Renovate Project - Pioneer Memorial Church

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Capturing the Heart of PMC

Do you have a Pioneer story to share about how God impacted your life or the life of someone you know? Email us at and one of our story scouts will come to capture your story. We want to retell the creative and compassionate work that God is doing in your life. In our retelling, we will see how the heart of God is moving in us and through us.

Serving Students Today Who Will Serve Humanity Tomorrow

by Chuck Peck & José Bourget

In the dynamic climate found in Michigan, a roof is a shelter. When leaks started showing up, we knew something had to be done about it. So please excuse our dust it takes about 6 months for nearly an acre of the roof to be laid down. Check out the project

We are so glad that friends and family join are here this weekend to celebrate the faithfulness of our students to dream it and achieve it! Since this fall we have been sharing stories about the people and ministry that happen as a consequence of our gathering under the roof—as a house of prayer for all people. Did you know that we really take our mission to serve students quite seriously? Here are things some of the students have said about an important ministry that takes place here:

"Thank you very much for all the assistance that GAP has extended. It was a great blessing receiving the additional groceries tonight. Just this morning I was noticing the pantry and refrigerator are rather empty. The Lord is very faithful in always providing!"

"Thank you for all GAP does on behalf of the graduate students at AU!
Blessings, Elizabeth"

"I'm very grateful for the opportunity I have every week to receive groceries from GAP. I moved from another state, adjusting to a new place can be taxing and financially challenging. I was blessed to have been informed about the pantry from a friend who was told by a professor. God bless that professor."

"It’s a financial relief knowing that basics like bread, potatoes, and, cereal are provided weekly. I work part-time; however, I praise God for providing help through GAP. Truly grateful, Helen."

"My name is Sylvana. I am the wife of a seminarian and mother. I am writing to express my deepest gratitude about the service and devotion of the Pantry. We are now finishing our second year at Andrews. At the end of the month, after paying the rent, we barely have a penny left until the next payday. My husband is the only one allowed to work on campus and what he earns as an international non-sponsored student does not help us make it through the month. Therefore, the supplement of food that we get from the pantry is real 'manna' for us."

"Every Tuesday and Thursday, I start to pray for the GAP volunteers who serve us. They are always on time and always smiling. God gives me what I exactly need in my kitchen because although we are on a low budget, we still want to eat healthily. For example last week, we thought about changing our toothbrushes and God gave us brand new ones on Thursday."

"I want to thank each and everyone who gives his/her money, time, and leadership gifts to serve us. God knows how much blessings you bring to student homes every week. Thank God for this ministry!"

"God has blessed us so abundantly through the ministry of GAP! We are a family of 5 with 3 small children. We have been struggling financially since our arrival at Andrews last summer. Nearly every dollar of our income is delegated to paying bills, with very little (or at times none) available for monthly groceries. We are thankful for God’s Abundant Pantry, which truly does fill a GAP. Grateful Student Family."

It has been our blessing to serve students in need of a food staples safety net during your educational experience. When you generate income consider “Paying it Forward” by becoming a GAP donor to supply supplemental food for next year’s 425+ student families that GAP serves. You can donate online at click on “Giving” or use the tithe envelope by noting GAP for your donation. Did you know a $10 donation generates $250 worth of food?!

Under the roof, people from all over the world, county, and campus gather together in this space because they share a common heart for God that manifests with an uncommon love for one another. GAP is one of the ways God's heart shows up to serve students today who serve humanity tomorrow.

Alone under the roof

by Ben Martin

As we sat down to talk, I was not entirely prepared for the conversation that was about to unfold. She was hurting. She had been through a loss and she had wondered where the church had been. More than anything, however, she felt alone.

Alone? The very word seemed to float into the cavernous Youth Chapel looking for a place to land. Alone in such a big church? Alone in a church with over 3000 members? In a church this size it should be easy to find people to connect to—statistically speaking, that is.

She had grown up in a small church as many of us have. You know, a small church where everyone knows your business. Small churches have this way of getting each member involved in the life of the church and the church gets involved in the life of each member. So you can understand how, week after week of “Happy Sabbaths” as hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of people pass by with no one stopping to truly connect , one could feel lonely.

Perhaps there are some people who like Pioneer for that very reason; after all, privacy is an ever more valuable commodity in the age of the internet. Perhaps there are also many who sit in these pews week after week looking to connect, and leave feeling alone in a sea of people.

The answer to the problem she told me was obvious, "GROW Groups." And yet semester after semester, and year after year, she had longingly thumbed through the catalogue looking for a group that would connect to her world. She had needed a group to hear her and see her. She had needed to find her small church under the roof of this rather large church.

She then proceeded to tell me her story of the last few months. She had emailed Brianna asking why there was not a GROW Group dealing with a specific need. Brianna in turn asked her if she had ever thought about leading that group herself. She was floored by the question. She was not a leader. She wanted to attend, not lead! However, the seed had been planted. As she spoke with other friends, the Spirit did not let up. Soon she began seriously considering leading this group.

As we spoke that afternoon in the Youth Chapel, her eyes lit up as she told me about the group that she was going to lead! As we spoke there under the roof of Pioneer Memorial Church the vastness seemed to melt away and it began to feel like family. It had changed from a large church to a small church. The number of members had not changed. The square footage of the building had not changed. But, for a small church to function, every member has to be involved. She had found her place to be involved. She had found a need at Pioneer and she was just the person to meet this need.

What are the needs that you have here at Pioneer? As we spoke that day, I realized that this story could be any number of people’s story. Sadly, in a church this size it is easy to drift in and out with no one seeming to notice. It is easy to feel alone in a pew full of singing people. Pioneer, though, like any small church, needs for each and every one of you to be involved if we are going to accomplish what God has called us to do!

Rightly Trained

by Debbie Michel

Lindsey Pratt was introduced to the Pioneer Church congregation last Sabbath as the newest member of the pastoral team. As the first female youth pastor in Pioneer's 60-year history, we thought it was fitting to help you get to know her a little more. Youth ministry is a critical area, especially in light of the intractable, universal problem of large swaths of youth leaving the church.

During a thirty-minute conversation with Lindsey, this fact jumped out at me: She loves the church and is fully engaged in ministering to young people. She's so engrossed in ministry; I caught her as she was knee-deep in planning the nighttime programming for the International Camporee to be held in Wisconsin, just four short months from now.

So, how did her journey lead her to the campus of Andrews University?

She grew up in Central California, at the foothills of Yosemite National Park and it wasn't until her freshman year of high school that she discovered that God was very real. It was a realization that occurred when she began reading the Bible. "It was exciting to know that God was real and active in my life," she says.

As God became real in her mind, Lindsey became active. She spent a year at Pacific Union College, then enrolled at the Mission College of Evangelism in Oregon. Before long, the leadership team at Central California Conference, under the leadership of Jerry Page, drafted her and a few others to add a youthful voice to its evangelism team. "We traveled around to churches, did week-of-prayers, power weekends and trained youth leaders," she said of the 2005-2006 period. She then served as youth pastor of the Oakhurst Church from 2007-2009.

The call to return to school led her to Andrews University January 2010 where the theology major wasn't content to rest on her laurels. She took on the challenge of organizing busloads of students to conduct Sabbath afternoon outreach at the Harbor of Hope Church.

After graduating in 2012, Lindsey was hired by the Central California Conference to work with then Youth Director, Elden Ramirez, as their Youth Evangelism Team Director. But two years, later God called her back to Andrews University to study at the seminary and she completed her Master of Divinity degree in 2017.

Mentors have played a huge role in Lindsey's life. One of her first, Ellen Park, was the associate youth pastor at the Sonora Adventist Church. "She was open and honest about God and challenged me to find out about God," she says.

Another mentor is Steve Hamilton, who pastors in Paradise, California, a community destroyed by recent wild fires. Hamilton hired her out of high school and had led the youth evangelism team. "He's a phenomenal pastor," she said.

These are just some of the people who have "poured into –and still pour into" her life. "I long to do that for the generations coming," she said.

"They gave me opportunities to get involved and gave me opportunities to do big things and make decisions and give Bible studies with my peers; believing in me that I could do it."

There's one person she's already pouring her life into and that's her adopted daughter Ellie. Ellie, who turned two recently, has given her a fresher perspective of God. "Bringing people to Christ and mothering have been the two best things in my life!" says Lindsey, beaming proudly. As if the life of a seminary student was not busy enough, Lindsey embarked on the adoption process during that her seminary studies thinking it would be finalized after graduation. However, it took just six months and she know this was God's timing. "She's the perfect daughter for me!"

As a single mother, the 32-year-old is grateful for community and lessons she's learning in God's unending love. Ellie is teaching how to love deeply and grow patience. She says, "If it's been a long day or when I'm tired, you still have the ability to give."

Even though Lindsey is still several months from starting her role at Pioneer, she's beginning to think about the new chapter. One area of special focus will be ministry to public school students, and she plans to reach out to parents for help. "We're seeing from studies that parent involvement, that the home life is even more important than school, church, or anything else. If the kids don't have that, we need to figure out, as a church community, how to bolster that support around kids that don't have that in life."

In the meantime, she's looking forward to September. "I'm excited to join the team at PMC and get to know the community a little more," she says.

Time Well Spent

by Deb Montcalm & Diane Helbley

The evening of March 9 had no lack of options for activities and entertainment around the campus and community, yet the Family Life Committee hosted a good crowd for a Game Night in the Commons. The evening began with Pastor Ben sharing the importance of gathering together not only as literal families, but also as a church family. In a church our size, not only is it a blessing to get to know the people we worship with week after week, but it's important to our cohesiveness and connection to each other in Jesus. While Pastor Ben was talking with us, his son, Arlo, ran up to him to be picked up as if to emphasize the point his daddy was making. It's good to be with family, whether we're family by blood, family by choice, or family through Christ.

After sundown, out came an incredibly wide variety of games: Clue Jr., Yahtzee, Egypt to Canaan, Bible Bingo, Rummikub, Scattergories, Connect 4, and even a game called Farkle, to name just a few. Kids also burned off energy by playing Hide & Seek and Tag. Everyone had plenty of snacks & beverages to keep their energy up during their grueling matches. Laughter, groans, cheers, and a lot of good conversation went on until the last call for snacks was announced. Cleanup was quick and easy thanks to those who stayed behind to help before heading home.

In October, the Family Life Committee hosted the Annual Hayride and Hot Dog Roast at Five Pines Ministries. The event included the ever-popular hayrides, along with a campfire for roasting veggie dogs and S'mores (gluten free options were even available!), and spending time with family and friends, as well as making new friends.

During the "polar vortex" in January, people ventured out to Johnson Gym for a Swim & Gym night. They had the opportunity to warm up and splash around in the pool, shoot some hoops, play volleyball, or just run around and have fun!

Providing opportunities for our church family to spend quality time together is just one way the Family Life Committee is working. Providing events, activities, and information that will bolster our various family types (singles, newlyweds, married with children, grandparents as guardians, empty-nesters, widowed, etc.) is also the hope and dream of this committee. If you have any suggestions of events or speakers that are Family Life related, please share your ideas with any of the Family Life Committee members:

  • Alina Baltazar
  • Diane & William Helbley
  • Deb Montcalm
  • Judy Nay

You can also reach Diane Helbley at the church at

Keep in mind that "Family Life" at PMC is for all members of PMC. If an idea interests you, it will likely interest others. Watch for future events from your Family Life Committee!

A Place for Support

by José Bourget

Last week we partnered with the launch of a new initiative entitled :"Rise Up Against Abuse." Ty Gibson, the founder of Light Bearers Ministries and the Solidarity Wall project, shared a moving biblical message. If you missed it, take a moment to check it out on Pioneer Memorial Church's Facebook page.Later that afternoon in the Youth Chapel, panelists responded to some questions posed by attendees. Since then many have affirmed that we want Pioneer to continue to be a place that helps to bring healing to hurting people. Amen!

Here are some of the ways we are doing it: As I shared Sabbath morning, we have begun work to get all of our volunteers who work with children screened through Verified Volunteers. The screening trains individuals on how to identify and respond to signs of child abuse. We are then going to work through screening members of our other core volunteer ministries. This strategy is being implemented around the country and required by NAD Policy—one more step toward helping provide a safe place for children.

Our campus community welcomes over 300 college students each year. Here is a stunning statistic: 1 in 5 male children and 1 in 3 female children are sexually assaulted before they reach adulthood. Additionally, 1 in 15 is exposed to intimate partner violence.

As a campus church, our care and ministry extends well beyond Sabbath morning. Our Lead Elder's team has begun conversing about a strategy to provide more intentional care, especially with new students. Additionally, each semester our GROW Groups have groups ranging from self-defense to challenging the "Lies Young Women Believe." You could start thinking now of a group to host and, even better, partnering with a young adult to be part of one of these groups. Finally, begin intentionally welcoming and connecting with the students God puts in your path, the pew across from you, or the ministry you work in together. How else can we be a healing place for students? Share your ideas!

For many with whom we worship each week, abuse is or has been a part of our reality. I'm sorry. Under this roof, we want to make sure you feel safe and that we can connect you with pathways to healing. Last Sabbath, we connected with local professionals who are a part of our congregation to begin to ask questions about what can we do well to support those hurting from abuse. In the meantime, here are some local resources identified by one of the expert panelists.

Shelters: YWCA in South Bend / 574.233.9491 Safe Shelter in Benton Harbor / 269.925.9500

Free Counseling: Andrews University Community Counseling Center / 269.471.6238 (wait list sometimes)

Counseling with sliding scale based on finances: Samaritan Counseling South Bend office / 574.277.0274 Benton Harbor office / 269.926.6199 Christian Counseling & Psychotherapy in Stevensville / 269.429.7727 Life Coach Psychology in Berrien Springs / 269.815.5331 (ask for Social Work counselor) Riverwood Center in Benton Harbor / 269.487.9332

If you have ideas or resources for how we can provide support, especially to our children and students, please don’t hesitate to send an email.

Renovated by the Spirit

by Brianna Martin

Elizabeth Adesina had agreed to drive a friend to the Greyhound station from Berrien Springs on Thursday morning, but she had a problem: she didn't have enough gas to make it to Benton Harbor, and she didn’t have money to fill her tank. She prayed about it and decided to help her friend anyway.

Wednesday evening Elizabeth went to House of Prayer, and because the focus on prevailing prayer was so powerful, she didn't pray about that problem because she was praying for other people. Worried that her friend, who also had no extra money, would try to pay for the gas herself, Elizabeth headed to the pump after prayer meeting. A quick check of her bank account revealed that the situation was bleak—she had $4.

Elizabeth spent the $4 on gasoline, and the next morning she took her friend to the station, but it wasn’t open. She refused to leave her friend waiting in the cold, so they sat—car running—for 50 more minutes.

Finally, Elizabeth was able to head to her class at LMC, and she said a quick prayer that God would get her there with the little gasoline she had left.

On a break from class, Elizabeth walked across campus to squeeze in a workout. She heard a voice telling her to go to the international student office, but she had no business in that office, so she ignored it. She worked out and headed back to class, already late. She felt impressed again to go by the international student office, but she was already late so she kept walking.

Almost back to her class, Elizabeth decided she couldn't ignore the voice any longer and turned back.

When she entered the office, her friend Moses greeted her, "I've been waiting for you!" He led her outside, saying, "When I was praying in the night, the Holy Spirit impressed it upon my mind to bless you with this money." He placed something in her hands. "I felt I needed to give this to you." Elizabeth was speechless to find he had given her $50—enough to cover all her needs. Her prayers had been answered! She realized the Holy Spirit had been speaking to both of them.

Elizabeth's takeaway? The Spirit is changing her heart to be more trusting in God for everything, even things she things are already under control.

You see, the Holy Spirit is in the business of renovation. When we listen to what the Holy Spirit tells us, change happens. We might have to move out of our comfort zones. Our situations change. Our lives change. Most importantly, our hearts change. Speaking to Nicodemus in John 3:8, Jesus said, "The wind blows wherever it wishes; you hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. It is like that with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

We can't see the Holy Spirit, but His work in our lives is what renovates our hearts to better reflect God's character and likeness.

The gift of the Holy Spirit is available to all of us, and as we connect, grow, and serve under the roof at Pioneer Memorial Church, let us also join together in earnest prayer for the renovating work of the Spirit in our lives and on this place, that we may be better equipped to “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations."

PMC Evergreens: Ministry in Action

by Brianna Martin

Pioneer Memorial Church is the home of the Evergreens Pathfinder Club, the oldest Pathfinder club in the state of Michigan. Founded in 1952, the Evergreens have been meeting faithfully since then to recite and, more importantly, put into practice the Pathfinder Pledge and Law. Since 1962, the Pathfinders have been meeting in the dedicated Pathfinder Building on the campus of Andrews University, but they still do a great ministry under the roof here in Pioneer Memorial Church, as well.

Eduin Caballero, PMC's Pathfinder director, set the tone for the 2018-2019 Pathfinder year with a special theme. He writes (in the PMC Evergreens Handbook), "The Pathfinder theme for this year is "Half Full." Meaning, keeping a positive attitude at all times. In other words, keep a song in my heart. Our goals for this year are to continually disciple youth to lead for Christ, leave no one behind in that discipling and to foster a sense of Christ-centered mission from here to everywhere. It is our purpose in Pathfinders to provide spiritual training that will equip Pathfinders to serve God throughout their lives."

As Francis of Assisi famously said, " is in giving that we receive." The Evergreens stay "Half Full" by giving to others. Many people in our church and in our community have been touched by the great things our Pathfinders do. Chances are, if you're a member here, you’ve helped them help our community! Each November we bring canned goods and other items to the sanctuary. The Pathfinders collect what we bring, then take it to the Youth Chapel to sort, divide up, and deliver beautiful food baskets to families in need at Thanksgiving. This year, 150 of our community's families in need were served by the Evergreens.

You probably know that before Thanksgiving each year, the Evergreen Pathfinders make and freeze apple pies to sell to raise funds to help them purchase supplies, attend various events, and maintain or replace their equipment. This year, the club assembled 500 pies in the PMC Commons kitchen! It's a huge undertaking and a great learning experience for the Pathfinders. What you may not know about these pies is that not all of them are not sold to raise funds. In fact, each family who receives a food basket full of nonperishable foods for the holidays is also given a handmade apple pie to add a special touch to their Thanksgiving meal.

Pathfinders is a ministry for our children and youth. Through their coursework, as they work toward earning honors, and through involvement with Pathfinder Bible Experience the Evergreens memorize scripture, learn church history, and practice valuable skills. The volunteers that comprise the Pathfinder staff work with the young people in the club to guide and mentor them, bringing them closer to Jesus.

But Pathfinders isn't just a ministry for our children and youth. Pathfinders is also ministry by our children and youth. Teen Leaders in Training (TLTs) work with younger Pathfinders to lead and mentor them. Pathfinders minister to the community in a variety of ways, working together in cooperation to be of service to people around them. Today, under the roof here in PMC, our Evergreens children and youth are ministering to us by presenting our church service. Please take a moment to pray for our club, and when you do, consider whether there is something more you can do to help with this important ministry. If you'd like to do more, please contact Pastor Ben or Eduin Caballero at

For All People

by José Bourget

Several years ago my son looked forward to the part in Sabbath School when they dress up as missionaries. His favorite costume was the construction worker. Then one Christmas we boarded a plane to Nicaragua on a mission trip. You should have seen the big and wide smile on his face as he painted the walls of a church school. What he learned and dreamed in Sabbath School class was coming true.

In our gathering today we remember our beginning 60 years ago. We miss something if today is only about looking back. We lose a big something if we think renovation is just about keeping a roof over our heads, lighting to read this bulletin, padding pews to support our backs, and multiple innovations so we can hear better. The “something” we could miss is the heart of God.

So let's look back for a moment through the lens of this 233-word article. What part of our past is a must-have if we aren’t going to miss the heart of God? Logos, taglines, bulletin styles, carpet colors, and roof tiles come and go, but this is always true–Jesus is our central theme. Also still a part of our mission, this a house of prayer for all people. Prayer is how the children of God fill their lives daily with the presence of God. And we are a space for all people.

Here we grow the family of God. For Pioneer, "all" keeps growing. Pioneer started with this campus community; then we hit the radio waves; later we made it to the little screens through the tv waves. Then our larger denominational family asked us to share the heart of God to the world via satellite! It didn’t end there. We now share the rhythm of God’s heart through a global electronic pulse called the internet.

However, over six decades there is one constant mission field, this campus community. Pioneer’s warm embrace is broader than a single generation, gender, ethnicity, or nation. Look around—we are a house of prayer for all people. Renovate Heart and House invites us to explore how we can do it better. Fulfilling the great commission of Matthew 28 will take every one of us being missionaries. Let’s go big with the heart of God, engage all people in the mission so that we can go home!

*Student Movement February 23, 1959:*

"I have no other central theme than 'Jesus,' " Eld. J. L. Tucker, church pastor, began the first sermon in EMC's new church on Feb. 14.

"It shall ring from the nave, the balcony, the classrooms of this church,” he continued. “With David of old we say, ’I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” With gladness we welcome our visitors and members to this first service in our new church home. It is to be “an house of prayer for all people!”

This service marked the realization of a goal long worked for by EMC staff members and students spurred by Elder and Mrs. Tucker. Mrs. Tucker was not in attendance because she has gone to California until April for health.

In his short sermonette preceding the baptism of 20 persons, Elder Tucker compared the life of Jesus with the lives of some other individuals who have been remembered through centuries–Lincoln, Delilah, Absolom, etc.

Sgt. William Jones, baritone soloist of the United States Marine band, sang "The Lord's Prayer."

EMC's choral union expressed the appreciation of the worshipers in "How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place." Prior to the baptismal service they sang "Crown Him with Many Crowns."

The massed choir of approximately 250 voices consisted of the Collegians, Bell Chorale, College choir, Emmelodians, and the elementary choir. Mrs. Minnie Iverson Wood was the director.

My GROW Group Ministers to Me

by Russell Burrill

When my wife and I first moved to Berrien Springs, we joined one of the small churches in the area, where we could get to know people and be involved. That worked for a while, but never achieved the satisfaction we desired. Then we took a big step and joined Pioneer. It was so big; it was easy to get lost. Even while serving as Head Elder here, we still felt lost in the bigness of Pioneer.

Then 6 or 7 years ago we began GROW Groups under the roof of PMC. We started conducting a GROW Group the very first semester they started and have conducted them every spring and fall since. We no longer feel alone in the vastness of PMC. Our groups have enabled us to make friends with so many people we never would have met without the GROW Group. Getting involved in GROW Groups has made PMC feel like a small church to us. In fact, we can honestly say that PMC is more of a small church than most small churches because of GROW Groups. If one is overwhelmed by the largeness of PMC, there is no need to be overwhelmed anymore. Just join a GROW Group and PMC will be the best small church you have ever belonged to.

Not only do we get to know people in GROW Groups, but all of us grow spiritually as a result of our involvement, especially if you lead a group. We decided to do a verse by verse study of the entire book of Revelation, looking especially for the spiritual lessons God has for us in this fantastic book. Because of the detail of our study, it takes 7 semesters to make it through the book. We all learn so much from our study.

One might think that the primary blessing of leading a GROW Group is the spiritual growth we see in those that attend. That is there, but the real blessing comes to me. It forces me to study like I never have before. From my study I gain tremendous insights that help my spiritual life as well. In fact, I always feel the greatest growth in my own spirituality occurs while I am conducting a GROW Group. If it were not for my involvement in GROW Groups, I would never be engaging in this much deeper spiritual journey.

Of course, there is also the spiritual growth of those who attend. So many have remarked to me that even as Adventists they were afraid of last day events, but after understanding this great book of Revelation, they are no longer scared of the end times, because they have discovered a picture of a God who cares for them even in the darkest hour. People now have peace about the end times. Seeing this happen to them gratifies my own heart and helps me feel that all the time I put into these GROW Groups has been worthwhile.

As people grew spiritually and gained peace about the last days, they began to share with others and soon we had too many people for one group. At one time we even had to have 3 groups, but have settled on 2 now. This has been such a rewarding experience for Cynthia and me that we would not trade this for any other church. GROW Groups is one of the most exciting ministries that occur under the roof of PMC. What a blessing this "small" church has been to us.

A Place to Meet Yahweh

by Sarah Hill

The decision to come to Andrews was both easy and difficult. Easy because I knew God called me here, yet difficult because I was leaving the known for the unknown. Quitting a full time job, leaving my only support network of family and friends, and changing my major sounded crazy to most people but I took the plunge anyway.

As an introvert, I knew I would have to be very intentional about finding a community at Andrews. I wasn't the greatest at making friends, so I decided to go to all the programs and events I could. As a biology major, this became difficult but two programs I never missed were University Vespers on Friday nights and PMC second service on Sabbath mornings. Growing up in small country churches, I had never been exposed to such an array of musical talent. The worship was heartfelt and spirit filled. The messages were rich in truth and compelled my heart to dwell with Yahweh. Despite the immensity of the PMC sanctuary, I felt it was a home away from home.

I continued attending University Vespers almost every Friday night of my undergraduate years. The spring semester of my senior year, I was hired as the assistant director of Proximity Vespers, formally University Vespers. At the end of that same school year, I was offered the Assistant chaplain position and director of Proximity Vespers for the 2019-2020 school year and have been greatly enriched by the experience. I feel humbled and honored to be able to give back in a space that has given so much to me.

Second service here at PMC was the first place I publicly shared my testimony of my struggles with mental health and the miracle God provided of bringing my dead fish back to life. Sharing so openly about how God tangibly manifested His love towards me caused me to feel naked and exposed but there was no other place I would have felt more comfortable in.

It was at Proximity Vespers that my ministry officially began through sharing how I received the life-changing baptism of the Holy Spirit. I had never spoken to a crowd over 20 people, so it was a memorable moment for me. It was on that night, on the PMC stage that I realized how gifted I was at reaching the hearts of the broken.

This sanctuary means more to me than any other. It's the first place I shared my testimony of my struggles with mental health. It's the first stage I spoke to an audience of more than 20 people and it's the stage where my ministry officially began. Now, it's the stage I get to serve the Andrews community on. This huge renovation project you've taken on doesn't just make the sanctuary more appealing to the eye but preserves a holy space where Yahweh, the king of the universe, dwells and a space that means the world to thousands of students just like me.

Something In Common

by Duane Covrig

The message to God's church, Laodicea, as Pastor Dwight pointed out last week, is full of some very tense moments. Vomiting is not a pleasant topic to discuss, especially around mealtime.

And that was the setting. Jesus seemed to be showing up on time with his "stuff" for a meal. It seems to have been planned. A time to eat and enjoy some hospitality, community, and intimacy.

For the Jewish listener, the image immediately would have connected to the Song of Solomon where exchange at another door also seemed awkward, tense, planned but potentially failing. Two lovers were trying to figure out the best timing for their hearts to align!

Both scenes—in the Song and for Laodicea—have a door for a good reason.

Doors are essential architectural structures. They guard a space. They can be colorful, ornate, with big handles or small. They can even be painted yellow as we like at our house.

Doors shape boundaries. They define space. But doors have hinges. They are not walls. They are meant to be open.

It seems relationship require both these attributes as well. Children, families, people, need to have boundaries and be able to find safety in their own thinking and in their own families . . . But they can also be opened for the joy of hospitality to occur.

Opening ourselves to each other and to God is a delicate, complicated experience, but also something that can make us part of the community. It's something we all have in common, even God!

That has been the basic theme of our "Something in Common" Sabbath School (SICSS) for over 25 years. We meet in the PMC Commons" for that reason.

Our goal has been turning the hearts of the fathers and mothers first toward God and toward each other and then toward their children. Or for those who are single or without children, we have tried to create a safe place for all types of relationships using the principles of God’s hospitality of grace and truth.

But doors are not the only "architecture" needed to make homes. We quickly saw that in the current Renovate campaign at PMC. Doors open to a shared space. A shared roof is what houses our commonality.

Our SICSS team decided that it would be keeping with the call of our Sabbath School to participate with the Renovate House and Heart, as this was promoting our fundamental vision of creating something in common. A door opens us to hospitality and then a roof creates a shared experience.

We are thankful to be part of the PMC community sharing our time and resources but mostly our hearts to be part of a movement dedicated to hospitality. Open doors and shared roof seems like a great combination. As we Renovate House, Hearts, and Homes, our hope is that PMC will continue to be a warm place to work past our divisions—be they economic, national, ethnic, or gender-based—to fulfill the vision of being one in Christ.

January 16, 2019

by Brianna Martin

This week I had the great pleasure of talking with a wonderful couple, Joshua and Alina Baltazar. Joshua and Alina have been members of Pioneer Memorial Church since they were 13 and 14 years old, and they have always loved being a part of the church community here. Their lives have changed during their time in this community: they've gone from being teenagers to college students, to a young married couple, and now they're (still young) parents to 3 young men who are also members of PMC.

Together, the Baltazars have experienced so much life at PMC. They were married in this church, they graduated here, Joshua's father's funeral was here. They've shared beautiful moments with their friends and family here while attending many weddings, baptisms, and baby dedications in this sanctuary. Their kids, Alex, Matthew, and Lucas, have grown up here, so they've gone through the full range of Sabbath Schools as a family, teaching and learning in different seasons. They love the fellowship and community they have with the people here.

The love that Joshua and Alina have for the people that make PMC what it is, is evident when you talk to them. They've been involved in myriad aspects of ministry in the church, including greeting, teaching children's Sabbath Schools, volunteering at the Welcome Center, working on the Media Team, leading out the Family Life Committee, and more.

I asked the Baltazars to tell me, of all the ministries they've been involved in, which one has had the greatest impact on their family as a whole. It was only a brief instant before they both answered, “Sabbath School.” They feel that the wonderful Sabbath Schools at PMC have been a great influence on their children's lives. And, since their season of volunteering to lead out in their sons' classes has ended, Joshua and Alina have rediscovered a hunger for learning and studying Scripture in their adult Sabbath School class, led by Elder Daniels, until his recent death.

I asked the Baltazars to give their best advice and boil down their message to the rest of us who worship here, Under the Roof, and here it is, in 3 points:

"There's a Sabbath School for everyone, you just have to find it," Joshua advised. Alina agreed, urging us all to take advantage of the opportunity to learn from the wealth of knowledge that our adult Sabbath School teachers (and members) have, and join a class.

Choose something you enjoy, and get involved. Alina and Joshua have helped out with many different aspects of ministry over the years, and they pointed out that it's ok if one just doesn't float your boat. Find something that does, and engage!

Our church is the center and heartbeat of our community--take care of it! Our families are involved in church school, Sabbath School, Adventurers, Pathfinders, GROW Groups, Family Life events, Andrews University, and more. Joshua's colleagues at Notre Dame know this church because they listen to WAUS. PMC's ministries make a difference in our lives and in our community.

PMC is a large church, and it's not always easy, at first, to find your place here. But, the Baltazars have learned from experience that if you want the church to feel smaller, the first step is to engage in something you enjoy and reach out to those you come into contact with. Sabbath School is a great environment for this, and the various social events for families are also great for finding new friends. There's not only room for you under the roof, but PMC will only be better for your involvement!

January 9, 2019

by Steven Atkins

While most families in Berrien County woke up early Christmas morning to open gifts and celebrate Christmas, sixty-three Andrews Academy students and sponsors woke up very early to begin an "Adventure with God." After gathering in the Academy for a departing prayer, they traveled to Chicago O'Hare airport to embark on what would be the trip of a lifetime. Andrews Academy's SOW Safari group was taking its mission trip to Cuba. Some of the young people going on the trip had never been out of the country, and for some, it was the first time to even be on an airplane. But with bags packed, hugs from parents, and lots of prayers, these high-school students embarked on their adventure with God. After traveling most of Christmas Day, they arrived at Havana airport to be greeted by Cuban church members who had a meal prepared for them outside the airport.

SOW Safari, Andrews Academy's biennial two-week mission trip, has been an important part of Andrews Academy's mission since 1986. The name, SOW Safari, speaks to the reason for these trips: Service through the construction of a church or school building, Outreach through Vacation Bible School, and Witness through evangelistic efforts. To date, several hundred people have been baptized through the evangelistic component of these trips, including some of the students themselves!

What an amazing opportunity these participants had in Cuba. If you reflect back a few decades, who would have thought that a church school group of students from the USA would be participating in a mission trip to Cuba! God has opened many doors. The SOW Safari group was working at three different sites. One site was at the conference office in the city center where they are building a kitchen and cafeteria facility. Another group was helping construct some buildings at Cuba's first SDA youth camp where land was recently acquired. The third group was building a home church building at one of the church member's home. Church members have been meeting in someone’s home, and the church has outgrown the home. They cannot build a church on property owned by the church, however, they are able to build a building in the back yard of the privately owned land. Andrews Academy students helped build the two-story structure which will be a place of worship for this growing congregation.

Students have been working incredibly hard, and SOW sponsors are so proud of them because they did it with a smile on their face and a hungry spirit to serve. They have discovered so much already! Within two days of working at the conference office site, they have dug the ground, prepared the rebar reinforcements, and have poured the concrete for the footings. Students were encouraged to place their names in the setting concrete.

These young people put on both an evangelistic series for the adults and conducted VBS for the children. As some students summoned up the courage to tell Bible stories for the first time for groups of children, others preached their first-ever sermon. Vacation Bible School programs include singing, Bible stories, crafts and playing games with the children. The supplies for the VBS program were created by the students this past semester and were left with the children there so that they can continue to participate in the VBS experience.

The people there are incredibly warm and hospitable, and the SOW participants had an amazing experience there. God blessed during this trip. Thank Him for the life-changing experiences of this trip not only on the children in Cuba but also in the changed lives of those who served.

Pioneer has defined the discipleship journey with 4 words; Connect, grow, serve, and go. Here, Andrews Academy took students who have grown up under our roof and stepped into the next phase of discipleship. These students have a clear picture of what it means to GO! So as we think through all of the elements of discipleship that happen under the roof, let us not forget that we are working toward a goal, GO!

January 2, 2019

by John Youngberg

John Youngberg at the start of every year opens his home, a few blocks from our church, for 10 days of prayer, (this evening at 6:00 PM). Today, Under the Roof, we are focusing on the power of prayer—John has seen that power at work time and time again as he notes below.


It was in the early 1970s. An undergrad student group from Andrews was gathered on Friday evening around a campfire at nearby Five Pines Camp. One after another gave their testimonies of God's dealings in their lives. My late wife Millie was there. She heard their heart-felt pleas and prayers. Prayer went up and power came down. The blessed Holy Spirit was there and took charge. Confessions were made.

The following weekend these students shared at PMC. A deep spiritual work began to take place. It far overshadowed anything else happening on campus. That year an accreditation team from the North-Central Association came to Andrews. Delegates from non-SDA universities interviewed AU students asking what changes needed to be made in academic programs and campus activities. Practically no criticisms could be drawn out of the students! One visiting professor reported that it was obvious that a spiritual revival permeated the campus. Millie and other professors took students to Kettering Ohio, also to what was then Washington Missionary College (now Columbia Adventist University), and to other Adventist colleges and they shared their experiences and the revival spread.

Some bystanders questioned what was taking place and hinted that maybe it was fanaticism. I was present at PMC when then General Conference President, Robert H. Pierson, ascended to the pulpit and bravely allied himself with the revival; and said that it was God and the Holy Spirit that was at work.

But How About Today?

But some may say, "That was 50 years ago! I wasn't even born yet! Are you telling us about ancient history?"

I've seen similar happenings in more recent years. Millie and I were holding a seminar. It was the last evening. Couples were seated at an Agape Feast around decorated tables arranged in the form of a Cross. Husbands had a rose beside their plates that they would give to their wives at the right moment with words of love. One couple after another went to the microphone to show appreciation and affirm each other.

But then something happened that wasn't on the program. We had even told the participants not to do it. Couples began confessing their sins—unfaithfulness to the marriage vow. A wife said, "Two nights ago I slept with a revolver under my pillow aimed at my husband." And on and on went the testimonies. Tears were shed, hearts were turned. We learned of 6 couples there who had separated or were on the verge of divorce. Finally the meeting was over and we announced that there would be a hay-ride for those who wanted to participate and table games were available. But the couples didn't want to go on the hay-ride; practically no-one wanted to play games. Small informal groups gathered throughout the dining hall. One interest prevailed and swallowed up every other. They had sensed God's presence and the Holy Spirit had spoken to them in its "still small voice".

A Prayer for Today

My Lord, Jesus who died for me on the Cross, Holy Spirit, loving Father, forgive my feverish, foolish ways. My prayer ascends to You. Holy Spirit, I can't use You, but You can use me. I want to spend more time in prayer and devotions than I do in watching TV or communicating on my cell phone. Come soon. I want to be ready and spread the Good News to my friends and anywhere You send me. Speak, Lord, I'm listening...

-Love ya, it's me

December 19, 2018

by Richard Parke, Gaddiel Zelaya Martínez, Brittany Doyle

As another year comes to an end, we reflect on the privilege we have to serve you in this House of God, and those who consider Pioneer home–our digital viewing community. Pioneer has always been uniquely positioned to have impacts both locally, through our active Media Ministry, and globally, with our New Perceptions television ministry. This year we have begun to give more focus to our online viewing community.

Our online reach has shown vast growth in 2018. We've had over 692,000 online views of our live and on-demand content, totaling over 150,000 hours of people connecting with Christ. It is our mission to be a part of facilitating this connection. On Sabbath morning our live streaming viewers can chat with our host, sharing in the conversation. Television and online viewers alike who watch our on-demand contact also interact frequently with our call center chaplains. We continue to air on WHME-TV 46 in South Bend, reaching over 112,000 households across Michiana. This, coupled with our global reach on television broadcast networks, like 3ABN and Hope Channel, allows us to continue reaching homes across the globe. It's all part of our digital evangelism strategy here at Pioneer. At the end of the day these updates represent more than just data. Each one of these numbers represents a person – someone who has connected with our ministry and more importantly, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

This is all made possible because of your support of our Media Ministry. One of the things that your support helped accomplish this year was the replacement of our aging wireless microphone systems in the Sanctuary, Commons, and Youth Chapel. We also replaced one of our most depreciated video projectors in the Youth Chapel. We are hopeful that through your support, we will be able to address some additional Sabbath School needs in the near future; including better Internet access for web-based learning in the classroom. In conjunction with Renovate, we also look forward to updated lighting and control systems, as well as improving auditory quality, in our Sanctuary, in 2019.

Media Ministry is just one more way Pioneer moves outside the church to bring the world to Christ. As we look to a new year, may we all look for ways to touch lives and spread His love.

To continue supporting the inreach and outreach initiatives of our Media Ministry at Pioneer, please indicate "Media Ministry" when giving.

December 12, 2018

by José Bourget

This week I had the opportunity to sit down with Marilyn Butler. In the last couple of years, we've gotten to know each other through our GROW Group, House of Prayer (AM). Our group meets in the Youth Chapel every Wednesday at 7 AM. She's been a joy to get to know and has a really big heart. Let me introduce you to her:

J: Let's start with some really simple questions: What are a couple of your favorite songs and a favorite Bible promise?
M: "Shall We Gather at the River" was sung every Friday evening with my family. We changed it a bit to say, "gather with the family at the river." Another very meaningful song is one my husband and I sang together that seem to touch people's hearts, "Do You Know My Jesus?." My favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Just after my husband died there were times when I didn't think I could do this. The verse really gave me what I needed.

J: What is an activity that you enjoy doing?
M: I love to crochet! In fact, one of Pastor Ben's boys received a blanket I made for him. Right now, I get to make them to sell to help pay for my grandchildren's school bill.

J: How long ago did you move to Berrien Springs, and what brought you here?
M: I was born in Iowa and lived most of my life [there]. When my husband died, the plan was to move closer to our daughter and grandchildren.

J: Why did you decide to attend Pioneer Memorial Church?
M: Mostly because my grandchildren go to Ruth Murdoch Elementary School. They are involved in activities here and I want to be here to support them. The reason they come here is because Pioneer Memorial has wonderful programs in Sabbath School for children.

J: What would you say have been some of the more meaningful moments in your time here?
M: There are lots of those moments. It's hard to just pick one. God led very directly in me coming here; that was a big influence. I thoroughly enjoy Sabbaths here with sermons and the involvement with the small groups. All those things are very meaningful to me. I wanted to come here while I was still young enough to get acquainted and find new friends here, and I have done that!

J: I've gotten to know you through our group that meets on Wednesday mornings. Why did you decide to come at this early hour and what keeps you coming?
M: Well, I'm a morning person and I don't like to get out at night. So I chose the morning for that reason. A lot of the year, it is lighter in the morning—not right now—but it is a lot of the time. I just really enjoy fellowship and prayer. Prayer is an important part of my life. This morning prayer meeting is very meaningful to me.

J: What other parts of Pioneer life do you really enjoy?
M: I enjoy the Sabbath School. Our class is quite interactive, and I enjoy that. I have the opportunity to bring a lady with me that is elderly and is unable to drive on her own. It's a blessing to bring Mary Ross with me each Sabbath morning.

J: What would you say to someone thinking about coming to Pioneer?
M: Try it! I would say try it. There is more activity than you can possibly take part in. You have to pick and choose. That was new to me coming from a small church where everyone had to be involved in everything or it didn't happen. Here there are so many things to choose from. I can't do all the things I enjoy doing, so it's a blessing to have this much to pick from.

J: Marilyn, thank you for sharing with us. I'm so blessed to get to share this journey with you.

November 21, 2018

by Brianna Martin

My son, Emmett, is 3 years old, and he is an active future member (he's already planning his baptism) of Pioneer Memorial Church.

Here's a little glimpse into how Emmett is part of church life of PMC:

As you'd expect, he loves his Sabbath School class. He loves the songs (we sing them often at home during the week, too), he loves the stories, he loves being with other kids his age who love Jesus, and he loves his Sabbath School teachers, too.

But Sabbath School is just the beginning of Emmett's church activity. He also attends the church service regularly. He is a 3-year-old, so it's not always easy for him to sit and listen, but most of the time he does well. He loves the children's story, yes, but he also loves the parts of the service that aren't geared toward little ones: special music selections, song service, and even the sermons. On the Sabbaths we are forced to miss church because of sickness or some other issue, he asks to watch the live stream of PMC's Second Service on Facebook.

Emmett also attends prayer meeting (the 7 AM House of Prayer) every week. He looks forward to it all week long, and he's begun sharing Bible stories there. He often prays with the other attendees.

We attend Mommy (and Daddy) and Me 2-3 often, and Emmett is always thrilled to know when we're going. He loves playing with the other children, doing the crafts provided, and singing and learning during circle time.

My son looks forward to going to PMC every time he goes, because he meets people there who show him love every single time, without fail.

Maybe you're a Sabbath School teacher doing ministry under the roof of PMC in a room full of energetic youngsters eager to learn about Jesus.

Maybe you're an elder or a pastor sharing in the leadership of House of Prayer.

Maybe you're a member of the praise team or the media team, ministering by making the service special and accessible for the rest of us.

Maybe you're a deacon or deaconess, helping out with all that goes on behind the scenes.

There are many opportunities for ministry leadership under the roof, and you are making a difference when you help in these ways.

But the ministry I am most thankful for, as the mother of a little boy who already loves God and loves his church, is the love ministry of John 13:35 which says, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

Emmett (and he's not the only child with a story like this) loves Jesus because you, the members of PMC, have loved Emmett. He sees that Jesus has made a difference in your lives by the way you treat him. This ministry of love is open to all of us, and it doesn’t just work on 3-year-olds. Under the Roof of Pioneer Memorial Church, let love be our primary ministry.

November 14, 2018

by Debbie Michel

It's 5:30 on a Sabbath evening and the air in the Earliteen Loft is electric with excitement. It's the opening day of the GROW Group called Earliteen Extended (ETX) and almost 70 young students are in attendance. Why all the interest? This PMC GROW Group is specifically targeted to the needs of the young. Last week's ETX program topic on "Awkward" was presented by Andrews University communication professor Heather Thompson Day. Past topics have ranged from "Gorgeous 2 God," which deals with the esteem challenges girls often face, to “Something about the Music,” questions the power and place of music in the life of young Christians.

ETX grew out of a need. It was during the Hope Trending evangelistic campaign two years ago when 7th and 8th graders packed the Loft night after night for their own watch party, bringing along friends and even pet dogs, a turtle and gerbil. It was truly a zoo! After Pastor Dwight Nelson completed his 20-minute Ted Talk-style presentation, the students had their own lively 20-minute Q&A with a panel of specialists. There was never enough time to cover topics, which naturally led to leaders creating another outlet to explore relevant issues.

Since then ETX has featured musicians from the ranks of Earliteen and Youth and has had a social component with games and icebreakers led by our college students. The Earliteen Sabbath school also embraces service projects and students are now working toward contributing to the church's renovation budget.

The students are no strangers to giving when they notice a need. Last fall they heard of a huge need involving children in Syria, where children lacked the basic supplies that many take for granted. Since they were aware that Jesus Christ said to let their lights shine, they knew they had to do something, and the backpack project was born. Sabbath school teacher Carmen Avila said that the idea began when the students were studying their lesson and began asking a series of questions: How can I be a missionary? How can I do something for someone? As Carmen thought about it, she knew that whatever the students decided on, it should be "something that they could put their hands on, not just get some money from their parents." What if, she thought, they neglected to give themselves something really important or something they enjoyed and set aside that money to do something meaningful?

It was around this time Carmen heard about a project of sending backpacks with school supplies to refugee children in Syria. When she told her class, they were excited to help, and fundraising plans were quickly hatched. The main challenge was how to get 7th and 8th graders with no jobs to raise $1,000. But the students' faithfulness surpassed everyone's expectations! The entire Sabbath school class ended up raising $1,200 within the span of eight weeks. Under the roof at PMC, as Earliteens learn to extend themselves, they're living out Philippians 2:4: Let each of you look not only to his own interest but also to the interest of others.

November 7, 2018

by Jose Bourget

Take a moment and Google "the art of making a tapestry." You'll find a really informative video explaining the history and process of this centuries-old art form. Interestingly, it is more than a beautiful display of colors and patterns; it intends to tell a story. The storyteller is the weaver who guides each strand through the skillful and patient work of crafting, line by line, an intelligent and inspiring snapshot of history. Question: if we step back for a moment to see the picture of the spiritual vitality at Pioneer Memorial Church, what would we see? Would a pattern emerge? Could you see the skill and intentionality of a Master Weaver? We are launching a series entitled, "Under the Roof: Capturing the Heart of PMC." At first, we will get to see individual strands, a close up of Immanuel–the many ways the Spirit is weaving its way through the life of individuals, families, and the community. Each week, as the colorful strands build on each other, a pattern emerges. Maybe you already know what the picture will look like, so don't spoil it for the rest of us! The stories will come from the various ministry teams that serve year round. You may not know this, but we do have a strong pulse driving this faith community. For example, here is a partial snapshot of the lifelines that are crafting the tapestry of Pioneer’s mission on average on a weekly basis:

  • 6 Elders
  • 120 Volunteers for Sabbath School's birth - 14 years old
  • 26 Deacons
  • 6 Traffic Volunteers
  • 20 Media Ministry Volunteer Specialists
  • 23 Adventurer leaders
  • 20 Pathfinder leaders
  • 38 Hospitality Volunteers
  • 35 Collegiate and Adult Sabbath School Leaders
  • 16 Youth Sabbath School Leaders
  • 40 Grow Groups

Let's be clear: this is a partial snapshot. There are dozens of more ministry teams that are pulsating with the heart of God each week. Stats are great, right? Sure, but they lack the beauty and intricacies of a handmade tapestry. Stats don’t tell us about the people–the distinctiveness of names, the answered prayers and divine appointments only made possible with the artistry of the Master Weaver at work. I’m confident that the tapestry of Pioneer is a beautiful picture. But let’s take a closer look at the uniqueness, creativity, and intentionality that the Spirit is moving through our lives in this campus community. Do you have a Pioneer story to share about how God impacted your life or the life of someone you know? Email us at and one of our story scouts will come to capture your story. We want to retell the creative and compassionate work that God is doing in your life. In our retelling, we will see how the heart of God is moving in us and through us. I wonder if the art of tapestry is what Auntie Ellen (an endearing way of referencing Ellen G. White) was imagining when penning the following line: "Every human being is to work with his/her life thread, weaving it into the fabric to help complete the pattern." (6T 115.1) I'm on the edge of my seat as we take a closer look at the tapestry that makes up the heart of Pioneer.