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Photo by Rise-a-Mui on Pixabay

Editorial by Celeste Ryan Blyden

You aren’t alone. A recent survey of executive committee members across the Columbia Union Conference identified lack of community among church members as an issue. “The greatest challenge is lack of social connectivity between the families and members within the churches,” noted one participant. “The large majority of members limit their relationship with one another to only Sabbath School, worship service and fellowship meal time—basically once a week.” 

While Sabbath potluck remains high on the list of member favorites (Who would want to miss haystacks?), for many, the fellowship ends as soon as the last piece of dessert has been claimed. 

Story by Columbia Union Visitor Staff

The Columbia Union Conference is creating a database of volunteers interested in traveling to Houston and other areas impacted by natural disasters to work as a crisis counselor or in the warehouse distribution centers. Experienced volunteers are preferred, however, anyone with a willing heart will be considered, says Minnie McNeil, Columbia Union ACS/ACSDR coordinator.

Food and lodging assistance is available. Click here to register (https://form.jotform.us/72483917510155).

Steve Carlson

Story by Anna Bartlett

Collective is a student-led Friday evening worship service and fellowship meal held in homes where students and faculty of Kettering College in Dayton, Ohio, can share their stories and worship together.

As Kettering is not a residential campus, many of the students live in a very segmented world, says Steve Carlson (pictured), campus chaplain. They drive in for class and then go home, often only interacting with others within their own program.

Story by Anna Bartlett

A group of Potomac Conference churches in the Richmond area have learned the key to building community in their churches is through a ready-made small group—families. Local leaders used the families within the church to create 25 home churches in order to reach families outside the church and adopt them into the church community.

“We established the method of ‘Families that Earn Families for Jesus,’” says Rafael Soto (pictured, pastor of the Hopewell Spanish, Richmond Evangelist Center, Blackstone Spanish and the West End Spanish churches that sponsor the home churches.

Story by Anna Bartlett

Growing up Adventist, Amy Newman experienced something different than Christian love from her Adventist community.

“I remember a lot of standards. [We would think] ‘is she dressed nice enough?’ ‘Was that music holy enough?’ ‘Were they quiet enough?’ [We were very] judgmental, worrying about what we thought of each other versus the emphasis being on going to church and doing ALL for Jesus.”

Sadly, Amy’s story is not unique. Many Adventists shared stories of feeling burned by the communities they grew up in. Some choose to leave. Some perpetuate the judgmental atmosphere. But some, like Amy, become part of a community that chooses to make a difference.

Amy Newman is now the relationship coordinator at Pennsylvania Conference’s Grace Outlet church, where she assists in coordinating the monthly socials there. The socials are a way all ages can come together in an environment that is non-threatening and relaxed and build a community based on sharing Jesus instead of upholding artificial standards.

“We do not have a standard [for how you should be]. You come as you are, whether you wear a suit or jeans, have purple hair or blond, we greet everyone and hug everyone and make sure everyone feels like family,” Amy says.

Amy says her involvement with this ministry has changed her personal perspective on what Adventist community is based on.

Blog by Rob Vandeman

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this psalm is its unusual length, 176 verses. The theme, generally speaking, is the Word of God. The primary emphasis of such lengthy praises of the Word must then be that the person of faith cannot weary in singing the merits of the Word of the Lord.

Story by Anna Bartlett

When Keyla Laguna and her family moved to the East Coast, they were shocked at what they found. “It almost seemed like they were dying,” Laguna said of the churches her family experienced. With a daughter in middle school and a son in high school, Laguna (pictured in red T-shirt, with Kaylea Newman, left, and Lauren Penkala) and her husband struggled to integrate their family into their new church community, until one day everything came to a head.

Laguna’s son told her about a Sunday-keeping church many of his classmates attended with lots of youth and activities.