Story by Sam Belony/ Photos by Krystal Irrgang

Union administrators team with Pastor Tara VinCross to start the REACH Columbia Union Urban Evangelism School, where young adults are not only staying in the church, they are transforming it—as well as the many lives they touch through boots-on-the-ground ministry.

The unprecedented venture was born like so many God-inspired projects—thoughts planted in the minds of those seeking to be used by the Lord in ministry. This particular idea started developing in 2010 when Tara VinCross, then pastor of Pennsylvania Conference’s Chestnut Hill church, wrote a ministry development plan as part of her doctorate in ministry. She hoped it would result in an urban evangelism school in Philadelphia.

Unbeknownst to her, Columbia Union Conference leaders had hatched a similar idea and were also planning to launch an evangelism school. Eventually, the plans coalesced. “After completing my doctoral program, I thought, ‘Well, that’s the only piece that hasn’t been completed,’” VinCross recalls. Then one day, the union called to discuss a collaboration, and together in 2013 they formed a task force.

We pastors care deeply for our church members. We think about you during the week, pray for you, and want to do whatever we can to give you spiritual comfort. But one pastor serves many parishioners, and not all of you are equally sensitive to your pastor’s feelings and needs.

Story by Loren Seibold  / This article is reprinted with permission from the 1st quarter 2016 Elder’s Digest

What follows applies to only a small number of people in a congregation, but that small number can do a great deal of damage and may help to account for why only one out of 10 pastors will last to the end of his or her career. Your pastor probably won’t say these things to you—church relationships are too delicate—but, on occasion, they wish they could.

So here are 10 things, in no particular order, we pastors would sometimes like to say to a few of our church members:

Jerrod and Jennifer Gabel

The Potomac Conference released the following statement today:


Potomac Conference Team:

After prayerful consideration, Jerrod and Jennifer Gabel, directors of Camp Blue Ridge (Montebello, Va.) have decided to return to Washington State to work on his family’s long-standing farm. The farm has encountered significant challenges over the years and they feel a strong calling to return and support the family in this time of need. Their last day with the Potomac Conference will be Feb. 29.

The Columbia Union Conference is putting forward significant funding to help prove that mission trips don’t require church members to cross oceans or enter foreign lands. Over the past five years, the union has donated $1 million toward its Homeland Mission Initiative. These monies go back to local Seventh-day Adventist churches to fund creative ministries programs, outreach projects and mission schools—all designed to share the gospel message right outside their front doors.

2016 Columbia Union Conference Calendar

The 2016 Columbia Union Calendar features pictures that illustrate some of the ways members in the Columbia Union share messages of love, ministries of grace and seeds of hope.

“In each Visitor, we feature stories of how God is working in and through people in the Columbia Union to make life better for others, as Jesus did,” says Celeste Ryan Blyden, vice president for communication and public relations. “This calendar captures some of those memorable moments from our conferences, schools and ministries.”

For additional free copies, email

Maryland Health Care Commission Approves New Washington Adventist Hospital

Maryland Health Care Commission Approves New Washington Adventist Hospital

Story by Lydia Parris

The Maryland Health Care Commission has granted formal approval for Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital to develop a replacement hospital in the White Oak section of Montgomery County. The project is part of the hospital’s longstanding plan to expand access to care in the region and includes keeping healthcare services on its current Takoma Park campus.

Pastor Orlando Rosales prepares to baptize a Baltimore Spanish member

After 16 stops across the Columbia Union Conference and countless hours of prayer and preparation, 626 new members joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church during the Caravana de la Esperanza 2015: “Jesus, La Gran Esperanza” (Caravan of Hope: Jesus the Great Hope) event.

Story by V. Michelle Bernard