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Montana Herald • August 2021

A Different Montana Herald

We recognize this email publication is one of the most important forms of communication for our conference as it keeps you informed on what's happening around our state, and we believe we can make it even better. The Montana Herald is transitioning to a monthly newsletter that will still highlight ministries and stories from churches, but it will also focus on conference news, departmental updates, and even Board of Director updates. I hope you find this change informative as well as inspiring as it continues to grow.

Pastor Stephen Carlile
Montana Conference Communications Coordinator

A Note from the President

Greetings Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I cannot express what a joy it is to be a part of the Montana Seventh-day Adventist church family. It has been almost three months since our family transitioned here from Guam and we have very much appreciated the kindness and support from each of you who have helped to make the transition a smooth one. It is truly an honor to be here and to serve you, and I pray daily for God’s wisdom and guidance that I may know how to best lead the Montana Conference during the challenging yet exciting times we live in.

One of the greatest highlights during these past several months in Montana has been meeting you! My wife and I have met so many wonderful people as we have visited the churches in Belgrade, Poplar, Bozeman, Livingston, Big Timber, Miles City, Glendive, Sidney, Plentywood, Choteau, Great Falls, Butte, Trout Creek, Eureka, and Kalispell. If you belong to a church other than one of these, we hope to see you soon! Our plan is to try and visit every church before the year ends. As we have visited different churches, we have been deeply impressed that God has richly blessed this Conference with a large group of faithful, biblically solid, loving, dedicated Pastors and church members who are actively serving their communities and sharing Jesus with others. God is doing great things through you, and our Conference office team is here to support you in the grand work of making disciples and expanding the kingdom of God. As we have toured several of our Montana Adventist schools and met Principals, teachers, and staff members who are getting ready for a new school year, it is also clear that God has assembled a great team of educators who are committed to excellence in Adventist education. Please join us in praying for a strong enrollment this coming year for all our schools, and pray for our Principals, teachers, and support staff, for God to use them powerfully to reach the hearts of young people with the Gospel and the beautiful truths found in God’s word.

Here is a brief overview of some of the activities taking place in the President’s office right now:

A search process is underway to hire five pastors to fill empty pastoral districts.

A search is taking place for a new Executive Secretary. Matthew Kirk will be transitioning out of this position on July 31 as he takes up his new responsibilities in Guam as their new Mission President. We will greatly miss Matthew. Please pray for him and his family as they follow God’s call overseas.

I have been working with NPUC to establish a new committee to oversee the church plant taking place in Poplar, MT. AFM missionaries, David and Cindy White have just moved to Poplar to establish a church among the Native American community there. This is an exciting project that needs your prayers and support.

If you are traveling through Bozeman, please stop by the Conference office and say hello. My door is always open to you. May God richly bless each of you and your families. “Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace always in every way. The Lord be with you all.” (2 Thess. 3:16)

Your servant in Christ,

Ken Norton
President, Montana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Conference News & Updates

Matthew Kirk is Headed to Guam

In case you haven’t heard the news, Matthew Kirk was nominated by the North American Division to serve as President for the Guam-Micronesia Mission. Matthew and his family have served here in Montana as the Vice President of Administration as well as Treasurer since 2018. The amount of time and effort that Matthew has poured into this conference to help us regain our financial footing is immeasurable. He has facilitated updating policies and procedures that have helped streamline tasks as well as make the Montana Conference a great conference to minister in. He and his family will be greatly missed, but we know God will bless his ministry and his new mission. Thank you Matthew, for all you’ve done for Montana!

Meet Erin, Montana’s New Treasurer

Erin Tungesvik isn’t new to the Montana Conference, but she is a new officer. The Board of Directors voted to ask Erin to serve as the conference treasurer on March 17. She has been transitioning into this position as Matthew has been transitioning out. Erin attended Mount Ellis Academy and has her degree in Finance and Accounting. She has served as the assistant treasurer under Matthew Kirk for the last few years, so she knows our finances as well as our financial goals moving forward. It is great to keep her on the team.

Board of Director Updates

The Montana Board of Directors is a committee made up of administration, employees, and lay members chaired by the conference president. This committee prays over, researches, discusses and makes decisions for the conference when it comes to all types of issues. The board does their very best to do the right thing, to glorify God, and do what is best for the conference. Here is a brief summary of things discussed or voted at the last official board of directors meeting back in March of 2021. Please keep in mind, due to the sensitivity of some items, not everything discussed can be shared publicly.

  • Matthew Kirk accepted the call to Guam-Micronesia mission.

  • The search for a new Vice-President will start soon.

  • Nominated Erin Tungesvik to serve as Treasurer as well to make her an officer which brings the officer count to 3.

  • Pastor Thearon Staddon will be serving part-time in the Great Falls District.

  • The Montana Conference Constituency Session was scheduled for April 10, 2022

  • Officially recognized a new church plant in Missoula worshipping at the Walla Walla Campus.

  • A reminder that all local church contracts must go through the conference before signing.

  • A reminder that all local hires must go through the conference before working.

  • Elder Norton is working with the personnel committee to review pastoral candidates for the Montana Conference. The BOD voted to hire 5 pastors this year.

Mount Ellis Academy Updates

Mount Ellis Academy is excited to welcome our new Principal, Dane Bailey, who has recently relocated with his family from Amazing Grace Academy in Palmer, AK. We are gearing up for a phenomenal school year and are welcoming several new full-time staff members: Andrew Thomas, Athletic Director (North Carolina); Norman Tagalog, Food Services Director (Caldwell, ID); and Ben Dockter, Plant Services Director (Billings, MT). We are also excited to announce that Pastor Jim Jenkins (Bozeman) will be our Chaplain.

Things have been hopping on campus this summer. Despite the drought, our campus is looking lovely under the care of Jason Rogers and his summer student crew. Our dorm, cafeteria, guest services’ building, and ad buildings are all receiving a face lift, with new roofs, siding, fascia, and trim. The dorm is well under-way, and the cafeteria and guest services buildings have already had their roofs replaced.

Registration is right around the corner on August 15th, and the adventure begins on Monday, August 16 with Outdoor School as our students and staff canoe down the Missouri River following the Lewis and Clark Trail. We are looking forward to having our students back on campus and are prayerfully anticipating an exciting school year. Thank you for your continued support of our ministry here at MEA and your prayers for our students and staff as we share the love of Jesus on our campus and in our community.

Kebrina Vinglas,
Director for Development, Alumni Relations, Marketing, and Recruitment

Faculty Housing Initiative: From Dream to Reality

“Home is where the heart is” or so the saying goes. Everyone’s version of home is a little bit different, but at the end of the day, the idea of home conjures up thoughts of peace, respite, a safe haven from the assaults of a bustling world, and a place where memories, meals, and time is shared with the ones who mean more to us than anyone else.

They come in all shapes, sizes, and designs. There are those that make their inhabitants feel snug as a bug with their neat and tidy lines, white picket fences, and manicured lawns calling out a warm welcome to all who would cross their thresholds; others provide space for multiple families and stretch tall towards the sky; while others are mansions, with more rooms than people to fill them. Whatever form they take, they all provide a singular purpose - to provide a safe solace for their people.

While Mount Ellis Academy has a rich history, our buildings are starting to show their age. Our newest house is about 20 years old, and our oldest is at least 80 years old, maybe even older. Many of our staff homes are wearing their age like a tattered shawl across their weary shoulders. Some have fallen into disrepair - of no fault of their own or their inhabitants. Age has not been kind to most of them, and while they do provide respite for the educators and their families that live there, most of them have seen years of deferred maintenance or “band-aid” fixes due to limited funding to perform the required maintenance and appropriate repairs. MEA is facing a housing crisis. We are at the point where we do not have adequate housing for our staff.

This was made evident this past summer when we didn’t have safe, healthy housing available for incoming and existing staff. We had a house that required significant repairs and was unsafe for its inhabitants, and new staff moving to campus with no place to call their own. It was at this point that a vision began to take shape and a dream was born.

Jared Rasmussen, MEA church member, parent, and chair of the Building and Maintenance Committee saw this need first-hand and began to brainstorm to find a solution to MEA’s housing crisis. After much prayer and sharing his vision with a group of local church members his dream began to take shape. “This isn’t my plan, or even my idea,” Rasmussen states, “but this project belongs to God. It isn’t something meant for MEA and the local Bozeman community, but it’s a vision to bring our Montana Conference community together in a common project to serve the Conference”. The plan is to begin construction on a new house. Once that home is built, fund-raising will begin to build another, and this will be repeated until all of the houses are replaced or we have adequate housing for all of our staff. The fundraising will include funding a specific account dedicated to maintenance of the new structures so that the new homes don’t fall prey to deferred maintenance due to a lack of funding. What started as a small seed planted in Rasmussen’s vision for MEA is taking shape and growing into a real project which will eventually include curriculum so that students can be a part of the building process and know what goes into building a new house from budgeting, to choosing a house plan, to framing and finish work. We want our students to be involved every step of the way and learn about the process.

The Montana Conference Board of Directors has already made a statement of support for the initiative and has pledged the initial $120,000 and several of the local churches have also pledged funding to support the project. The Adventist Education Foundation stands behind the project as well, and has already issued a check for $65,000. We are still short $75,000 to complete the first house.

Want to join us in our initiative? There are several exciting ways for you to be able to participate.

You can pray. This is always the most powerful way to have the biggest impact. It may seem like the smallest gesture or easiest route to take, but it allows us to partner with God in doing big things.

You can donate to the initiative, or you can help to promote the project with fundraising in your local community. MEA is your school. It belongs to God and serves all of us.

You can join us for the final work-bee once construction is completed and help with landscaping and clean-up.

Best way yet, do all three: Pray, help with fundraising, and join us on campus for the final work-bee!

Won’t you join in the vision? God is doing great things, and we invite you to participate with us. We are excited about the future of MEA. For the past 119 years we have been in the business of educating students for eternity. We are looking forward with hopeful anticipation to educating young people until Jesus returns. Help us provide adequate housing for our staff. Together we can share the love of Jesus with the young people of Montana and beyond.

Kebrina Vinglas
Director for Development, Alumni Relations, Marketing, and Recruitment

Donate Here

The Pax is Back!

Article by Pastor Stephen Carlile

A long-time tradition of the Montana Conference had to take a year off in 2020 due to COVID but came back full throttle in 2021. Campers were ecstatic to arrive at Camp Paxson located in Seeley Lake, Montana, where a fantastic camp staff awaited their arrival.

If you've ever attended or worked at summer camp, you know the feeling of excitement that fills your heart as camp begins. Meeting new friends, as well as reconnecting with old ones. Trying to decide which classes to sign up for. Figuring out who in your cabin you're going to hang out with. There are a lot of important decisions to make, and a lot of new things to experience. It's what makes summer camp special.

In years past, cooler temperatures and mosquitos have earned their badge to describe Camp Paxson, but not this year. Record high temperatures beat down on the camp all week, which kept the mosquito count low and made the lake a perfect escape from the heat. Sarey Robinson, the camp nurse, kept a close watch on campers and staff alike, ensuring everyone stayed hydrated and regularly sprayed themselves with bug spray and sunscreen.

Activities ranged for all interest groups. Learning to shoot arrows at targets as well as riding a wild tube behind a boat always attracts a crowd, but there were other classes that campers enjoyed. Wood burning, water-skiing, wakeboarding, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), kayaking, and paddleboarding, filled the camper's day.

Of course, we can't forget about the incredible kitchen crew that kept everyone satisfied. It is no easy task to make food that everyone enjoys, but somehow, Denise Ferro and Debbie King made it happen morning, noon, and night. Campers would then wash dishes, wipe down tables, as well as clean the bathrooms.

After dinner each night, cabins would have unique challenges like knot tying, building a crocodile out of the sand, designing cabin flags, as well as creating a paper wheel that all the campers had to walk in.

But at the end of the day, why do we have a summer camp? To provide a safe place for campers and camp staff to learn more about Jesus and what it looks like to have a relationship with Him. Every morning, campers would gather in the worship bowl as camp staff led them to share a devotional thought through skits or games. Every evening, we would gather again to sing camp songs, hear words of affirmation from camp staff as well as spiritual insight from Pastor Stephen Carlile. Pastor Stephen loves to share the love of Jesus, sometimes through comical illustrations from his own life. The campers were always curious about what the next daily theme would be. We learned that God is with us, God hears us, God spends time with us, God forgives us, God knows us, God loves us, and God helps us.

The week ended on a high note with a baptism on Sabbath afternoon. Riley Schillo was joined by his family for the special event. Riley wanted to be baptized last year at camp but was delayed due to COVID. Even though his local pastor, Pastor Stephen, offered to baptize him in his home church in Billings, he politely declined because his dream was to be baptized at Camp Paxson. With the sun shining brightly, and the campers onshore to witness this commitment of faith, Pastor Carlile lowered Riley into the waters of baptism. The joy was evident on Riley's face as he rose out of the water and the campers sang "I have decided to follow Jesus."

Summer camp is one of those special places where new friends are made, activities are enjoyed, and decisions are made for Jesus. These are the reasons we were so excited that Camp Paxson was back for the summer of 2021.

Camp Paxson 2021 Video

Video by Stephen Carlile

Other News & Upcoming Events

Conference Website in Transition

As we are in the midst of transitions, so is our website. You may not see all ministries and departments listed at this time, but please be assured, we are working diligently to create a site that is full of resources for our local churches across Montana.

Montana Conference Website

Urban Ministries Convention

We have an exciting event coming up on September 16-18. 2021, hosted by the department of Adventist Community Services of the North Pacific Union Conference.  The ‘Urban Ministries Convention’ is completely virtual and extremely affordable, and we have a vast array of presenters and workshops to spark your interest.  Please check out the schedule and biographies of the presenters:  Click on the button ‘Register Here’ to take advantage of the early bird special!

Don’t let the ‘Urban’ in the conference name scare you – these presentations and workshops are applicable to all environments and various demographics.  I’m sure you’ll find it helpful for your ministry ideas here in Montana!

Learn More

Important Note

All donations to Amazing Facts need to be sent directly to them and can no longer be given through the churches. Donations can be given online at, or mailed to:
Amazing Facts International
PO Box 1058
Roseville, CA 95678

Stories from you…

Ed Fest Goes On

Article by Maurita Crew
Assistant Superintendent and Trout Creek Adventist School teacher

Adaptability seems to have been a key attribute that schools and teachers needed to embrace the last year and a half of school. This year's Ed Fest was another event that required the schools to adapt to the Covid world and change how Ed Fest is typically done. This year's content emphasis was on Reading, and schools were able to come up with some very creative ways to showcase it. Valley Adventist Christian School held a small reading fair where students showcased their projects on boards and told those in attendance about the book they chose. Trout Creek Adventist School also held a reading fair. Attendees enjoyed food-themed snacks and hands-on projects to work on while looking at the student's work and listening to their presentations. The county bookmobile also came and joined in on the fun.

During the school week, five of the Montana schools joined a zoom meeting and the students were able to share their favorite books they had read this year as well as what their favorite books their teacher had read to them. Students took notes about books that interested them and teachers were able to also get a few ideas for new read-aloud books.

Libby Adventist School and Trout Creek Adventist School joined together for an author visit via zoom. Beth Anderson gave an informative presentation about her writing process and how to get a book published. Students from both schools had questions for Beth and she was very gracious with her time and efforts in meeting the diverse age groups represented in both schools. Montana schools may be far apart in distance but with zoom meetings and collaboration, the schools don’t seem so far removed. We look forward to meeting together for a more typical Ed Fest in the future.

Roundup Float

Article by Norma Trent
Roundup Adventist Church

The Roundup Seventh-day Adventist Church heard that there would be a 4th of July parade in Roundup this year, so we called a meeting to work on a plan to build a float for the parade. The meeting resulted in an easy creation with what we hoped would be a float with a positive, Christian impact.

The theme was ‘Honoring our Hometown Heroes”. First and foremost, we knew we had to work a Bible verse into the float, our radio call letters, and a salute to those in our community who worked so hard this past year.

The verse we chose was Jeremiah 30:17, “I will give you back your health. I will heal your wounds.” Then we added our radio sign, KQLJ 105.5 FM, plus our church sign. A cross was the final touch, hand-made by church members.

Finally, we had a float-building party. So on a hot summer afternoon, we gathered together to assemble our float, then had another celebration. Since everyone was already at the church, we acknowledged a member’s retirement. We celebrated with a potluck meal, cake, and ice cream. Congratulations to Kay!

Even though our float didn’t win, we were able to witness to hundreds of people who lined the parade route. We even passed out dozens of Glow Tracts.

A Picture of God Bible Study Resource

As we discover truths about God, we begin to see more and more of who He is. In other words, we develop “A Picture of God.” Our goal with the “A Picture of God” Bible study is to share Jesus, so that anyone who seeks Him can see how wonderful and life-changing He truly is.

Watch a video, listen to the Bible study being read to you, test your knowledge, and connect with us through chat and email. Reach out to us with prayer requests, questions, and comments. We are here to listen, and we are here to help.

“A Picture of God” Bible study is an official ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America. If you are interested in learning about what Seventh-day Adventists believe explore the Bible study or reach out to us.

“A Picture of God” Bible study is an official ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America.

A Picture of God

Time to Laugh

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We are always looking for stories that inspire. If your church has something to share, send it our way!

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