December 18, 2018

December 18, 2018
The Christmas season usually begins the day after Thanksgiving and retailers attempt to guide our thoughts toward the commercialization of Christmas. However, the only way that we can avoid falling into this commercial emphasis is by dedicating time in our devotional life to reflecting on Jesus as the baby of Bethlehem. Ellen G. White encourages us in the Desire of Ages, p. 83, to spend a thoughtful hour each day reflecting on the life of Jesus and the sacrifice He made for us when He came to this earth. During this seasonal celebration, let’s remember the gift received from Heaven in the person of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, and renew our loyalty to Him.

Congratulations to the newlyweds Lauren Armstrong and Ryan Lacson, who got married on Thanksgiving weekend. Lauren is our SCC Communication Director, and Ryan is a Bible Worker serving in Pasadena. We wish you the most abundant blessings of God in your marriage. “With Jesus in the family, happy, happy home.”

On December 1, I joined our Glendale Filipino SDA Church family for worship, and the Christmas atmosphere was already there: the music, the decorations and the beautiful spirit in the sanctuary. Before my message, teenager Christian Sacapano shared the children’s story, and it fit in perfectly with my message in its spiritual application.

The next day, Esther and I participated in the Asian Pacific Region Christmas Dinner. We really enjoyed this beautiful gathering along with our pastors and their families and with the Region Committee members and families. We had fun with Kevin Camato’s humor as MC, and Pastor Pliny Fondevilla’s tricks made us laugh a lot. Thank you, Elder and Mrs. Sam Lee, for the gracious treat you had for the region team.

On December 8, Esther and I celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Malibu SDA Group. Elder Lonnie Melashenko was the keynote speaker, and the police and fire department workers were recognized for their outstanding work during the fires last month. Judith Miranda and her husband, Job, planted this congregation after knocking on doors in the upscale community of Malibu for seven years. Now, 25-30 believers meet every Sabbath at the John L. Webster Elementary School.

Last week, our Conference Executive Committee met and received preliminary year-end reports from various departments and regions. Here are a few highlights:

• YTD Baptisms & Professions of Faith: 880
• Current membership: 40,555
• YTD Tithe increase as of October 31: 4.65
• Hispanic Region Reported a recent evangelistic initiative: “Incarnational Mission” meaning to go to the community to meet its felt needs, instead of the community coming to church to supply their needs.
• Update on Denominational Policy Compliance by SCC (more information soon).

Last Sabbath morning, December 15, my wife and I worshipped with the Culver City SDA Church members, and we were blessed. Entering into that building brought back many fond memories of 30 plus years ago when we pastored the Culver City Spanish church, which had a wonderful ministry relationship with the English church. I was installed as pastor of the Spanish church in 1986 and ordained as a pastor there in December 1987. What a privilege to baptize many of our members there in that baptistry.

Thank you to Pastor Callie Williams and his wife, Yvonne, for the lovely hospitality you and your multicultural church members shared with us. We really felt at home.

Your fellow traveler,

Velino A. Salazar
Southern California Conference