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February 2022 Carolina's 10,000 P5


I trust that each of you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day with someone very special or close to your heart last Monday! The apostle Paul, although a single pastor, paradoxically had the most amazing, Holy Spirit inspired grasp of true love as expressed in his first letter to the struggling church in Corinth (Greece). I love the words of I Corinthians 13 so much, that I’ve put that small chapter to my memory bank and have recited it in many a sermon that focuses on the essence of the heart of God. In the very closing words of that chapter, Paul sets aside his deep theological and intellectual thoughts and underscores the most basic truth that undergirds our faith in God… “And now abide faith, hope, love; these three. But the greatest of these is love.”

At the end of January 2022, Ellen Roberts, our new conference clerk, confirmed that we have 172 churches & companies and 34 organized groups across the span of North and South Carolina. Our total membership stands at 24,614 and by God’s grace I believe we will break 25,000 members by year’s end. We readily recognize that this number doesn’t reflect our actual count of active members who are present and engaged in the fellowship and mission of the church. Covid-19 and virtual church services have certainly impacted us over the past two years. As our Covid-positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths decline, what is the greatest draw that will bring us back into a vibrant and mission-focused fellowship? What is the greatest draw that will bring others in our community to a place of hungering and thirsting for truth accompanied by the warmth of a caring Adventist church family?

That answer is simply… LOVE. Jesus said it best in His “Eleventh Commandment!!” “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34 NKJV

How can that love be demonstrated in very practical ways? Last week a fascinating article in the Lake Union Herald (The news magazine of the Lake Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church) was shared with me. During a time of transition, Debi Everhart visited 26 different English-speaking church services across Indiana, the Lake Region, and Michigan Conferences to decide and learn what churches can improve on to be better at welcoming visitors in the future.

She had finalized the elements by which she evaluated at each church:

  • Accuracy and Value of Online Resources: Were the church’s website and other online resources helpful and user-friendly, providing accurate information for planning a visit?

  • Directional Ease: Was it difficult to spot the building, identify its main entrance or find my way around inside?

  • Inviting Facility: Did the building seem cared for inside and out? Was the outdoor sign appealing? Did the place seem welcoming to visitors?

  • Formal Greetings: Were one or more people assigned to greet visitors, and was it done personally and pleasantly?

  • Informal Greetings: Did members take the initiative to personally approach me and introduce themselves or in some way extend friendliness?

  • Bulletin or Other Media: Were worship materials easy to follow, making it clear who was involved in the service and what attendees were expected to do?

  • Quality of Worship and Music: Did the elements of worship seem to be planned? How did worship leaders interact with the congregation? Did the music seem to be well rehearsed and specifically chosen? Was prayer featured?

  • Quality of the Sermon and Use of Scripture: Was the sermon well prepared and based on Scripture? Was Scripture featured in any other way during the service?

  • Sense of Mission: Did it become evident what was important to the congregation and who they were specifically seeking to reach?

Will you join me in prayer that every one of our Carolina churches, companies and groups will make these considerations the focal point of our passionate love for God, devoted love for His church, and a whole-hearted love for each other now and until Jesus welcomes us home?

Continuing in the very next verse of John 13:35 NKJV, Jesus reminds us – “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” The apostles of the early Christian church counseled congregations about extending hospitality. Paul encouraged believers to “welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God” (Rom. 15:7 ESV). In a similar context, Peter urged them to “above all things have fervent love for one another” (1 Pet. 4:8 NKJV)

Love is the basis of godliness. Whatever the profession, no man has pure love to God unless he has unselfish love for his brother. But we can never come into possession of this spirit by trying to love others. What is needed is the love of Christ in the heart. When self is merged in Christ, love springs forth spontaneously. The completeness of Christian character is attained when the impulse to help and bless others springs constantly from within— when the sunshine of heaven fills the heart and is revealed in the countenance.

It is not possible for the heart in which Christ abides to be destitute of love. If we love God because He first loved us, we shall love all for whom Christ died.

Ellen G. White Christ’s Object Lessons, Page 384


One of the heartaches we bear as a church is a reality that many young adults are either leaving their connection to the church or disengaged with the message and mission of the church. This is happening throughout Christendom and has impacted the Seventh-day Adventist Church as well. The Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America is facing a crisis. It is an aging church with a median age of 51. According to information from the North American Division (NAD) regarding our church, nearly half of all white NAD Adventists are over 60 years of age.

The administration of the Carolina Conference in partnership with the Youth and Young Adult Ministries Department is making a conscientious effort to establish a better connection with and insure the retention of our young adults.

By definition a young adult is generally a person in the years following adolescence. Within this group we generally regard those in the general range of their 20’s or 30’s as young adults. In that age range, we must be sensitive to varying needs among the two groups that make up these precious lives:

Our first category of Young Adults are often referred to as Gen Z -- Researchers and popular media use the mid-to-late 1990s as starting birth years all the way to around 2010 for this segment of young adults. These individuals are the first true digital natives. They grew up at the height of the information age and rode the social media culture.

Our second category of Young Adults are often referred to as Millennials -- Millennials, also known as Generation Y or Gen Y, are the demographic group following Generation X and preceding Generation Z. Researchers and popular media use the early 1980’s as starting birth years of this segment of our Young Adult population. Being a Millennial means having hope and persevering. It means not comparing themselves to one of their stepsiblings, only a couple years older than them, who already has a place of his or her own and a job with a $40,000+ in salary. It means realizing different degrees have more job openings right now.

Pray that God will give us wisdom and Heavenly direction as we discover and implement new approaches to reverse the trend of our young adults leaving the church unnoticed. As a church in North America, we operate 14 colleges and universities along with hundreds of elementary schools and academies, Sabbath Schools and youth camps. Yet with the millions of dollars invested in reaching the hearts of our Young Adults, we need to plead with God to help us stop the hemorrhaging that is happening around us.

Last year (2021) the four officers of the Carolina Conference along with our Youth Director, Hector Gonzalez, began a journey of scheduling at least 4 Young Adult Summits per year in a variety of host locations across the Carolinas – just so we could listen and glean from our young adults how they see themselves becoming a vital force in finishing God’s work on earth as we near our Heavenly home.

  • It’s our plan to continue holding 4 Young Adult Summits every year just to listen, share, and pray for God’s leading to keep our young men and women enfolded and empowered as faithful members of Christ’s end-time church.

  • We are in the process of encouraging our pastors and churches to give young adults a seat at the table of our church boards and leadership roles in the church.

  • We are intentionally adding young adult pastors to our fields of service who will guide the ministry of Christ’s churches in the Carolinas.

  • We are moving forward with plans to add young adults on the Executive Committee of the conference.

  • The Youth Department is planning a special Young Adult retreat called Awaken at the end of this month at Nosoca Pines Ranch as a 3-day conference to continue the dialogue, inspire leadership development and equip young adults for the next step in their journey of personal spiritual revival, worship and outreach.

  • Pastor Henry Gomez, our Assistant Communications Director, has helped our Communications team re-ignite Project Re-fresh as a multi-media venture intended to be a bridge of connection between the Seventh-day Adventist Church and the young people of our church specifically between ages 18 and 35. This is just another way to let especially our Gen Y and Gen Z young adults know that their church is listening and cares about the matters of their hearts.

  • Our ShareHim evangelistic ministry – although paused during the pandemic – will focus specifically on utilizing young adults in the proclamation of the gospel through a continuation of evangelistic opportunities. I have witnessed this personally as I accompanied a small team of young adults who held a series of meetings in the little country of Lesotho in southern Africa. They experienced and tasted the joy of seeing over 30 lives baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church as members of Jesus’ family.

And we’ve only just begun! Our plans to hold on to these dear and precious lives will require our earnest prayers, research, focus teams, and a variety of resources. I believe with all my heart that with God’s help, we can see the tide turn with a conscious emphasis of true spirituality and spiritual development in this holy goal.


As we continue to uplift our Carolina Church schools, let’s pray specifically for Tri-City Christian Academy.

➢ Our largest school in the Carolina Conference – Tri-City Christian Academy operates a K-12 educational program in partnership with Mount Pisgah Academy as a satellite extension for grades 11 & 12. Let’s pray specifically for God’s protective care over our teachers, parents, and students during this pandemic period that has impacted all our lives during the past two years and now into our third year.

➢ Let’s pray for wisdom and happiness in the lives of our principal, teachers and staff as they mentor and prepare our students for a life of service on this earth, but most importantly for their citizenship in Heaven.

➢ Let’s pray for our school board and the five Seventh-day Adventist church boards [Kernersville, High Point, Greensboro, Winston Salem, and Triad Adventist Fellowship] as they manage and finance the major investment in the operation of Tri-City Christian Academy as an educational center consecrated for the salvation and education of our children and youth.


Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, these words of encouragement were penned for our churches: “Ask of me, and I will answer your requests. The promise is made on condition that the united prayers of the church are offered, and in answer to these prayers there may be expected a power greater than that which comes in answer to private prayer. The power given will be proportionate to the unity of the members and their love for God and for one another.” [9MR, 303]

Praying for our pastors is very important. They are serving God and the attacks of the enemy are relentless. They must be covered in our prayers on a daily basis.

Our prayers should be personalized by saying the title of pastor along with their name since they hold a position of sacred trust for God’s remnant church.

Why not pray specifically for our pastors by name using these seven needs and scriptural promises:

  1. For Protection from Satan — "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)

  2. For Protection from Our Own Sinful Hearts — "But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death." (James 1:14-15)

  3. For Deep Spiritual Encouragement — "For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine." (Romans 1:11-12)

  4. For Wisdom — "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him." (James 1:5)

  5. For Doctrinal Faithfulness — "By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you." (2 Timothy 1:14)

  6. For A Healthy Body — "But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others, I myself should be disqualified." (1 Corinthians 9:27)

  7. For A Strong Marriage & Family — "Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church." (1 Timothy 3:2-6)


1. Steve Bietz ........................................................................................................................................Pastor

Morganton SDA Church

Table Rock SDA Church

2. Ivan Blake ...................................................................................................................Assistant Pastor

Fletcher SDA Church

3. Daniel Bran, Jr. ..............................................................................................................................Pastor

Salem SDA Church

Westminster SDA Church

4. Evan Bujeker .................................................................................................................................Pastor

Pittsboro SDA Church

Albemarle SDA Church

Carthage SDA Company of the Sandhills

5. Jhonny Castro .............................................................................................................................Pastor

Raleigh Spanish SDA Church

Wilson Spanish SDA Company

Fuquay Varina Spanish SDA Company

6. Tim Cove .......................................................................................................................................Pastor

Greenville North SDA Church

Robersonville SDA Mission of Hope Group

7. Jeff Crain ..........................................................................................................................Lead Pastor

Raleigh SDA Church


Beginning with our April 2019 issue of P5, we began highlighting a department of the conference each month – not so much as to give a full-length report of all that they have been or are accomplishing, but rather to simply uplift all our leaders and their faithful service in our prayers.

During the month of September. 2021, we began the second full cycle of remembering all the ministry departments of the Carolina Conference.

The Ministries of the Carolina Conference are basically structured under 6 organizational department functions. They include:

1. The Adventist Christian Book Center

2. Camp Meeting

3. Administration

4. Outreach

5. Church Ministries

6. Children & Young Adults

We have been focusing our prayers for the Administrative Branch of our conference. The Administrative Branch of the Carolina Conference is divided into the following branches of service:

Last month we focused on praying specifically for our Communications Team.

This month I invite you to join me in uplifting our Human Resources Department under the

very gifted and dedicated leadership of Deborah Hutchinson, our Associate Executive

Secretary and Director of Human Resources along with her Assistant Director, JoAlyce

Waugh. This is one of the most vital departments in the entire conference since it handles a host of details related to every one of our 400+ conference and locally-funded employees. This department, often referred to simply as the HR Department, is the very essence of keeping the wheels of our conference in motion.

The Human Resources Department is a division of the Secretariat Office and is an integral part of Carolina Conference operations. It also serves as a resource for questions regarding denominational policies and federal and state employment laws. The department also serves employees through many other administrative functions including:

▪ Maintaining personnel and benefits records for all employees

▪ Updates to the Conference Employee Policy manual

▪ New employee processing

▪ Employee verifications

▪ Retirement processing

▪ Transfer/termination processing

6. SATURATED WITH THE WORD Fundamental Belief #3 – God the Father

As a President’s Prayer Partner, we again invite you to truly be a people of the Word. As Seventh-day Adventists, we embrace 28 Fundamental truths that are based on the Bible alone. This is the second cycle in our emphasis on these vital beliefs that are centered in Christ as our Savior and as our Lord.

Let’s continue to place His Word prayerfully in our hearts each day of this month. I carry a set of these passages with me in my car and repeat them aloud as I drive from place to place. My goal is to prayerfully say one verse at least five times a day for a week, thus embracing the promise of God’s Word – “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against Thee.” Psalm 119:11.

Repeat these passages over and over till they become a part of your very being. Of course, you can always choose to do more. Prayerfully consider how you can saturate your soul and make His Word a part of your heart every day.

FUNDAMENTAL BELIEF # 3: God the Father God the eternal Father is the Creator, Source, Sustainer, and Sovereign of all creation. He is just and holy, merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. The qualities and powers exhibited in the Son and the Holy Spirit are also those of the Father.

A. Psalm 103:13 (ESV) — “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.”

B. Isaiah 64:8 (ESV) — “But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our potter; we are all the work of Your hand.”

C. Ephesians 1:2 (ESV) — “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”

D. James 1:17 (ESV) “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”


Be part of God’s praying church across North America by uplifting these leaders also in the Pacific Union of Seventh-day Adventists and the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada who guide God’s work in these territories of God’s vineyard:


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Elder Leslie Louis
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