Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Couple of Places I've Been

Wow. Hadn't realized how long it had been since I had last posted. The holiday season always seems particularly busy and added to the press this time of year is my push to complete the first major step in my doctoral dissertation, which, PTL, I received approval on last week. Now begins the 'heavy lifting.'

The Year End Meetings in October at the North American Division were quite interesting, particularly as the much anticipated Report on Women's Ordination was presented and occupied most of one day of discussion. In the end, the report was affirmed (the technical vote was "received") by a margin of close to six to one. About 180 'yes', and around 30 'no.' The next step in this odyssey is that the remaining 12 world divisions submit their report/findings to the General Conference Executive Committee, who will determine whether to bring a recommendation to the 2015 World Session. I would not be alone in observing that regardless of that process, the Pacific Union and the Columbia Union have forged ahead and now approve women's ordination, and I cannot conceive that they would reverse that decision regardless of what happens at the GC level.

Here's a couple of pictures from the NAD meetings. The first one is "my 2nd row view" of the Women's Ordination Committee making it's presentation. That's Dr. Gordon Bietz, the Chairman of the Committee, standing at the podium with his back turned a little to the picture. The next is the Southern Adventist University chorale and orchestra who presented music during an evening concert and on Sabbath.

The next picture is me posed on the front steps of Wright Hall with the Gordon Bietz life-sized cardboard cut-out. I was on campus in October having been invited to speak on the Friday evening of SAU alumni home-coming and on the occasion of my 30th graduation anniversary. As I drove by Wright Hall,  I couldn't resist stopping and giving Dr. Bietz a set of rabbit ears. When I sent the picture to him he was grateful that I didn't do more "harm" to his cardboard image than that. As a disclaimer, I've known Gordon for close to 30 years as a pastoral colleague and for three years, as my conference president. For the past four years, I've had the privilege of serving on his Board of Trustees.

This final picture is of a "live" angel flying over head in the closing scenes of the Christmas at the Opry program at Pigeon Forge which together with my family, we attended just before Thanksgiving. An enjoyable 'family friendly' musical with a live nativity, and yes, angels flying overhead!

I'll share some more news and events in my Haley Comments e-news letter that I'll be sending out early next week. Grace in Him.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Tribute to Ken

I didn't know Ken McHenry, our principal and upper grades teacher at  the Lawrenceburg, Tn/Bill Egley School. Lawrenceburg has had a church school for nearly 100 years; the church, the school, and the Adventist Hospital were all founded in the area around the same time and were given birth by Adventist "missionaries" from Madison, who, in the decades following the establishment of Madison College, were part of a wave of graduates who joined others in spreading out across the world, the south,  and closer to home,  Tennessee and Kentucky. They left behind medical clinics and schools and while many of those institutions are gone, a few continue a century old legacy where education and good health partner with the church in changing lives. The Lawrenceburg Adventist hospital was sold years ago, but the church, the school, and dedicated pastors and teachers have served continually there for almost a century of time.

Though this was only Ken's second year teaching at Lawrenceburg, he was right at home. Small schools, small classrooms, and the beautiful rural south were  among the things Ken loved and as I shared today with Chris Juhl, I learned that despite his age - 70 years old - Ken wanted to be in the classroom teaching. I learned a few other things about Ken this past weekend, a few days after he died following some complications from a surgery he had over a year ago.

Ken was from Illinois and had worked for years in a John Deere factory. This followed  high school graduation and a three year stint as a U.S. Marine. It was after enduring multiple lay-offs and call backs to work in manufacturing that Ken decided he had enough of life on the assembly line and experienced a 'call' to teaching. At the mature age of 48 he finished his teaching degree and for the next 20 years would teach in Tennessee, Indiana, the St. Louis area, and at an age when most are ready to do anything but keep working, Ken returned to the classroom and his beloved students. More than just sharing the "Three R's" - readin' riting' and rithmatic' (yes I know it's misspelled) Ken loved to share astronomy, nature, the wonders of Creation, and yes .. . share Jesus.

It was my privilege to get to know about Ken's life and legacy this past week.  As far as I know, I never met him, but yet I was honored to preach a sermon in tribute to him, as well as  for the encouragement of the Lawrenceburg church, who know the pain of loosing someone loved. This past Sabbath I was present in Lawrenceburg for Ken's memorial service. I wasn't able to stay through the afternoon but I felt humbly honored after  I received a mid-week invitation from Pastor Schomburg to speak for worship and re-arranged my schedule to do so. My sermon? One of my favorite in all the Bible -  the story, told in the words of a man named John, of how Jesus traveled to Bethany one day, to "wake up" his friend Lazarus, who had fallen asleep (had died) and according to Jesus, just needed to be "awakened."

Ken's next conscious moments will be the day of the "Great Awakening." I look forward to meeting Ken McHenry soon. Till then, I found it quite fitting and not without importance that Chris Juhl showed me today the special DVD made and produced by the NAD, on the occasion of the NAD Teachers Convention held at the Opryland Hotel in the summer of 2012.  This special DVD was eventually made available to all of the teachers who attended, and there were a lot of them!

On the cover of the DVD, along with pictures of Dan Jackson, Dwight Nelson and other speakers, is a prominent picture of one of the teacher attendees . . . one, and only one 'teacher/attendee' picture, among the nearly 8,000 educators who were present that week. A cover picture, of one teacher, sitting likely on the front row of one of the seminars with his wife. The teacher? Ken McHenry and his wife Jeannette.  Sitting where he loved to sit, the front row, where he could ask questions, engage in the presentation, and learn something new to share with his kids.  A true professional who didn't mind teaching in small places, in small classrooms, investing his life in the lives of a few really fortunate kids. Well done Ken.  We will see you in the morning!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Lebanon Hispanic

Two Sabbath's ago, my wife joined me, as did Doug Hilliard and Elder Steve Rose, at the celebration marking the first Sabbath for the Lebanon Hispanic congregation to be in their newly acquired facility - the former Laguardo Baptist Church -  on Hwy 109, just south of Gallatin, and north of Lebanon. There were as many as 300 in attendance with many coming from area churches to join in the festivities.

I spoke a few minutes ago with our Lebanon pastor, Elder Nathan Dilema, who tells me that in moving to this new location, the congregation has added almost forty new members who are living in the Gallatin area.  This swells the congregation to over 100 members in attendance and he believes, that in a years time, they will add as many as 30 more members through evangelism.

The journey to purchasing this building was not easy and included not only complex  financial negotiations, but dialog with the Presbyterian congregation who own property adjacent to the church.  Of concern was the Presbyterian's refusal to allow our congregation to use the drive way or the parking area that is owned by the Presbyterians, but for many years, was used by the Laguardo Baptist's for accessing their parking lot, and providing much needed parking. Without the drive way access and parking area, our congregation faced some expensive and challenging issues to accommodate our guests and members  need to safely access the grounds and have adequate parking.

Just before we took occupancy of the building, this issue was resolved through the best and most preferred means, by a simple appeal on the part of the Lebanon Hispanic head elder, who approached a few of the Presbyterian members one Sunday morning and asked if they would re-consider their opposition . . and praise the Lord . . . they did!

Here are a couple of pictures of the Sabbath service including former district pastor Elder Marco Barerra who was present having traveled all the way from Bogata, Columbia. The third picture is of my daughter, Carissa, hugging her little brother, Christopher, after he had moved into his dorm room to begin his freshman year at Highland Academy. The last picture is of the memorial service held last Sabbath at the Georgia Cumberland Academy Church honoring Eleanor Juhl, mother of Chris Juhl.

I'll share some more news in my September edition of Haley Comments but we're pleased to have good enrollments at our two constituent academy schools and also, some strong numbers at several of our larger elementaries.

A news note of interest:
It was a tragic even horrible event when Suzanne York lost her life while sitting at her desk at Memphis Jr. Academy one morning in August of 2011. On September 3, her assailant, Eduardo Mamalejo, in a plea agreement, was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

I'll be sending out my e-newsletter with more updates soon; I'm on my way Wednesday to Orlando for the fall Adventist Health Systems board meeting, then by the weekend, will be in the North West for an event which will include some vacation, including a few days touring Alaska, where I have never visited, but understand is one of God's stunning masterpieces of nature.
We should have our new conference web-site up and running in a few days, and it will be great!

Saying Goodbye and Good luck
Lebanon Hispanic Celebration Sabbath

Pastor Marco Barerra former Pastor
now retired in Columbia.
Juhl Memorial Service

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Danville Church Organization

Danville Church Organization

Sabbath School at Danville
Danville Charter Members Signing the Charter
Elder Steve Rose and I had the privilege of being in Danville Kentucky two weeks ago for the purpose of organizing them into the 99th Church of the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference. This is a vibrant and active congregation who have been blessed with success in carving out a church in a previously dark county and unentered territory.  Dr. Nerren James and his wife, together with Pastor David Clark, have been instrumental in growing the church from a small group of four or five to a current congregation of over 30 individuals.  Most inspiring to me was the testimony portion of the service where several couples told their personal story of what the church has meant to them personally.  It was a very inspiring event!
18th Century Plantation Kitchen House

Entrance Drive to Shelby Plantation
On my way back to Nashville I pulled into the old home estate of Kentucky's first governor, Isaac Shelby, who once had a large plantation just outside of Danville. The only portion of the original property that still
remains is the beautiful tree-lined drive, the kitchen house, and the family cemetery.
Isaac Shelby Grave

    The final pic, is a picture demonstrating the Lord's answer to our three     years of prayers to sell our home near Chattanooga, and rejoicing that in His time, He answered in the way we were hoping He would!

Grace, Mercy, and Peace . . . always . . . in Him!

Praise the Lord!

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Last night, our youngest child graduated from 8th grade at Madison Campus Elementary.  The miracle of Sarah notwithstanding, he is the last of our children to move through that transition point. His mother and I are proud, happy, and also a little sad; a little nostalgic. We look at pictures from when our children were little and now we're living with two and a half adult children  (ages 24, 21, and 14). Our oldest child will be leaving home next week for a new job hundreds of miles away and in this move, marking a new transition from her parents home, to her own. We're happy, because this is the way it's supposed to be; we're sad, because we will miss her, and know that the experiences and interpersonal dynamics that have defined our family are about to change.

We miss the days when our children, like their parents, were young, and wistfully ponder that if it were possible, would we turn back the clock? No; we wouldn't, because . . . yes; it's supposed to be this way.

The passage of time has a way of reminding us of how life is measured in important moments . . .birth, baptism, graduation, marriage, and ultimately, death. Some refer to it as the 'cycle,' but as people of faith, we do not think of life, and of those we love, as mice on a treadmill who run till they drop, or, as if our destiny is like moving through a circular maze which has an entry and exit point, but no meaning during the in between. For followers of Christ, we travel a different path that leads to a better place, one that in Matthew 7, which I was reading devotionally this morning, sounds challenging to find and to stay on.  It is described this way:  " Broad is the way and wide is the path that leads to destruction, and many enter through it . . but small is the gate and narrow is the path which leads to eternal life, and only a few find it." Through God's grace, I'm at peace this day to know,  that you and I, and I trust those I love, walk the narrow path and have passed through the "small gate." I think of Jesus as the 'gate keeper' and I wouldn't want anyone else in charge of "keeping the gate!"

Enough philosophy, and theology, for now; Malinda and I are grateful for the gift of our children, and of our youngest son achieving this first rung on the academic ladder. I suppose more than an accomplishment that all experience who ever got through at least elementary school, it was to Mom and Dad a reminder that time is moving all of us forward toward an appointment, not with death, but with life, and the Life Giver - Jesus Christ - who comes in glory . . . very soon!

Friday, February 22, 2013

AHS Conference on Mission

I have been in Orlando for the past two days attending the Adventist Health Systems Board session as well as the Conference on Mission which follows the first day board meeting and goes through Sabbath. AHS continues to execute what seems to me to be a wise and prudent plan of business, making acquisitions when they make financial sense, partnering with other organizations when THAT makes sense, and attempting to adapt to the rapidly changing health care industry which is of course, heavily regulated and always subject to changing policies and  almost unpredictable reimbursement rates. Through this murky regulatory swamp, the organization seems to continue to make money and most importantly, link their financial success to the desire to have a mission and ministry in North America.

This year's Conference on Mission is devoted exclusively to the Creation Health program that you may have heard about. It's an outstanding tool developed in-house by AHS, and brings a comprehensive approach to wellness and  disease prevention lifestyle based on the 8 natural principles of good health espoused by Ellen White and affirmed by medical experts today.

One aspect of the program is focused on providing financial incentives to individual hospitals throughout the system that apply for special funding for the purpose of using the Creation Health program to impact the community in measurable ways.  I was very proud of Erika Skula, CEO of our
own Manchester, KY, hospital who was one of three presenters recognized for receiving the grant money and, in her presentation today, shared how she has taken Creation Health and is using it to
assist patients in the county where Manchester lies in introducing them to better living. Interestingly, her proposal, now made a reality, was to buy a van, beautifully designed with Creation Health logo and graphics, for the purpose of transporting the often indigent patient population of the county to the hospital for non-emergency appointments. Transportation is a big problem in this very poor isolated area, and while the patients are being driven to the hospital, a tv monitor in the van plays through a presentation of Creation Health and invites them to consider learning more about it's principles and practices. Well done Erika!

This event is one of my favorite assignments to attend each year; it builds confidence, if any were needed, that our hospitals are being led by committed individuals who want to do more than make money; but want to introduce the community to better health, and ultimately, the healing ministry of Christ which is the mission/ministry focus of AHS.

The Thursday night devotional was given by Tony Campolo, well-known author and speaker. Sabbath, Dr. John Nixon, former Sr. Pastor at Collegedale and presently faculty on the staff of the School of Religion at Southern, will be speaking.

Happy Sabbath!

Below are a few pictures from in front of AHS corporate headquarters, where  visitors to the campus are greeted by an inspiring depiction of the "the healing at the Pool of Bethesda," complete with a fountain and life-size sculptures. An additional picture is take just as you enter into the lobby (where Jesus is greeting the healed lame man). AHS has a beautiful building that they've been in just over a year.  It's functional and inspiring!

Lame Man Waiting by the pool
Jesus welcoming the healed lame man
Standing at front entrance looking east toward the rest of AHS campus

Jesus approaches the lame man at the pool of Bethesda.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

In Denver

Just before leaving for Denver and my doctoral class right after New Years holiday, I attended the annual Literature Evangelist Year-End rally/convocation in Pigeon Forge. On Friday evening,  It was a privilege to be involved in introducing the attendees to Mary Schmidt, a newly employed  Kentucky-Tenn L.E. who lives in Portland, TN, and who shared her testimony of knocking on the door of an apartment a few weeks ago, only to be introduced to a former SDA who has since that meeting, attended church with Mary.  What a ministry it is for our faithful team to often six days a week, introduce the public to not just literature and books, but to Jesus and His Church.  Well done!

For the past five days I've been in Denver taking a class entitled "Solving Problems in Ministry and Leadership."  The course, team-taught by Dr. Gordon MacDonald and Dr. Scott Wenig, attempts to introduce the student to the techniques, philosophy, and the practical approaches to identifying problems and challenges and ministry, and moving toward resolution.  I"ve had several classes in this area and among many convictions arising from my course work is that what appears to be THE problem, is often only a symptom, and that it is only through careful evaluation, listening, and exploring the complexities of how parts and people relate to and affect each other, do you often begin to identify the real problem(s). That of course is the necessary identification that must take place before exploring possible solutions.

At the core of good leadership (also an oft repeated theme in this program) is the heart, mind, and spirit of the leader.  Good leaders are constantly self-examining, looking beyond today to tomorrow, assume a continual -posture of learning, and are able to skilfully navigate the perilous path of change.  A number of times this week my classmates and I commented and processed one gem of wisdom (one among many) offered by Dr. MacDonald and that is  the reality that effective organizations are always poised for the potential of changing and re-grouping, recognizing that adaptability is, at least in the business world, the key to survival.  For the church, it can be important in terms of its effectiveness in its mission and in its relevancy.  I have said often to our administrative leadership that Adventism possesses a powerful, unique, and transformational message that we must never grow weary of delivering to the world. How we bring that message, that life, to our community through the presence of the Church, and the influence of it's members, demands vigilance, resolve, courage, and boldness in loving a sometimes unlovely world.  It also insists upon a constant engagement in examining with honesty and energy, what is working in our task to win the lost for Christ, and, what is not working. Another self-evident truth that I'm reminded of almost everytime I read USA today, or, scan the news, is that the world is changing at break-neck speed.  It means potential, opportunity, and challenges are before us.  Enough preaching for now.  The pictures below are . . . from the LE Rally in Pigeon Forge, an early morning picture of the back of the chapel at Denver Seminary this week, and finally, a classroom shot of Dr. Gordon MacDonald doing what he does best. teaching, not so much by delivering information, but through insisting that we think through what Scripture and  life experience have to teach us in the context of where we are serving God and His Church.

Will be leaving tomorrow for Nasvhille, hopefully before the snow that is predicted begins to fall. Will be around 30 degrees and 30 mph wind at the time my flight leaves. BRRRRR!  Grace to you.


Friday, January 4, 2013

New Beginnings

Wow.  Didn't realize it's been two months since I last posted. Since then, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years, three of my favorite times of the year have come and gone. The days around Christmas were a mix of both fun including my daughters graduation from Southern, and yes, a little stress. The stress was generated by the need to finish the pre-class written assignments for my January doctoral class at Denver Seminary. Eight book reviews, and additionally two longer written assignments, one of which I didn't notice in the syllabus until late, made for some long hours at the word processor.  However, the day after Christmas I finished the papers and now await the most enjoyable aspect of the class, the on-site classroom lectures and interaction.

My course this month will be taught by Dr. Gordon MacDonald who I've taken a class with before, I think this time last year. He is a prolific author having penned probably a dozen or more popular volumes that circulate widely in evangelical Christianity and even in the corporate business community. Much of his material and his focus is in the area of self-development, self-discipline and self-evaluation. In the last class I took from him I found it very interesting to hear his presentation and read his book chapters in the area of the 'stages of life' and how the needs, challenges, and goals of life change from decade to decade.  What's important to you in your 30's will change when you're in your 40's, and definitely once you hit your 50's.  "Can I get a witness?"

Dr. MacDonald writes a lot of ink and is passionate about  addressing the important areas of your life in order to be productive in your professional ministry through age 70.

The areas of emphasis that he believes are important includes the emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual. He believes that exercise and diet and attention to the physical is as important to giving our best as is growing your ministry skill set. While that's not a new idea to Adventists, it's also amazing to see how Christian thought leaders today are connecting with the ideas and thoughts of Ellen White who espoused the same concepts a century ago. Committing to being a 'lifelong' learner is another major theme that he introduces to his students. He is also, like many of the professors I've had in Denver, a proponent of  a weekly Sabbath rest though connecting that blessing with Saturday is not part of the conviction.

My January class, which concludes with the post-class assignments in March, marks the conclusion of my class-work seminar's and inaugurates the dissertation stage in my program.  Amazingly, I began this doctoral journey with trepidation, at the very beginning of my tenure here in KYTN, and three years later, I am I think, a more informed leader now than in 2010.

As opportunity presents itself, I will write more from Denver next week.  Today and through Sunday, I am in chilly Pigeon Forge, with the LE's on their annual retreat.  Peace and joy as athe Sabbath draws near!