Allegheny East’s Hispanic Members Celebrate Multiple Achievements
Story by Taashi Rowe
At the annual Day of Fellowship for Allegheny East Conference’s (AEC) Spanish Council of Churches, held last Sabbath at the conference’s headquarters in Pine Forge, Pa., attendees had much to celebrate. In addition to enjoying a day of worship, workshops and fellowship, the conference’s Hispanic members celebrated their first graduation from the School of Discipleship, Master Guide promotions, 18 baptisms, recognized five pastors with certificates of ministry and welcomed five new churches into the fold.
School of Discipleship Graduates 30
Recognizing the value of educating lay members to lead ministries, last year Allegheny East started their own branch of the School of Discipleship. In doing so they joined several others in the Columbia Union Conference. Some 30 people met one Sunday a month for a year to complete the first track of the program. Fernando Sanchez, a member of the Harrisburg (Pa.) Spanish church and the first Seventh-day Adventist in his family, was one of those graduates. Encouraged by what he learned in the classes, he gave Bible studies to his sister and mother. On Sabbath he proudly brought his sister to be baptized. “I feel God has called me,” he said. “Every day I see with my own eyes how He continues to bless me even in the middle of tribulations.”
Once he completes the four-year program, he plans to lead an evangelism meeting in his home country of the Dominican Republic.
Gamaliel Velasquez, a member of the Manassas (Va.) Spanish church, said he went to different churches searching for the truth. He was a Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist and Jehovah’s Witness. “It took me 11 years to find this message,” he said. “I didn’t have anyone to preach to me.” Because of what he learned in the classs, he is studying with five people who are ready to get baptized. “It’s not me,” he said. “It’s God who is using me as a bridge.”
14 Promoted to Master Guides
Another graduation of sorts also happened that day. Fourteen Master Guides were promoted in a ceremony that recognized their yearlong study and commitment to leading Pathfinder Clubs. Newly minted Master Guides, Luis and Sarita Medero, both members of the Getsemani Adventist group in Dover, Del., were excited about this achievement. “After working so hard, I am happy that God helped us to be here,” Sarita said. “This is for God. We want to teach everybody about Jesus and bring more people to know Him.”
At 22 years old, Ismar Mendez, a member of the Easton (Md.) Mahanaim church, was probably the youngest Master Guide. He also sees Pathfinders as an opportunity for evangelism. “I want to bring people to Jesus,” he said. He and his co-director Mercedes Gomez, already have a club of eight Pathfinders.
Five Leaders Receive Pastoral Certificates
“Many of our pastors are already working daily to bring people to Christ,”
said Ramon Escalante, director of the conference’s Hispanic ministries. “However, they are not full-time pastors and we wanted to recognize and honor their ministry in a special way.”
That afternoon pastors Martho Luhan, José Rosario, Delores Orellana, Leandro Perez and Roberto Reyes received certificates of ministry that authorized them to perform pastoral services in the Allegheny East Conference. Orellana serves as the Women’s Ministries leader for the conference’s Hispanic Ministries.
“This is to let you know that we appreciate the ministry you’ve been doing year after year without certification,” said Charles Cheatham, AEC president, as he presented the certificates. “We pray that God will continue to bless the Spanish ministry throughout Allegheny East!”
18 Join The Church Via Baptism
Of the 18 people baptized on Sabbath, Luis Pacheco had no plans to be one of them. Although his wife, Wendy, was a member of the Rehoboth Spanish church in Reading, Pa., he only started attending when Miguel Martinez offered to take him. Pacheco thought Martinez was joking and went along. However, after Martinez brought him, he started attending regularly. On Sabbath Martinez offered to walk with him to the baptismal pool.
“At first I said, ‘No’” Pacheco explained. “But then something told me to go. I’m proud of this step. I know that getting baptized was for the better and will always cherish this memory.”
Martinez added, “You never know how the Holy Spirit will work.”
With new members also come new churches. Escalante recognized the five new congregations that joined the conference this year. He presented each group leader with a laptop and a registration book and encouraged them to use the laptop for evangelism.
Walking Under the Rain of the Holy Spirit
In addition to the many activities of the day, attendees were reminded of the important role of the Holy Spirit. Armando Miranda, a vice president at the General Conference, spoke for the divine service and presented afternoon workshops focusing on the theme “Walking Under the Rain of the Holy Spirit.” In his sermon, he shared multiple examples of how he has seen the Holy Spirit work during his travels around the world. “I’ve come to this conclusion, the Holy Spirit is love,” he said. “How else can you explain Christ’s marvelous and extraordinary sacrifice?”
Photo: The Milford (Del.) Spanish group were one of five new congregations to join the conference so far this year.