day off every week from technology as well? Read this insightful article (The science of Sabbath: How people are rediscovering rest—and claiming its benefits) on why this may be something to try.

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From Leader to Leader – Ezra’s Healthy Dissatisfaction

by César De León Ph.D LMFT, Ministerial Director for the North Pacific Union Conference

Life dissatisfaction, especially when chronic, results in physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual maladies. Dysphoria, the more clinical term for life discontent, is a profound state of unease or dissatisfaction.  In a psychiatric context dysphoria may accompany depression, anxiety, or agitation. Common reactions to dysphoria include emotional distress and in some cases, even physical distress.

Long term life dissatisfaction is also strongly associated with various mental symptoms such as depression, hopelessness, psychosomatic symptoms, alexithymia, general psychopathology and low concurrent functional ability. Life dissatisfaction, among healthy general population subjects, has also been shown to predict several poor health outcomes such as psychiatric morbidity, depressive symptoms, total mortality, suicides, fatal unintentional injury deaths, and premature work disability due to somatic and psychiatric causes in follow-ups of over a decade.1

Additional symptoms of chronic dissatisfaction include restlessness, needing more of something indefinable and always shifting, feeling like you’re not there yet, but wondering where “there” even is; episodes of yearning for something you can’t quite name, or wondering if there’s more to life than you’re currently living.  However, chronic dissatisfaction (CD) can also be experienced as a healthy and adaptive state of being, that if embraced and used reflectively, can propel one to seek more, or reach further than one who may be experiencing life satisfaction.  In fact, dissatisfaction can be a great motivating force in life. 2

Recently, I was reading the book of Ezra; for a moment I paused and re-considered Ezra’s life and transformational ministry.  “. . .this Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given.  The king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the Lord his God upon him.” Ezra 7:6; NKJV

“Born of the sons of Aaron, Ezra had been given a priestly training; and in addition to this he had acquired a familiarity with the writings of the magicians, the astrologers, and the wise men of the Medo-Persian realm. But he was not satisfied with his spiritual condition. He longed to be in full harmony with God; he longed for wisdom to carry out the divine will. And so he ‘prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it.’ Ezra 7:10. This led him to apply himself diligently to a study of the history of God’s people, as recorded in the writings of prophets and kings.  He searched the historical and poetical books of the Bible to learn why the Lord had permitted Jerusalem to be destroyed and His people carried captive into a heathen land.”(italics, underline & bold added).3

Ezra was a self-motivated, inspirational, teachable learner. It is notable that he was driven to discover knowledge above and beyond the minimal requirements of the existing priestly training. We are not told he was dissatisfied with his life, career, socio-economic status or with the degree of his influence and popularity.  Actually, instead of focusing his energy on appraising the spiritual condition of his peers, or seeking mind-numbing entertainment, he demonstrated a humility that led him to recognize that his own spiritual condition was not optimal. Ezra’s humility led him to make an accurate, spiritual self-evaluation which qualified him to become a pivotal human instrument to enforce God’s Agenda at that point in history.  “As he learned more and still more concerning God’s dealings with His children and comprehended the sacredness of the law given a Sinai, Ezra’s heart was stirred.  He experienced a new and thorough conversion and determined to master the records of sacred history, that he might use this knowledge to bring blessing and light to his people.” (italics and underline added).4

I was moved to rediscover the other-focused motivation for his dive into deeper learning.  Neither an additional degree of higher learning nor a professional promotion were his motivation. As a Spirit-led scholar, Ezra understood that all knowledge attained must be for the purpose of blessing the objects of God’s love. “God chose Ezra to be an instrument of good to Israel, educating those about him in the principles that govern heaven. . . his principle work was that of a teacher. As he communicated to others the truths he learned, his capacity for labor increasedHe became a man of piety and zeal.  He was the Lord’s witness to the world of the power of Bible truth to ennoble the daily life.” (bold and italics added).5

There is an undeniable mounting disinterest in the reading of God’s Word.  Just eight months ago, CBN News cited a Barna study which showed that most Millennials believe that Bible is ‘just a book’. In reality, today’s younger generation is more disengaged than ever from the Christian faith.  Another recent Barna Group study revealed that only 14 percent of Millennials believe the Bible is the literal Word of God. Additionally, researchers are reporting that both Millennials and Generation Z are more hostile to the holy book than previous generations.6  

What a challenge and opportunity this poses for pastors, teachers and Kingdom builders in varied posts. May we be inspired, like Ezra was, to lead our generation into a “Return to Bible Reading Revival.”    Let’s commit to praying that God will impress us individually with creative ideas to inspire, through word and deed, a reigniting of passionate commitment to reading and meditating on the Word. I don’t know what, how or when the Spirit will impress you; but let’s agree to be swift in following the personalized promptings of the Spirit. Some of us may be impressed to host a weekly, Millennial (or any age) Bible study & dessert night in our home this summer!  Others may have the platform to encourage parents with kids of any age to find creative ways to intentionally insert personal and family Bible reading into this summer’s activities.  Maybe others will host a Bible writing relay—an activity where participants write out sections of the Bible in a relay race fashion. Maybe some of us with children at home for the summer can implement creative family Bible reading activities, maybe even outdoors . . .the sky is the limit! 

During a season when our sons were young, my wife, Carolann had been homeschooling our sons and one of them was having a hard time mastering reading.  He was becoming frustrated with himself as he saw his brother easily reading far above his grade level. It was breaking my wife’s heart to see our son feel so frustrated with himself. We even had him professionally tested to see if there was a learning challenge, we needed to support him with; however, the final report revealed no learning disability that could explain his challenge. One day, after crying out to God for wisdom, my wife says that the Spirit reminded her of the following thought she had read years before: “If the mind is set to the task of studying the Bible for information, the reasoning faculties will be improved.  Under the study of the Scriptures the mind expands and becomes more evenly balanced than if occupied in obtaining general information from the books that are used which have no connection with the Bible.”(bold, underline & italics added)7  

The following day, she felt impressed that it would help our son with his reading block if he were to begin to write out some Bible verses for a few minutes every day—even while he was yet unable to read or comprehend the words he was copying. He was diligent in unhurriedly writing out his daily assigned verses. Lo and behold, one day, only a few weeks into this Bible copying experiment, our son experienced a miraculous, long-awaited, breakthrough in his reading skills.  Just copying the Word seemed to have been the direct response to my wife’s desperate prayer and the supernatural key that unlocked his deferred ability to read. “Why should not this book—this precious treasure—be exalted and esteemed as a valued friend?  This is our chart across the stormy sea of life.  It is our guidebook showing us the way to the eternal mansions and the character we must have to inhabit them.  There is NO BOOK the perusal of which will so elevate and strengthen the mind as the study of the Bible.  Here the intellect will find themes of the most elevated character to call out its powers.  There is nothing that will so endow with vigor all our faculties as bringing them in contact with the stupendous truths of revelation.  The effort to grasp and measure these great thoughts expands the mind.” (bold, italic and underline added).8   Again, EG White reiterates, “The minds of all who make the Word of God their study will enlarge.  Far more than any other study its influence is calculated to increase the powers of comprehension and endow every faculty with a new power.” (italics & underline added)9

I pray that you will catch Ezra’s healthy dissatisfaction, and that God will use you to arouse those in your circles of influence (family, neighbors, co-workers and church family) to recommit to the personal (and/or group/family) reading and meditation of the Living Word.  Consider reading the Word in several different versions. The Message version (MSG)— a compelling, reader friendly version written by a former Hebrew and Greek professor—can be enjoyed by all ages. For others, digging into original Greek and Hebrew may be particularly stimulating. 

You may even consider carving a space during your Sabbath worship for people to share their personal testimonies about how the Bible continues to be a relevant, inspired and transformational volume, inspired by God, that unlike any other book, continues to be a source of personal spiritual growth and development!  Colleagues, let’s re-commit to reading, meditating, preaching, teaching and living out the Word! 


  1. Rissanen et al: Long term life dissatisfaction and subsequent major depressive disorder and poor mental health. BMC Psychiatry 2011 11:140.
  3. White, Ellen G. Prophets and Kings. Nampa, Idaho, Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1985.
  4. Et al, 608
  5. Et al, 609
  7. White Ellen G, Mind Character and Personality Vol. 1. Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association: 1977.
  8. Et al, 97
  9. Et al, 98

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Why Not Try This? – 10 Things Every Church Should Stop Doing to First-Time Guests

Many of us have visited a church where it is common place to point out the guests. “Please stand up and tell us who you are.” The well meaning church leader is trying to make the guests feel welcomed, but it usually has the opposite affect and they may not return. Read the tips on what-not-to-do in 10 Things Every Church Should Stop Doing to First-Time Guests.

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From Beyond the Pulpit – Amalgamation and Dinosaurs

by Stan Hudson, who served as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor for 38 years and is currently the Director of Creation Ministries at the North Pacific Union Conference

Here’s a strictly Adventist topic!  No other denomination that I know of associates dinosaurs with the subject of amalgamation.  In fact, Adventists have been fairly confused about these potential “confused species.”  Let’s take a look at this.

The quote that leads us into this hazy place is this one from Spiritual Gifts, Volume III, page 75.  Speaking about the conditions that led to the Genesis flood: “But if there was one sin above another which called for the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere.” (Emphasis added).

There are several things here to consider.  “Amalgamation” is an old 19th Century word that means “mixing.”  It was often used to describe the production of metallic alloys, which is the blending of two or more metals. And the context mentions the blending of man and the blending of beast.  Does that mean the blending of man with beast?  If so, that would explain to some the fossil evidence of creatures that look half-human and half-ape.  The larger problem with that is that those fossil evidences are almost certain post-Flood.  This would mean that the mixing of man and ape continued after the Flood.  Significantly, the Ellen White estate has consistently denied that EGW’s statement was talking about “man with beast.”

Clearly there is mixing that involves man and mixing that involves beasts with the results being a defacing of the image of God as well as some confusion.  We are helped with the latter category from another quote from the same page 75.  Here she talks about the animals going into the ark:  “Every species of animal which God had created were preserved in the ark.  The confused species which God did not create, which were the result of amalgamation, were destroyed by the flood.” (Emphasis added).  SG III p75.  Apparently, some animals were blended or bred, significantly changing them from God’s original design. 

But for what purpose?  This is my opinion now, but it’s based on several things.  We know that pre-Flood man was intellectually advanced, but with thoughts “only evil continually,” The world’s chief problem was violence.  If there was a line of animals (like dinosaurs) that could be bred into warrior animals (for entertainment? hunting? warfare?), why wouldn’t Satan use man to mess up another one of God’s most amazing creations?  An ankylosaur strikes me as something made more for a combat world than the Garden of Eden.

But some Adventists have believed that ALL dinosaurs were the result of amalgamation, essentially believing that God never made them at all.  And thus none got on the ark, since the confused species were “destroyed by the Flood.”  But please note this additional statement from Spiritual Gifts, Volume IVa, page 121:  “There were a class of very large animals which perished at the flood.  God knew that the strength of man would decrease, and these mammoth animals could not be controlled by feeble man.”  Since we have elephants today, the only larger class of animals would be the great sauropod dinosaurs.  And they were destroyed because of their size, not because of being amalgamated.  Dinosaurs smaller than elephants, which most were, must have gotten on the ark.  These creatures may have been the source of ancient dragon stories.    

But what was the mixing of man?  What could deface the image of God?  Remember, please, the seriousness of this crime; it was the one sin above all others that “called for the destruction of the race!”  To me, that would mean it must be in the Bible.  Look at Genesis 6:1,2:  “Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful, and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.”  “Sons of God” here refers to the godly race of men through Seth, whereas the “daughters of men” refers to the idolatrous descendants of Cain.  God’s people were marrying out of the church.  How serious did God take this?  The very next verse in Genesis 6:3 announces God’s patience was nearly done;  a 120 year probationary period started.  God’s image in man, His great purpose for mankind, was being defaced.

This all culminated into what I consider to be possibly the saddest verse in the Bible:  “And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”  Genesis 6:6.  Be careful, friends, what you mix!

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Changed Lives – Modern Challenges

by Terrance Taylor, Pastor of the New Movement and Richland Seventh-day Adventist Churches

God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ~ Romans 5:20-21

Modern evangelistic efforts come with a new set of opportunities, but also a new set of challenges. Today, people are not as familiar with Biblical themes and stories as they have in times past. Biblical illiteracy is on the rise, and regardless if people attend church or listen to sermons, the practice of studying Scripture is largely underdeveloped in most believers. The challenge is, presenting messages with heavy theological themes makes it difficult to creatively set the context for some topics that require a much more comprehensive understanding of the Bible.

However, this new reality is also creating new opportunities that are exciting. Little to no biblical knowledge gifts learners with the beauty of starting from scratch, often without many of the harmful preconceived interpretations that can create barriers to growing faith. The opportunity to approach Scripture from a “childlike” posture, leaves the reader more open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in revealing what is necessary and every foundation to the Christian faith. We have found this year that we are attracting a growing demographic of new believers which are changing the way we reach our community. We are embracing what is new with hopeful anticipation of making new disciples in Christ.

Living Free was the title of the series we chose to offer, and it was all about finding freedom through God sent relationships. This topic proved to be a powerful evangelistic tool in that it was so practical, it was able to translate well in all major issues of life. In this series, we explored the idea of freedom of being what God wants for us and how he uses people to do it.
Instead of focusing on what tends to have us bound, we focused on seeing the help God has constantly offered us, even in our darkest moments.

This approach allowed us to connect the mission of Christ with the mission of the church in the incarnational method God uses to send salvation through people. Overall, we found these topics to hit home for many people, which raised awareness of people needing people to get through hard times, which voiced the need for having a family (church) to journey with.

One younger member of our church had been off and on with God for about two years before eventually he started attending more frequently, about three months before our series begun. He had just started a new relationship with someone who had no religious background, but he invited her to church. It was clear that she had no idea what was happening and, for the most part, was just there because she had been invited. But then, something amazing happened.

Our people embraced them, and loved them, and began to become friends. The real shocker was the first day they came to church by themselves. We were all amazed and grateful to God. After a few months, they began to help with the social media team, and I began to notice our posts getting better and receiving more traffic. One post I will never forget, was when I read the caption, “Saturdays are for second chances!” I was moved with joy and praise because I know who had created this post and I knew their faith was growing.

The only thing I didn’t know was how. No one was studying the Bible with them and they were only coming to church. I couldn’t figure it out. Finally, overwhelmed with curiosity, I had to ask, and their answer was shocking. In order to recap the message to create a social media post, they were listening to the message over and over again to find something to write. They were also paying close attention to the service and going back to read what Scripture was given. The day of their baptism, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Everyone knew that in some small way, they played a part in leading someone to Christ, and if we give God space, he can do amazing things.

We’ve decided as a leadership team to let grace be in charge, as referenced in the Scripture above. Christ needs to be the leader, both in our personal lives and in our church community. As we submit to his leading, we are praying that stories like this will become commonplace.

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NPUC Advent Movements – Currier

Allee Currier has accepted the invitation of the Upper Columbia Conference (UCC) executive committee to become the organization’s next treasurer. Currier, who has served as North Pacific Union Conference Association treasurer since 2016, will fill the UCC position left vacant since the departure of David Freedman to the Southern Union in February. She hopes to make a full transition to the new role sometime this summer. Read more from Upper Columbia Conference online. Read More…

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