Pressing On For the Prize.

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13–14).
John Chrysostom, the noted ancient church preacher, says that the pursuer of a goal “sees nothing, he thrusts away all who impede him with great force, he cherishes his mind, his eye, his strength, his soul and his body, looking at nothing other than the crown” (ACCS). We should embrace our pursuit of Christ in this way, that we might stay faithful to Him until the end of our lives.

We’ve witnessed many wonderful blessings in this passing year, but the Lord is giving us a New Year for our ministry. Let this be a year of service to the needs of our community, a year of preaching the Good News in Ooltewah and way beyond, a year of greater love and connection in our church family, a year of greater growth in our relationship with Jesus.

Along with apostle Paul we recongnize that we have not “already attained.” There is much that needs to be done in 2017. God needs each one of us in this ministry. I invite you to set aside excuses and fears of failure and to press on toward the high calling!

Happy New Year to you, my friends!

MINISTRY. Tonight (Friday, December 30), at 7 pm is the Agape Feast celebration. Everyone is welcome. There is supper prepared for you. After the supper we will participate in foot-washing and partake of the symbols of Christ’s Body and His blood. What a wonderful way to finish this year and to start a New one.

Thank you, church, for your overwhelming support of the Josiah Restoration fund. The goal has been reached! What a miracle! What a blessing. The work of the school renovation is going full speed even through the holidays. Thank you, Ed Demaree, for your leadership and commitment to this project.

Thank you, Rita Rogers, Steve Bremner and Bradley Hyde for spending long hours this week at the office helping the Conference auditors with the work that needed to be done. Only God in heaven will repay you for your hard work.

Church LED signs are up and running in TEST MODE. It is a great breakthrough in the area of our renovations. There is some fine-tuning needed to be done on the big LED sign sometime next week. Please, be patient with a few distorted spots on that sign. The highway pole sign is also up, but the electrical work on it will be completed next week. After that it will be a “bright” witness to our church presence in Ooltewah.

Have a blessed Sabbath day and I hope to see many of you tonight.



The Savior is Born

img_1289-2Merry Christmas dear church family!

During this triumphant season I hope we will all find a moment to reflect on the our relationship with Jesus and thank Him for all the good that we found in this past year.

Reading: the Christmas story in Matthew 1:18-25

Thinking: about those less fortunate and about what we can do to make at least one individual’s Christmas a little brighter.

Feeling: blessed that our church family is very active in many important ministries, serving to the needs of our members and the community around us.

Hoping: we will shine even brighter reflecting Christ’s character in our relationships with one another. Unity and respect of diversity will make us bulletproof to Satan’s attacks.

Excited: for each of our twenty dear brothers and sisters who joined the church through baptism and the sixty who joined through membership transfers. Our mother’s room is overflowing with the joyful noise of lots and lots of newborn babies learning about Jesus.

Thankful: for the unprecedented financial support of our outreach programs and church ministries. We are almost at our goal of $50,000 for the Josiah’s restoration project and the work is already underway.

Praying: for those that are feeling lonely this season and may not have a family to embrace them. And for those who may have lost their dear ones or are in challenging family circumstances.

Noticing: the spirit of care and friendship influencing our church family connections.

Enjoying: wonderful support from our church leaders for all of my crazy, unorthodox ideas.

Wishing: everyone a blessed Christmas spent with loved ones.

May the simplest things bring you the greatest joy this Christmas!

With love and hugs,

Peter and Galena

P.S. see you tomorrow for both services.

Great Joy for All People

img_1217MESSAGE. “Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (‭‭Luke‬ ‭2:10-11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬)

We have a Savior: “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). That is the most important thing. We have a Savior who came to save us from the power and penalty of sin. Whatever you are going through in life, remember this: you have a Savior. He has put your sins as far away from you as the east is from the west. You don’t need to live in the dark dungeon of despair anymore. Even if you are in pain, struggling financially, or frustrated with your relationship please remember that “the great joy” can be yours as it is given to “all people.”

I invite you to continue our December study of the Light Divine tomorrow during our 8:55am and 11:25am services.

MINISTRY. This Sabbath we will vote in Ronald and Christine Bee

Curtis and Victoria McCormick

And Cindy Cole

We are happy you chose to be a part of the Ooltewah church family!

PATHFINDERS.  For a few weeks the Pathfinders have been filling gift boxes to take along with us for the refugee kids in Clarkston, GA.  December 11th our club loaded up into 2 vans and made the trip to just outside Atlanta to distribute the 48 boxes that we had filled along with some extra clothing.  The refugees that we visited are primarily from Burma, but the surrounding community is a vast mix of refugees from all around the world.  Our different clubs were divided into 3 separate groups and Santa (Ron Derrick) visited each group to distribute the gifts to people who may not have had a Christmas otherwise.  As we arrived in our specified neighborhood we could see and hear about 20 of the high school aged teens practicing a Burmese new year dance that they will perform at their school.  The drums were pounding and the atmosphere was lively with hot chocolate being served and kids playing games.  We joined them and spent some time playing and unloading gifts.  The conditions that they live in are very poor, but they were a warm and friendly group of people and we enjoyed spending time with them.  It certainly makes us thankful for the many ways God has blessed us and reminds us that there are many who live all around us who need our help.  Thank you Pathfinders for being good Samaritans to the kids in Clarkston.

Mr. Cory

OAKS. Many wonderful things are happening at our church school. The Monday night Christmas musical was an absolutely wonderful experience. Listening to their music and singing along with their choir I almost felt as if I was at Carnegie Hall in New York or the Chaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. Outstanding! Thank you, Wess, and band and orchestra members!

In the middle of the week I walked into the school gym to see a fun “Ugly sweater” contest 😄!

The Josiah Restoration project is going full steam at OAKS (see a photo below). Together we’ll make our school look and smell like new! Thank you for the overwhelming support of our fund. With the set goal of $50,000 we are now at $19,000! This truly feels like the book of Acts coming alive in Ooltewah.

This afternoon I officiated a sweet family wedding for Ed and Heidi (Tompkins) Pino. What a blessed experience it was for me personaly. See their photo below. Congratulations, Ed and Heidi!

On Wednesday night our church had two parties going on simultaneously. Adventurer Club and Pathfinders got together to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Their pizza smelled really good, but I had to go to the Prayer Meeting group in the sanctuary (with no food there 😒). However, right before I left the Adventurers fixed me a full plate with pizza and desserts. So sweet, thank you, little guys!

Church Christmas Social is tomorrow night at 6 pm. I hope you’ll be there to eat and to play games with your church family. It will be an excellent opportunity to get to know many of our new church members.
Rosa Lee Tubbs, our church elder had to be out of town a lot lately helping her relative. Here is a sweet message she asked me to share with the church:

Merry Christmas, Church Family!  I thank God for each remembrance of you. I have been in El Paso, TX, caring for my niece, Ashley and her newborn daughter, Vivian. Thank you to those who have prayed for Ashley and the life threatening events she experienced after giving birth to Vivian. I have appreciated the cards and inquiries I have received during my absence. Your welcome a words of affirmation have been a warm welcome to me.  I am grateful for the Ooltewah Church Family. I miss worshipping with you and plan to return home later in the Spring. May each of you experience the joy and blessings of family and worship during this new year. Your sister in Christ, Rosa Lee Tubbs

PRAYERS. I solicit your prayers for Betty Chastain who fell from a ladder and injured her back again; for Opal Vega, recovery after surgery, and Dorothy Chastain, who is still at the Ooltewah LifeCare after a procedure on her back.

RESOURCES: Weekly church bulletin is available by clicking here.

Online tithe and offering is available on our church website I pray that through the end of December we will reach our monthly LOCAL CHURCH budget giving and thus support many of our church ministries.

On a Personal Note: Our youngest daughter Barby graduated last night from Southern Adventist University with a degree in journalism. What a happy night that was! We were blessed to have all four of our children study at Southern.


See you tomorrow,


Christ’s Healing Light

MESSAGE. Many have been wounded by the words and deeds of others in this cruel world. Many feel rejected and dejected. Many have been broken by adversity, affliction, and loss. Many carry great burdens borne as a result of past bad decisions. For all these things and more, Jesus came into this world as the great Healer. Shining brightly, Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 147:3, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Let this healing light of our Saviour shine in your life as we celebrate the birth of Jesus! 

Church choir and Brass for Worship will lead us into the festive atmosphere of this season. Both of our services this Sabbath will be held in the Fellowship hall. Unfortunately the platform in the Sanctuary does not have enough room for both the choir and band. 

I will continue my December sermon series, “O Light Divine.” Malachi 4:2 “But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.” (NIV)

MINISTRY. The church Christmas social is now moved to December 17th. Tomorrow afternoon we will gather at 4 pm for the Memorial service to celebrate Rick Marshall’s life. After the service everyone is invited to stay for the reception. The family is requesting donations to the WORTHY STUDENT FUND in liue of flowers. This has been a tough few days for OAKS students, staff, and our church family. Rick’s sudden death left a hole in our community. I am grateful to OAKS staff and teachers and to pastor Aubrey for doing everything in their power to bring comfort to the students. Thank you also Nancy and Lupina for mobilizing your team for the reception arrangements. Thank you, Steve Bremner, for working many extra hours as we deal with two memorial services in one week. 

Pathfinders. A couple of hours ago I walked into Cory’s Sabbath school class and was moved to tears watching Cory and Amy prepare containers for children living in the refugee camp in Chattanooga. The Pathfinders will visit the camp this coming Sunday. What a great way to help those unfortunate children see what Christmas is really all about.

LEWIS AND VLAD. A few hours ago I received a text message from Vlad. It made me feel very nostalgic. He sent a message from Ukraine reporting his safe arrival. Thank you, Vlad, for the great time we had together. Let the Lord continue to bless you in your ministry in Ukraine. Last week’s farewell social was absolutely awesome! Thank you, Avril and your team for your hard work.

SPECIAL CHRISTMAS OFFERING. Thank you for your support of the Josiah Restoration fund. Your donations are already at work. In the next few weeks the Music room will be completely renovated, the AC air ducts will be professionally cleaned, the ceiling tiles replaced, etc. Our goal is to raise $50,000. Please, mark your special Christmas donations on the tithe envelopes as Josiah Restoration.

PRAYERS. I invite you to pray for the Marshall family, who lost their husband and father. 

For Opel Vega, who had surgery a couple of days ago and is now recovering at home.

For Dorothy Champion, who is still at Ooltewah Lifecare in recovery after back surgery.


With Christian love,


The Light of Life


“In the manifestation of God to His people, light had ever been a symbol of His presence. At the creative word in the beginning, light had shone out of darkness. Light had been enshrouded in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, leading the vast armies of Israel. Light blazed with awful grandeur about the Lord on Mount Sinai. Light rested over the mercy seat in the tabernacle. Light filled the temple of Solomon at its dedication. Light shone on the hills of Bethlehem when the angels brought the message of redemption to the watching shepherds.

God is light; and in the words, “I am the light of the world,” Christ declared His oneness with God, and His relation to the whole human family. It was He who at the beginning had caused “the light to shine out of darkness.” 2 Cor. 4:6. He is the light of sun and moon and star. He was the spiritual light that in symbol and type and prophecy had shone upon Israel. But not to the Jewish nation alone was the light given. As the sunbeams penetrate to the remotest corners of the earth, so does the light of the Sun of Righteousness shine upon every soul.” (DA, 464)

As we decorate our homes with lights to celebrate Christmas let us remember that the only true Light is Jesus Himself. Let the rays of His shining glory illuminate our souls and bring us hope.

MINISTRY. We are called to serve. Jesus Himself is our great example. His whole life on this img_1157earth was a life of service. This week I’d like to say a heartfelt THANK YOU to our deacons and deaconesses.  Their life is not always an easy one. Our active church often overwhelms them with many functions and events. They come early to prepare our church for worship services. They are the ones to leave last checking on the doors, lights, AC units, etc. Some of them are being asked to come to church on week days helping with various programs. I hope we make them feel appreciated. This last week our head deaconess, Nancy Smiley, was decorating our church with beautiful poinsettias. I’m glad Vlad was there to help Nancy. Mike Haughee is the first one I see every Sabbath morning as I come to church at 8 am. I still have not yet come once before Mike. I wonder if he stays there Friday night :-). Thank you, Nancy and Mike, for your commitment, hard work, and wonderful leadership. We appreciate you and your teams of dedicated deacons and deaconesses.


OAKS. At our last board meeting in November we agreed to dedicate our Special Christmas offerings fullsizerenderto some urgent repairs needed on our school and church campus. The first phase of the repairs will be primarily concentrated on OAKS needs. The music room needs a complete make over. Several other surrounding rooms will be a part of this renovation.  AC ducts need professional cleaning and insulation. The estimated cost of all this work is at $50,000. Josiah will be our inspiration in this project.  As a young king he saw the need to restore the temple. God blessed his efforts and the work was done. I believe that the Lord will also bless our efforts and we’ll see our school’s needs taken care of. Donations to this (tax deductible) fund should be marked as JOSIAH’S RESTORATION Fund. God bless you as you generously support this project.

I pray that bringing our Special Christmas offerings we’ll also remember our Local Church Budget contributions.

YOUTH. Tomorrow our young people are invited to join the Youth Church service with Pastor Aubrey in the Fellowship Hall at 11:25. How wonderful it is that once a month they can have their own service meeting their needs.

SINGSPIRATION is at 4:30 pm in the Sanctuary followed by the Youth Vespers also in the Sanctuary. After the Youth Vespers everyone is invited to join a Farewell Party for Lewis Bertus and Vlad Zubkos at 6:00 pm in the Fellowship hall. When the party is over Pathfinders will start their lock-in. WOW! I know, that’s a lot for one day. (Board members, please join me tomorrow night for a 30 minute special meeting in the Earliteen room at 5:30 🙂 )

PRAYERS. Please, uplift in your prayers Celeste Crosby who is in Chattanooga hospice and Opal Vega who’ll need surgery early next week.

RESOURCES. The full church bulletin is available here.

Online tithe and offering envelope is also available on our church website.

Happy Sabbath, church!