By Debbonnaire Kovacs, September 14, 2016     Spokane Central Seventh-day Adventist Church in Spokane, Washington is active in some unexpected ways. According to their Facebook page they have just started six new small groups. Not so unusual? Wait until you see the subjects. Nature Walks and Hikes—not only healthy and enjoyable, but eminently Adventist by the most conservative standards. Two guitar groups, one for beginners and one that’s a jam session—music is always a good community binder. So far, nothing surprising. (Though I do remember the day that my Adventist Academy lost a student who was already unsure of her welcome, when she played special music and accompanied herself on her guitar and was rebuked for it. But those days are long past, I devoutly hope!) Here’s a good, deep spiritual one for brave souls: “Learning to Tell Myself the Truth.” That will be invaluable. Then we get to Motorcycle Riding. Really? And—be sure to breathe—Firearm Safety/Target Shooting. Wait—a church who is as interested in putting principles into actual practice as talking about the need for more commonsense concerning guns?

  1. Spokane Central is walking their talk in other ways as well. They have a large and lively Vacation Bible School, a Kids’ Club, and a Maranatha project going on. One of their most exciting ministries is called Discovery Junction. This is an Adventist Community Service ministry, about six months old, which occupies a small house between the church and its fellowship hall.

In Discovery Junction, the church is hosting a program called STEAM Ahead, which provides hands-on learning in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. All this is accomplished through after-school programs and yearly summer camp opportunities for 3rd and 4th graders in the neighborhood.

The STEAM Ahead director, Rachel Sumagpang, said, “This is an important ministry. Besides knowing they are safe, valued, and learning fun things, we have the opportunity to introduce these children to Jesus and His love.” [Quoted from UCC Newsletter.]

According to the Adventist Community Services newsletter of August 29:

They’ve had a six-week course for two hours a day that included Forensic Science, Biology, and Lego Robotics. The students have also planted 4 x 4 gardens which are producing successfully. Other activities include music, games, arts and crafts, building bird houses, character-building activities, and etc.

Now that public schools have started for the new school year, the program will get going once again. A local engineering firm has offered to regularly send engineers to teach a segment probably once a month. They have also included programs for senior citizens and English language study lessons for non-native speakers. “Since Discovery Junction houses 12 new computers, I see potential for ESL classes or Eldercare enrichment,” says Patty Marsh, ACS Director of Upper Columbia Conference. The Spokane Better Living Center now includes a fall-prevention exercise class that meets twice a week for their over 60 age group (Eldercare).

In a local neighborhood newsletter, there is a write-up that sounds excited about the opportunities, and reports that some Garfield Elementary School students are already signed up.

Upper Columbia Conference, to which Washington churches belong, is paying attention. On August 13, Paul Hoover, UCC President, presented Central’s senior pastor, Dayv Lounsbury, with a $15,000 check, a Compassion Model Church grant, “to encourage Discovery Junction to continue to make a difference in the community.” [UCC newsletter.]

So far, Central is the only church that has applied for and received a Compassionate Church Model grant.

The same UCC newsletter adds, “Paul Hoover, Upper Columbia Conference President, presented the check to Pastor Lounsbury on Sabbath morning.  ‘Evangelism isn’t just sharing events about prophecy,’ stated Hoover. ‘“It is sharing the love of Jesus without even using words.  And that is what Discovery Junction is doing.’”

Can I hear an “amen”?


Photo: Paul Hoover, president of UCC hands the grant funds to Spokane Central Church pastor, Dayv Lounsbury. Photo by Art Lenz