Dear Pastors,

Authentic Adventism by William G. Johnson was one of the best books I have read recently. It’s provocative, honest and profoundly inspiring.

I’ve asked permission from the publisher to share an excerpt from pages 39-40 to whet your appetite.

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“Indian summer”Excerpt from Authentic Adventism by William G. Johnson. Pages 39-40.

In regions that experience a harsh winter, the autumn sometimes brings a pleasant surprise. The days are getting shorter, the wind colder, the time of dark, of ice and snow, is coming. But then nature abruptly changes the signals. The wind turns warm, the air dry, the sky blue. It’s as though the balmy days of summer had suddenly returned.

But not for long. After a few days of warmth, winters breath blows hard. Everyone grits their teeth at the prospect of the dark, cold months just ahead.

In North America the phenomenon is known as “Indian Summer.” Other continents experience similar occurrences, which they call by different names.

I’m reading news of my church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I read that for the year 2016 the total tithe reported for the North American Division was $1,002,276,749. More than a billion dollars. The largest total ever.I rejoice at the generosity and faithfulness of God’s people. But then I hear a whisper: Indian Summer!

Recently I read a book that sent chills up my spine. That was The Church That Was: How The Church of England Lost the English People. (London: Bloomsbury Centennial, 2016).

It’s a brutally honest examination of what caused the Church of England to lose more than half its members in the space of a decade or two. The book was written in pain: it’s authors, Andrew Brown and Linda Woodhead, were employed by the Church of England.

In the 1990s leaders of the church could feel pretty pleased with the way things were going. The Church of England enjoyed status as a respected plank in British society. It’s finances were strong. It could boast a network of members of the Anglican Communion among countries of the former British Empire.

Leaders of the church jockeyed for position and played theological games. They were in Indian Summer and didn’t realize it. The grand edifice, seemingly so strong, was about to collapse like a house of cards.

What brought it down? The issue of women in ministry —at first, the issue of ordination of women as parish priest, than of women bishops.

The Church of England set up study committee after study committee, delaying decision endlessly.

Anglican women grew tired of the ecclesiastical humbug. At the very time when British society was opening its doors to new roles for women in education, church leaders were stuck in the past. They woke up too late. The talented women who all along had kept the church functioning —not just as priest but in teaching, healing, and other ministries—had left, never to return.

The picture today is a sad one: Fewer than 2 percent of the English are paying members of the church. Only one person in ten is baptized in the national church, and only one-third of the English have a church funeral.

When I read That Was the Church That Was, my Adventist blood ran cold. Could it happen to us? Are we in Indian summer?

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Pastor, you are in the fire lane. The everyday shaping of the church is directly related with the ministries you lead.

The decisions you make and the direction you choose are shaping the Seventh-day Adventist Church beyond what the entire organizational leadership may say or chose to do, including those of us at the local level.

Our main role is to support you and equip you for ministry—to take care of the intricacies of the business side of our church so you can champion the most important part of our church: Ministry.

I believe in pastoral ministry, the amazing power of the Holy Spirit and the soon coming of Jesus. Keep faithful to your calling.

If you’re interested in the book, let me know, I’ll see about getting you a copy. Praying for you, pastor.

Carlos A. Camacho, Executive Secretary

Nevada-Utah Conference

Dear Members,

Since starting work as treasurer of the Nevada-Utah Conference this last July, I am becoming acquainted with our churches, schools, and ministries. We have an incredible mission field and many opportunities in our conference. I am excited about the future, and also excited to share some of my thoughts and a few goals for the NUC treasury department:

Presently, we are focused on:

  • Being good stewards of our conference resources
  • Gaining trust through accurate and timely record-keeping
  • Strategic budgeting that doesn’t just improve our working capital but lays the opportunity for unique evangelism and growth

Some of our work to achieve these goals takes place at the local level, through:

  • Thorough training and mentoring for our volunteer treasurers
  • Providing members with resources for achieving financial freedom (We cannot ask people to give when they don’t have the resources to give.)

I am excited by our progress, and also by the opportunities we have to effectively impact our communities. Side note: I want to change our name! Instead of being called Nevada-Utah Conference, I want us to be called Nevada-Utah Cares. I want any individual that has ever been employed by this conference to say, “I might not make the highest wages, but this Conference cares with a level of Christ-like compassion that surpasses everyone else.” I would like to see people who have left the church come back because they feel that we care.

If you have been a member of this congregation for any length of time, I want to know: how many people have gone from our doors, but not our cities? This is personal to me, because my dad left the church around the time I was born. He still honored the Sabbath, he still would attend church with my mother and me on special occasions and he read his Bible and prayed daily. But I’m not sure he felt that those members who watched him leave cared enough to invite him back. The ones who leave may need us the most! The devil is drawing them away and discouraging them from ever returning. They are hurting. They need to be told that they are welcomed, wanted, and supported. Pray for them. Encourage them. They already made the decision for Jesus and to join the church. Let us welcome them back with Christ-like kindness.

We not only have opportunities to reach out to our own community, but also to the larger communities in which we live. I don’t know if you have noticed, but our conference—a vast mission field—is a magnet for tourist and visitors from all walks of life, countries and cultures. What are we doing to reach them? What are we doing to tell them that Jesus loves them? What are we doing to meet their earthly needs so they can look past those needs to see their need for Jesus? I would like to see us reach out to every one of those millions of visitors, so when they leave our borders, they do it saying Nevada-Utah cares! How do we make that happen?

I don’t have all the answers. However, I want to give you just one idea, that I call ‘The Well’.

Picture a trailer at the entrance to a national park in Utah. The trailer is full of water bottles with Bible texts about Jesus at the well, Jesus being the living water, and cards sharing Jesus’ invitation to drink and no longer be thirsty. I want those water bottles to say “I care, we care, and most importantly, Jesus cares about you.” I want an opportunity to plant a seed and water it.

Do my thoughts sound too idealistic? Maybe by human standards, but not by His! God can do anything—and a good place for us to start is prayer.

A final note; God is working in our conference. Tithe recently increased by 13.9%. Thank you, members, for continuing to give faithfully! Your contributions enable ministry to happen. We look forward to seeing more souls saved for God’s glory.

Karen Schneider, Treasurer

Nevada-Utah Conference…Cares!