The Safest Stock

– Mt. 13:45-46.

On what do we place the highest value? Do friends, family, possessions, or anything else take the place of God’s kingdom in our hearts? Christ is challenging us to show faith and to invest our whole life into just one stock, the Heavenly Kingdom stock. ““Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold everything that he had and bought it.” Matthew 13:45-46. This stock will never fail.

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Open Gym and Ice-cream social. Staci Rivera, the Adventurer’s club leader planned a great event for the children a couple of weeks ago. It was so good to see many families having a great time together.

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Women’s Sabbath school event. Ladies of our church regularly get together not only on Sabbath mornings, but also on some week nights. This time they had an art class. I wish I had enough space in this blog post to share more photos.

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Children’s Pool Party.

Last Sunday the weather turned out to not be as bad as was forecasted. Lots of children had a ton of fun at the pool social. Thank you, everyone who helped plan this activity for our church children. This Sunday we’ll have another party for the younger children. Bring your kids if they are 0-to 10 years old. 🙂 Contact Earl Sigsworth, Connie Reynolds, your SS teacher or one of the pastors if you have questions about joining this event.

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Chattanooga Community Kitchen.

On Sabbath morning, as we were preparing to start the communion service, a team of our church members were preparing breakfast and providing food for almost 150 dear souls downtown Chattanooga. Richard shared with me many photos. I am posting just a few here. Thank you, Richard and every member of your team for showing the caring spirit of our church in practical terms.

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Church Vespers, Social and a Business meeting.

Last Sabbath night members of our church came together for a business meeting. We had a good time signing hymns, sharing testimonies and praying about the future ministry of our church. After a brief update on the Cornerstone Fundraising the church voted on two important items:

A. To celebrate the already reached quarterly amount by setting the September 1st goal to $1,750,000. 

B. To be better prepared for the potential increase of construction cost in a hyperinflation environment by setting the overall fundraising goal to 3.3 mil. (The fundraising goal represents 50% of the expected building cost.) 

Thank you for your faithful and generous support of the church building project. We need to be prepared to meet the growing needs of our community. 

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Summer Potluck tomorrow.

Everyone is invited to stay for the Summer Potluck this Sabbath after the second service. This time it will be just salad, sandwiches, fruit and cookies. This is always a great time to connect with church members and to make new friends. Don’t feel shy. Join your church family for a Sabbath lunch.

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See you.

Pastor Peter

Sharing God’s Light

The Vacation Bible school was a true blessing for many children from our church and from the local community. Cory Goss and his team put together a perfect program. So creative, fun and inspiring. Every segment of the VBS had dedicated volunteers who were radiating love. What a wonderful church we have. Thank you everyone! On top of everything else the kids and their families raised $1,459.30 for the refugee children in Ukraine. What a great testimony to the loving spirit of our Ooltewah children and their families!

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Last Sabbath we were all excited to see how our Cornerstone Building Fund increased by over $500,000!!! What a great blessing. God is truly taking our mustard seeds and turning them into a big tree. Thank you, church! Please mark your calendars for a church Vespers/Social/Business meeting on July 30 starting at 7:30 PM. There will be music, food and prayers for the future of our church ministry.

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On Friday, July 15, many of you attended the Ukrainian Vespers. It was so good to see how there was practically no room in the Fellowship hall. We all enjoyed delicious Slavic food, authentic live Ukrainian music, reports from Ukraine, and a ZOOM interview with pastor Lev Vertylo, the Conference president from the war zone region of Ukraine. Many of you contributed generously. Over $105,000 was raised for the refugee children’s camps, orphanages and a new generator for the orphanage in Chernihiv region. Thank you, everyone! I couldn’t hold my tears when Cathi shared me with the financial report. This is the Spirit of Christ at work.

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On July 9 our church hosted the first Ministry fair since the beginning of the Pandemic. The Connect committee under the leadership of Mike Haughee planned this very important event. This was intended to help our church members to learn more about the existing ministries, and to find their own place in serving our church and the community. Here is a quote from Mike: “We had a good time last Sabbath evening networking with other Ministry Leaders and getting members signing up to help our ministries. We will have another one late fall or early winter. Thanks to everyone who came out to support our ministries.”

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This Sunday, the Children’s Ministry will have a fun event on our church campus. The event will take place in the OAKS gym. Check out the flyer below and bring your family!

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From my heart. This week we had all of our grandchildren in town. What a fun (and exhausting 😉 ) time! Thank you, Jesus, for our families.

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Happy Sabbath! I plan to seeing you this Sabbath morning.

Pastor Peter

Small but Powerful

Nuclear energy can be used to create electricity, but it must first be released from an atom. In the process of nuclear fission, atoms are split to release that energy. Jesus shared this same idea with His listeners two thousand years ago when He told them about the potent power of a tiny mustard seed. For that seed to turn into a big bush it needs to split and to break. The power needs to be released. The seeds of God’s power planted in our minds have the potent power of bringing an explosion into our existence; the explosion of grace and love toward every human being. Don’t store these seeds. Let them break your hardened hearts and cold minds.

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After I sent my blog post last Friday I was hit by a merciless cold virus. I felt very upset that I had to stay home on a Sabbath day filled with many important events and activities. I am very grateful to our elders stepping in and leading throughout the day. Thank you also for your prayers. By Sunday afternoon my fever was gone and I felt absolutely fine. This was a busy week with visitations, meetings and planning activities. We are about to start another big weekend.

This evening, Friday, July 15, I invite you to come to Ukrainian Vespers. There will be food (borsht, potato perogies, buckwheat with mushroom gravy, blintsi and lots of desserts… don’t you feel hungry already? 🙂 ), authentic Ukrainian music and reports by Barby and Dana, who recently returned from Ukraine. Our featured presenters will be pastor Leo Vertylo (over ZOOM) who is the East Ukrainian Conference president and Victor Czerkasij, who often travels to Ukraine. You are not expected to contribute anything except for your prayers. Just come, be informed and enjoy the food and the music. This will be a short and a dynamic program. The Vespers starts at 6 PM.

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Sabbath night will be all about the VBS set up. The VBS is starting on Sunday. Invite your families and friends. Cory Goss and his team prepared an excellent program for the whole week.

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Congratulations to Christina and Justine Stone. They welcomed Colton Thomas Stone at 3:11 on July 11. 8 lbs 5 oz. 21 inches long. Here is a quote from their Facebook post: “He’s absolutely perfect and we are all so in love!”

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Happy Sabbath. I hope to see many of you tonight.

pastor Peter

Soaring to New Heights

“They will soar on wings like eagles;” (Isaiah 40:31)

“We look at our burdens and heavy loads, and shrink from them; but as we lift them and bind them about our hearts, they become wings, and on them we rise and soar toward God. There is no burden which, if we lift it cheerfully and bear it with love in our hearts, will not become a blessing to us. God means our tasks to be our helpers; to refuse to bend our shoulders to receive a load, is to decline a new opportunity for growth. –J. R. Miller

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It’s been three weeks since my last blog post. The month of June was packed with many important activities and trips. It started with the Collegedale camp meeting, followed by the Ministerial convention in Lexington, KY. Right after the convention we had our WHAT’S NEXT? Bible seminar. I thoroughly enjoyed those four nightly sessions where we were studying the current events in Europe in the light of the Bible prophecies. The Bible gives us a solid foundation for our faith. The world is in crises, but we don’t need to lose heart. God has a plan and He will carry us through these rough waters.

After the seminar I had a short trip to Europe to meet with the administration of the media ministry in Russia. The political events in Russia bring some serious challenges for the radio and TV work in Russia. We do not know what to expect in the nearest future, but while it’s still possible the Light of Hope will continue to support Russian evangelism for Eastern Europe and Asia. I came back safely on July 4. Thank you for your prayers.

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This weekend will be packed with many important activities at our church. Here is the outline of what to expect:

Pastor David Machado will preach for both worship services at 9 AM and 11:30 AM.

Potluck is right after the second worship service.

Evangelism seminar with Pastor David Machado at 2 PM in the Sanctuary. This seminar is planned for everyone; leaders and lay members are encouraged to attend. Pastor David will be our speaker for our local evangelistic meetings in 2023.

Ministry Fair is at 6:30 PM in the Fellowship Hall. The Ministry Fair is intended to help our church members learn more about various church ministries and to find a place where you can serve. Please plan to attend.

Memorial service for Barbara Kraner is at 11:30 AM on Sunday at our church.

Ukrainian Vespers in next Friday, July 15, at 6 PM in the Fellowship Hall.

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I have a few photographs from the Men’s Ministry project a couple of weeks ago. “Mens ministry helped Patricia Bullock pack up for her move back to Florida. Glad to have some strong help. As well as a guest appearance by the Orsburn ladies too! Thank you!” – Matt Geraghty!

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See you this Sabbath morning and all day 🙂

pastor Peter

A Good Crop

God’s Word is like a seed. If we allow it to grow it multiplies. As it is a good seed it’s harvest is also good. It multiplies through our loving actions, gracious words and active ministry. It also turns us into a stem on which many other new grains begin to grow. This is what an abundant life is all about. It is not simply the abundance of what we have, but the new good life that sprouts around us. I pray that the good seed of God’s Word will make this happen in my life.

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I suppose many of you are watching the live broadcast from the General Conference session. I am glad to see that our world-wide church is growing. It includes people from every race and every continent. It is absolutely inspiring to see how these people work and pray together in this divided and broken world. We’ll continue to pray for the mission of our church in a world where there is so much pain. Christ needs us to bring hope and healing into our local communities.

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The June 22-25 Bible Seminar is just around the corner. Have you invited anyone from your circle of friends to attend these four meetings? Flyers are available in the church lobby.

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This last week has been emotional and stressful to our family as our daughter Barby and another Light of Hope volunteer, Dana, travelled through the war-torn county of Ukraine. Here is just one of the daily reports:

Day 3 Update from Barby:

Early this afternoon we drove to Nizhin, a small town on the outskirts of Chernihiv. Our original plan was to visit an orphanage in Chernihiv itself but the city was under such heavy siege that the kids have all been evacuated to the Western part of the country and Poland. Our contact here, Ruslan was able to get in touch with and set up a meeting with a government funded orphanage for disabled children. We had a meeting with the director and she told us about their most desperate need, which currently is to purchase and install a back up generator because of the frequent power outages. When the power goes out they have no way to cook food and the machines in the wing with very sick children turn off. This is an urgent need and a fairly big project but we are certain that we will be able to raise the money needed to acquire and install the generator.

What can I say about the kids themselves…it’s hard to even type anything to adequately describe the situation. The orphanage houses 108 individuals. There is a portion of the kids who are so sick that they cannot even be helped. They have terminal illnesses and will live there until their little bodies give up. There are those who have serious developmental illnesses and cannot speak or walk. Some of the residents are older in their late teens and 20s but unable to live on their own due to intellectual disabilities. And yet, despite these very sad realities the kids we met were so full of joy. They hugged us and greeted us with smiles. They were happy to hold our hands and receive some small treats.

They make lots of crafts and even gifted us a beautiful doll that they made. One of the girls, Olya, does not have use of her arms but has learned how to sew beautiful handkerchiefs with her teeth! God has given them all their own special talents and is working in all of their lives. It was an emotional day but our hearts are so full. We have no doubts that God led us to this specific place and he has a plan for each of these sweet children.

Unfortunately, we don’t have many photos from here. I have one photo to share but I look forward to receiving updates and letting you all know how they are doing going forward.

We are on the road back to Kyiv now and tomorrow we will visit Bucha. Please, keep praying!

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I hope to see you in church this Sabbath morning.

Hugs,

pastor Peter

Adventures with God.

God’s path is never an easy one. When we follow God He teaches us to trust Him by taking us through some rough terrain of life or ministry. We look for shortcuts; God takes the long route. It is along that long path that we learn to show courage, to be obedient, to rely upon His protection, and to climb high mountains of spiritual adventures with God. “That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;” Colossians 1:10

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It was good to see some of you at the Camp meeting this week. The rain last night started right when I was directing traffic around the main auditorium entrance. I was impressed with the number of people bravely walking through the tropical rain because they didn’t want to miss the message by pastor Richie Halversen. The meetings will continue on Friday night and all day Sabbath. Go and be blessed.

We will have both services at their regular time at our Ooltewah Adventist Church. Potluck will follow the second service.

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We are preparing for the Bible Seminar starting on June 22. Here is the flyer for the meetings:

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The Light of Hope Ministry has sent two young ladies to Ukraine to work out the logistics for bringing orphans needing urgent medical treatment to the USA and European hospitals. My daughter Barby and Dana Ursulenko are already in route to Ukraine. There are no flights to Ukraine, so they will have to make a number of stops, use trains and eventually to cross the border by car. I invite you to continue your prayers for Ukraine and for our missionaries to that war-torn country.

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Our daughter Dasha, who lives with us, came down with a severe form of COVID. I have no symptoms, but I will stay away from church for the next five days. Larry Otto will share the message tomorrow for both services.

Blessed Sabbath day to you.

Pastor Peter

Bringing People to Jesus

It’s one thing to teach people about Jesus, but it is not the same as bringing someone to Jesus. People will want to come Jesus if my attitude, my life and my actions are saturated with the love and grace of Christ. They will want to have the same life changing experience as they see in my life. This is not a Bible study or theology class. This is changing everything in the way I relate to every human being around me. Christ was not dealing with perfect people. Most of the time He was in the company of broken, sinful souls. They wanted to be around Jesus because He was accepting them the way they were. He was treating them with love and respect. We are called to bring others to Christ.

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On May 15 our church ladies had a great time together. Summer Bradford shared with me that it was “a beautiful day with beautiful flowers and fellowship.” Here are a few photos from their breakfast.

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On Monday and Tuesday OAKS had two graduations. I was absolutely impressed with both programs. We have a wonderful school and great teachers. Here are a couple of photos from the graduation events:

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I hope you remember camp meeting is starting next Wednesday on the campus of Southern Adventist University. Both of your pastors will be there the whole week. If you click on this link you can open the camp meeting website with the full schedule of presentations and seminars:

https://www.gccsda.com/collegedale-camp-meeting/home

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Next Sabbath, June 5, we’ll have both services at the regular times. There will be potluck after the second service. Everyone is invited.

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Help for Ukraine continues to flow through the Light of Hope Ministry. I am so glad that we can help so many suffering people seeking food and safety. Last week we added one more region to the list of the refugee support areas. Hundreds of packets with food and hygiene items were distributed among the relocating families.

With your support we helped one of the orphanages with over 350 refugee children to acquire a commercial washing machine.

Next week my daughter Barby and one other Light of Hope ministry volunteer, Dana Ursulenko, will travel to Ukraine to work out the logistics for helping the orphans needing urgent medical treatment. Please remember Barby and Dana in your prayers. I’ll keep you posted as they travel through the war torn regions of Ukraine.

This Sabbath afternoon, May 28, you are invited to attend a musical concert prepared by Nataliya, who is from Ukraine herself. All donations received after the concert will be sent to the Dnepro region. If you write a check please make it payable to Ooltewah Church with a note “Light of Hope”.

Here is a link to the latest Light of Hope Newsletter.

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Our June Bible seminar is starting on June 22 @ 6:30 PM. Here is the flyer

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Happy Sabbath. See you in the morning.

pastor Peter

Learning to Trust God

My three year old granddaughter Mila loves to jump into my arms, especially when it seems risky. She does that with with laughs and giggles. The height does not terrify her because she trusts me. That trust is in her heart because she knows me. She knows how much I love her and care about her. As we grow we also need to learn how to take some risky leaps of faith. Learn to trust your Heavenly Father by spending time with Him. Get to know Him by talking to Him. Plan some spiritual adventures with Him. Your trust is not complete without taking a breath, looking straight into God’s eyes and jumping into His arms. That leap may be about embarking on some new ministry involvement, allocating more time for your Bible study, moving to a new area of mission work, or something else … something that you felt terrified to do because you didn’t know Him well enough.

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Last Sabbath I experienced great joy baptizing Jesse Cruz. Below are a few photos taken by Michael Haughee:

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That same morning we welcomed several other new members. Rachel Thomas, on the profession of faith,

Debbie Bee after her baptism at Cohutta Springs,

Elizabeth and John Belensky

Miriam May

Laura, Craig, Grace and (Abigail missing in the photo) Perez

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David Reynolds and Matt Geraghty shared the following photos with me from the recent Pathfinder Investiture service.

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From Shelly Caswell: “On Wednesday, May 11 the OAKS students spent an hour participating in their annual “Walk-a-thon” to raise money for a new playground. Students ranging in age from 6-14 years old spent an hour walking or running around the church and school, with sponsors pledging donations for each lap. Some students ran up to 5 miles during the hour. The day provided perfect weather and the students laughed and raced each other as they literally “stepped up”  to the challenge of raising the most money, or completing the most laps. 

Students have until May 20 to collect their donations. Prizes for the highest earners and the class with the most participation will be given on May 24.

We want to thank our parents and community for supporting our fundraising efforts. The students are excited to soon have an upgraded playground.

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From Summer Bradford:

“Hi Pastor, here are some pictures from our widow’s brunch this morning! We had 14 attend and everything went wonderful!! A huge thank you to all those who helped make this a beautiful spread!! It was nice to serve these wonderful ladies.”

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Your support for the people of Ukraine is absolutely overwhelming. In the last two months the Light of Hope ministry has already sent about $100,000 US. The contributions are also coming from donors across the Unites States. In the last two weeks we were able to provide food for the hundreds of orphans in various camps across Ukraine. Some of those orphanages are really close to the active war zones. Additional support was provided to the refugees in the Eastern Ukrainian conference. Bread delivery continues for the regions with limited food access. Just a couple of days ago we were able to buy a commercial washer and dryer for an orphanage camp with over 300 children. God bless you for your caring hearts and gifts.

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Mark you calendars, the June Bible seminar dates are June 22-25.

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This week I’d like to express my special appreciation to Bonnie Hicks, our Head Deaconess. She is always willing to go the extra mile in her service to our church. Thank you, Bonnie! We see your hard work and we all appreciate you very much.

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Additional helpful resources and the church weekly bulletin are available here:

www.ooltewahchurch.org

Both services this Sabbath will be led by our Youth and Earliteen. Exciting!

See you in the morning.

Hugs,

Pastor Peter

Set Your Hope on His Grace

1 Peter 1:13 “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” (1 Peter 1:13). We may hope to be saved, but this is not the kind of hope Peter talks about in the passage above. He invites us to set our hope on God’s grace. In God’s grace there is room for me. I am not perfect. I am a sinner. I deserve to be condemned and to die. God’s grace assures my salvation. I don’t deserve it, but I can have it because of Christ’s grace extended to me. This is the kind of hope that gives me peace.

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The Ooltewah Pathfinders had a wonderful time at Cohutta Springs last weekend. They were there for the spring camporee. On Sabbath one of our Pathfinders, Debbie Bee, was baptized by David Reynolds. Congratulations, Debbie!

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The Cancer Support Group had their first meeting on April 4. Seven people attended the session and had a nice time sharing their personal experiences. They hope to grow and get more participants from the community. They all believe it’s an important ministry. Everything said in the group is confidential. Heidy Pino is thankful for her husband Ed’s leadership in making this a healing environment for cancer patients, survivors and family members to process their emotions.

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The Light of Hope continues to actively support the suffering people in Ukraine. Every dollar contributed goes to feed and to provide shelter to thousands of displaced families. In the last few days I was contacted by two orphanages in Ukraine. They are overwhelmed with the number of children moved from the war zones to their facilities. I am so glad that we could help them buy food, fuel for the water heaters, basic hygiene items, and clothes.

Many students from Bucha Adventist seminary, who had to evacuate from the Russian invasion, are now helping these orphans in the newly established camps. They do their best to remain positive and to share hope with the children. Watch this short video sent to me by the director of the camp for the orphans.

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Don’t forget about the Vespers program at our church tonight. Students from Great Lakes Academy will lead at the Vespers program. Tomorrow the students will lead at both services. I am looking forward to a great spiritual feast.

PLEASE DO NOT FORGET ABOUT THE POTLUCK TOMORROW. BRING AN EXTRA DISH TO SHARE WITH THE STUDENTS. THANK YOU.

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Hugs and blessings,

Pastor Peter

Meeting God

Moses had courage to ask God for something that was unimaginable … to see God’s glory. Moses wasn’t rude or arrogant. His request was the result of his close relationship with God. They talked all the time. They shared the same mission. Moses knew God’s voice and His character, but he wanted more. If we grow in our relationship with God we will always want more and more of Him. When I go to visit my little grandchildren I always laugh when I hear them say, “I want you, Grandpa!” They know that I have a job and many other responsibilities, but they eagerly pull me into their play area… Come, be with me, play with me. I want you. That’s how Moses felt about God. Do you feel the same way about your God?

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The worship service last Sabbath was absolutely perfect. I feel sorry for all of you who went somewhere else and missed the uplifting music of the orchestra and the choir. Not many churches are as blessed as the Ooltewah Adventist Church. Thank you, Mary Wilcox. Thank you, Larry.

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The Pathfinders had a great time during their pool party last Sunday. David shared a few photos and a brief report below.

“The Pathfinders went last Sunday to the pool at SAU and completed swimming honors started earlier in the year at Fort Mountain Lake during one of our campouts. They also enjoyed just mingling and diving in the pool and snacks.”

This weekend the Pathfinders are down at Cohutta Springs for Camporee.

Are your children members of the Pathfinder Club at our church? If not, talk to David Reynolds.

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The Cornerstone Building fund is constantly growing. Thank you for your wonderful support. The elders recommended to set a new goal of reaching 1.5 million by September 1, 2022. Please pray about your participation in this ministry growth.

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The war in Ukraine is bringing horrible devastation to millions of people. Thank you for your loving and generous support. Your donations are being sent daily to various regions of Ukraine. You are helping them with food, shelter, refugee camps, text books for the children, etc. Pastor Lev, the East Conference president shared the following video with me from Mariupol. It is a very short video. At the very end of it you’ll see our SDA church building (on the right side of the road) completely destroyed. It was in that building that I preached just 3 years ago. Great pain … the darkness of the evil in this world.

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Your donations helped refugee children buy text books and school supplies. Bread is being distributed in the capital city. The war has engulfed the whole country.

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I hope to see you in church tomorrow.

Hugs and prayers for each one of you.

pastor Peter