The Power of Faith



“We need to have far less confidence in what man can do and far more confidence in what God can do for every believing soul. He longs to have you reach after Him by faith. He longs to have you expect great things from Him. He longs to give you understanding in temporal as well as in spiritual matters. He can sharpen the intellect. He can give tact and skill. Put your talents into the work, ask God for wisdom, and it will be given you.”
Ellen G. White (COL, 146)


CHURCH MINISTRY EXPANSION PLANS. Our church members who attended the town hall meeting last Saturday night were introduced to the conceptual drawing for the new sanctuary and the new Sabbath School class wing. The sanctuary is being planned for six hundred seats. This number is less than our current membership of 730, but more than our average Sabbath attendance of about 450-500. This way the proposed new sanctuary is planned simply to accommodate the needs of our current membership. The total projected  building cost is 5.5 million. On March 7 the whole church is invited to a business meeting where we will need to vote on the proposed drawings and the capital fundraising campaign. Let the Spirit of God guide us in the right direction. He gave boldness and courage to the pioneers of this church fifty years ago. He has been with this church up to this day blessing the amazing growth of this congregation from 85 members to 730. I have no doubt that He will continue to guide this church in the future until the day of His glorious appearing.

BUSINESS MEETING. On Monday night, at the church Board meeting, we had an active discussion of the future of our ministry. The Board affirmed the Church Manual policy on business meeting voting. There will be no provision for early voting or voting by proxy. You need to be present to express your position on the voted items.

EVANGELISM. I was very encouraged by the support this church is giving to public Evangelism. The Board of Elders, as well as the Church Board, approved the concept of Spring Evangelism. You will be hearing a lot more about the upcoming health, music, and community service projects leading to a Bible Seminar in May of 2020. I hope you will be actively participating in the outreach ministry of your beloved church. Jesus is coming soon. People in our community need to hear the Good News of salvation.

TRAINING. One of the building blocks of evangelism is our engagement in offering personal Bible studies. I’m grateful to elder Mike Doucoumes for inviting his daughter Michelle to train us in giving successful Bible studies. The first training event is tomorrow right after the second service. Lunch is provided for the seminar participants.


Volunteer for Global Service Project. Thank you for signing up during the past two weeks to volunteer with “Feed My Starving Children,” a March 14 mission event where our church—along with two other local churches—will help pack more than 100,000 meals of rice, soy, and vitamins to send overseas. This is a great opportunity to serve alongside your friends, family, and neighbors. We have raised all the money we need. Now we are simply asking for your time, and more than 120 of you have already signed up! There are three volunteer slots available for the packing event which will be held at our neighbor’s facility, the Ooltewah United Methodist Church: 9-11 am (4 slots still available), 12-2 pm (10 slots still available), and 2:30-4:30 pm (15 slots still available). Email project organizer Lucas Patterson with your questions or to sign up. Sign up form is also available on the Community Services webpage here.

A heartfelt THANK YOU to the deaconesses of our church who provided a wonderful meal for Opal Vega’s memorial service last Sunday. Your hard work is a witness to what the Spirit of God is doing in this church.


OAKS Music & Marinara planning crew worked from early Sunday morning fully transforming our Fellowship Hall. They put so much effort and love into making this a very successful event. Here is what I read in the school newsletter:
“Thanks to your generous donations, we were able to raise
$3,039 from Music & Marinara and $65 from the bake
sale afterward. These donations will go toward the band
trip. We were also given a generous donation for the
band program. Thank you so much for your support!”

The Sabbath School Council met on Wednesday night to review the ministry joys and challenges. I’m extremely grateful to all SS leaders and teachers for their passionate ministry. It requires serious study and commitment to be ready to lead your class discussion every week. A few weeks ago Sarah Penagos stepped down from the SS Superintendent position. Her leadership was truly inspiring for us all. I hope after a much needed spiritual sabbatical Sarah will come back refreshed to continue in a leadership role.

The SS council voted to start a New Beginnings class for those who are new to the Adventist doctrine. The class will be meeting in the school building. Watch for the official announcement and the starting date.

Men’s Ministry update by Edymar Penagos:

“Happy Friday! Anyone else as glad as me that tomorrow is Sabbath?

If you were not able to attend the Haney Hungry Hombres (HHH) breakfast last Sunday, boy did you miss a powerful meeting. We had around 30 guys show up hungry and ready for fellowship. Even though we had planned for a short devotional and budget discussion, we had church that went for an hour and could have kept going.
What I mean by church is that we praised and celebrated God together by sharing all that He continuously does for us. Guys shared the promises He has faithfully kept and the tough situations He has delivered them from. There was real fellowship, a closeness to the spirit and each other that I and others felt in the room. Attached is a picture of the group and below are a few testimonials from the guys. Psalm 59:16 “But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.” 
“Hi Edy,  Words cannot come out of my mouth of how impressed with last Sunday’s meeting.  I was so emotionally moved by the wonderful testimonies the different fellow shared.  I appreciated the openness the fellows shared with us and how the entire group was so impressed and moved by those who shared.  I am so proud to be part of the best church I have ever attended.  I have been in the church 50 years and never had the opportunity to witness such a powerful experience among men in church.  Some shed tears and others were moved as well with their testimony.  I am so glad I made the decision to attend that meeting on Sunday.  What a grand experience.  Sincerely,” Fred Turner
“Loved the fellowship, men crying, and being emotional, and the food.” Micah Guster
“This week I enjoyed having a select few guys sharing their favorite or meaningful scripture and how it effected their life. On a regular basis, I enjoy the fellowship with the guys while we cook. Arron Brewer
Men, I shared a picture of the group because we are one body, and a body missing parts is incomplete. If you have never attended one of these breakfasts or the men’s sabbath school class, I hope you will consider joining us next time. Corinthians 12:26 “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
In addition:
David Denton has relaunched the “mountain bike small group” and we are trying to come up with a name, so far at the top of the list is the Holly Rollers or Bikecipes. We had our 2nd ride last Sunday, and had a blast. See attached picture. If you would like to learn more or join the group, please contact David Denton at 423-505-7878. THIS IS FOR EVERYONE not just guys.
Coming up soon on 4/3-5, Blue Print for men is having a recharge retreat, link with info is below. I will be there and if you would like to join, don’t forget to register ASAP. If you or know of someone you know could use a recharge but needs some final assistance, please get with me.



Betty Chastain had a heart procedure this morning. She is on her way home. Everything went well. Prayers of praise!

Pastor Matthew has been very sick for the last few days. Please pray for Matthew.

My dear wife Galina has been sick for over a week. We are trying to figure out what’s causing her condition. Your prayers are needed and appreciated.


Potter’s Workshop


MESSAGE. The Lord sent prophet Jeremiah to the potter’s workshop to teach him a valuable lesson of success. When your life is broken or looks like a pile of dirt do not try fixing it using your own tools or expertise. Our methods will fail us, our formulas of success will confuse us, our logic will fool us… (1 Cor. 3:19). The Master works in mysterious ways. We may not like it or understand it, but when we crush our pride and  surrender to His masterful craft, out of His hands comes a beautiful vessel “shaped it as seemed best to Him”. (Jer. 18:4). This is what I call success.


Last Sunday the Ooltewah Health Ministry team presented a five star Cooking Class. Every details was thought through. Christine Martins prepared a great plant-based meal for all 50 plus participants. There were many helpers and I will not be mentioning every name here as I am afraid I may miss one. A huge Thank You to the whole Health Ministry team.

Check out the Health Ministry updated page to learn more about upcoming events:

Here is a video report nicely produced by pastor Matthew and his wife Emmalee:

Prayer Ministry. Over thirty members of our church attended the GCC Prayer conference last week. They came back charged with the power of the Holy Spirit. Many of them passionately shared with me how this seminar helped them to see new opportunities for their spiritual growth.

This week I have been praying in a special way for those of our many church members who work behind the scenes. We may not see them on the platform, we do not hear them preach, but they are faithfully serving the Lord and His church. God has a big army of His warriors in this church. Often I feel compelled to cry to the Lord saying ““Open [our] eyes, Lord, so that [we] may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:17).  God sees them, equips them for the ministry and blesses many others through them. I see them in church on weekdays, late nights, weekends. Their reward is in heaven. They are serving God, not seeking recognition. Thank you, God’s angels of the Ooltewah Adventist Church!

The Church Board invites you to be a part of the Day of Prayer and fasting this Sabbath, February 22. We all want to see what God’s plan is for the future of our church. Fasting is not necessarily about abstaining from food. Keep your heart humbled before God, keep your eyes open to see His path, keep your ears open to hear the gentle whisper of His voice.



Town hall (open board) meeting tomorrow, February 22, starting at 6:30. We’ll meet the architect and will discuss the draft of the building proposal. Ice cream social will follow the meeting.

Men’s Ministry. “The men’s breakfast is this Sunday, 2/24/2. Invite a friend, brother or neighbor and plan to join us for a stick to your ribs breakfast and devotion. In addition to the powerful testimonies, we are going to spend a little time discussing the ministries budget for 2020. God blessed us so much last year, I can wait to share all the HE did and is still doing.

If you like to cook, we meet at 7:30 a.m. in fellowship Hall (we always a good time). Otherwise breakfast is served at 8:30 a.m. sharp.” Edymar Penagos

Music & Marinara is this Sunday, February 23, from 5-7pm. Concert band will be performing as well as selections from individuals and ensembles. Donations will be accepted. Please pick up your complimentary tickets today!

Evangelism training event. On Sabbath, Feb. 29 from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m., there will be training for all who are interested in learning more tools that can be used to become more effective in giving Bible studies, and leading souls to Christ and our wonderful message of truth. Our presenter will be my daughter Michelle Doucoumes, who is a Business Professor at SAU, and who helped start the SALT program several years ago and was the program coordinator for the first three years of SALT’s existence. Michelle has always had a love for souIs, and she is passionate about outreach. I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to grow in this vital area of outreach that can positively affect the people you work with for time and eternity.

Topics that will be covered are:
How to keep your Bible student interested
Personalizing the Bible studies to meet the needs of your student
Using studies to reach the heart
How to conduct the Bible study visit
What to look for and listen for during the Bible study
Dealing with issues and objections
Building transformative relationships
Q and A on common issues when giving Bible studies
A lunch will be provided for all who sign up on the sign up sheet that will go
around this Sabbath during the announcement period at both services. This will be a fast moving presentation that will keep your attention and you will find it time well-spent. Be sure to sign up this Sabbath, put it on your calendar and plan to be there. Don’t miss out on this opportunity!

Health Ministry. Healthy & Happy ~ one choice at a time!  You are invited to come to our next COOKING DEMO & TASTING on March 8 at 3:00 pm in our Fellowship Hall.  If you want to make a whole food, plant-based lifestyle doable and therefore sustainable, then you’ll love Chef Julie’s simple food prep ideas and delicious recipes!  You may be inspired to take a fresh look at the amazing foods God created for us… foods that bring healing and strength to our Body, Mind and Soul. Looking forward to seeing you there! Invite your friends and neighbors. Only $5 per person, PAYABLE AT THE EVENT, includes food samples and all recipes.

RSVP REQUESTED: Go to church website or use sign-up sheet in foyer.  For questions, or to help with the event, reach out to Diana at 423-605-2080 or Sylvia at 423-305-4373

Love Has No Fear


MESSAGE. “There is no fear in love.” 1 John 4:18 If you still live in fear you have not yet comprehended and experienced God’s love. His love drives away fear. We find peace and the assurance of salvation when we look at Jesus, who revealed to us the Father’s love. Accepting Love. Unconditional Love. Eternal  Love.


The beautiful snow last Sabbath morning brought lots of joy and festivity to Ooltewah. Facebook and Instagram exploded with fantastic wintery posts from our church friends and members. Some of them even made it to church that morning. Brave souls! The Pathfinder Club planned both services, and they did come in spite of the snowfall. Of course the attendance was very low for the first service, and the second service was canceled all together. Nevertheless, Pathfinders beautifully led through the early worship service. Mrs. Connie Reynolds shared the Word of God inspiring everyone to grow in faith and obedience to God. Thank you, David Reynolds, for the leadership you provide to our young people. You have an excellent team of helpers.

Those who joined the Second International Food Festival on Sunday afternoon were not disappointed. There was food from the Philippines, Latin America, Brazil, India, Romania, Italy,  Ireland, Russia, Africa, Ukraine and even from the United States of America!!! The social team did a great job teaching our church to love and to appreciate different cultures and cuisines. These kind of events help our members to meet one another and block by block build the true spirit of community in our congregation. Thank you, Avril Williams, Dina Cole, Lupina Haney, Konika Wright and every member of your team who worked hard to make this happen. Guess what table I hurried to as soon as we started the program 🙂 To my awesome Russian cook who had prepared buckwheat with mushroom gravy :-)!

STEWARDSHIP.   “Divine wisdom has appointed, in the plan of salvation, the law of action and reaction, making the work of beneficence, in all its branches, twice blessed. He who gives to the needy blesses others, and is blessed himself in a still greater degree.” ~ Ellen White CS 13.4

This weekend over 35 members of our church are heading to Cohutta Springs to attend the annual GCC Prayer Conference. This is always a spiritually rewarding experience for our Prayer Ministry team. Their prayers are like glue that keeps our church in unity. We’ll miss you this Sabbath, prayer warriors! Be safe on the road.


This Sunday @ 4pm – Plant-based Cooking Class.


February 22 @ 6:30 PM The Ooltewah church Town hall meeting will be held in the Fellowship hall. Everyone is invited and encouraged to join this open Board meeting where we will pray together and share our vision of our church’s ministry expansion. The architect will present the draft of the new SS wing and new sanctuary drawings. The Finance committee will share their proposal to the church business meeting. Ice cream social will follow the town hall meeting.


Prayer and Fasting Sabbath – February 22. Every church member is invited to be a part of the Prayer and Fasting time as we seek God’s guidance for the future ministry of our church.

Happy Sabbath, my friends.


Love Genuinely Lived




“The world is overcome not through destruction, but through reconciliation. Not ideals, nor programs, nor conscience, nor duty, nor responsibility, nor virtue, but only God’s perfect love can encounter reality and overcome it. Nor is it some universal idea of love, but rather the love of God in Jesus Christ, a love genuinely lived, that does this.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Jenny Spicer shared the following report and photo with me: “This past weekend, six of our youth attended OASIS, a conference event for kids who are home-schooled or attend public school. We also hosted two youth from another church. The kids who had attended in previous years were excited to be going back. The speaker talked to us about having gods in our life that prevent us from fully devoting ourselves to the true God. The Biblical examples he gave were very relevant to us today. Most, if not all, of the kids said they want to go back next year. I look forward to going back again myself.”


Last Sabbath, for both worship services, we enjoyed beautiful music by Katherine and Sarah Bremner. That same afternoon they brightened the spirit of The Bridge Assisted  Living residents. Thank you, Bremner family, for your ministry to the elderly in our community. We hope their example will inspire others to participate in this wonderful outreach ministry.


Community Services. Last Sabbath night a good group of church members and a few SAU students went to the Samaritan Center to help them move donated items inside the warehouse. Galina and I were happy to get a good workout that night. We were done in just a little over an hour. This ministry always needs volunteers! Talk to Lucas Patterson if you are interested in helping next month.

Tuesday afternoon a group of Health Ministry enthusiasts gathered in my office to share their vision for the ministry for this year. It was exciting to see their passionate spirit. You will be hearing more about their plans after the new leadership is voted by the church board at the end of this month. Kelly Myers had to step down from the Ministry Leader position due to a new job that she just started. The new job has increased the workload for Kelly. We are grateful for Kelly’s ministry in the past months. I hope Kelly will continue to be a part of the Health ministry team.

There is a wonderful event planned by the ministry for February 16 at 4 pm.

“Plant-Based Cooking Class UPDATE!  Our cooking demo and sampling event will be held in our Fellowship Hall on February 16th, with an updated start time of 4:00pm.
Come learn how to make simple, healthy dishes that actually taste great and are quick and easy to prepare!  The menu is mock chicken salad on sprouted bread… an Asian stir fry… scrambled “eggs” and banana dream pie. Christine promises these dishes are gluten free and taste AMAZING!  Also perfect for diabetics. Copy of all 4 recipes will be provided. There will be several raffle prizes too!  Those include a gift card to Cashew, the vegan cafe downtown… Christine’s favorite plant-based cookbook… and an entire banana dream pie!   Invite your friends, bring along the kids, and COME HUNGRY!  RSVP REQUIRED BY FEB. 13th:  Text your name and number of people attending to Christine Martins at 423-504-3172. For any questions, or to help with the fun, contact Diana Dodd at 423-605-2080 “

On Thursday night Finance committee members came together to pray and work on a financial proposal for the church expansion. I could feel the presence of God’s Spirit at that meeting. The proposal will now be presented to the open Church Board meeting on February 22 @6:30 PM. I hope that meeting will be well attended. Everyone is welcome to come and participate in the discussion of the proposal.

The church board is inviting the whole church to fast and pray on Sabbath, February 22,  about God’s guidance in our church’s spiritual journey. The Lord has abundantly blessed our church in the past fifty years. The church has grown from 70 to 700 + members. Pioneers of our church showed great faith in starting this ministry and building the church for seventy people. Where will the Lord lead us in our future ministry until the day we see Him coming in glory?


Maurice Robert’s full recovery after surgery.

Prayers for God’s guidance in our church’s ministry expansion.

CONGRATULATIONS! Philip and Molly Recchia welcomed a new baby girl Lucy Madelyn Recchia on January 21! How exciting!


InternationalFoodFair copy