FEBRUARY 2021 PPAC Newsletter
Earlier this month, I had the chance to participate in a panel discussion on "The Letter from Birmingham Jail". For those unfamiliar with this letter, it was written by Martin Luther King Jr in 1963 after he had been arrested during a series of protests. During this unrest in the city, a group of clergymen in the city gather together and make a statement condemning Dr. King's work in that community. They would rather see him leave, and they would want the protesters to stop their efforts and to just wait until the courts resolve the conflicts. Dr. King's letter includes some legendary quotes in response to these clergymen. He says, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," to explain why he is in Birmingham instead of his home city of Atlanta. And he retorts that "justice too long delayed is justice denied" while pointing out that African Americans have been waiting for over 340 years for someone to stand up for them. And noteworthy to me as I continue my studies of the minor prophets (see below), he compared his ministry to that of "the prophets of the 8th century BC".

That panel, and countless other historians and other thinkers, have wrestled with that letter from Dr. King, and its legacy. I'd rather ponder for a moment about the legacy of the clergymen who effectively told Dr. King to go home, shut up, and wait. And not just their legacy, but also the legacy of church who refuses to stand up when we see evil happening in the world. I've often said that you can never not communicate. Everything you say, and everything you don't say, communicates a message. I know that some would prefer to see churches sit back and stay out of controversy and focus on Jesus. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that focusing on Jesus means that we have to get into controversy instead of staying out of it. If we focus on Him, we need to focus on His teachings, such as:

"Whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them,
for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew. 7:12)

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." (Luke 4:18-19)

"The King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’" (Matthew 24:40)

"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another." (John 13:34)

As a Church of Refuge, and a follower of Jesus, I completely agree with the notion that we need to focus on Jesus and His teachings as we minister to ALL who Jesus loves.

Pr. Michael Taylor

PS: Check out this week's worship bulletin by clicking here.

If you have missed a sermon in the series on the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament, THE TWELVE, please make sure to catch up on the PPAC YOUTUBE channel. Click on the graphic to learn more about the series.

January featured Jonah, Amos, Hosea, Micah, and Nahum. February's prophets will be Habbakuk, Zephaniah, Joel, and Obadiah.
If your email clips the newsletter before all of it appears, just click on See More at the bottom to see the entire newsletter.
What do you look forward to when church is
back to "normal"?
I've always appreciated editorials, especially those by Bill Knott, editor of the Adventist Review. His January Editorial addressed what we have missed most about church as we have always known it.

Several of you weighed in on this question about PPAC and here are your responses (make sure you read all the way to the end for a surprise!):

I know I can see the following during the livestream but its just not the same as when we are get together. Even if I don’t mention you by name, know that I truly appreciate the talents you share:
  1. Sharon, Bernie, Chuck, Dan, Coleen, Connie and Richard and many others, greeting us with big smiles at the door and in the foyer of our church.
  2. The kids in Middle School Sabbath School. Barb and Randy stopping by the room to chat before we start.
  3. Barb crying during the main prayer up front.
  4. Maribeth and Micole leading the Children’s Choir.
  5. The Beatitudes (Gwyne, Kelli, Liz and Susan).
  6. David Burghart on the organ.
  7. Liz, Troy and Dina playing the piano.
  8. Jason R., Chris K., Abby, Mona, Dan, the Mattsons, Dave H.(on the guitar), other talented singers and our young people choristering up front.
  9. Chris Randall encouraging us about our future and the PPSDAC Building Project.
  10. Pastor Mike and those icebreakers! Then, him walking around and getting answers…
  11. Jim Merrills children’s stories and the kids collecting offering afterwards.
  12. So much more…I just miss my people at PPSDAC!
 Geetha Selvadas

Fellowship with all our brothers and sisters. Hebrews 10:25 says to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Richard Dideriksen

I miss seeing everyone, and I look forward to that when it's safe again. Abby Kniss

I can't wait for the church to be full again and the congregation singing (unmasked) many great hymns such as We Have This Hope, etc. David Burghart

Everything, but I especially miss seeing people!...and hugging them when I do see them. Donelle O'Connor

The thing I miss the most is the community and the feeling of being surrounded by people that are excited to see you every week. I am very much looking forward to getting back to that. Tony Belcher

What I personally miss is praying and singing with others. Helen Perry

I miss the opportunity for interaction with my family - seeing faces online is great, but it can't replicate all of the benefits of face to face interaction. I really miss our church potlucks, too! Chris Kniss

Wesley and Katelyn REALLY miss Sabbath School and can’t wait to see their friends! Dawn Hood

I miss getting hugs from Sharon Lamb, sharing in discussions in Sabbath School, the joy and warmth of the church service, chatting with my church family after church and, of course, fellowship dinner!!!! Becky Lynn Driskel

I look forward to watching the plays, live that are written by Ms. Jan! Micole Dyson

What I most look forward to is physically embracing my friends in a full-on, maskless hug, long talks in the foyer, and sharing meals together! Heather Bergmann

I miss foyer conversations and hugs! PPAC has done well with online church, outside church, Zoom meetings and in church “safe” worship. How about fellowship dinners, too. Won’t it be wonderful when we can break bread together again! Barb Randall

Miss? The faces of all the children filling the platform during Children’s Story. Jim Merrills

Fellowship, fellowship, fellowship and hugs!!! Gwyne Kramer

I sooo miss just seeing people's SMILES! You realize how much a smile is taken for granted, once it's hidden behind a mask! Amanda Delacruz

Doing dishes at potluck!!!!!! John Steffen

Here is what all huggers have in their heads:
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14

At PPAC, our children are our church, every bit as much as any adult. CHILDREN ARE OUR CHURCH and we pledge to bring them to Jesus each week.
We welcome the noise, enthusiasm, and curiosity of our children in our services. 5 Reasons Children Belong in the Main Service. makes this observation about what happens when children are excluded:

"This may be why so many young people are no longer attending church. They never were a part of the church."
  1. FACE COVERINGS are to be worn at all times inside the church (Exception: the speaker may remove his/her mask while speak from the front).
  2. Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and other people not in your household.
  3. Don't congregate inside - outside is a great place to chat!
  4. Sit in the designated spaces, keeping a safe distance from other families.
  5. Stay home if you are feeling ill or have been recently diagnosed with or exposed to Covid 19.
The Paw Paw SDA Promise board members met January 11, 2021 for the annual board meeting. Here is a summary of the discussion:
  • We would like to thank Dan Bledsaw for his professional assistance in creating the new logo.

  • This year we are pleased to report that $4,407 will be distributed from the Paw Paw SDA Promise Investment Account ($3573 was dispersed in 2019). These funds combine with church budget funding in supporting Adventist Christian Education students who meet the criteria for Educational Assistance.

  • The distribution figure is arrived at by taking 2% of the total investment account value on December 31st each year. On December 31, 2020 the account was valued at $220,342.52, this was an approximate increase of 20% from the account value of $178,657 December 31, 2019.

  • One-time and regular donations, memorial gifts, and estate bequests fund the PPSDA Promise. Thank you if you have been one of the faithful contributors who have included The Promise in your systematic giving plan or shared a one-time gift. We also thank you for sharing this vision to continue providing Christian education in the years to come for our church family. Providing a Christian education for our children is the greatest evangelistic outreach we can do. We want this legacy to continue for future generations or until our Lord returns.

Report submitted by John Boothby, Chair of Paw Paw SDA Promise.
The winter of 2021 provides more than enough demand for services in our community. PPAC members and budget continue to buy produce weekly for Eleanor’s Pantry and send monthly checks of support to United Christian Services. Other support includes buying underwear for Lydia's Closet, Ziploc bags and diapers for The Porch, and financial support to Decatur Family Services.

We also help with members (Member Care is also part of the church budget) when there is a need. These essential necessities are handled through the church office and the deaconesses.

If you have a heart for the needs at this time, please direct financial contributions to Community Services or Member Care. If you would like to become involved as a volunteer, contact Jan Steffen or Donelle O'Connor for ideas. Perhaps this is the time where we learn that we were born to serve, indeed.
Other Agencies that are served by PPAC Community Services:
  • CROP WALK, Eastern Van Buren County
  • Decatur Family Services
  • Van Buren County DHHS
  • Red Cross
  • Various other Food Pantries
Decatur Human Services has a motto worth adopting, We are People Helping People. In their recent thank you letter, they summarized their services:

  • Their Food Pantry has remained open, although they are experiencing a shortage volunteers.
  • Most of their usual community fundraisers were canceled because of Covid.
  • The Clothing Center has temporarily closed because of limited funding and volunteers.
  • They are continuing to provide emergency vouchers for gasoline and assistance with prescription, utility and housing emergencies.
  • They partner with the Decatur VFW and the monthly Commodity Supplemental Food Program to distribute over 100 commodity boxes per month to seniors and the (TEFAP) Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program four times a year. 

PPAC increased support for DHS from $1000 to $1500 in 2020. We've already sent our first installment of $500 to DHS for 2021. These funds come from the generous and systematic donation to Community Services. Decatur Human Services and their recipients say thank you.

For more information, check out Decatur Human Services.
Each April, the Michigan Conference of SDA Women's Ministry Department sponsors weekend retreats for women at Camp AuSable. Last year, they were canceled, but the plan this year is to do them virtually. Ruth Ann Thompson is scheduled to be the speaker; her story is inspiring and will touch each who attend. Learn more about her at the Ruth Ann Thompson website. Watch for further details, but plan to attend. Here is the early information regarding the 2021 Women's Ministry Retreat.
Cornerstone (capital / building projects) received $13,880 in December. That brings our total for the "More than Bricks" campaign to $370,192 after 23 months.

Even though we have only used the inside of our building for a small faction of the past year, we're amazed at your continued support as we've still raised over $120,000 in 2020!
Becky Lynn Driskel: I was baptized in January 1990 by then PPAC Pastor Byron Hudson. My late ex-husband, Jose Sauceda, was baptized with me. It was a very special day. (This was inadvertantly omitted from the January Newsletter.)
Our own Pastor Michelle Odinma has completed her MDiv at the Seminary and is awaiting God's next assignment for her. She's a former teacher at Kalamazoo Jr Academy and Benton Harbor Community Schools, and she is a gifted musician, so she brings a unique and exciting array of God-given talents to the ministry. Pray for her as God leads and uses her to build His kingdom.
Ready for her next step in God's harvest.
Thank you, Pastor Michelle, for blessing us with your messages in sermons, songs and service. We will long remember your passion for God, your challenging words, your beautiful voice - and your creative hair styles! You are PPAC forever - remember that!
PPAC experienced a significant loss in mid January, as Mary Harrison of Paw Paw passed away at a hospice in Kalamazoo. Mary attended church each week, sitting near the front on the organ side. In years past, she would sit with Vera Dunigan, Barb Randall's mom, and some even wondered if they were family. Her daughter says her mom loved being a part of a church family. She avoided the foyer, entering and exiting the church through the door by the office where her car was parked. But, if you intercepted her, her smile was golden and she always had a positive and uplifting word to share. You may want to ask Chuck Randall for details about his heroic valet service. She appreciated someone parking and retrieving her car in her later years. Her declining health was evident the last time we saw her at church, more than a year ago.

Her obituary says, "Mary Ellen Harrison, age 86, passed away January 10, 2021 at Rose Arbor Hospice in Kalamazoo, MI. Mary was born July 23, 1934 in Kalamazoo, the daughter of David Franklin and Nettie (McNett) McCormack. She retired after 30 years from Mead Paper Company. Mary was a member of the Paw Paw Seventh-Day Adventist Church and the Comstock VFW Post #6252 Auxiliary. She was well known as a social butterfly, who enjoyed bingo, and traveling with family and friends on cruises, to Las Vegas, and other special destinations. Her family was the most important part of her life. In 1992 she was united in marriage to Lonnie Harrison, who preceded her in death in 2016. She was also preceded by her parents; a brother James McCormack; and children Steven McNally, Margaret McNally and Ronnie Morabito and several other significant family members. Surviving is her daughter Laura McNally; son-in-law's Jim Moyer and Dave Morabito; several step-children; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews. Due to Covid concerns, a private graveside service will be held in Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Memorials in Mary's memory may be directed to the family."
Pastor Nicolás is happy to announce his engagement to his high school sweetheart, Brenda!

They are still in the process of planning their wedding and are excited for the future. Brenda currently studies at Loma Linda University and Nicolás plans to join her there at the end of the year so they can start their married life together.

We trust he will keep us posted on the wedding plans. Congratulations Pastor Nic and Brenda. May God be your guide as you start your life together.
Almost two years ago, Pauletta Johnson, our church secretary, took a phone call from a Lawton family who had been watching the church services online. Pauletta chatted with the couple and became friends with the wife. The two exchanged many emails and came to regard each other as friends. Although the wife was battling a stubborn illness, Pauletta hoped that the couple would be able to attend in person one day. In the meantime, they were regular attenders for online church each week.

The Pastor and Chuck Randall responded to the husband's phone call just prior to his wife's death from her illness in mid-January. They were able to offer comfort to the soon-to-be-widower and pray with both of them. She had background with Adventism, and had one of the salvaged chairs from the old Battle Creek Sanitarium where she worked years ago. He explained how they both were blessed with watching PPAC online; they even felt like they knew some of the people.

Please remember to pray for those who watch online. God can use technology to make a difference.
By Chris Randall, Treasury Chair

As predicted, the month of December was an anomaly (in a good way) as many do their year-end giving. Here are some items of note:
  • Tithe was $74,863 for the month and 12.4% ahead of last fiscal year-to-date. Remember that 100% of Tithe is remitted directly to the Michigan Conference for the support of evangelists, pastors, Bible instructors, and administrative support for these functions throughout the Conference and worldwide.
  • Income / Giving to the Local Church Budget was $27,735 for the month. This is 79.1% above our $15,483 monthly goal, 14.3% ahead of our YTD goal, but 9.5% behind the previous YTD.
  • Cornerstone (capital / building projects) received $13,880 in December. That brings our total for the "More than Bricks" campaign to $370,192 after 23 months.
  • Our reserves are healthy and earning interest in the Revolving Fund at the Lake Union Conference. Cash on hand, general operating reserve, and capital replacement reserves ensure that we can continue to function through short-term crises. 

Donation receipts for 2020 are complete and will be mailed (since fewer are attending in person and even those that do seem out of the habit of checking mailboxes!). Some interesting metrics:
  • Our treasury team handled $906,707 in total giving in 2020.
  • We issued receipts to 119 families or giving units (down from 129 in 2019). A number of these are from out of state and represent one time gifts to PPSDA Promise, for example.
  • 78 (65.5%) participated in Church Budget.
  • 58 (48.7%) participated in Cornerstone.

We continue to see God's blessing and member stewardship during this unsettling time of COVID-19.
If you remember MISSION SPOTLIGHT, you may be "old"! However, there is a lot of good information and Mission Spotlight is still being produced. Watch January, Mission in Euro-Asia and February, The I Will Go Movement. Learn more about SDA mission efforts.
Are you wondering how you could reach your neighbors with a message of love and hope? Here is one idea from the Michigan Conference, A Valentine's Gift for Neighbors.
For decades, February has meant an offering for Liberty magazine and the efforts toward Liberty for the SDA church. This year is no exception and the need to share the the tenets of religious liberty is still great. The SDA view of religious liberty has historically been at odds with the views shared by many evangelical churches. What is your understanding of religious liberty? This is the official statement on the GC website on Religious Liberty. Take a look at the resources and information and read archived issues on the Liberty Website.
2-1 Sanjay Swamidass
2-2 Ryleigh Bergmann
2-3 Cary Kittleson
2-5 Justin Johnson
2-7 Austin DeYoung, Rodney Dyson, Andre Henry, Larry Seely
2-8 Tim Newkirk
2-9 Jason Boothby, Tammy Verburg
2-11 Nathan Elanko
2-15 Prince Andrew, Dave Hill, Casey Hill, David Scofield
2-17 Angelica Delacruz, Jacob Hoke, Steffanie Newkirk, Michelle Seely,
Kayli Vanderwall
2-18 Nyah Lopez, Jason Randall
2-20 Cora Brooks, Daniel Welburn
2-23 Kevin Kramer, Ellen Larsen, Tonya Street
2-24 Patrick Herzog, Kasen Steele
January 30: Ordination of Pastor Nick and Pastor Logan as elders
February 3: Fab 50s (Zoom at Noon)
February 6: Sabbath School, 10:00 and Church, 11:00
February 13: Sabbath School, 10:00 and Church, 11:00
February 15: Finance Committee, 6:30, Board - 7:00, Zoom
February 20: Sabbath School, 10:00 and Church, 11:00
February 27: Sabbath School,10:00 and Church,11:00

  • Heather Bergmann's Family on the loss of her nephew
  • Mark Mills' mom, recovering from stroke
  • Matt Mueller, on deployment as an engineer with the US Army and James Driskel, on deployment with the US Navy.
  • Bev Steele, recovering from surgery
  • Frank Erion, recovering from heart attack and bypass surgery in Florida
  • Ardith Owen, Health Challenges, 36154 Valley Drive, Paw Paw, MI 49079
  • Sharon Lamb, recovering from cancer surgery, family members who are ill. 35539 Whiskey Run Road, Mattawan, MI 49071
  • Nancy Boothby - Health challenges, 3060 9th St, Kalamazoo, MI 49009
  • Randy Jones, recovering from foot surgery, 15442 Flowerfield Rd. Three Rivers, Michigan 49093
  • The Driskel family, Health Challenges, Becky has returned to work. 11031 M-60 Hwy, Three Rivers, MI 49093-8386.
  • Sharon Crux, Health Challenges, 71165 Copper Blvd, Lawton, MI 49065.
  • Helen Perry, Health Challenges. 1392 Woodlure Dr, Kalamazoo, MI, 49009
  • Amy Hill - Health Challenges.
  • Anita Ashton - Send a card! 6600 Constitution Blvd, Unit 8, Portage, MI, 49024
  • David Scofield - Health Challenges, 10640 Paw Paw Lake Dr, Paw Paw, MI 49079
  • Our leaders and decision makers, those working to find effective treatments and vaccines, medical professionals, business owners, those who are temporarily unemployed (or longer), those who are ill, those with mental health and relationship issues, and those with new grief.
  • PPAC and other churches, Andrews University, our academies, church schools and all schools
Don't miss anything that might be going on - even if you aren't there, you can be there! 

  • To receive text messages with church news and updates, including reminders for events and changes, send a text to 81010 with the message @ppacnews to sign up.

  • After you have signed up for text messages, you can text 81010 with the message @ppacprayer to be part of the Prayer Chain.

  • Ask the pastor to include you in his weekly Friday emails, which will include information about Sabbath services and activities, including the bulletin