Unto Us Came the Heart of Christmas

For Unto Us a Child is BornThe year 2015 is coming to a close, and as we pause to reflect, we can see how God has been leading and blessing in our Conference. Many have come to know Jesus as a result of evangelism throughout Minnesota. We can see the changes that have taken place at North Star Camp, and we know that many children will give their heart to Jesus there in the coming months and years. Our teachers are working daily to not only give our children academic instruction, but to point them to Christ.

Christmas is for love, joy, giving and sharing.  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.

Thank you for letting God’s love shine through you as you minister in the churches, classrooms, offices, and neighborhoods, and especially, in your home. Your ministry makes a difference to the people you serve – a difference for eternity.

Our prayer is that the love of Jesus will shine through our lives during this Christmas season and throughout the coming year.

May the Lord bless you with joy, health, love, and a peace that passes all understanding, as we keep our EYES on Eternity.

Have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Conference Administration

Christmas Story

Nativity WallpaperBut the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”… LK 2:10-11

When I was reading the Christmas story, I was thinking how this must have been an amazing scene; think of the animals and animal feed, the Magi – and their gifts and the shepherds and their folks. I know that the birth of Jesus means so much to so many people, but I am reminded in reading the story that the point of the story is not the date or the season. Instead, the focal point of the story is the Birth, this amazing addition to the human family – God with us.

As we close this year, I am reminded of a different kind of birth. This year we have seen 298 souls born into the kingdom of God by baptism, and 205 souls by Profession of Faith. We have added more than 500 souls to the kingdom of God in the Minnesota Conference.  If we are reading the statistical records correctly, this is historic! Our records show that every single Seventh-day Adventist church worshiping group in our conference added at least one or more new members into their group, except 2 churches. That is amazing statistics. I know that studies show the mainline Protestant denominations in the United States are on decline. But as I look at our records I am encouraged to see that Minnesota Conference membership has been on the rise.


My suggestion to the church is to keep our EYES on eternity. This means we will commit to evangelism, engage the youth, promote Adventist education, do service, be faithful stewards and grow spiritually. As the communities around us turn their attention to the birth of Jesus, we have an opportunity to share the good news. We should make plans for continuous engagement with our communities, plan for outreach, and making disciples. Now, the truth is if we are not doing outreach the church will not grow. A challenge to all pastors, church elders, youth leaders and all departmental leaders and members, let’s focus our EYES on Christ’s mission. Have you noticed that at the time of birth there is focused attention on the baby? I am suggesting that during this Christmas season and throughout the year let’s focus outward. Let our plans for evangelism, let our youth, our schools and all our programs, our budgeting, all be focused towards birthing new Christians.

Brian K. Mungandi, Vice President for Administration

e-TNL Staff: Brian Mungandi, Director; Melisa Mauk, Website-editor
E-mail: mnsdanewsletter@gmail.com Website: www.mnsdanewsletter.wordpress.com

e-TNL is an informational bulletin issued by the Communications Department of the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. You are free to re-print any portion of the bulletin without need for special permission. However, we kindly request that you identify e-TNL whenever you publish these materials.

The McCormicks Retire From Ministry

15 McCormicksPastor Sherman and Mrs. Connie McCormick worked tirelessly with passion and enthusiasm to enhance Pastoral care and Adventist education in the Minnesota Conference. Connie developed a slogan AWAKE. (Ambassadors for Christ, Walking in His Steps, Anticipating His Return, Keeping His Commands, Experiencing Great Joy) . She encouraged teachers and students alike to be ambassadors for Christ, walking each day in His steps as they anticipate the soon return of our Lord Jesus Christ. She also encouraged teachers, students and the school constituency to faithfully keep God’s commandments and experience great joy. Connie brought Outdoor School to Minnesota and engaged children in the study of nature. Each year she attempted to highlight some bible characters or concepts, with emphasis on showing the loving God of creation.

Pastor Sherman was and is a praying man, visiting and praying with pastors across the conference. He shared thoughts from many of the books that he was reading. Sherman was always encouraging pastors to read to equip themselves for 21st century ministry. This ministerial couple leave behind the legacy of having a passionate desire to introduce men and women, boys and girls to the Jesus they love. Mrs. Connie McCormick’s desire to awaken people so they can really experience the great JOY in Jesus stands out. Pastor Sherman’s direct ministry to pastors as a Ministerial Director and his desire to see pastors press forward and succeed in giving meaningful ministry in whatever district they are assigned will be missed.

The Minnesota Conference owes a great deal of gratitude to Sherman and Connie McCormick for their selfless commitment to the church and the education goals of the Seventh day Adventist church. In addition to their length of service a combined service record of 64.5yrs, we will always remember them for their joy and happiness, they made all of us AWAKE and happy. We pray that their legacy will live on, not only in this conference, but in the lives of the many students and church members they served.

Brian K. Mungandi, Vice President for Administration

15 Education Two 215 Ministerial TwoIt has been a privilege to work for both Connie and Sherman. Connie is always so creative, bubbly, and full of positive courage to offer to the teachers and me. I love her cheerful giggle when she is putting up with my silliness and Sherman, he just puts up with all of it and goes on to his stash of chocolates. (He really should check with my main boss before doing that.) LOL. I will always remember the first time Connie came to my Kindergarten classroom to evaluate me, and the littlest one in the class during an activity, tattled on her, saying “Mrs. Mauk, that girl is not doing it!” I will truly miss that girl and my other boss! Keep letting your light shine for Jesus. Love you both, Melisa

Melisa Mauk, Assistant to Connie McCormick, Education Superintendent/Children’s Ministries and Assistant to Sherman McCormick, Ministerial Director

15 Inglish, DougI have had the opportunity to work with Connie on several projects, and have always appreciated her sense of mission, her dedication to her profession, and her concern over the schools, the teachers, and the students. She has always known that both programs and people matter, and that is reflected in her high standards for schools and warm personal affection for people. I join the rest of the Conference in wishing her a happy and well deserved retirement.

I have particularly enjoyed working with Sherman, especially after we formed a prayer partnership in the months leading up to the Twin Cities Evangelism event of 2015. I have appreciated his dedication, his concern for the welfare of the pastors and members of the Minnesota Conference, and his zeal for the mission of the church. On a personal level, I will miss seeing him on a regular basis. I wish my friend a long, healthy, and happy retirement, one that he has certainly earned.

Douglas L. Inglish, Director of Gift Planning & Trust Services/Personal Ministries

Connie & KathyConnie was born to mentor; a sweetheart whose heart is with children, teachers and SDA classrooms.  Her brain is ALWAYS whirring with ideas of how to better her classroom teachers, and give them and their charges a wonderful school experience. With her gentle demeanor she has endeared herself to MANY!  I wish her BEST! The BEST!  The BEST! —in her retirement and her godly life!  I will miss seeing her at educational meetings and other places where dedicated folks gather to better the lives of others! God Bless!

Kathy Bollinger, Union College Associate Professor of Education

Dwayne Mauk (MN Conference)The past couple of years, I have come to really enjoy Sherman McCormick’s friendship and his willingness to go beyond the extra mile in helping to further God’s work.  Twice I have had the pleasure of going into the Boundary Waters with Sherman, and saw parts of the country very few have seen.  It doesn’t matter the hardness of the trail, or the weather – Sherman can make it all a very neat experience.  I’ll also miss being able to knock on his door, and there is almost always a wave of the hand to ‘come on in’ and talk.  Thanks Sherman for being that type of person.

Dwayne Mauk, Associate Treasurer

Bradley BoothMerry Christmas, and happy retirement, Connie!
I know you will enjoy more time with your grandchildren. Keep doing all the things you love so much, and find the time to do lots more. Your service for Jesus never ends. May God bless you for all the years you have served in His vineyard.

Bradley Booth, Rochester SDA Church Pastor

Stan Wilkinson (Rochester pastor)Sherman, Wishing you the best upon retirement and may your blade be upon smooth waters.

Stan Wilkinson, Pastor of Duluth District

Connie taught for years at the Detroit Lakes Church school, and some of the children from our church had her as their teacher.  In all of those years I only heard praise, as both children and parents loved her.  Connie was innovative, she personally wrote, created and executed top notch programs for holidays with an array of exciting props, keeping Jesus front and center.  Connie created a once a week Home School/Church School day, and her school would bulge with children and parents.   Interesting educational crafts, stories and drama for the day were all coordinated to include a theme that the children were studying.  The Minnesota Conference made a good choice when they chose Connie as Superintendent of Education.  Connie’s goal for the Minnesota Conference Teachers is that the children know and love Jesus through their school experience.  Thank you Mrs. McCormick for your positive contribution to Adventist Education!

Sharon Erickson, Park Rapids SDA Church Member

Michael Jones 2 (Dodge Center pastor)Sherman, Thanks for taking me under your wings. I appreciate your being there for my many phone calls.
Your words of wisdom have meant a lot. Thanks for continually pointing to Jesus.
Heaven’s Blessings as you transition in ministry.
p.s. I miss you already!
Peace and Blessings,

Michael Jones, Hutchinson SDA Church Pastor

Jamie Madden (Hutchinson teacher)Connie has been a tremendous blessing to the Minnesota SDA Education Department.
Her goal has been to make our schools in Minnesota not just survive, but to thrive; she has done a lot to achieve this.  I personally appreciate her sound advice and accessibility to answer questions and walk teachers through the mirage of challenges we face each day.  All the best in your retirement Connie.

Jamie Madden, Northwoods Elementary School Principal

Tony Jasper (St Paul pastor)I have known and worked with Sherman McCormick in the Minnesota Conference now for over 15 years. It is my humble opinion that Sherman is a world-class encourager, holds and offers a huge reservoir of knowledge, wisdom and passion for the Lord’s work, and spends himself unselfishly and unreservedly in service to the Lord, His church and His people. I do not know how Sherman plans to spend his retirement, but I hope it is with the same fidelity which has characterized his years of labor.

Tony Jasper, Pastor of St Paul District

Trudy Smith (Rochester teacher)Connie McComick, you have demonstrated Servant Leadership as a friend, mentor, advisor, and spiritual influence.  You have been a constant source of support and encouragement.  Thank you.  I will miss your smiling face, soft words, friendly visits, and valuable advice.  I wish you God’s abundant blessings as you embark on another adventure that will prove just as rich and valuable because the Holy Spirit leads you.

Trudy Smith, Maranatha Adventist Christian School Teacher

15 Lyons, CarolSherman will be greatly missed in this office. A very helpful and likable soul, he is always smiling and willing to lend a hand. Whenever someone needs to talk, he is always ready with a listening ear and attentive spirit. His sense of humor was shared by all whenever he would come out of his office to remind us that we only had so many hours/minutes left to work that day. If someone called the conference for pastoral advice, Sherman was always willing to take the call and pray with people to help counsel and encourage them. And he is the best guide you could ever have through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area; not a bad cook, either!! J     Thanks Sherman for showing us the spirit of Jesus in the workplace!

Carol Lyons, Administrative Assistant to Brian Mungandi and Youth Department

Stacey Stocks (MWA teacher)Dear Connie, Thank you for letting your light shine throughout our conference for the past 5 years.  Your love for Jesus and for children is contagious and inspiring.  May your retirement bring you time to continue to serve in the ways you love for His glory.  Thank you for giving of your time and your heart to make a difference for all of the young people in the Minnesota Conference through children’s ministries and our schools.  Maplewood Academy has been and will continue to be blessed to have you and Sherman as part of our school family.

Stacy Stocks, Maplewood Academy Principal

Sherman and EricI will personally miss Sherman.  Whenever I visited the conference office, Sherman would call me into his office and have a word of prayer for me; he is indeed the Pastors’ Pastor. Blessing upon him on retirement.

Eric Mokua, Kenyan Community SDA Church Pastor

SV teachers at meetingConnie is good at planning activities during teacher meetings that are meant to relax and inspire her teachers. She willingly tackled circumstances that were hard to deal with. She tried to include every teacher and to make sure that she was fair in her dealings to everyone. We wish God’s blessings on her and her family, and we thank her for everything she has done for us.

Rayleen Hansen, Brooke Hansen and Kendra Caruthers, Teachers at Southview Christian School

Sherman OrdenaciónElder Sherman, thank you so much for being a good mentor and a good example to follow as a pastor.  Also, thank you for being part of my ordination in 2002.  May the blessing of God be with you and Connie.

Pr. Yulian Tinoco, MN Conference Hispanic Coordinator

Tralese Syvertson (Anoka teacher)Connie, there are no words to truly reveal my thoughts on working with you these last two and a half years.  I have been both challenged and supported as a teacher in the Minnesota Conference.  I have been encouraged in my Christian walk and loved as a friend.  I respect you as a professional and as a dear Christian role model.  I will miss you immensely, but feel so honored to have been able to work beside you here.  May God bless you, Connie.  May God richly bless you in this next phase of your life. Your forever friend, Tralese

Tralese Syvertson, Anoka Adventist Christian School Principal

LIly Strain (MCA teacher)Dear Connie, I have been so grateful to have you as my friend, mentor and spiritual counselor. You taught me to be patient and expand ideas in the classroom and as a leader. I know I can’t say thank you enough for having faith in me. You will be greatly missed. Best wishes for your retirement.

Lily Strain, Minnetonka Christian Academy Prek/Kindergarten Teacher

Vickie Martin (Maranatha-Dodge Center teacherI loved having Connie as my superintendent.  Her love, compassion, and creativity always shined through everything she did.  She always had the perfect words, whether it was through letters, notes, or in person.  Blessings to you, Connie!  We will miss you greatly!

Vickie Martin, Maranatha Adventist Christian School Principal

Evan Swanson (MWA teacher)Congratulations Connie on your upcoming retirement.  Just one question though—why are you retiring so SOON?  Truly you have done a good work here in the Minnesota, both as a teacher and more recently as Education Superintendent.  Thank you for sharing your skills and kindnesses with us.  Thank you for your cards, notes and  expressions of encouragement  through the years.    We will miss your frequent visits to our school, but are thankful that you and Sherman have chosen to make your home in Hutchinson.  Again, congratulations on a job well done!

Evie & Evan Swanson, Maplewood Academy Teachers

Southview Christian School Shoe Drive

Southview School Breaking NewsSouthview Christian School is collecting new shoes of any size or kind, both children and adult. They will be given to “Soles for Souls”, which sends shoes around the world, including the USA. Watch the video for more information. If you wish to help, please contact Rayleen Hansen, Principal of Southview Christian School at 952-435-7332 prior to the day after Christmas.

Maplewood Academy Collects Over 1,800 boxes for Operation Christmas Child

MWA boy and girlFor the past 13 years, Maplewood Academy has been a Relay Center for Operation Christmas Child, a ministry out of Samaritan’s Purse that brings gifts packed in shoeboxes, along with Bibles, to children in need all over the world. Every year for a week, Maplewood opens its doors to the community and collects these shoebox gifts from the surrounding churches, boy and girl scouts, and several other groups and individuals. This year we collected over 1,800 boxes, hitting an all-time record for Hutchinson.

MWA kids in lineDuring Collection Week, Maplewood’s National Honor Society organized a packing party for their peers, providing them with toys, candy, and hygiene items to pack into their gift boxes. Students packed over 60 boxes that night with donated items from faculty and staff.

Later this month Maplewood will be having a Christmas Service Night where students participate in Christmas themed service activities throughout the community – ringing bells for the Salvation Army, making cards for terminally ill children and soldiers, making cookies for community members, and volunteering for the Operation Christmas Child Collection Center in the Twin Cities. Here, our students will be sorting through boxes, taking out hazardous items, and preparing them for shipment out of the U.S.

MWA girl 1This has been a great ministry that has helped our students see that the impact of something so small can make a huge difference in the lives of others. Please keep Maplewood in your prayers as we strive to teach our youth the importance of outreach through programs like this.

Laura Cummings, Maplewood Academy Registrar and V.P. of Student Life

e-TNL Staff: Brian Mungandi, Director; Melisa Mauk, Website-editor
E-mail: mnsdanewsletter@gmail.com Website: www.mnsdanewsletter.wordpress.com

e-TNL is an informational bulletin issued by the Communications Department of the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. You are free to re-print any portion of the bulletin without need for special permission. However, we kindly request that you identify e-TNL whenever you publish these materials.

Sunday Morning Revelation

Trudy Smith (Rochester teacher)It was a Sunday morning, offering me the opportunity to immerse myself in comfort, peace, and contentment as I lounged in bed with my cats who surrounded me purring full throttle.

“Thank you,” I breathed softly. “Thank you, Lord, for this normality I am enjoying that so many people in this disturbed world would love to experience, too.”

I had just completed my devotions and Bible reading so I opened the November “Guideposts” magazine to my favorite regular feature, “Mysterious Ways”, and began reading. The narrative that unfolded was about a lady who had completed some Christmas shopping at Walmart but upon reaching her car could not locate the keys. She was positive they were in her purse. Fortunately, she had forgotten to lock the car doors so she was able to empty the contents of her purse on the passenger seat and search the interior methodically.

As she continued seeking the elusive keys, she noticed a woman in a motorized wheelchair approach a van that appeared to be hers. Apparently, she was blocked from entering the van by another vehicle that had parked too closely.

Feeling empathy for the handicapped woman, the search for keys was postponed in order to back the wheelchair-bound woman’s van out of the parking space and allow her to lower the wheelchair lift.

Upon returning to her car, she automatically thrust her hand into her purse and, to her amazement, clutched the lost keys!

At this point, and to my own astonishment, my thoughts were suddenly transported back to a rainy June day this summer. My husband and I had just parked in front of a preferred local hangout.

“You go ahead without me, Jerry.” I instructed my husband. “I am going to look for my wallet one more time before I go in. Just in case.”

He exited our car and I began to pray, “Lord, I have looked for that wallet in here over and over. If it’s here, please, show me where.”

For days, I had put off calling the credit card company hoping that my wallet of cards and cash would reappear. Every search had been fruitless. I was at my wit’s end and about to panic. This was it. The final search.

“Ok, here goes, God.” With that utterance, my eyes seemed drawn to the opening between the front seats where I had sought the wallet several times before—and wonder of wonders—there it was! I was overwhelmed with relief and extreme gratitude. I grabbed the wallet and ran into the café.

“Jerry, look. Here it is…” The words had barely escaped my lips when my eyes were immediately compelled to look out the large glass windows near us. There, in the steady downpour, a young woman pushed a shopping cart that contained suitcases and a purse.

I knew immediately what my mission must be. “I’ll be right back,” I informed my puzzled husband. The newly-found wallet in hand, I hurried out the door to catch up with the young woman. Taking a twenty-dollar bill from the wallet, I asked, “Would this be of help to you?”

She nodded, reaching for the money. “Yes, but I could really use someone to talk to even more.”

We went into the coffee shop and sipped warm beverages as she shared the intensely personal struggles burdening her. We prayed and shed tears together before she departed.

So, what was the Sunday morning revelation? Simply experiencing a similar situation of finding and giving? No, so very much more. I am still overwhelmed by the wonder of God’s personal intervention when I think of how He blinded my eyes until just the right moment in order to use me to impart His love to someone in need.

What a God we serve! What a testimony He gave me to share!   I couldn’t wait to relate this experience to friends and students.

As an Adventist educator, my joyous mission is to continually demonstrate how faithful, loving, and saving our God is, and also what a privilege it is that He allows us to be AWAKE to the opportunities of mercy we can execute for Him.

Trudy Smith, Teacher 1-4 at Maranatha Adventist School, Dodge Center, Minnesota

e-TNL Staff: Brian Mungandi, Director; Melisa Mauk, Website-editor
E-mail: mnsdanewsletter@gmail.com Website: www.mnsdanewsletter.wordpress.com

e-TNL is an informational bulletin issued by the Communications Department of the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. You are free to re-print any portion of the bulletin without need for special permission. However, we kindly request that you identify e-TNL whenever you publish these materials.

Thanksgiving at the Litchfield Church

Litchfield thankgiving 001It was the Sunday morning before Thanksgiving and the anticipation ran high as members of the Litchfield Seventh-day Adventist Church prepared to give away 35 Thanksgiving baskets to needy families in their community. This was the third consecutive year in partnership with the Heartland Community Action Agency – Meeker County. The church obtained information necessary to help families that would benefit from a basket.

Litchfield thankgiving 003Twelve volunteers, along with project coordinators Cynthia Greene and Deb Olson, sorted purchased food along with donations that had been solicited from local grocers. Each basket contained a full Thanksgiving meal, including a frozen turkey. In the basket we included our special gift to the families, the book Desire of Ages. The Desire of Ages is a wonderful narrative on the life of Christ.

Litchfield thankgiving 004The first of the recipients began to arrive around noon. To facilitate a systematic distribution, Naython Greene had coordinated pick-up times by calling families ahead. As they arrived, each family was greeted warmly, presented with their baskets, and invited to stay for a light lunch. Several families accepted the invitation and joined volunteers in the fellowship hall for a warm bowl of chili and other refreshments. Around a dozen families signed up to be notified of future events sponsored by the church.

This was a wonderful ministry to our community and all those who came expressed their appreciation and seemed genuinely touched. The 35 families in need received a helping hand and some holiday cheer, but the church members themselves received a huge blessing, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. It was wonderful to be Jesus’s hands.

Wendy Nixon

e-TNL Staff: Brian Mungandi, Director; Melisa Mauk, Website-editor
E-mail: mnsdanewsletter@gmail.com Website: www.mnsdanewsletter.wordpress.com

e-TNL is an informational bulletin issued by the Communications Department of the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. You are free to re-print any portion of the bulletin without need for special permission. However, we kindly request that you identify e-TNL whenever you publish these materials.

Community Service as part of Church Mission

Community Service as part of Church MissionThe Faith Church International, in collaboration with friends from other churches started to think seriously about the mission the church is called to do. The Lord wants the church to address the needs of humanity as part of its mission. (Matthew 25:31-46)

The members from the Faith Church International decided to visit and serve the homeless, either through providing dinner, providing music or providing monetary help especially in this holiday season. The first time, our church members were very emotional. Members had opportunity to interact with the brothers and sisters in the shelter and hear their life stories. As Adventist we are so accustomed to living within communities where people have good jobs, good houses and good families, so much so that this visit was really an eye opener. The members participated in helping people hit by hard times. Church member learned a lot, and they discovered that people in shelters are not bad people. Anyone can end up in a shelter. One mistake can land someone in trouble with the law and in jail and the consequences can follow one for the rest of their lives. Faith Church International realized that God called the church to minister to people, to help those that are hungry, the homeless, or those that are financially struggling. The joy and the gratitude that was expressed by these brothers and sisters became a driving motivation. God can bring good out of any situation and He definitely is doing so with this visit to the shelter. As church members we were very close but we think that we are closer to each other now.

Community Service young familyAs we interacted with these brothers and sisters, we saw the good in them and at the same time our faith was reinforced; a new spirit for service was born. Our members gained a new perspective in life. “Keep your EYES on eternity” makes sense now. There is determination to work for the good of others in showing sympathy, winning their confidence, and inviting them to follow Jesus. Members now see this kind of service as a calling and they would like to continue serving the Lord by serving others. The church members who participated in the visit are more thankful for all the blessings they enjoy, small or large. These members are praying, working, and longing for the kingdom to come.

David Kamande – Faith Church International

e-TNL Staff: Brian Mungandi, Director; Melisa Mauk, Website-editor
E-mail: mnsdanewsletter@gmail.com Website: www.mnsdanewsletter.wordpress.com

e-TNL is an informational bulletin issued by the Communications Department of the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. You are free to re-print any portion of the bulletin without need for special permission. However, we kindly request that you identify e-TNL whenever you publish these materials.

Gift Planning and Trust Services

15 Inglish, Doug

As the new year begins, it is a good time to plan ahead. Making decisions early in the year as to when, how much, and in what form charitable gifts are made can allow you the flexibility to maximize the impact of your gift, as well as securing a more favorable tax position for yourself. And as always, if you don’t have your own plan, the State of Minnesota has one for you, but why let them decide what to do with your possessions? Call us for help with planning your charitable giving, or to get your estate plan in order. 763-424-8923. Video