Feature by Edwin Manuel Garcia / Photos by Crissy Musick
Chris Trent truly understands church members who are struggling with issues, big and small.
“My childhood was rough. ... My sister was abused, so I guess she passed some of that abuse to me,” says the pastor of Mountain View Conference’s aptly named Grace Outreach church in Logan, W.Va., and the Grace Community church in Williamson, W.Va. “I was taken to church quite often when I was a kid, so I thought there was a God, but, at the time, I didn’t have a need for God.”
Trent is a former Marine who owned a tattoo business for 13 years. “And in between,” he adds, “I was married and had three kids by a woman who was kind of wild. We were into drugs a little bit.”
Story by Ricardo Bacchus
“I don’t really consider myself an artist, but I do enjoy dabbling in what I call ‘art therapy,’” says Kandace Zollman, the pastor for nurture and visitation at Chesapeake Conference’s Spencerville church in Silver Spring, Md.
She recently took this “art therapy” to a whole new level. Each Sabbath since social distancing started due to the coronavirus, she has put her talents to work by “chalking” God’s love on her driveway.
“I really wanted to send some kind of message of hope to the people around me. I decided that the message that I left would be the words of God Himself to people who are struggling,” she says.
Story by Tiffany Doss
You don’t need to be enrolled in college to take a 101 class in the intricacies of gardening, maneuvering remote controlled helicopters, creating stained glass or baking bread. Members at Potomac Conference's Harrisonburg and Charlottesville churches in Virginia have been tuning in weekly via Zoom to discover what hidden talents fellow Potomac members have and are sharing with one another.
Story by V. Michelle Bernard
Swiffer, an approximately 5-year-old Great Pyrenees/Labrador/mix, and his owner, Sarah Porter, a member at Chesapeake Conference’s New Hope church in Fulton, Md., have provided pet therapy to medical staff with Pets on Wheels since 2018. But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, their visits to local hospitals stopped.
Perspective by Pastor Will Johns
How do you make summer plans right now? It is very difficult to plan anything because so much is unknown about what restrictions will or will not still be in place. And so we must deal with the loss of future expectation. I don't know about you, but I like having things to look forward to. I love it when I have some family vacations scheduled on the calendar. I have had to cancel two trips for this summer already and that is disappointing. I'm sure most of you are in a similar situation. So how do we respond?
Story by V. Michelle Bernard
With all churches across the Columbia Union Conference physically closed due to the coronavirus, pastors and members changed—seemingly overnight— the way they minister. In addition to offering livestreamed or pre-recorded services, many churches and conferences moved planning meetings, Sabbath School classes and Bible studies to Zoom, Facebook Live or other digital video platforms.
Editorial by Dave Weigley
Recently our world has been overtaken by the coronavirus pandemic. Fear and uncertainty abound, people are suffering and many lives have been lost. Social distancing measures have left many people working from home or seeking unemployment benefits. Health care workers and frontline responders are risking their lives to save others. Many people are wondering if this is the beginning of the end. And, at the writing of this editorial, our churches are meeting virtually, students are distance learning, and camp meetings, summer camps, graduations and special events have been postponed or canceled.
1.The Columbia Union Conference partnered with the General Conference and North American Division to help fund $900,000 to support local conference outreach ministries, such as the community center at Pennsylvania Conference’s Grace Outlet church in Reading.
2.The Office of Ministries Development organized our first unionwide evangelism conference where we challenged pastors to employ the best methods for reaching today’s culture.