Pastor Gabriel Montalvo, Hispanic coordinator for the Pennsylvania Conference unexpectedly passed away October 1. The Pennsylvania Conference issued the following statement.

Dear PA Conference Family:

It is with deep sorrow and personal sadness that I share with you the news that Pastor Gabriel Montalvo has unexpectedly passed away to his rest in Jesus early this Sabbath morning.

Brief conversations with his son this morning gave me these early details. He had been at home recovering from double knee replacement surgery these last few weeks. He suffered a heart attack at home and was transported to a local Philadelphia hospital. Once at the hospital, he suffered another heart attack in the Emergency room of the hospital, and the medical staff were not able to revive him.

Former Councilwoman Deborah A. Hill recently published "The Power of Encouragement" Determinations That Define Your Destiny.

Her book shares encouragement and how your dreams with God's help can take you from your history into your destiny. Hill is an Elder at The Southeast Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. The book can be purchased,, and barnes & Visit her website at

Story by Jessica Beans

With a total of 759 students enrolled for fall semester, Kettering College in Dayton, Ohio, has increased its opening enrollment for the 2016 school year by 3.8 percent.

This increase in enrollment reverses a three-year trend of declining enrollment as well as reversing a five-year decline in total credit hours taken by full time students. The number of full time enrolled students is the highest it has been since fall of 2013.

 According to the school’s final opening report, 452 full-time and 307 part-time (three-quarter time or less) students had registered for fall classes, for an overall count that was 27 more than fall 2015.

Story by Heidi Shoemaker

Members of seven churches in northeastern Ohio, along with the Ohio Conference, have been on a journey of faith this year. The July/August 2016 issue of the Visitor shared how educational evangelism grew a rural school in Clarksfield. In the last few months, they have outgrown their building. Thus, a united body—including students, parents, teachers, pastors, members and conference leaders—prayed earnestly for a new school.

Desmond T. Doss in Okinawa, Japan. Photo courtesy of the Desmond Doss CouncilStory by John Bradshaw

More than 70 years ago an unlikely hero saved the lives of dozens of American soldiers during one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. Now his story is about to explode onto movie screens all over the world (U.S. release scheduled for Nov. 4); and the international press are already hailing “Hacksaw Ridge” as a potential Oscar winner.

The film tells the story of Corporal Desmond Doss, a Seventh-day Adventist combat medic who single-handedly rescued 75 soldiers during the battle of Okinawa, in the midst of a hail of enemy gunfire. As a result of his bravery, Desmond Doss was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the United States’ highest military honor.

While Doss’ story has been told many times, Hacksaw Ridge is the first feature film to recount his remarkable heroism. The movie is directed by Hollywood heavyweight Mel Gibson, who having fallen foul of Hollywood and the media on numerous occasions, may finally have found redemption, according to critics. David Rooney of the Hollywood Reporter has called the film a “forceful comeback.” Hacksaw Ridge received a 10-minute standing ovation following its premiere at the Venice Film Festival.

Sherwood (Woody) D. Pangborn, Columbia Union Conference publishing director from 1979 to 1991, passed away August 4 in Lansing, Mich.

Pangborn attended Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md., and was then drafted into the U.S. Army in 1956. He started his denominational career canvassing for the Potomac Conference, and in 1962 became assistant publishing director. From 1964 to 1978 he worked in several publishing positions across Asia and the United States, including one with the Pennsylvania conference.

In 1978 he accepted a call to the Columbia Union, where he served as associate publishing director. In 1979 he became publishing director. After retiring in 1991, he served as a pastor at the Chesapeake Conference’s Providence (Md.) church for seven years.

Pangborn is survived by his wife of 60 years, Pam Pangborn, and his children: Sherwood (Judy) Pangborn, Jr., Jim (fiancé Linda Collins) Pangborn and Ethel (Viki Lorraine) Pangborn.

A celebration honoring his life will be held at Chesapeake Conference's New Hope church at 12350 Hall Shop Road in Fulton, Md, Saturday, October 1 at 4 p.m. A reception will follow.

Story by V. Michelle Bernard

Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee members gathered today for their first meeting after the 27th Constituency Session in May. In her devotional, Ella Simmons, the first female vice president at the General Conference and a Columbia Union member, asked what was important to the church at this point and reminded them that, “ordinary people can have extraordinary results.”

Story by Jason Vanderlaan

REACH Columbia Union Urban Evangelism School launched their second school year at the end of August with a cohort of eight students. The students come from various places across the Columbia Union, as well as from Indiana and Northern California.

After an introductory week of orientation and classes with Brown, the students joined the Pennsylvania Conference’s REACH Philadelphia church for a weekend spiritual retreat. During this time, the students connected with church members and learned more about the people and ministries they’ll be involved in throughout the year.