Conference E-Newsletter
March 2021 - Volume 4, Issue 3
The purpose of the Oklahoma Conference is to 
"Proclaim, Disciple, Live With Christ"
Dear Conference Workers,

The Youth, Education, and Native American Ministry departments recently reported to the Executive Board, and treasurer Carlos Portanova reported that tithe is still up in spite of the pandemic. Praise the Lord!

Because the Oklahoma Constituency is on the horizon on April 18, we thoroughly discussed the success of the event with all glory going to the Father who created our church family and us. We discussed the possibility of a virtual meeting, but instead, the board ended up with a majority voting for an in-person constituency meeting and making available more rooms for people to go to if they have any problems being in the large auditorium with its spacing and COVID-19 safety protocols. The Conference leaders are looking into different systems of technology to meet the needs of keeping everyone as a whole unit while in different rooms for comments, votes, etc. Elder Rodney Grove was voted to be the parliamentarian for the 70th Oklahoma Constituency Session. The Executive Committee also voted 14 delegates from the Oklahoma Conference Church for representation.

The Southwestern Union Conference is having its constituency meeting on April 25, 2021, so the Executive Board voted 21 delegates to go: three officers, seven workers, and 11 laypeople.

The education department submitted several teachers' names which were voted for rehire for the 2021-22 school year: Abbigail Banks for Bristow; Rebekah Cadwallader for Parkview; and Caroline Fisher, Amy Gil, and Caleb Minty for Tulsa Adventist Academy. May God continue to bless you, teachers, as you serve His children in the Oklahoma Conference.

One of the hardest tasks for Executive Boards is to accept a retirement request from a valuable worker. The Committee accepted elder Ciro Castillo’s formal retirement request to begin May 1, 2021. Elder Ciro Castillo and his wife, Susan, have worked 40 years in the Oklahoma Conference. Thank you, Elder and Mrs. Castillo, for your great commitment to God’s work in Oklahoma. We pray that you have received heavenly blessings in abundance, and may He continue to guide and bless you.

The Oklahoma Conference scouts for teachers throughout the United States to go to Korea to teach English. Then we send them to Korea through the Oklahoma Conference, which means they need to be covered by the General Conference Missionary insurance, paid for by the Korean Union Education Department; therefore, the Executive Board voted to cover these teachers with the GC Missionary Insurance.

Lastly, let me update you on the Tulsa Community Service Center (TCSC). The TCSC worked with the Tulsa County Health Department, allowing them to use our building while giving COVID-19 vaccines to people 65 and older. A big thanks go to all involved in helping those throughout our conference who can’t help themselves, with a special thanks to Billy Dennis. Dennis coordinates the Homeless Feeding Ministry in Tulsa every last Sunday of every month. May God anoint each of the programs and volunteers that have reached out to help others have a better day and a better life.

The conference office leadership and staff want to thank you for your patience and kindness from February 16-18 when we closed due to the large amounts of snow! Each person worked at home during that time, but if there was no answer when you called, and it was not on purpose (although some of us did enjoy playing in the snow!).

Be blessed, fellow brother and sister workers! Jesus is holding you and me as we prepare daily to do His will. Please continue to pray for us as we pray daily for you, and may we unitedly glorify the Master of our work.

Your servant in Christ,
Apple Park
Upcoming Events!
You don't want to miss this event. There will be inspiring music, Christ-centered preaching, fellowship, panel Q & A, an afternoon hike, games, a community service project and so much more! Register soon and qualify to win one of many Amazon gift cards.
Hello everyone! National Family Retreat online registration is now open! Our
guest speakers are Norman and Joelle McNulty and Tom and Alane Waters from Restoration International. 

Enjoy inspiring messages, marriage and family workshops, a youth panel, exhibits, and two new family fun time slots. There will be outdoor activities for the whole family, including horseback riding. Feast on the best plant-based meals by Chef Sam Hutchinson!

Everyone planning to attend must register. More information is available at www.rionline.org/nfr. It is going to be a spiritual feast! The essence of the gospel is restoration!
Out and About ...
God's Army at MLK, Jr. Parade
WAGONER, OKLA. - On January 18th the Haskell God's Army Pathfinder drum line led the Wagoner MLK, Jr. Parade. The participants lined up at the United Church at 10:45 a.m for the parade through downtown Wagoner. The participants ranged from ages 5 and up. The drum corp has all types of talents to be used for God's glory from ringing cymbals to the banging of the drums. God's Army brings its presents to show why we are marching for education surrounding Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

If you would like to part of this united drum corp that is comprised of youth and young adults, email allnationssda918@gmail.com.

By DeMario Watson
Mother/Daughter Tea Party
OKLAHOMA - On Sunday, February 28, the Oklahoma Conference Children’s Ministry Department hosted a special Mother-Daughter Tea Party.  We wanted to offer an opportunity for moms and daughters to have a special time to bond with each other and encourage a closer walk with God as they live their everyday lives together.   Because of the current pandemic situation we are all living with, the attendance was limited to 80 people in order to social distance within the space that we had. The Sheraton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City fit the bill with a banquet room large enough to accommodate us. Thirty-two moms and 41 daughters attended, representing 14 churches traveling from as far away as Tulsa, Ardmore, and Durant. We are looking forward, in the future, to have this event again without having to limit the number of attendees.  

The attendees all arrived with their special party dresses, some with hats and gloves.  It was so much fun to see them arrive excited to spend time together in a social activity.  While waiting for everyone to arrive, the daughters were given the opportunity to answer questions on how well they knew their mothers.  The questions included, “How old are you? What is your favorite color, favorite vegetable, favorite sport?  Does your mom like to cook?  What is her shoe size?” This was quite comical as some of the daughters had no clue as to any of the correct answers.

We had a short presentation on the origins of afternoon tea and the correct etiquette involved at a tea party.  Do you know the correct way of stirring your tea after adding sweetener or milk? It is not stirring in a circle but forward to back without touching the sides of the cup. It is also generally believed that it is correct to hold your pinkie finger up while holding the teacup; however experts say this is not the case. It is also not polite to slurp your tea but take quiet small sips! Herbal teas plus a variety of tea treats were provided so everyone could enjoy the process of serving each other tea and practice tea etiquette.

All children’s ministry events must have a time to be creative, and for this event each Mom was given a brown paper bag filled supplies to make their daughters “fascinator hats,” a style of hat made popular in the 1940s.  After the hats were finished, moms walked with their daughters down a “runway” showing off their creativity.

The afternoon activities culminated with an inspirational talk by Amy Gil, elementary teacher at Tulsa Adventist Academy.  Amy shared 10 points to help mothers and daughters form a closer bond with one another, leaving us with the thought that the most important part to any relationship is to have Jesus the center of the relationship. The moms were then given the opportunity to present their daughters with a box which contained a key with a heart attached.  Moms then made promises to their daughters and had a special prayer of dedication.  Our prayer is that those who attended went home with a deeper bond in their relationships.

By Norma Shepherd
GLOW Tracts Evangelism
COALGATE, OKLA. - This past year and continuing into 2021, we find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic where our lives have been turned upside down. Things have changed in our lives such as wearing masks and keeping at least six feet apart. This has become a new normal in our lives, but the one thing that has not changed is that we have a Lord and Savior that still watches over us and our families that we love. I know it is hard for us to do things like we used to as a church. Some churches have closed their doors and have gone to virtual church services. While we are having to do these changes, one thing that does not need to change is to remember what Mark 16:15 (KJV) says: "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." It is hard to reach out to people if we have a hard time making contact with the people of our community. But we can still reach out to them by sharing literature at different places in the community. 
   That is why the Coalgate church has placed a pocket calendar at one of the local businesses with the heartfelt permission from the business owner. We placed different tracts on different subjects such as heart healthy, high blood pressure, and how to get to know Jesus. These tracts have been well received at this location. One day while refilling the calendar, a woman approached me and stated what a blessing it was for us to place these materials for them to read. The woman stated that this information has helped her get through some rough times this past year. 
   I know that there may be several people that will pass by and not look at the material, but if it reaches one person and changes that person's life, then it will be a wonderful thing.

By Mary Tate
The Four Chaplains Ceremony
TULSA- Every year the American Legion has a tribute ceremony to honor four brave clergymen who gave up their lives to save many Navy men whom they had sworn to protect. The ceremony is called The Four Chaplain's Ceremony. 

The incident happened one cold, dark night. On February 3, 1943, a German submarine torpedo hit the USS Dorchester, awakening the crew. These four chaplains from four different faiths hurriedly got up and said a prayer and quickly started helping the men get off the ship as it was taking on water in the 34F ocean water. Each one removed their own life vest and placed it on a crew member and told them to jump to their safety, assuring the men they would be okay. Soon the icy waters claimed their bodies, but the saved men all said they saw these men on deck with locked arms singing and praising the Lord. The ship went under and there was a brilliant light that shone where the men were last seen before going to their watery graves. These men were all 1st Lt. chaplains. Their names and faiths were: George Fox/Methodist; Alexander D. Goode/Jewish; Clark V. Poling/Reformed Church of America; and Johnny P. Washington/Catholic. The chaplains were able to help save 230 of the 904 men aboard that ship that night. 

This year was the second time Pastor Apple Park was able to help perform the ceremony in Tulsa. He was invited by Chaplain/ Commander Lisa Milner, who is also a member of the American Legion and a veteran herself. Pastor Park gave the opening prayer and played the part of Chaplain Poling. He also thanked the veterans for what the American military did for his home country during the Korean war.

I was honored and happy that Pastor Park was able to join in the tribute. The reason why I chose to ask him was simply because I wanted someone who was born in another country, but became an American citizen; someone who could understand a little of what our American military men and women go through when we are in a different country. I also wanted to see another person who is an Adventist like myself because some were under the impression that Seventh-day Adventists don't approve of the military. So, I was extremely happy when Pastor Park said he would love to come again to participate in this solemn ceremony.

If you have never heard of the Four Chaplain's story, there are movies, books, and online information about it. Maybe next year you can come to an American Legion near you and watch it in person. It is held during the first week of February every year.

By Lisa Milner
Debt-Free Celebration
SALLISAW, OKLA. - On Saturday, January 16, the Spanish Sallisaw Seventh-day Adventist Church celebrated their ninth anniversary, along with paying off the church mortgage. Pastor Apple Park (Oklahoma Conference Executive Secretary) and Carlos Portanova (Oklahoma Conference Treasurer) took part in the ceremony where they burned the mortgage debt paperwork. Various church members had the opportunity to share testimonies on how God led on spreading the gospel in this town. It was a rejoicing Sabbath to say the least for the whole congregation, and everyone was grateful for God abundant blessings received throughout this journey.

By Pastor Juan Williams
Youth Preaching Challenge
OKLAHOMA- Right after our preaching challenge (iPreach for HIM) in November 2020, some Spanish pastors shared that many children in their churches wished they would have participated. Without delay the Youth Department planned for another preaching challenge. The churches planned a preaching challenge in their own church and the winning participant represented their church at the conference level. Seven youth, ages 10-18 represented their church: Derek Abraham Bello (Midwest City), Allen Gamas (Tulsa Spanish), Ramon Loyo Plata (West Siloam Springs), Alex Vasquez (Durant Spanish), Emmanuel Bartolon (Garnett Spanish), Arodi Lopez Barrientos (OKC Central Spanish), and Abraham Velásquez (Independence Spanish). Each of them preached on the theme "An Encounter With Jesus" via Zoom and broadcasted on Facebook Live.

Our Judges consisted of pastor Samuel Ruiz, pastor Angel Morin, and pastor Julio Diaz. After hearing from all seven great presenters and totaling up all the points, the judges awarded the top three presenters. First place went to Arodi Lopez Barrientos, second place went to Emmanuel Bartolon, and third place went to Allen Gamas. All participants received a small gift card, and a recognition certificate signed by the youth director and conference president.
 
We praise God for the work that the Holy Spirit is doing with this group of young people and we know that the Lord has great plans for their lives. We look forward to seeing them continue proclaiming the Word of God. You can watch the full presentation on the Ministerio Hispano-Oklahoma Facebook page.

By Yesenia Ortega
TAA Recognizes National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalist
TULSA, OKLA.- What a blessing to be one in a million—and a half! That is how many students apply to the National Merit Scholarship each year, each one hoping for the top prize of free college tuition for four years. On March 2, Tulsa Adventist Academy (TAA) interim principal Peggy Fisher and high school vice-principal Ruthie Vargas were thrilled to present senior AnnaRose Jones with a certificate from the Scholarship indicating her status as a semi-finalist out of 1.5 million applicants.

According to nationalmerit.org, there are several scholarships available to the next round of 7,600 students who will be the finalists in March 2021: "National Merit $2500 Scholarships, corporate-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards, and college-sponsored Merit Scholarship awards." These students have consistent "very high academic performance" in all high school years, plus community service and other requirements. AnnaRose has met the requirements, including TAA's highest honor roll designation for straight As, "President's Honor Roll," many times.

Congratulations to AnnaRose and to all of our students in Oklahoma (homeschooled or conventional), set your goals, pray for wisdom, apply for scholarships, and let God guide your future.

By Caroline A. Fisher
Working Together for Our Kids
KETCHUM, OKLA. - Early in the school year I was sitting in the classroom at Ketchum Adventist Academy (KAA), frustrated with our students’ computers that no longer worked with any of the new required education programs. One of the North American Division (NAD) education department’s requirements is a new style of testing called the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) testing. It tests students at the beginning, the middle, and the end of the school year to determine their progress. It is an effective way to review students’ progress and address any weaknesses, but there was one big problem: our desktop computers were 12 years old and would not work with the tests. Desperate, I emailed the president's office at the Oklahoma Conference about KAA’s dilemma. In the meantime, I prayed.
 
As a teacher in a small, multi-grade school for 30 years, there are many different jobs to juggle, but it is worth it. Teaching at KAA has stayed deep inside my heart. I knew this school needed more help to keep everything special and running smoothly for our students.Then one day, after my email and many, many fervent prayers, I received a phone call that began a series of blessings, starting with our conference president, Elder James Shires. Elder Shires and the conference officers responded to my email and noted that KAA has several non-Adventist, Native American students. The conference’s Native Ministries department arranged for KAA to receive new Apple laptop computers and the ministry also purchased software subscriptions for a period of five years. KAA was also provided additional funding to support the quality of education for our Native American students. These funds will come out of evangelism funds that are non-tithe appropriations and thanks to the office of the president, KAA students will have the technology they need if we need to switch to distance learning at any time.
 
Although some students have received scholarships through donors via the Opportunity Scholarship Fund (osfkids.org), the scholarships cannot be used for technology. And although some of our students are not members of our church, their parents wanted their children to go to a school that would teach them about Jesus; KAA gives their children that extra-special knowledge. A few of our families have even requested Bible studies. 
 
Recently, Pastor Jim Landelius, Oklahoma’s Native Ministries Director, visited KAA to have worship and deliver these badly needed computers to our students who were very excited because of this blessing. In fact, we are beyond thankful to our donors. Native people were forced onto reservations and left to struggle alone, but God didn’t forget them and Oklahoma Native Ministries (https://www.nativeministries.org) did not forget about their children at KAA. With this donation, we are reminded about how fortunate we are to live in Oklahoma with one of the highest ratios of Native Americans in any state in the country. We are now studying Oklahoma’s Native Americans, and for worship, we are reading Swift Arrow by Josephine Cunnington Edwards. Her thoughtful story is about a young boy who was captured but carefully raised for 12 years by Native Americans in Pennsylvania during the 1700s.
 
We may never know how many seeds are planted for Jesus just by keeping our church schools open, sharing God’s messages of love, forgiveness and a future that is shaped by His hand.  I praise God for the gifts from Native Ministries and for our KAA students who make coming to work every day a blessing.
 
Dame Toews
Ketchum Adventist Academy
Resources
Jesus Special Live Broadcast
This Easter, the greatest rescue story of all time is coming to you live from the Branson stage! Join viewers from around the world for Sight & Sound’s groundbreaking original production, JESUS, as it comes to life like never before. This special live broadcast is one night only, Friday, April 2, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. ET with encore events throughout Easter weekend.
Benefits of Spending Time Together
The fast pace of modern day family life can make it easy to forget that simply just spending time with our children is really important. Our time is one of the greatest things we can give them. Summer time offers lots of opportunities to spend time together and some good old family bonding! Here’s why you should make quality time a priority:
Jesus 101 Introduces New Video Series for Kids
This new video Bible series from Jesus 101 will help kids discover Jesus, illustrating stories of the Bible in a fun and educational way. Kids will learn the stories of Jesus calming the storm, resurrecting Jairus' daughter, and more. Perfect for churches, schools, and families, the complimentary coloring pages are available for kids to download and color anywhere! 
Adventist World
The Executive Committee (EXCOM) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church voted Wednesday, February 17, to move the 2022 General Conference (GC) Session, the quinquennial business meeting of the denomination, from Indianapolis, Indiana to St. Louis, Missouri. The vote comes after GC Management was unexpectedly informed by the city of Indianapolis that the space in Indianapolis was no longer available for the June 6-11, 2022 dates. These dates voted by the GC EXCOM will remain the same. 
Adventist Community Services Accepts Donation of 150,000 Face Masks from AdventHealth
As COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the nation, Adventist Community Services (ACS) centers have been encouraged to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to volunteers, staff, and community members. Face masks are one of the most essential supplies in great demand today.
NAD Responds to
Recent Legislation
While the Seventh-day Adventist Church firmly believes that everyone is created in the image of God and should be treated with dignity, compassion, and respect, the Church remains concerned that the Equality Act as drafted would further erode the religious liberty of faith communities and their members. As currently written, the legislation makes no allowance for communities or individuals of faith who hold traditional views of marriage and gender and fails to provide essential religious liberty protections that would allow a diverse and essential group of social service, humanitarian, and educational organizations to continue to thrive... (NADAdventist.org)
Thou Shalt Smile..
Zucchini Bread
INGREDIENTS
  • 3 to 4 cups grated fresh zucchini (700 to 900 ml)
  • 2 teaspoons butter for greasing the pans
  • 3 cups (390 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
Please share your church and school activities by emailing pictures and stories to Communication@Okla-Adventist.org. Invite others to sign up to receive our E-Newsletter by visiting our conference website at www.okadventist.org. The sign-up form is at the bottom of the home page.

Daniel Ortega, Communication Director
Yesenia Ortega, Newsletter Manager
Caroline A. FisherNewsletter Editor
Communication@okla-adventist.org