The Living Church



This week our church is celebrating fifty years of ministry. Over these years the church grew from a hundred members to over six hundred! This is a wonderful symptom of a church that is alive! The Spirit of God fills up the lungs of this church with the “sweet aroma” of Christ’s character. This spirit is breathing in dozens of active ministries. Today we praise God for the blessings of the past, and ask Him to lead us to new horizons of service until the day of His appearing.


This Sabbath we will meet the pioneers of our church. There will be no lesson study in the adult Sabbath school classes. Both services will take place in the Fellowship Hall. After first service I invite everyone to join the celebration in the FH. We’ll hear our church “charter members” share memories of the the early days of our congregation.   Parents with children are invited to take their children to the Lower SS division for regular activities.

In the afternoon we’ll continue our celebration:

Children’s music program from 4 to 5 pm,

Honoring charter members from 5 to 6 pm,

Brass for Worship mini concert and Prayers for the Future church expansion from 6 to 6:30 pm.

Church dinner/Potluck 6:30 pm

A special Thank You to Shelly Turkenkopf for the wonderful posters showing the history of our church from its very first day. You’ll find these posters along the hallway between the sanctuary and the Fellowship Hall and in the hallway adjacent to the FH. Great job, Shelly!


Many of you joined the Slavic night celebration last Sabbath. It was good to see many visitors from the community around us. I hope you enjoyed the music by Oksana Kozun. Some of you were brave enough to try Russian borsht. 🙂 A special thank you to Galena and her sister Luda. They worked hard to prepare many exotic dishes. Lupina earned her honorable Russian citizenship for her selfless support of the program. I am almost finished printing her passport on my printer. The Rose family and Mary Wagoner, Thank You, from the bottom of my heart.

Your prayers and financial support of the upcoming meetings in Siberia will bring the warmth of Christ’s love into the hearts of many in Krasnoyarsk city this December.


On Thursday night the Zollinger family came together for a Memorial service for LeLand, who passed last week. It was good to see many from our church who came to support Freda. LeLand and Freda were married for almost seventy years! The last few years they needed one another in a special sweet way. Lelaland became hard of hearing and Freda lost her vision. We’ll continue praying for Freda as her family will need to make some important decisions about her future years of life.

Church deaconess went an extra mile preparing the reception meal. They fixed Leland’s favorite dishes for the memorial service last night. Thank you, Lupina and your wonderful team!

This morning I had to drive to Dayton, TN to officiate at the graveside service. It was a beautiful morning. A bit chilly (42F) for the outdoor service, but definitely gorgeous in the setting of a small  country cemetery near Laurelbrook Academy. On my way to the service I took the photo below. Finally, I see some fall colors.


We are just a few days away from the opening night of the “REVELATION TODAY” Bible Seminar. The seminar is starting on Friday, November 1 @7PM. It will continue through the month of November every Thursday, Friday, Sabbath and Sunday nights until November 24. Your help is needed every night of the meetings. Sign up sheets are available in the church lobby. Please, help! Jesus needs your time, your hands and your heart.



Judson Jamieson had to spend over a week at Erlanger because of his heart condition. He is very weak and appreciates our prayers.


The Imitation of Christ

1280x1280MESSAGE. “Day by day his [John’s] heart was drawn out toward Christ, until he lost sight of self in love for his Master. His resentful, ambitious temper was yielded to the molding power of Christ. The regenerating influence of the Holy Spirit renewed his heart. The power of the love of Christ wrought a transformation of character. This is the sure result of union with Jesus. When Christ abides in the heart, the whole nature is transformed. Christ’s Spirit, His love, softens the heart, subdues the soul, and raises the thoughts and desires toward God and heaven.” [EGW, SC, 73]



This Wednesday Pastor Matthew was part of a very special community event. He was asked to accompany a song at the funeral service of a Chattanooga veteran who had no family. This event was featured in several local news outlets. Thank you, Pastor Matthew, for being available and willing to help. Here is a link to the  full story.  Photo gallery link.

UnknownThe church building committee got together Wednesday night to meet with the architects from … . This meeting was a follow up on the church business meeting decision to further explore the need for a new Sabbath school wing and a larger capacity sanctuary. The architects presented a portfolio of their past and recent building projects. They have fifty years of experience working with various churches. We were especially interested in the fact that their firm designed and provided architectural oversight for a big building project for Georgia-Cumberland Academy. After thorough consideration the committee approved hiring this firm for the feasibility study. The results of this study will be presented to the church business meeting in early December. Please, keep this important and exciting project in your daily prayers.

STEWARDSHIP OF ABILITIES  Each person has special aptitudes. One may be talented in the musical realm, another in manual trades such as sewing or auto mechanics. Some may make friends easily and mingle well with others, while others may naturally tend toward more solitary pursuits.

Every talent can be used to glorify either the one who possesses it or its original Bestower. A person can diligently perfect a talent for God’s glory, or for personal selfishness.

We ought to cultivate the gifts the Holy Spirit gives each of us in order to multiply these gifts (Matt. 25). Good stewards use their gifts liberally in order to bring fuller benefit to their master.


I invite the church to pray for Li Zollinger who was admitted to Erlanger after a fall on Tuesday night.

Bettie Chastain is requesting prayers for her health.

The Light of Hope Ministry is inviting everyone to a Slavic Night in Ooltewah on October 12 @ 6:00 pm. Great music by a top Ukrainian singer Oksana Kozun, mission stories by pastor Peter Kulakov, and authentic Slavic food.



Every Soul is Precious




“God shows no partiality to princes, nor regards the rich above the poor, for they all are the work of His hands? (Job 34:19). We tend to categorize people by their social status, color of skin, lifestyle habits, past shortcomings or present achievements. Some we see as worthy, others we keep on the margins of our circle of approval. We applaud those who meet our criteria of political sanity and humiliate those who choose to differ. News outlets and social media suck us into the swirl of hate drains. If we call ourselves Christians we’ll let the Spirit of God control our mind and our heart. The Almighty sees every life as special. Every soul is His son or daughter. A homeless young woman asking for a dollar on exit 5, an architect in a fancy suit, or a state representative from your district, they are all precious in the eyes of the Lord. He gave them life. He died for them. “He who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” (1 John 2:11). And, buy the way, hate is “extreme dislike” according to Merriam-Webster. 


Edymar reporting from the Men’s front: “We had our monthly men’s breakfast last Sunday and our goal was to give moms a couple of hours to herself. For some moms, that was accomplished but what I also saw during the breakfast went far deeper than a little gift of free time. It was men blessing moms, while also deepening their connection with little ones they brought. James 2:24, “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.”

As I watched the dads and grandpas interact, play and feed their little ones, a quote I heard at a men’s retreat came to mind: “it’s about being present, not perfect”. NONE OF US ARE PERFECT, but we can all be present in some way. In a society that sometime makes us feel like we are either not doing enough, doing the wrong thing or could have done better, we have to remember that all we can do is try and trust. Trying to do our best by putting forth our best effort, but when we fall short (we all will), trusting that our heavenly Father (who is perfect), will provide us with the wisdom and strength to server our families.

Last Sunday, there were a lot of imperfect men (see attached pictures), who took time out of their busy Sunday morning to be present. After a huge breakfast, we played Simon Says, musical chairs, and a guessing game, all of which caused us to laugh until our bellies hurt. This last breakfast with all the kiddos was so much fun that I, for one, can’t wait to do it again.”

Season of Change Ministry had its monthly event this week. They had a wonderful lunch and a chance to show their Arts and Crafts. The program was attended by 47 widows (4 brand new), 4 kitchen angels and table decorators, and 3 drivers. Special thanks to the Pathfinders for setting up our tables, and to our Office Manager Steve for our sound and air adjustments. This ministry continues to impress me with their creativity, vibrancy and mission emphasis! Thank you, Lupina, for your leadership!

This week OAKS had their Week of Prayer. I had a chance to attend several of their meetings and was blessed by pastor Matthew’s inspiring song services. Mrs. Bradshaw was invited to be the guest speaker for the meetings. She’ll be speaking tomorrow for both services. Many students have already asked for Bible studies and are preparing for baptism. Praise God for OAKS!

This week a great team of conference auditors worked on our church-school campus. We all were impressed with their willingness to help, to teach and to guide us through this process. They gave both treasurers (Rita Rogers and Connie Schwark) excellent grades along with a few recommendations on how to make their work even better.

PRAYERS. This week special prayers go for Cory Goss. Here is what Amy, his wife, posted on her Facebook page this morning: “Cory will be having a meniscus repair this morning as well as a general tune up for his knee. Prayers are appreciated.”

Happy Sabbath everyone!


Grace-full Living



In contemporary English “graceful” is used primarily to define elegance. When we hear of graceful living we imagine a life of culture and sophistication. Unfortunately we have lost its original spiritual sense. Its 15th century Latin meaning was “full of (divine) grace.” Grace as a gift of God. Grace is underserved love, unmerited kindness, and unconditional forgiveness. Is my life full of that kind of grace?


This has been a very busy week in our church. Starting Sunday there was a steady flow of church families coming to take their pictures for the church directory. I am especially grateful to Mike Haughee for coordinating this massive project. The photographers took all the SS rooms in the church office hallway. Both pastors’ offices were turned into photo studios. Everything was going smoothly and easily with Mike’s supervision. On Monday Kindermusic had their program. Spanish SDA congregation used our sanctuary every night for the Week of Prayer meetings. SALT training was on Tuesday afternoon, choir practice on Tuesday night. Pathefinder and Adventure clubs filled up every corner of the church on Wednesday. I am grateful to those who came to the Prayer meeting on Wednesday and were willing to take the Kindergarten SS room because every other room was taken by some other church ministry. Praise God! This is not a sleeping church. The Power of the Holy Spirit is keeping this church vibrant and active.


HOPE FOR OOLTEWAH is uniting our church in prayer. This coming week we’ll be praying for the LOVE IN OUR HEARTS. Here is a brief statement from Donna, our Prayer Ministry director: “…But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 As we pray for our loved ones this next week, let us take courage from the example of Daniel and his friends.  “No power, no influence, could sway them from the principles they had learned in early life by a study of the word and works of God.” (Prophets and Kings p. 482)

Let’s pray, “Thank you God for the children’s Sabbath School and for Adventist Education.”

This Sabbath afternoon everyone is invited to attend the Prayer Conference at our church from 5 pm to 7 pm.


PRAYERS. Let us all pray for our dear Pastor David Bissell. His brother died in a car accident this week. David and his family are traveling today to attend the service in Arkansas.


The Sabbath Blessing



The Sabbath is not a burden, but a day filled with blessings. It is a day to be spent with God. A day in which our spirit worships, our mind soars and our body rests.

This Sabbath morning I’ll continue my sermon series on the meaning of worship. We’ll see a spiritual connection between the Sabbath day (Saturday) and worshiping God as our Creator and Savior.


Our church is actively engaged in Hope for Ooltewah Prayer Marathon. Almost two hundred people agreed to be on the prayer schedule. This week we’ve been praying about a Clean Heart. Starting Sunday, September 15, we’ll be praying about A Healthy Heart. Our key verse is found in James 5:15 “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well.”

I invite every church member to participate in the Prayer Conference scheduled at our church on September 21 from 5 pm to 7 pm. Our speakers will be Dr. Hartman, Dr. Tryon, pastor Mark Piotrowski – GCC Prayer Ministry Director, and pastor Na’a – SALT director. This will be a unique learning opportunity. I pray this event will also unite us as a community in our spiritual ministry to those whom the Lord sends us to serve.

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Here is the Men’s Ministry update from Edymar Penagos: “Another breakfast on the book and man was on point. The food was amazing and as usual, we had way too much fun in the kitchen. See attached pictures. Thank you to all the guys who showed up to help set up and cook, you know who you are.
A special thank you to our community service director, Lucas Patterson, for the presentation on the importance of service. One verse that came to mind during the presentation was James 2:24 NIV,  “You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.”
Brothers, James made it very clear we are to serve others. May I be so bold as to say that as Christians our purpose and our purpose alone is to serve? Service can take many forms but at its core, it means to love others. I encourage you to spend some time reading the following verses (James 2:14-26) and ask yourself, am I loving my neighbor as myself? Am I demonstrating my faith and love for God by serving others?
If you are looking for ways to give back to the community and demonstrate your love in action, please do not hesitate to reach out to either Lucas Patterson (423-582-1678) or myself, 813-541-2184.”


Tomorrow night, September 14, Dr. Edwin Reynolds will present the Vespers program where him and his wife Connie will share a report on their summer trip to China. They will be showing pictures and telling stories of God’s providence and His leading of the work in China. Sounds absolutely exciting! The program starts at 6 p.m.


PRAYERS. I invite our church family to remember in our prayers the elderly of our church; this week especially Howard Kennedy.


Worship Through Service



Jesus glorified the Father by doing His work (John 17:4). He came to serve. If we want to glorify God in our worship we need to learn how to serve. Today God is still asking, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” I pray that my answer will be the same as the prophet’s, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)


69656381_10157702688876057_2051769013318451200_nThe Ooltewah Seventh Day Adventist Church is part of the sisterhood of over 150 churches of the Georgia Cumberland Conference. For the last fifteen years we were blessed to have pastor Ed Wright as the Conference president. His leadership was creative, his approach was innovative, and his personal life was a great testimony to his genuine spirituality. Effective September 1st Ed started his retirement. The Conference executive committee along with the Nominating committee asked pastor Gary Rustad to accept this immense responsibility. I invite you to pray daily for Gary and his wife Denise.


Last Sabbath our church was energized and inspired by an army of young people from Southern Adventist University who agreed to work with us in planning the Fall Evangelistic meetings. Are we ready to stand next to them and get engaged in sharing the Gospel with the community around our church?

On Tuesday afternoon over thirty of these young people came back to our church for a weekly training session. Later that afternoon they all went to the neighborhoods around our church. They knocked on people’s doors with an offer to pray for them.



New Directory. Our church needs you! If you are a member or call Ooltewah your church family, we need you to make an appointment by the end of this Sabbath to have your portrait in our 50th anniversary directory. Directories will only be available, at no cost, to the families who have their portrait in the directory. You will also receive a complimentary 8×10 of the pose that will be in the directory. Photo dates are September 15 – 23. If you need to make or move your appointment after this Sabbath please contact Member Church Directories Appointment line at 866-724-3907, M-F 9am to 4pm.

If you have any questions please contact Mike Haughee 423-488-4848. If you don’t know who Mike is here is his photo.


Hope for Ooltewah.
Have you signed up for your own time slot on the church prayer schedule? If not, we still have some blank spots which you can take. Please email Donna Caswell, or talk to her in person tomorrow before or after the worship service. We want the whole church to join this prayer marathon. Every week there is a new prayer topic. Stay tuned.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
 This was David’s prayer. This should be our prayer also.
“God’s wonderful purpose of grace, the mystery of redeeming love, is the them into which ‘angels desire to look,’ and to be their study throughout endless ages.”  Desire of Ages p. 19.  What a blessing that we can do that now!

September 7th we will have two new Sabbath School options! A new Women’s class will begin meeting in the Oaks Library and Gospel-Centered Parenting will begin meeting in the Oaks multi-purpose room behind the gym. Please contact Sarah Penagos with questions about either class at or 813-892-5135. Sarah Penagos. 


Please pray for the people in the Bahamas who suffered from hurricane Dorian.

Opal Vega lost her son Eric, who battled with cancer. Prayers for Opal and her family, please.

Bill Chilson was admitted to the hospital this week for heart tests and observation. He is back home, but Sondra and Bill still need our daily prayers.


Hurricane Dorian’s winds brought grandkids to our home; two from Florida and one from Georgia. If you didn’t have a tornado in Ooltewah, we definitely had one on our mountain.  🙂



September 21 all church elders and ministry leaders are invited to join Hope for Ooltewah Prayer Conference. The Conference will take place in the sanctuary from 5 to 7 pm. Dr Tryon, Dr Hartman, Pastor Na’a and your pastor Peter will be the speakers.

October 12 – Light of Hope Slavic night at Ooltewah featuring a top SDA singer from Ukraine and lots of Slavic food. Everyone if invited.

October 19 – Ooltewah 50th Anniversary Celebration. This will be the all day event with a celebration dinner at 6:30 pm.


The Grace of Caring


It has been five years since the time Galina and I joined the Ooltewah Seventh-day Adventist Church. Every day we feel blessed and honored to be a part of a vibrant, caring, and growing church. Two messages that came to my attention this morning proved to me that God is at work in this church family.

The first one came from Sarah Penagos. Her mother was in critical condition just a few weeks ago. Many of you agreed to pray for her. Here is her email to our church: ”

“Dear Friends,
Thank you so very much for the lovely flower arrangement and especially for the many prayers lifted to God’s throne for my life. God did indeed save my life! It is wonderful that so many of God’s people lifted my name to God in Nashville, Chattanooga and with our many missionaries all over the world. My husband was mission pastor at our church for over 26 years. What an army of prayer warriors. How great is our God! I am slowly gaining strength. Love to all of you, Diana (and Mick)  Antanaitis, parents of Sarah Penagos”
The second one came by regular mail and was written on a piece of paper. Here it is:


Today is Water Day at OAKS. The weather is just right for joyful outdoor splashing activities. Here are a few photos from this morning.

Lupina Haney shared the following encouraging report from the Season of Change Ministry with me: “Last Thursday we had a wonderful turnout (57) to hear Sharon Williams talk about the ways to help widows in India through “Jesus for Asia.” Our ladies contributed over $2000 last year, and yesterday alone we received $410 in donations. Our project this year is to help build a widows’ school in Odisha, India, where they can come and stay, while they learn a sewing trade to support their families.”

The luncheon theme was Vintage Victorian Lace. On the photo below Sharon Williams discusses the hardships of widowhood in India.

Haney’s hungry hombres are meeting this Sunday! Here is a word from Edymar Penagos: “In addition to a breakfast feast, we will have two guest speakers: our Community Service Director Lucas Patterson and Douglas Na’s with SALT. The focus this month is going to be on the spiritual value of community service. As Pastor Peter put it 3 weeks ago in his sermon, service is worship.

Pastor Matts also made an excellent point in his sermon two weeks ago. He asked the question, how do we, as followers of Christ respond and combated the different types of hate in this world? What is the ammo (if you will) that we as Christians have to “fight” against hate? Well, the answer is simple but difficult at the same time, its love (1 Peter 4:8-9, ).

As you know, the men’s group at Ooltewah has an initiative called Love in Action. This ministry has been a blessing to so many, recipients and volunteers alike. God wanted it this way, each of us serving one another, and the Bible is very clear on how Christians should live. I encourage you to read the following passages and ask God, “Lord, how do you want me to love my neighbor?” Philippians 2: 3-5, Colossians 3: 12-14, John 13:34-35, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.”


HOPE FOR OOLTEWAH. Please don’t forget to sign up for a time slot in our Prayer Marathon which is starting in a few days. Donna Caswell will visit your Sabbath School class with a sign up schedule sheet this Sabbath morning. Miracles happen when we start praying.

Be on the alert. Scammers continue to send text messages and emails to our church members impersonating your pastor. They ask for gift cards. Please never reply to these messages. Your pastors will never contact you by email, text or phone with a request for money or gift cards. These are “evil people and impostors who will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived.” (2 Tim 3:13)

FROM MY HEART.  Tuesday night was a night of vigilance and prayer. Javan Arocho, the husband of our oldest daughter Anastasia, took her to the AdventHealth hospital in Orlando late at night. Their second baby was eager to see the world! At 6:47am Caspian Kulakov Arocho’s triumphant cry (which reached us through a video text message) made us celebrate, cry and laugh! What a miracle! What a wonderful blessing!