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Summer is almost over and school has already begun! I pray for our principals, teachers and pastors as they meet and greet the students for another year. Update on my Mom: I thank you for your prayers on her behalf. Currently, she is doing better, but I remind myself that she’s 91 and things will probably get harder the longer she lives. She is a such a great Mom to my brothers and me, truly has taught me and showed me unconditional love. I’m grateful every day I have her.
Recently, I traveled on the Reformation Tour with a group of pastors and teachers from Gulf States Conference. I particularly enjoyed having time with some of our teachers and their spouses. Their commitment to Christ and the Adventist Church was clearly evident. That commitment spills over into Adventist Christian Education, which was inspiring to see. They have a hunger to learn, which indicated a love for teaching. We are blessed to have these men and women working in our conference.
While on this trip, Pastor Larry Owens and I became true friends. We were without our spouses so spent a lot of time together, including walking 80.7 miles. We walked around Rome, with our map in hand, visiting every site suggested. We would pause to pray, realizing the formidable foe we will face. The deception of being lulled to sleep by a theology that says a man can forgive sin; a system which thinks to change the 10 commandments; and the persecution that will once again be used to enforce its ideals. This knowledge must alert us to where we stand in Christ. Is sacrifice even thought about for His Cause? Can I lean on Christ, my Savior, during good times as well as bad? I pray that each of us will make Christ, and His Cause, first and foremost in our lives. Nothing is more important. We need a special outpouring of Holy Spirit power and guidance from now until Jesus returns.
Several pastors have moved this summer. Karl Leukert from Meridian to St. Elmo district. Samuel Reimersma from Montgomery to Meridian. Robert Meneses from Vicksburg district to Decatur district.
Our Personnel Committee is busy trying to fill other vacancies. We are excited to announce that Randy & Pam Mills will be coming to Birmingham Roebuck and Tuscaloosa. Ray Elsberry has taken Columbus and the Tupelo church. This next Sabbath I’ll be in the Vicksburg district with Marcus and Amanda Harden as a potential pastoral couple there. Lastly, we are close to hiring a pastor for Pell City and Anniston.
Church Plant News: I attended the birth of our new church plant in Tupelo, under the guidance of Evgeni Kovachev and his wife Vanya. Richie Halverson did a series there to help kick off this new plant. Jim Stewart will be leaving Jackson to fill the Laurel District. Lastly, Shane Hochstetler has come from Laurel to be half time Communication director and pastor of Summit, a church plant in Montgomery. Whew!!! Lot’s going on.
I’m sorry to report that we have suspended church services in Andalusia. We have a future meeting scheduled in order to reassess. Please pray for us and our brothers and sisters in that area.
Also, I want you to be aware that tithe has flat lined. This means that we have to be proactive in planning how we move forward. It takes a four percent tithe gain each year to operate the same as we did the year before. I’ve been here for five plus years and have never seen a four percent gain. Please talk about tithing in your Sabbath Schools and small groups. Don’t leave it just to your pastor. We need everyone to tithe so we can do more for Christ and His mission. Every week we have an opportunity to share in God’s work in Gulf States. Each one of us needs to be faithful in tithes and offerings. I promise that every dollar you give is invested in people and things that make an eternal difference.
Until next time: God bless you and God bless the Gulf States Conference,