December 17, 2019

Here at the SCC office, the first week of December kicked off the hectic pace of our year-end activities, reports and events. While we all prepare to close the year in different areas and get ready for the upcoming year, we set aside a couple of hours to have our traditional Christmas luncheon. Within this Christmas spirit, we ate traditional food and goodies, played games, sung carols and listened to stories, highlighting that the greatest gift heaven has given to us should motivate a hospitable and generous spirit—not only in this season, but through the whole year.

On the rainy Sabbath, December 5, I worshiped with the El Sereno Spanish church members. As always, these brothers and sisters showed me to be a loving and mission-oriented congregation. Thank you, dear friends, for your warm welcome and hospitality. Pleasant memories revived when we had evangelistic meetings nine years ago.

My last weekend had more Christmas flavor while I participated in two events. On Sabbath morning, Esther and I worshipped with our Vallejo Drive church members. Elder Mark Papendick, associate pastor, preached his last sermon since now he is retiring for the second time. After his benediction, while he was stepping down the platform and heading to the main door, the church choir surprisedly surrounded him and sung the beautiful words of the song “The Lord Bless You and Keep You.” It was a very gracious and meaningful send-off to a veteran and successful pastor for 44 years. Thank you, Mark, for your dedication and for portraying what is a Seventh-day Adventist pastor. Your ministry was always admirable and laudable. May the Lord bless you abundantly as you enjoy “real” retirement with your family.

Right after, we joined a group of 40-plus Vallejo Drive church members to distribute 470 blankets and hot soup to the homeless in downtown Los Angeles. What a wonderful experience seeing children, young people and adults sharing their time in loving service to these children of God. Yes, they also are His children, not just me and those of “my kind.” Thank you, Pastor Ben Guerrero, for facilitating this practical Christian experience as a reminder for many of us of what Jesus said: Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40).

Last Sunday, Esther and I participated in the Hispanic Region Christmas dinner. We really enjoyed this beautiful gathering along with our pastors and their families. Thank you, Elder and Mrs. Jaime Heras, for the gracious treat you had for your region team. Feliz Navidad a todos!


  • SCC Day of Prayer: Save the date for Sabbath, January 25, 2020, at the Spanish American SDA Church. All are invited to come and seek the Lord’s blessing as we begin a new year.

Your fellow traveler,

Velino A. Salazar
Southern California Conferenc