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What Can We Do – I?

I have not written in this space for several months now - which is not a good thing. I do want to squeeze in three articles before my time comes to an end. So, here goes the first one: I was sitting in a meeting yesterday and two things came up. First, the horrifying shootings of two black men by police last week-one in Louisiana; right down the street from a Seventh-day Adventist Church - and a second one in Minnesota. The Minnesota shooting seems particularly troubling: A black man, with no criminal record, who seemed to be complying with police directives - and yet, was shot to death, anyway - in front of his fiancée and her four-year-old daughter. That is an image that young lady and her child will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Now, if there is anything that I have learned in these past seven years it is this: Do not make up your mind until you hear both sides of the story. There is an investigation ongoing and maybe things will look differently after the investigation. Maybe the shooting will look differently when the investigation is completed then it does now-I do not know. But here is what I do know: (1)    There have been several high-profile killings of civilians by law enforcement officials in the past year or so. (2)    Each time, the victim was black, or a person of color. And here is the most disturbing thing of all for me: The next time, I see flashing lights in my rear-view mirror and I see that I am about to get pulled over by the police, I am going to be afraid - especially, [...]

From the Desk of the Conference President

Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus, I want to denounce in the strongest possible terms, the tragic and violent loss of lives that has occurred this week. Our prayers go out to the families of all of the victims. On several occasions, I have spoken out about the need of our church to have a major role in a dialog between the community and our police that will promote better understanding. I re-issue that call today. We have a forum for that in our Adventist Youth Society (AYS) meeting, where we can invite our police departments and say to them “There is a problem. How can we work together and resolve it?” I have a young adult son. He is a faithful member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. He is blessed to be a professional, with a graduate degree. Yet he has shared with me that when he was in high school and in college, on more than one occasion, he was stopped by the police-for no apparent reason. He shared with me that was also true of his friends. That is simply unacceptable; moreover, those kinds of things increase the chances of the kind of tragic events that we have witnessed this week. Those kinds of things-which I believe are perpetrated by a small minority of police-have to be addressed. And-they have to stop. However, our ability to address and stop those kinds of things is dramatically compromised by things such as the brutal and senseless slaying of the 5 policemen in Dallas. That horrific act must be equally denounced. Ultimately, as Seventh-day Adventists, though we accept our responsibility to do everything that we can to make our communities better, we know [...]

Royal Oaks Community Block Party

Ephesus SDA Church Personal Ministries’ director, Tim McCullum, had a vision to do an outreach project which focused on one area for the entire year. The council met and the plan was set in motion. With much planning, prayer, and fasting, on May 15, 2016, we were able to hold a block party in the Royal Oaks apartment community. The complex is comprised of Hispanics, Caucasians, and African Americans. With that in mind, we were able to collaborate with our local Hispanic and Caucasian congregations to join us as we planned this project. Ephesus’ Community Service, Health Ministry, Prayer Ministry, Deacons, Men’s Ministry, and Youth/Children’s Ministry also were involved in the project. The day begin with an introduction, welcome, and activities for the day from Elder Dwayne Williams (Ephesus Hattiesburg). Pastor Shane Hochstetler (Hattiesburg SDA church) offered prayer and gave an overview and the procedures for the booths and the food give-a-way.  Ephesus’ Adult choir presented musical selections. As a result, a member from the community volunteered to sing a song and stated that she wanted to become a member of the choir.  Our youth department performed musical selections with puppets (Puppet Ministry). Also for the children, we had a bouncer, popcorn machine, and face painting. As the food (“FREE” barbeque chicken, beans, potato salad, bread, watermelon, and water) was being prepared everyone was encouraged to visit the various booths. The booths included: Blood pressure check / Diabetes – Nurses Connie Trotter and Marilyn Chambers (Ephesus Hattiesburg) Mental Health – Judy Harville, Psychologist (Ephesus Hattiesburg) Spiritual Health – Pastor Shane Hochstetler (Columbia, Hattiesburg and Laurel SDA churches) Healthy Eating – Jerlanda Reinshagen, Licensed Health Educator (Hattiesburg SDA Church) Tobacco – Ebony Core, Mississippi Tobacco Initiative [...]

Ephesus Academy Science Fair

The K5-4th grade students of Ephesus Academy participated in a spectacular science fair on April 6, 2016. Every mini scientist eagerly participated in experimental projects. There were numerous of winners who had to present to outside judges. God truly blessed their endeavors as they put their best efforts forward and were richly rewarded. Each student participant received certificates along with the top three winners receiving trophies and medallions! The runner ups  1st, 2nd, 3rd, and honorable mention received ribbons. This was a memorable event they will never forget.


EAT. PRAY. LOVE. THE AMAZING JOURNEY OF A NEW CHURCH PLANT There are many benefits to planting trees in a community. Fruit-bearing trees produce healthy food for people and animals to consume, giving them strength and nourishment. Trees also improve air quality by producing oxygen for people to breathe, lowering their heart rates and even reducing stress. Another benefit for planting trees is that, simply put, trees make people feel good. Relaxing under a tree with family and friends, enjoying each other’s company and conversation, is a favorite pastime for many people. The benefits of planting trees in a community are endless. It is my belief that the same can be said for planting churches in a community. This was also the belief of the South Central Conference when they decided to plant a new church in the Memphis, TN area. Come with me as we take a look at the amazing Journey of a new church plant, and the church’s benefits to its community that greatly resemble the many benefits of planting a tree. THE JOURNEY The South Central Conference (SCC) currently has 6 churches in the Memphis area. They are all spread throughout the city, and are all thriving churches with an impactful presence in their communities. As the SCC scouted the Memphis area, they noticed that there was a community right outside of Memphis, but still connected to the Memphis area, that would be a perfect place to plant a new church. The SCC then reached out to Pastors Kymone Hinds and Shawn Moss to pastor two of the Memphis churches. But that assignment came with a vision – for them both to work together and start a new church in Cordova, [...]

Versacare Funds FHJ Prep

FHJ Prep has now been awarded its third grant this academic year. Versacare, a Seventh-day Adventist healthcare institution, has awarded F. H. Jenkins a $5,000 grant to help furnish the science laboratory. This year, Versacare, Inc. evaluated 95 grant applications, as well as 48 special education technology applications. They received, in excess of, $4 million in requests, and approved 77 Versafund grants for full or partial funding, in the total of $1.5 million. New this year, Versacare added the special $250,000 education technology grant, which is included in the above mentioned funding total. The thirty winners for this category were randomly selected, and FHJ Prep was one of the selected winners. With these funds, the science lab will have adjustable height science lab tables, as well as stools. This is especially useful due to FHJ Prep’s new focus on K-8 STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) instruction. These funds are a launching point for a renewed lab, that will provide scholars the equipment to do inquiry-based STEM projects. If you would like to contribute to this initiative, please contact our school office (615) 227-8992 or give online at