Wednesday, September 23, 2020

What did Ellen White mean by this?

 Calling Sin by Its Rightful Name

In the traditions of my life-long faith family--the Seventh-day Adventist Church--Ellen G. White stands head-and-shoulders above any other historical voice defining principles of life-style, theology, cultural mores, and social graces. Many tradition-oriented Adventists love to lift a judiciously chosen EGW quotation from her copious writings to reinforce their personal positions on a myriad of issues.

One often quoted passage comes from Ellen White's book Education, p.57.

The greatest want of the world is the want of men-men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.

This quote was recently posted by a friend on Facebook. The following is my response.

Look carefully at this often misused statement from EGW, especially at the "call sin by its rightful name" phrase.

Notice that it is both preceded and followed by phrases that call for *personal* integrity *within* the heart of the godly man himself. Thus, the standard of calling sin by its rightful name is not to be directed outward at other sinners. Instead, it is recognition and confession of the sinfulness of our own fallen nature and our relentless proclivity to act out the desires of sinful hearts.
The Apostle Paul said it this way: "You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad" (Romans 2:1 NLT).
Jesus himself said, "Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!" (John 8:7).
Let's admit it. We're ALL sinners standing in constant need of God's saving grace. None of us has the moral ground to point our fingers at someone else and accuse them of sinning. That is the exclusive right of the Holy Spirit. Our job is to bear witness to what God has done for us personally and individually. This is the gospel message that is to go to all the world (Revelation 14:6): "Jesus saves!"

Thursday, September 3, 2020

First-Century "Liberals" and "Conservatives" - A Lesson for Today

Among the Jews in the days of Jesus there were two major religio-political groups: the Pharisees and the Sadducees. In broad strokes, these were the "conservatives" and "liberals" of their day.

    I've read several recent posts on Facebook claiming that it was the "right-wing conservatives" aka "Pharisees" who opposed Jesus and were primarily responsible for his crucifixion. Ostensibly, citing this example serves to shore up the argument from today's liberal left-leaning Christians that Jesus was also a liberal who focused his ministry on social justice issues, caring for the poor and oppressed, and overturning the money-changers' tables in the temple courtyard.

    However, it was the Sadducees-controlled Sanhedrin which paid the bribe money to Judas, condemned Jesus to death, and turned him over to the Romans for execution. Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees were unanimous in their desire to rid the earth of this rabbi from Galilee whom they could not control. Their united action was purely political in their attempt to maintain their dominance and complete control over the Jewish nation.

    But, of course, they also had to deal with Rome. The Roman soldiers and governors were a foreign occupying force requiring obedience and taxes to support the Empire. They were hated by the Jews who were hoping for a Messiah to kick the Romans out of the Levant and regain Israel's glory days of Kings David and Solomon. When Jesus didn't play into their political agenda, the Sanhedrin condemned him to death by crucifixion and turned him over to Pilate. The rough Roman soldiers flogged him, jammed a crown of terrible Judean thorns on his head, and tortured him unmercifully before leading him out to Golgotha where they crucified him between two thieves.

    So, what do we see here?

    A centuries-long political struggle between the Jewish religionists (both Pharisees AND Sadducees) and the occupying Empire, united in the one momentary goal of ridding the Earth of someone who wouldn't yield to their worldly authority.

    Jesus did not give credence or support to either system--except to individuals who exhibited the principles of HIS Kingdom in their personal relationships with other people. He did heal the sick, raise the dead to life, encourage the poor and down-trodden, but *he did not do these acts of grace to support or shore-up the political ambitions of either the Jews or Rome.*

    He said clearly, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place" (Matthew 18:36).

It seems clear to me that the end-time attack on true followers of Jesus will not come exclusively from either the left or the right. Instead, it will be a coalition of both liberal and conservative religionists, using the powers of civil government, to punish those who will not yield their allegiance to anyone but God alone.

I am fully convinced that as a follower of Jesus, my *primary loyalty* must never be to the warring political factions of our day in their struggle for political dominance and control. I cannot conscientiously align with either uber-liberals or ultra-conservatives. Our calling as individual Christians is to be "his hands," "his feet," "his presence" to minister grace, peace, and hope. This calling is entirely outside of and separate from any political parties or movements. Through his grace--and his grace alone--we are to be channels of God's love, acceptance, and forgiveness to a world he loves more than life itself.

O Lord, may "your kingdom come, [may] your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:10).

"Even so, Come! Lord, Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20).

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Pathfinder GEM Program: Origin and Historical Overview


Pathfinder GEM Program
Origin and Historical
Overview
By Loren L. Fenton
With Ruth M. Fenton
Early Roots
Long before the Pathfinder GEM idea ever came into being, two major streams of influence began flowing together in my early years.
My parents came from significantly different backgrounds. They were, nonetheless, totally united around providing a rich educational environment—both formal and informal—for my siblings and me. Our father's formal education ended with the fifth grade but he remained an avid reader and a quick learner throughout his lifetime. Our mother attended college and finished nursing school, obtaining her license as a Registered Nurse. In their roles as parent-guides, both emphasized the great value of reading, education, and personal experience.
Our parents were farm people. Outlook, Washington is a farm community that was our family home for 40 years. Upon moving there in March 1945, they immediately established connections with the nearby neighbors and other area people. They were soon active in community organizations and activities.
Our mother took my siblings and me to the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Granger WA, however, we did not attend the local church school. Instead, our school home was Outlook Grade School, about ½ mile from our house.
Our father did not attend church with us but was an active member of the International Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF) which had a local lodge in nearby Sunnyside.

Converging Streams of Influence
There were several extra-curricular "recreational-education" organizations for area youth in the Outlook community. In addition to various sports opportunities, other popular activities were Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Brownies, Girl Scouts, Campfire Girls, and 4-H clubs.

Our Family's Choice
As my two older sisters approached the age when they could be members of one of the clubs, our parents looked carefully at all the available options. For a short time, they (my sisters) were in Brownies, the pre-Girl-Scout club for younger children. They also participated in Campfire Girls.
With further study, our parents decided that 4-H provided the most compatible program for the girls’ needs. However, there were no local 4-H clubs available for my sisters to join. Several other girls from families in the area were also interested in 4-H, and, with that awareness, our mother, Oral Fenton, proceeded to organize a club. The "Sunbonnet Lassies”—a 4-H club for girls—became an official club registered with the Washington State College Extension Office located in Yakima, Washington.
When my brother and I reached the minimum age for membership (10 years) we each, in turn, joined the local 4-H club for boys.  The night I was voted into membership by the other boys in the club was a landmark moment in my young life. I was excited and happy with their acceptance. I belonged!
I continued my 4-H involvement until graduating from high school when I aged-out of the target population.
Pathfinders
I was the only one of my siblings who joined Pathfinders. When I was about 11, a new pastor—Elder Ray Badgley—arrived at our home church in Granger. His wife, whom we affectionately and respectfully called "Mrs. Badgley," was a gracious, enthusiastic woman who loved young people. When she discovered that no Pathfinder club existed for our church she immediately set about creating one!
The year was probably the Fall of 1956. Mrs. Badgley prevailed upon her husband to drive through the countryside picking up several scattered kids lacking transportation. I was one of about 20 Pathfinder-aged young people who were recruited and showed up for the initial meeting. That first evening I was elected "Captain" of my unit. I remember the craft that evening was constructing tall candles with thin sheets of beeswax. When I got home I slipped into my parents' bedroom while they were sleeping, and set my two candles on their dresser. They were surprised and pleased when they woke up the next morning and saw what I had done.
I'm not sure how long I stayed in Pathfinders as a student. However, in the Fall of 1963 when I went to Walla Walla College (now Walla Walla University) to study theology, I volunteered to work with the local College Place Pathfinder Club as a Unit Counselor.
In addition to my major in theology in college, I also completed requirements for an academic minor in Health, Physical Education, and Recreation (HPE&R) with an emphasis on water sports and recreation. I acquired certification in life-saving, scuba diving, and water safety instruction. These skills proved valuable to my early ministry which included teaching swimming to Pathfinders as youth pastor of the Mt. Tabor Adventist Church in Portland, Oregon.
From 1971-1977, my wife and I lived in Taiwan as missionaries with our two young children. The first two years there we lived in central Taiwan in the city of Taichung. We attended the local Adventist church, and through a series of amazing events we ended up organizing a local Pathfinder club for some of the local street urchins around our home. A few of the church members' children also joined. During that period I completed the requirements for Master Guide and was invested during a youth rally for the Taiwan Mission.
In May 1977 we returned to the States on permanent return. In early 1979 I was assigned as pastor of the Irrigon, Oregon Adventist Church by Upper Columbia Conference.

A Perceived Need
In January 1979 I was working as a full-time evangelist for UCC. When I had an unexpected vacancy in my schedule of evangelistic meetings, UCC sent me to Hermiston, Oregon to assist another evangelist, Les Fowler, in meetings he was scheduled to hold there.
Because the Irrigon Church—a daughter church-plant from Hermiston—needed some focused guidance and pastoral leadership, UCC asked me to move to Irrigon permanently to serve the little congregation as a part-time pastor, part-time evangelist. My family and I lived there until the Spring of 1982 when we accepted a call to Yakima 35th Avenue Church where my responsibilities focused primarily on youth ministries within that church family.
On July 3, 1980, our son Benjamin turned ten years old—the threshold age for Pathfinders and 4-H.
Now I faced a dilemma.
As a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, former Pathfinder club member, Master Guide, and advocate for denominational youth ministry, I felt a strong loyalty to the Pathfinder program. However, I also held great positive memories from my many years as a 4-H member, including several years as a club officer. I remembered the values embedded in the 4-H model such as
·         Learn by doing;
·         Leadership training through group organization; community process, and peer-elected leaders;
·         An orientation of outward service to others, beginning with the club itself, then extending to the community, and the country;
·         Responsible management of personal projects over an entire 4-H year--including planning, written records, and financial accounting;
·         A philosophy of continuous improvement as expressed in the 4-H motto, "To make the best better."
In my mind, 4-H provided an ideal environment for the training I wanted to see for our church young people, especially as my own two children were rapidly approaching the target age.
However, joining a 4-H club carried some problems for Seventh-day Adventists. The most obvious of these was the issue of the Sabbath. Various outings, field trips, picnics, and other activities were often scheduled on a Saturday. Conscientious Adventist families would not feel free to participate. To conservative Adventists, the sanctity of Sabbath was a moral imperative not to be broken—ever! Any non-church "secular" function was off-limits. The result was that even if Adventist kids did join a 4-H club, they would feel "left out" while their fellow club members enjoyed the activities, or—if they did choose to participate during Sabbath hours—they could easily slip away from the church permanently.
That was unacceptable.
The early pioneers of the Pathfinder movement faced the same problem. Their solution was to form an Adventist "Scouting" ministry patterned after the model of the Boy Scouts.
The Scouts had achieved resounding success through their program, so it is not surprising that sincere Adventist leaders with a heart for Adventist youth might look to that model as a guide for developing an "in-house" Scouting-type ministry. I am not aware if they studied other models of youth recreational-education. Perhaps they either didn't know about the 4-H model or considered it "too rural" for broad application within the church's diverse cultures. At any rate, the choice was made, and Pathfinders—as we know it today—was born with the inherent organizational DNA of the Scouting vision.
As pastor of the Irrigon Church, the thought kept occurring to me, "Why can't we create an Adventist "in-house" 4-H type organization of our own?"
I decided to explore the possibilities.


4-H vs Scouting Models

We started comparing 4-H and Pathfinder (Scouting) models. There are strong similarities of purpose between the Scouting model and the 4-H model, but with significant differences in how each organization approaches the goals of their tasks.

Both models serve the needs of recreational-education youth activities. Both are extremely valuable and historically have accomplished great goals of preparing young people for life beyond adolescence. The narrative here is not to criticize or denigrate one or the other, but simply to note the influences each had in developing the Pathfinder GEM concepts and subsequent implementation.
Here is a side-by-side comparison of the two models:
4-H
   Thousands of young people have benefited from 4-H with active members becoming involved in their local community.

Scouting
Thousands of young people have been benefited for life by their Scouting experience.
The 4-H model is designed to provide positive training for young people, preparing them for service and responsible living as adults.

A major 4-H focus is to prepare youth for active involvement in their local communities by providing actual experiences in orderly group process and self-governance for a healthy democracy.

As in any functioning, healthy democracy, each 4-H club elects its local officers for leadership, including a President, Vice-president, Secretary-treasurer, and Sgt-at-arms. With the President leading a typical meeting, club members make and second motions, engage in an orderly discussion of the motion, and vote to pass or reject the motion. Club decisions are made according to common democratic practices, guided by Robert's Rules of Order.

The name "4-H" comes from an emphasis on the holistic development of four areas of life:
·         Head
·         Heart
·         Hands
·         Health

At each club meeting, following the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, club members recite in unison the 4-H Pledge:
I pledge my Head to clearer thinking; my Heart to greater loyalty; my Hands to larger service; and my Health to better living for my club, my community, my country, and my world.


The scouting model emphasizes personal duty for individual Scouts.

 The Scouting motto, "Be Prepared," emphasizes personal preparation to adequately perform their duty in the face of life's inevitable challenges.

Scouting provides wide experiences of skills-training and broad awareness through their system of earning "Merit Badges" in a huge variety of subjects.

The Boy Scout Oath or Promise is:
On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.


The Beginning of GEM
At Irrigon, we had about 10-12 young people within the target-age bracket who could be prime candidates for the new club. I had some rough ideas of what we needed to do to bring it to life, but I wasn't entirely sure how to proceed with the relationship to the Upper Columbia Conference youth ministries department. To help clarify the concept, Ruth and I invited UCC Pathfinder Director Wayne Hicks and his wife Jeri to our home for an evening conference over supper. Sitting across the dining room table from Wayne and Jeri, I introduced my ideas and asked for their input.
Wayne's response pointed to how the GEM program would need to proceed into the future.
"I like the idea," he said, "but the last thing we need is another organization. I see no reason why you can't do this within the existing Pathfinder structure."
We continued brainstorming for another hour or more. At the end of our conversation, I felt very encouraged to move forward. It looked like the dream might have a very real chance of becoming a reality.
Before calling our first meeting for prospective members, I spent considerable time writing the vision into a concrete form on paper. The document included a purpose, motto, law, and defined organizational structure for member-led government based on the 4-H model—but with a decidedly Seventh-day Adventist orientation.
The name I chose for the club was "God's Earth Ministry." Later, this name was modified to "Pathfinder GEM Club," with the acronym "GEM" standing for "Growth," "Excellence," and "Ministry." With that transition, we discarded the separate motto, law, etc., but we retained the plan for member-led government and the use of member "projects" as were followed in 4-H, using Pathfinder honors as our basis for the projects.
I was pleased to have the full support of both Wayne Hicks, the UCC Pathfinder Director, and Gordon Pifher, head of the UCC Youth Department.
Ruth and I recruited several church members and parents willing to serve as staff. As we conferred with these enthusiastic volunteers, it soon became evident that none of us knew very much about what we were attempting, myself included! But, we persevered, and soon set a date for the first organizational meeting with the young people.
The kids were enthusiastic. Most of them knew about Pathfinders, but I don't think any of them had ever been members. This was somewhat to our advantage, in that they didn't come with already ingrained ideas of what should happen in the club. At a later date, we discovered this could be a serious problem with older members who already had a track record with Pathfinders.
One of the distinctive differences between Pathfinders and 4-H was the use of uniforms. In the beginning, we decided against having uniforms for the GEM program. The thinking behind this was to emphasize community-process in conducting club meetings. In the wider community at town hall meetings, city council meetings, etc., none of the citizens or community leaders wear uniforms except on-duty police or security officers. We wanted the club meetings for these young people to prepare them for active participation in community life when they reached their adult years. The uniforms typical of Pathfinders and Scouting organizations lent themselves to a top-down command-and-control hierarchical system that we were trying to avoid. Hence, in these early days, the GEM clubs did not include uniforms. As we eventually discovered, however, the lack of uniforms also contributed to unruliness and lack of order among the kids. 
As the GEM program evolved we found it necessary to require uniforms, and regulate assembly by instituting rank and file positioning in typical Pathfinder format. Marching practice and commands provided a sense of unity and belonging which was missing in the beginning. But these modifications didn't come until after Ruth and I moved to Yakima, Washington where I was assigned as the Associate Pastor of the 35th Avenue Adventist Church. For the next two years, while we were at Yakima, the GEM club ideas continued to evolve.

The Invitation to Yakima
In January or February 1980, UCC pastors from our Conference region gathered at the Sunnyside, Washington church for a day of training and fellowship. At that meeting, I was approached by Pastor Fred Hughes, lead pastor of the Yakima 35th Avenue church, with an invitation to join him there as his Associate Pastor. I had been at Irrigon for approximately three years and felt it was time to move on. I accepted Pastor Hughes' invitation, and a few Sabbaths later my wife and I announced our decision to the Irrigon congregation.
When I arrived in Yakima, the church already had an active Pathfinder club including several older teen members.
A few weeks after I got somewhat settled into my new environment, I approached the club leaders about the GEM program we had been developing at Irrigon. They expressed some interest but were not entirely sure exactly how the program would work. I explained the basics, but many gaps still existed in our plan. The leaders did agree, however, to give GEM a try.

Adjustments
In Yakima, we continued the "create-as-you-go" process. Some of our initial attempts were successful—others were not.
Uniforms
As mentioned above, one of the early unanticipated problems concerned the use of uniforms.
The problem was that the more relaxed atmosphere made club meeting order and focus much more difficult. Older members with several years of Pathfindering experience were used to the structure provided by uniforms and the traditional assembly model.  Marching commands such as "Aten-hut!" "At Ease!" "Dress right, dress!" etc., were unknown in the 4-H model. Our elimination of this element for the GEM Program did not have the effect we intended. Instead, we quickly realized we needed the inherent controls of more direct regimentation. We made the move back to uniforms and a traditional Pathfinder assembly format. This resulted in restoring reasonable decorum, and we were able to move forward with much more success.

Club Identity and Affiliations
To follow a 4-H model for club organization and activities, we and our staff needed to learn more about the 4-H program.
Four-H is sponsored and supported through the land-grant universities in every American State. Our local Washington State University Extension office was located right there in Yakima, so we scheduled a meeting with the County 4-H leaders to share our vision and gather their counsel.
The 4-H people were more than gracious. They were excited about our ideas. We could even keep the name "Pathfinders" and still be recognized as a registered 4-H club. Our members could enter and show their projects in the local Yakima Youth Fair, and they would receive the same recognition for work completed as any other 4-H member of any other club.
Of course, our club's primary orientation and affiliation remained as a Seventh-day Adventist Pathfinder Club, registered with the Youth Department of Upper Columbia Conference.
Core Elements
Our vision for the GEM Club was composed of three fundamental goals: Growth; Excellence; and Ministry. Each of these elements deserves a few paragraphs of individual description.
Projects
Choosing a Project
The traditional Pathfinders' focus follows the Scouting model of "Merit Badges" by simply renaming them as "Honor Badges." Requirements for each badge vary from quite simple to very detailed, depending on the learning level of each member and the complexity of the subject. After completing the checklist for a specific Honor, the member can then be awarded a badge to be placed on the sash as part of the full dress uniform. Earning the GEM Project Honor recognition involved documenting three other activities.[1]

Record Keeping
Following the 4-H model, but utilizing the Pathfinders existing subject base for Honor Badges, the GEM program allowed each member to select any of the many honors to use as a GEM Project. The same Project would be carried for the entire membership-year and would entail goal-setting, resource assessment, detailed financial accounting records and, journaling of the overall experience.
At the end of the year, a member who completed his/her GEM Project was awarded not only the traditional honor badge, but also a small tab to attach directly under the badge identifying this honor as a GEM Project, and also specifying the year the award was earned. The same Project could continue to be a member’s focus in subsequent years with expanded goals and plans. Each year a new GEM tab—with the new year noted—could be earned and attached under the previous year’s award.

Demonstrations
Each student was required to prepare and present a "Demonstration" of some aspect related to their field of study. The Demonstration was a hands-on lecture, with props, presented before a live audience.
For example, one boy did a project on running and exercise. His demonstration was a description of proper running shoes, including various brands, styles, types, and purposes of construction, and reasons to choose which shoes might be needed by a specific individual. Actual athletic shoes were used for illustration.
A girl who loved horses prepared for her demonstration by casting a plaster-of-Paris mold of a horse's hoof. She identified and explained the purpose and function of the various parts of the hoof, including the hoof wall, the frog, the heel, and other important features. She included some instruction regarding proper hoof maintenance and possible diseases such as thrush, or the effects of foundering on the horse's feet.
Yet another boy's project was on the use and maintenance of small gasoline engines. His demonstration showed the working parts of a small engine, explained the difference between regular and mixed types of gasoline, the importance of regular changes of oil, air filters, winter storage practices, and springtime preparation.
At the end of each demonstration, the members fielded questions from the audience. As part of their preparation, they were taught to repeat the question so the rest of the audience could understand it, then answer according to their knowledge of the subject matter. If they were asked a question they didn't know how to answer, they were instructed to simply say, "I don't know the answer to that at present, but if you would like, I will be glad to research it for you."
Each public presentation was evaluated and graded by a panel of judges to provide valuable feedback for assisting the member to reach for Excellence—the "E" in "GEM".

Ministry (i.e. “Service”)
In the GEM program, the end goal of the experience was to become aware of service opportunities related to the member’s chosen area of learning. Following the 4-H principle of “learning by doing,” we built into the program a requirement for each member to use some aspect of their project (e.g. a skill or knowledge gained, etc.) to devise and provide a valuable service for free to another person, local business, or group. The experience of intentional, focused service ingrains the principle of outward-focused ministry and awareness of needs within the member’s circle of influence.
Examples of service ministry activity
·      Horse Group Ministry
One of the GEM Clubs had several members who loved horses. A Horse Group was formed for studying and learning about horse husbandry, training, and enjoying horse activities (trail rides, games, etc.).
As with all GEM Projects, the Pathfinder Horsemanship honor formed the core of the group’s focus. Additional, broader goals and activities for each individual member extended the course content for an entire club year of learning activities.
For their service/ministry project, this horse group spent an afternoon scouring a neighbor's arena for rocks. Arenas are the playground for games, contests, and other horse activities. Rocks on the arena surface are serious hazards of potentially serious injury, both to riders and animals. So, armed with five-gallon buckets, gloves, and some digging tools, the group fanned out across the arena gathering every rock and pebble they could find.
The owners of the arena couldn’t find enough words to express their appreciation for the group’s contribution to the safety of their facility.

·      Small Pet Group Ministry
Another group of members was more interested in small pets (dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits, etc.) than large animals like horses. Together they brainstormed a service project. The group’s adult leader called a local animal shelter to ask what their most pressing need might be. The shelter personnel said the hardest item for them to keep in adequate supply was puppy food—a critical need that was always difficult to fill.
With that information, the group organized a car-wash to raise money to buy puppy food. Again, the people running the shelter were most appreciative.

·      Small Engines Group Ministry
Another unique group was centered on the use, maintenance, and safety practices for small engines, e.g. lawnmowers, garden machinery, go-carts, or other common items.
This group offered a free spring tune-up service for neighbors and other community friends with small engines that they would be using in the coming seasons. The GEM members changed the oil and spark plugs, checked safety guards, filled the tanks with the appropriate gasoline for each engine, and left their “customers” grinning with gratitude.

The Move to Spokane
Early March 1984 brought an invitation from Upper Columbia Conference for Ruth and me to assume new responsibilities as the pastoral couple for Spokane Countryside and Davenport, Washington congregations. After praying about this move, visiting the churches, and scouting the area we decided to accept the call. It would mean leaving Yakima and the hard work we had done developing GEM concepts and practices for the Yakima Pathfinder Club. However, our Yakima staff were well-trained, fully on board with the GEM idea, and very capable to lead the club in our absence.
Countryside and Davenport welcomed us with open arms. The Davenport company did not have a Pathfinder club, but the leaders at Countryside were excited about our arrival, and immediately expressed interest in developing the local club on the GEM model. We set about sharing GEM principles and organizational details with the staff. After settling in, we contacted the Spokane County 4-H office to explain who we were and to share our prior experience with Yakima County 4-H people. Once again, as in Yakima, the 4-H leaders enthusiastically recognized our Countryside Pathfinder GEM club as an official club within the Spokane County 4-H organization.

Continued Growth Toward Maturity
Ruth and I remained at Countryside/Davenport for the next four years, 1984-1988. During that period the GEM concept continued to expand and grow toward maturity. Within Upper Columbia Conference, the Yakima club continued to thrive, our Countryside club successfully transitioned to the GEM model, and another in-Conference club at Ephrata, Washington chose to join the movement, organizing their club on the GEM plan.
We continued receiving strong support from the Youth Department/Pathfinder leadership at the Conference level. Wayne Hicks arranged each year to host the annual Pathfinder Fair at a county fairgrounds where facilities could accommodate GEM projects and activities, merging them seamlessly with the more traditional elements of a Pathfinder Fair. Each Spring found us at a different county fairground somewhere in the Conference territory. All clubs throughout the Conference assembled on the designated dates, with the GEM Pathfinders bringing their animals (horses, goats, poultry, etc.) and other examples of individual projects such as small engines, pets, and cooking. Interest and awareness continued to grow.
However, the GEM idea was not automatically praised in all quarters. Some reports came to us that several long-time, experienced Pathfinder leaders were quite resistant to the changes. The phrase, "This is not Pathfinders!" expressed their loyalty to the traditional Pathfinder program. While we were initially disappointed hearing this, we realized that—of course!—the GEM model would not fit—and was not intended to fit—every club's need. We continued to work toward our goals of sharing the GEM story with as many leaders as possible.
The Pathfinder Directors of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho Conferences heard about our work and invited Ruth and me to a day-long workshop at each of their respective annual Pathfinder leadership retreats. At the scheduled times, we traveled to Gladstone, Oregon, Sunset Lake, Washington, and McCall, Idaho to make these presentations.
Of course, none of the attendees at these retreats were previously aware of our program, so we began by explaining the GEM model and how it fit in with traditional Pathfindering. We usually spent an hour or so providing some historical and background information, then transitioned into sharing the GEM principles and practices in more detail.
It was always very exciting for us when—about half-way into our material—the expressions of those present would suddenly light up with understanding, often accompanied by, "Oh! Now I see what you are saying! This is great!"
In the early weeks of 1985, the Youth/Pathfinder Director for North Pacific Union Conference, Al Williamson hosted a one-day meeting of Conference-level Directors to review and recommend the GEM program to the General Conference Youth Department. The Directors from Upper Columbia, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington Conferences came to UCC headquarters in Spokane, spending an entire day reviewing a manual we had prepared for GEM clubs. At the end of the day, the Directors unanimously voted to forward the manual to the GC, requesting that it be considered for inclusion in official Pathfinder Club options.
Sadly, we never received a response from the General Conference, neither acceptance nor rejection. The silence was deafening.
Nevertheless, we were not deterred.
The first-ever Division-wide Pathfinder Camporee was on the immediate horizon, slated for Camp Hale, Leadville, Colorado, July 31-August 6, 1985. With support and coaching from our friend and mentor Wayne Hicks, we were able to reserve an exhibition booth for the event. At Camp Hale, we sold many copies of the GEM Manual and spent hours upon hours at the booth introducing the ideas and explaining the purposes of GEM to leaders from all corners of the North American Division and beyond.
Only eternity will reveal if any of those contacts ever bore fruit.

Waning Days
The summer of 1988 brought another move for our family. Unfortunately for the GEM program, our tenure at the new district only lasted ten months, meeting an untimely end due to some internal conflicts within the congregation. This also brought an unexpected hiatus in my service record as a denominational employee. Three years passed before I once again entered an Adventist pulpit as a local church pastor. By that time, without our continuous encouragement and promotion, the GEM program gradually slid into disuse. In May 1992, I accepted a call to pastor in Ohio Conference, but another five years would pass before I had the opportunity to share our experience with the Pathfinder leaders there. Many seemed to think it was an interesting idea, but sadly it never gained traction.
It seemed the time for GEM had passed. Nevertheless, it remains a blessed memory for us personally, and for many of the youth who were part of the program during its active years.

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[1] A printed GEM Project Record Book was supplied for keeping these records.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Valentine's Day - Thoughts of Love

Valentine's Day = Thoughts of Love
Yes, I love my wife. We are approaching our 53rd anniversary this coming June. I can honestly say - without reservation - that being on the receiving end of this woman's love is the best thing that has ever happened to me in this life. I am supremely blessed, indeed!
But what really is love, anyway? Love is revealed by loving actions. Those actions are not love itself, however, only the tangible, visible fruit of love. Love is an emotion, but it is more than that. Love is a principle, a standard for behavior. Love is the law of life.
In fact, love cannot exist without law. Love is all about relationships, and every law in existence is also about relationships.
Love, or the lack of it, determines the health of every relationship. For living beings with total freedom of moral choice, choosing to act in loving ways creates hope, trust, respect, faith, and joy. Choosing to act in self-serving, unloving ways creates pain, disappointment, sadness, and ultimately death. Good laws serve to govern relationships for health and happiness. Bad laws seek to control others for the benefit of an exclusive few or a privileged class.
The Bible says that "God is love" (1 John 4:8).
The idea of "God" is often derided by unbelievers as a figment of imagination in the minds of weak, illogical, and uneducated people. The Bible is only a collection of myths and restrictive rules put together by superstitious people who invented "God" to allay their own fears and control the masses. God's laws are without reason or real purpose . . . or so some would have us believe.
But is that really true? Let's examine just one of God's ten rules (laws) that seems appropriate on Valentine's Day. Exodus 20:14 says, "You shall not commit adultery" (The seventh commandment). A couple in a faithful, monogamous marriage knows a depth of love unattainable to others. Breaking trust by indulging in affairs outside of marriage erodes respect, destroys love, and creates heartache. Everyone touched by the action eventually suffers - spouse, lover, children, extended family, and friends. And in turn, the ripple effect spreads to wider and wider circles negatively affecting many more than just the individual(s) guilty of breaking the commandment.
Conversely, the influence of faithfulness also spreads to regions far beyond the walls of a home where love reigns. Thus we can see that true love is found in willing, joyful obedience to God's precept, and the fruit is health, happiness, hope, and honor. Seriously, what's not to love about that?!?

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Beulah Fern Fenton Stevens -- Life Sketch


Life Sketch
Beulah Fern Fenton Stevens
July 9, 1937 – October 12, 2019

The Early Years

Beulah Fern Fenton was born on Friday, July 9, 1937 at Walla Walla General Hospital. She was the second child, and second daughter of Claude and Oral (Wilson) Fenton, joining her sister Katty Joy who was just 20 months older. In their early, pre-school years, the two girls lived with their parents in the home of Hattie Mae and Robert Vent, their grandmother and step-grandfather. Their father, Claude worked as a carpenter building homes in Walla Walla, while their mother Oral continued her service as a Registered Nurse at Walla Walla General.

Around 1939 or 1940, Claude and Oral moved their family to Fruitvale, Oregon, a tiny community near Umapine a few miles northwest of Milton-Freewater. There, Katty Joy started first grade in the Fruitvale School, a short walk from the family home on Sunquist Road. The Fentons were always community-oriented, and the sisters often stood on the stage of the Fruitvale Community Center directly across the road from the school. While living at Fruitvale, Brother Beryl joined the girls in 1943 as the third child, bringing childhood vivaciousness and liveliness to the Fenton household.
 Another move brought the family to a small rental near College Place on West Wallula Avenue.  Daddy Claude continued his carpentry employment with a local contractor in Walla Walla. The girls were enrolled in Davis Elementary School in College Place, Katty Joy in 2nd grade, Beulah Fern in 1st grade, beginning her journey of formal education which would eventually extend over horizons completely unimagined at the time.

Nearing the end of the WWII years, the rental home on Wallula Avenue was sold in early 1945. Weeks and weeks of searching the Walla Walla Valley yielded nothing available anywhere for the family to live. Mother Oral’s uncle-by-marriage, Leo St. Clair, wrote of a large farmhouse available on North Outlook Road in the Yakima Valley, located on 50 acres of rich farming land, together with several out-buildings, sheds, a small barn and corrals for livestock. With rental agreements in place, four truck-loads of family belongings made the trek from College Place to the Outlook farm in March 1945, just in time to begin preparation for the soon-to-arrive asparagus season. Friendly neighbors and visits from the Yakima Extension Service gave experienced counsel on successful asparagus farming operations. The girls were enrolled as students in the Outlook Grade School, in 2nd and 3rd grades.

The North Outlook place would be the family home for the next 40 years.

Just over two months after moving, right in the middle of the first asparagus season, the fourth and final Fenton child (yours, truly!) made his entry into the family. Beulah Fern and Katty Joy moved immediately into big-sister mothering roles, helping to corral, entertain, and discipline their two little brothers.

In time, all four Fenton young people graduated from Sunnyside High School. Because of her singular ability to focus on responsibilities at hand, her determination, and hard work, Beulah Fern earned a place in the National Honor Society, proudly wearing the gold cords at her graduation in 1955.

College and Beyond

After graduating from high school, Beulah Fern enrolled in the Walla Walla College School of Nursing. This was her first year away from home, and with Katty Joy already in the second-year clinical rotation at Portland Sanitarium and Hospital, the Walla Walla campus was a new and challenging experience. I remember our parents bringing my brother and me to “see Beulah Fern,” and how excited she was to see “two little boys with rolled-up cuffs on their blue jeans” come running up the sidewalk to greet her. She took us on a “tour” of the campus, including Conard Hall, the cafeteria, the chemistry lab, and other locations. During that first year of college she worked in housekeeping, cleaning bathrooms, toilets, and hallways, and—as always—striving to do the best job possible—even with those humble tasks which made life better for others.

Beulah Fern received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Walla Walla College in 1959. After working as a staff nurse at the hospital in Portland from then until 1962, she returned to WWC to earn her MA in Education, graduating in June 1963. In subsequent years this training proved invaluable in her career path which gradually developed into a specialty of Inservice Education for the nursing staff at Portland Adventist Medical Center and later at Loma Linda University Medical Center. During this period of employment in Portland, Beulah Fern co-authored a devotional book for nurses with her friend, colleague, and mentor Grace Scheresky.

In 1969 she accepted a call from LLUMC Nursing Service to serve as Director of Nursing Education and Training. She also maintained faculty rank in the LLU School of Nursing. Through the early years of the 1970s Beulah Fern was instrumental in developing policy and procedure manuals, relating them to contemporary trends in nursing care, organization, etc. This was followed in 1975-77 by her assignment as Coordinator for a US government funded research project studying alternative methods of learning for nursing students.

(On August 12, 1973, Beulah Fern married the love of her life, James Ray Stevens, Jr. at the Granger, Washington Seventh-day Adventist Church. Although they had no children of their own, Beulah Fern and Jim poured their love into their several nieces, nephews, and any other children they knew. The children responded in kind, and each of them still cherish the wonderful memories of “Auntie Beulah and Uncle Jim.”)

As the research project drew to a close, Beulah Fern’s title and responsibilities once again expanded. Under the title “Clinical Specialist,” she was asked to undertake a pioneering project aimed at training nurses to integrate appropriate spiritual care into nursing practice. She served as a liaison between the Nursing and Chaplain’s Departments, working closely with Head Chaplain, Dr. Wil Alexander. In this new capacity, Beulah Fern conducted workshops and seminars for nurses, not only at LLUMC, but also in major Adventist hospitals in the United States.

Once again her job description changed in 1980 when she became the Director of Human Resources Development for LLUMC Nursing Division. She served in this capacity until 1982 when she and her husband, Jim Stevens, accepted an invitation to pastor a tiny congregation in Irrigon, Oregon, a small town on the banks of the Columbia River in eastern Oregon. While Jim and Beulah Fern lived in Irrigon, she remained active as a part-time Examiner for Basic Health Systems. She continued her work in nursing education with Spiritual Care Workshops for Nursing throughout the US, Puerto Rico, and what was then the Far Eastern Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

In 1985, Beulah Fern moved again to Portland, this time with her husband Jim by her side. For two years she served as Chaplain/Receptionist in the Pastoral Care Department of Portland Adventist Medical Center. She completed one quarter Basic Clinical Pastoral Education at Providence Medical Center in Portland during Winter Quarter, 1987. With the retirement of Chaplain Services department head Cal Hartnell, Beulah Fern was selected as the new department leader—a position she held until her retirement in 2005.

Affiliations and Memberships

·         Sigma Theta Tau. National Honor Society for Nurses
·         Association of Seventh-day Adventist Nurses (Life Member)
·         ANA Certified Nursing Administrator
·         Seventh-day Adventist Church. Member. Ordained local elder.
·         Certified Grief Counselor, Resolve Through Sharing

The End of the Journey

With the Walla Walla Valley as her personal and family roots, Beulah Fern decided to move to College Place for her final retirement years. She lived in her own home on Sentry Drive, ever the gracious hostess, loving neighbor, and active member of the College Place Village Seventh-day Adventist Church. With the loving attention of Home Instead caregivers, she was able to remain at home until one year ago when the advancing stages of Alzheimer’s necessitated a move to an elder-care home.

In October of last year, Beulah Fern moved to Sunshine Home here in College Place, where she lived until her death on October 12, 2019. She is survived by her sister Katty Joy French, brother Loren Fenton, nieces Michelle (Shelly) Waymire and Kimberly Holback, nephews Benjamin Fenton and Jeffry Fenton, seven grand-nieces and nephews, one great-grand-nephew, and one great-grand-niece.
Beulah Fern was preceded in death by her husband Jim Stevens, her parents Claude and Oral Fenton, and her brother Beryl Fenton. Her final resting place will be beside her beloved Jim at the Terrace Heights Memorial Park in Yakima, Washington. The graveside service there will be at 11:00 a.m., next Monday, October 21, 2019.

A Final Thought

Each of Beulah Fern’s family, friends, colleagues, and casual acquaintances will forever cherish the memories, and bless the Lord for the privilege we have had with Beulah Fern as part of our life. We are all looking forward to the Great Resurrection Morning when death will be no more, no mourning, crying, or pain for the former things will be forever banished from God’s restored Universe and the beautiful Earth Made New. Even so, Come! Lord Jesus!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Living in Christian Liberty


MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST

Oswald Chambers

May 6 reading



Liberty and the Standards of Jesus

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free …” (Galatians 5:1).

A spiritually-minded person will never come to you with the demand— “believe this and that”; a spiritually-minded person will demand that you align your life with the standards of Jesus. We are not asked to believe the Bible, but to believe the One whom the Bible reveals (see John 5:39–40). We are called to present liberty for the conscience of others, not to bring them liberty for their thoughts and opinions. And if we ourselves are free with the liberty of Christ, others will be brought into that same liberty—the liberty that comes from realizing the absolute control and authority of Jesus Christ.

Always measure your life solely by the standards of Jesus. Submit yourself to His yoke, and His alone; and always be careful never to place a yoke on others that is not of Jesus Christ. It takes God a long time to get us to stop thinking that unless everyone sees things exactly as we do, they must be wrong. That is never God’s view. There is only one true liberty—the liberty of Jesus at work in our conscience enabling us to do what is right.

Don’t get impatient with others. Remember how God dealt with you—with patience and with gentleness. But never water down the truth of God. Let it have its way and never apologize for it. Jesus said, “Go … and make disciples …” (Matthew 28:19), not, “Make converts to your own thoughts and opinions.”


Saturday, March 23, 2019



A Devotional Theology of the
Three Angels of Revelation 14

Loren L. Fenton, D.Min.
Sabbath School Notes
March 9, 2019

Introduction: The Battlefield of Good vs. Evil

1.     Ephesians 6:12 – We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

2.     Luke 17L20, 21 – Now when [Jesus] was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.

3.     John 14:1 – Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in me.

4.     2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – Though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

The Three Angels’ Messages

1.     The First Angel’s Message (Revelation 14:6-7)

a.      Proclaims the everlasting gospel to every culture on Earth

b.     The gospel

                                                             i.      Ephesians 2:8-9 – It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

                                                           ii.      Romans 6:23 – The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

c.      The gates of hell shall not prevail against the gospel message going to all the world (See Matthew 16:18).

                                                             i.      A gate is a defense against attack

                                                           ii.      The gospel message shines light into spiritual darkness

                                                        iii.      The darkness is overcome by the light

2.     The Second Angel’s Message (Revelation 14:8)

a.      Bible records two incidents when Babylon (Babel) fell

                                                             i.      Genesis 11:1-9 – The Tower of Babel

                                                           ii.      Daniel 5:30 – Babylonian Empire falls to the Medes and Persians

b.     Announces the victory of the gospel in the good vs. evil battle for the believer’s heart

3.     The Third Angel’s Message (Revelation 14:9-12)

a.      Announces God’s action to destroy spiritual darkness.

b.     Those who cling to the darkness cannot escape. They will also be destroyed with the “Babylon” of their pride and self-worship

c.      Encouragement for the saints—those who have come out of darkness into his marvelous light (see 1 Peter 2:9)—to have patience, endurance, continue in obedience to God’s commandments, and stay faithful to Jesus.