Prayer is the most powerful weapon we have in the face of life's challenges, and few things are as challenging as being a young person in today's world.
How can we equip the youth of the Gulf States Conference to face the temptations and confrontations that life will bring them?
We believe the most powerful and effective weapon we have, as Christians, is our lifeline to Jesus, in the form of prayer.
We believe that through the power of prayer, young people can find strength, guidance, and a sense of purpose as they navigate the opportunities and challenges of life in 2024 and beyond.
For this reason, we are inviting you, as a young people in our Conference, to join a Challenge
Are you ready to embark on a transformative journey of prayer? We are excited to invite you to join us as one of our esteemed Prayer Warriors for a special 300-day prayer initiative.
From March 1 - December 26, 2024 , we will unite in prayer as a youth community, dedicating each day to a specific prayer intention. Your commitment to pray on your assigned day will create a powerful ripple effect, fostering strength, healing, and positive change within our community and beyond.
As a Prayer Warrior, you will play a vital role in uplifting spirits, spreading hope, and manifesting blessings. Together, we will create a network of faith and support that transcends barriers and unites us in purpose.
If you feel called to be part of this sacred journey, please sign up and enlist to be part of 300 prayer Warriors.
Let's join hands and hearts in prayer as we embark on this extraordinary 300-day journey together. Together, our prayers will be a beacon of light in the world.
"Prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven's storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence." - Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ, p. 94
Would you like to encourage others about the power of prayer as stated in the Bible?
The Gulf States Conference Prayer Ministry is preparing the Gulf States Conference Scripture Prayers, which will contain 52 spirit-filled prayers based on God’s Word. In addition to providing spiritual encouragement, the book will also be used as a fundraiser for the Elementary School Endowment Fund.
If you feel compelled by the Spirit to contribute to the book, please follow the instructions below.
Members should submit prayers for the book online by May 27, 2024:
Questions regarding GSCSPB submission and publication should be directed to the GSCSPB Editor at PrayerBook@gscsda.org.
The start of a new year always brings thoughts of new hope and the promises of change based on resolutions we make to ourselves. And then we often start the cycle of disappointment as we sometimes fail to maintain our new year's promises. This year, let's set a new type of resolution as a Conference.
1. To stay unified in our common focus on Jesus Christ, as we see Jesus prayed, "I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are." John 17:10b
2. To continue to tell the story of Jesus, just as the early disciples did and as we see John talk about in I John 1:1 "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life." Let us also share our experiences with our friends, family and co-workers so we can bring more people to the saving grace found in Jesus Christ.
3. To hold fast to Jesus, no matter the circumstance as we see in I Corinthians 16:13-14. We are encouraged to "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love."
Blessings on you and your church this year in 2024.
In December of 2022, extensive water damage decimated the Auburn-Opelika Church in Opelika, AL, with water running through the church having gone undetected for six days while pooling at least 3-inches deep in some areas. This news left members wondering how and when the building would be restored. Nonetheless, the community rallied together to make a plan to remedy the situation and return the church to a place of worship and sanctuary for community gatherings.
From that point forward, various teams began to survey the damage and work to fix the church, step-by-step. After a year of hard work from church members and contractors the damage was finally repaired, encouraging the church to have a celebration to praise God for His goodness.
To this end, on January 27, 2024, the church hosted a high Sabbath that brought together church members, administrative leaders, community members and a local councilman. Auburn-Opelika church member, Briana Sherrer said, “I was so happy and blessed to be here today for the rededication of our church. I really enjoyed the music. Pr Brian [Danese] was so funny and on point. It was an amazing day!”
Understanding the importance of places of worship for local church communities in the Gulf States Conference, Pr Brian Danese, President of the Gulf States Conference said, “What a wonderful Sabbath we’ve had here at Auburn-Opelika to be a part of this rededication after the remodel and to watch the church get back going with its ministries. We had the councilman here and the local church pastor who works with him. What a beautiful high Sabbath. We’re so thankful and grateful for what God is doing here at Auburn-Opelika Church with the remodel.”
With a sense of gratitude for all that has been done to arrive at this day of celebration, Pr Dwayne Campbell said, “I must confess. The building is more beautiful than it was before – better than it was before.” And most importantly, “The people have rededicated themselves for mission and for service.”
On January 26-28, 2024, students in grades 5-8 from across the Gulf States Conference gathered with excitement for Bass Memorial Academy’s annual Education Fair.
The Fair offered students the opportunity to experience life at Bass Memorial Academy (BMA) by taking classes, participating in extracurricular activities and making friends with fellow middle school students from different Conference schools while interacting with the high school students at BMA.
For Jillian Mullikin, mother of a student in attendance, the two-day event was a blessing. “I love the exposure. It is so wonderful that they get to interact with the high school kids that are here and meet the other middle school kids to socialize with them and to form friendships…I think it's a wonderful idea. I think the children really have a lot of fun, and the exposure is just great.”
During their time on campus, students were offered a range of classes and activities, as explained by Scott Bowes, VP for Education at the Gulf States Conference.
Visiting students “get to take classes and participate in activities like gymnastics, choir and drama. Then we do Bible monologues. Also, all of the students do history projects, and we finish off with a fun evening. They all get to perform with the Bass Memorial choir, drama club and gymnastics team. And then on Monday, we come back together again for an academic bowl and a spelling bee.”
One of the benefits of the two-day event, alongside getting to know Bass Memorial Academy’s campus and students, is having the opportunity to learn and have fun with the connections that are made with fellow visiting students.
According to Heather Hauffe, Principal at Pensacola Junior Academy, one of the main features is getting “to connect with other kids with similar beliefs, to see that there's more out there than just their small school. They get to come and see the Academy, interact with some of the older students at the Academy and learn skills from them. It's an experience that most kids don't get so it's really a unique thing and a privilege to be here.”
MeKeishia McGhee, parent of one of the students in attendance, also appreciated the efforts of the organizers noting, “this is my first time coming with my son and just to see them interact with each other and enjoy one another and learn different things, I think it's a great adventure for them, [and] it's important.
For over 20 years, teens within the Gulf States Conference have been gathering for the Teen Caving Invitational, which is a conference-wide event for teens (13–19 year olds). This year’s Teen Caving event, organized by Bob Hill and his team, with the support of the Gulf States Conference Youth Department, including Departmental Director Pr. Michel Rodriguez, took place on January 26-28, 2024.
Groups arrived from Hattiesburg, Jackson and Mississippi as a whole. Alabama was represented by groups from Huntsville, Gunthersville, Montgomery and other locations. Teens from Florida also arrived excitedly for an overnight Friday stay to be part of this adventure, which began at the Big Cove Christian Academy in Owens Cross Roads, AL. The group then gathered on Sabbath morning for Sabbath School and a worship time.
Pastor Marcelo Mansur, Young Adult Ministries director and Digital Church pastor, held a devotional for the teens with a focus on the cave explaining that in the cave, “there is a place to rest, but it's also a place to find strength because if God is with you there, He will strengthen you.”
After worship, the teens visited the Tumbling Rock Cave, which was a much-anticipated event. From there, they hiked for several hours in a beautiful and challenging terrain. To bring an end to a day of physical and spiritual journeying, they paused for a devotional and a return to the Academy.
The highlight of the day was seeing the teens come together to strengthen and support one another throughout the experience.
If you are a teen (13-19 years old) and would like to take part in this event next year, you are invited!
To stay informed about all of our events, subscribe to the Gulf States GSC Youth Facebook page, where we regularly post upcoming events and updates.
On the weekend of January 5-7, 2024, twenty-eight children and youth ministry leaders, who comprise the Youth Council, met at Camp Alamisco to pray together and allow the Holy Spirit to guide them in planning the future direction of the Youth Department over the next few years. The Youth Council includes representatives from Adventurers, Pathfinders, Young Adult Ministries and Federacion de Jovenes Adventistas (FEJA).
Seeking the council of various leaders and working collaboratively aligns with the Gulf States Conference’s mission of providing discipleship and mentorship opportunities to the children and youth of the Conference so that they can know and love Jesus.
Highlighting the teamwork, Youth Director Michel Rodriguez expressed his anticipation saying, “this year I'm so excited for all the events that are coming up. It was so good to see all the ministries from within our Conference come together to plan. I'm really excited about the unity we have with all the ministries working together. It’s a great opportunity for us to continue to grow and get our kids closer to Jesus Christ.”
Many of the leaders, like Greg Myers, area coordinator on the Gulf Coast for Pathfinders, have shown their care for their respective ministries for a number of years. Greg, who has been serving in his capacity for 15 years, explained the focus of the weekend sharing that “this weekend [we have been] doing our annual planning. We have a big event this year with the International Camporee in Gillette, WY coming in the summer, but we also have a Pathfinder calendar for 2025 to plan out. So, there's a big group of us here trying to make youth ministries a priority in our conference so that our kids have something to do from a planning perspective and a path to be led to Christ and be drawn closer to Him through the youth ministry program.”
The single-minded focus of planning programs that will bring the youth in the Conference to a life-changing decision for Jesus was evident throughout the weekend.
The sentiment was echoed by Youth Council member Jessica Nazarenus. She shared saying, “what I like best about the Youth Council meeting is that we get together, we collaborate and we unify as a team to be able to plan events that will help our youth in this Conference to be able to draw closer to Jesus.”
Well, 2023 is coming to an end and 2024 lies before us. None of us know what will happen in the upcoming year. Things could go wonderfully. However, it seems like our world is full of turmoil and there could be challenges and difficulty.
I want to suggest to you that no matter what comes, grab hold of Jesus!
Let’s hold on to Jesus in 2024. Then, no matter what comes our way, we will be prepared. He’s a great Shepherd – He watches over us. I pray that each one of us keeps a strong hand on Him in 2024.
From December 8 to 10, 2023, Gulf States Conference hosted the annual Elders, Deacons and Deaconesses Retreat with the theme Evangelism: Life of the Church. Ministerial Director, Josh Murillo explained the spiritual growth the attendees experienced during the weekend saying, “Here we are at Camp Alamisco, having a great time, enjoying cool, beautiful weather. We are happy to report we have over 100 people – elders, deacons, deaconesses – who registered to attend this training event that serves as an inspiration and provides the tools for them to serve at a local church.”
Pr Josh Murillo continued by saying, “The guest speaker for the weekend, Church Growth Director from the Southern Union, Pr Richie Halversen, talked about rebuilding – rebuilding our churches and rebuilding our faith.
The first night Pr Richie talked about rebuilding during difficult times. He utilized the story of Nehemiah and the challenges he faced. He made a beautiful comparison between Nehemiah and Jesus. And the following day he focused on how Jesus built the church and repaired people’s hearts and how we are called to do the same for guests that come to our churches, as well as for members. We are very excited to be part of this. This is such a blessing.”
The event was impactful for those who attended. Local church pastor Samuel Cardoso, expressed, “The blessing to be here is that the Elder’s Retreat gives us the possibility to re-evaluate our mindset, the way we do things and the way we have done things in the past. [It gives us] the right approach for today – the reality that we have in the church.”
Similarly, local church member, William Mann, from Coleman, AL also shared the blessing of the event saying, “It’s been amazing. So far we have been able to talk to other deacons and elders. The fellowship we have here is simply amazing. To meet people from so many different walks of life and aspects of life and to all have the same goal – to all have the same light at the end of the tunnel that we’re looking to see – it’s spectacular to see. Helping with the prep and doing things and getting ready for the people -- everyone is so humble, so forthcoming and just here to help one another and to learn and to move forward with God.”
Understanding the importance of equipping local church leaders to minister to their local communities, Martin Fancher, executive secretary of the Gulf States Conference said, “What a privilege to be here at Camp Alamisco for the Elders, Deacons and Deaconesses Leadership Retreat. Elder Richie Halversen has been bringing the fire. The Holy Spirit is obviously present as we look at the topic of going into our community – going into the areas in which we live, in which we work and sharing and showing the love of Jesus in a tangible way, [answering the question] how do we build bridges to those who need Jesus? That’s the goal, and I think we are succeeding this weekend in finding and learning new ways to be better leaders in God’s church.
President Brian Danese echoed Pr Martin’s sentiments saying, “It’s been a great time here at the Elder’s Retreat. Richie has done a great job just talking about how to practically grow your church. I hope everyone will plan on joining us next year. The theme next year will be about how to manage conflict in your church.”
Each year Panama City Seventh-day Adventist Church in Panama City, FL hosts a traditional Christmas concert as an outreach event for its community. This year’s theme was Let Us Adore Him.
The concert, held on December 8, 2023, attracted community, family and guests, along with church members for a delightful concert of Christmas music from both the adults and children within the church.
Andreea Rac, adult choir director shared, “We were super excited tonight. We had a great, successful Christmas concert, and we were able to bring in our community, enjoy God's holy presence together and enjoy the music, fellowship and refreshments with everybody. Praise the Lord for this event, and we praise the Lord because we're able to bring in new people every single year and make new friends and connect with new people.
Children’s choir Director Annie Martin beamed as she spoke about the kids’ enthusiasm while singing, saying, “We had an amazing time of music and fellowship and fun singing about Jesus Christ and His birth. We have been practicing every week since October. It's been fun. I love it! I was so proud of everybody, especially the kids. They did so good. They really did. They smiled and made me so happy!”
Sheila Martin, one of the choir members shared the impact of the concert expressing, “We invited friends and family to come. My boss of 43 years, who is Muslim, came tonight and sat with my mom, and I was so excited. He videoed the concert and was very impressed. And I have a friend, who I have known from work, and she said she's looking for a home church so I mailed her an invitation and asked her to come. She and her husband came tonight and I was so excited, and they plan to come back again.”
Understanding the power of the story of Jesus’ birth and of community events such as this, Pr Eddy Nunez smiled as he said, we couldn't be happier for the opportunity to have our community here in our church worshiping together. It was a night that we will remember for years to come. We are very excited for the opportunity to adore our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This December, the Digital Church is celebrating one year of worshiping together. Founded with the purpose to share the everlasting gospel in a new and expanding digital society, the Digital Church has hosted local meet togethers throughout the Conference, provided an environment for young people to praise the Lord together and created an online community. It has also provided the opportunity for various people in the Conference to tell God's story.
Elder Brian Danese, president of the Gulf States Conference expressed, "We're so thankful that the Digital Church celebrates one year of worshiping together. What an amazing time all across our Conference.
We've gotten reports of families gathering together on Friday evening to worship to be a part of it. The Digital Church has helped lead out in meet togethers throughout our Conference. What an amazing year it's been for the Digital Church. I know that God is going to continue to lead in 2024."
Pastor of the Digital Church, Marcelo Mansur continued the sentiments saying, "2024 will be an exciting year, but every year is an exciting year when Jesus is ahead of you because you know that when God is for you, who can be against you."
Pr Marcelo extended an invitation to members of the Gulf States Conference saying, "So, 2024 is a year for the Digital Church to really become your online community. Please turn on your notifications so you know whenever Digital Church is coming on. Be a part of it."
There are many ways to become active in the Digital Church community. Pr Marcelo Mansur explains that you can, "Leave your comments, wherever you're watching from. Send us your questions. We would love to hear from you and to create a strong bond -- a strong community -- in the year 2024.
Because we know that when we gather together, we know that when we pray together there is power, and we cannot wait to see what the Lord will do through the Digital Church. So come along, and we can't wait to see you there!"