NEWS FROM THE BRANCHES

July/August/September 2015

First Michigan Branch – Sr. Kathleen Haley Reporting

Apostle Bob Murie asked a question to start one of his recent Communion addresses: "Are you the same person today as you were yesterday?" If the answer is yes, then there has been no growth. We need to grow or learn something new each day. We need to repent of our sins. We have to show the world that we have truly repented. We do not need to take Communion to repent, we can do that anytime. Each day, we need to progress toward perfection. Communion is done so that we can remember the covenant we made with Jesus Christ at the water’s edge of baptism. For true repentance, we are told to "go and sin no more."

This Mother’s Day we had a testimony service remembering the upbringing and the lessons that our mothers gave us. We took time to praise God for the mothers we had and for the faith that they taught us.

Memorial Day—a holiday for most people—but it comes with an expensive price tag, the cost of many lives over the years. There are very few left who remember WWI, and but a few left who served our country in WWII. There have been other wars and conflicts since where many have given their lives, limbs, or minds for our safety. Their families have also suffered a great loss. To all of them, we’d like to say a huge THANK YOU. I would also like to say thank you to all those who serve on the police and fire departments in this country. They also put their lives on the line for us. There really are no words that adequately describe our heartfelt feelings—so again I’ll say THANK YOU--AND MAY GOD BLESS AMERICA AND MAY AMERICA BLESS GOD.

Seventy Raymond Setter brought us a powerful sermon recently, "This Do—Stand Steadfast." We need to remain faithful and endure to the end and be ready to accept and teach the influx of people that will be coming that the Lord is preparing in different faiths to accept His gospel at the end of times. Remember what Christ said, "Other sheep I have that are not of this fold." Satan waters down the message but GOD CHANGES NOT. Talk to God always. Before starting any type of project always ask yourself, "What would Jesus do?" God will answer and show us the way. We have to be tuned in to God, and obey His voice.

Bill McAllister went through his second back surgery in a month. Please pray for Bill that this time his back will be corrected.

We started "Christ in America" in the "Go Ye and Teach" slides. Constantly, there are new evidences coming forth all the time to confirm this. Very interesting!

Elder Jim Malmgren brought the communion address recently and did a wonderful job. Our special music for the service was "The Lord’s Prayer" which is Jim’s favorite hymn. He read from III Nephi 12: 26-29 which sums up the reason for the Communion. The remembrance of what Christ did for us by dying on the cross should make us humble and very thankful. By His action we know that He loves us very much. We need to show our love for Him by the service we do in His name.

Apostle Bob Murie taught a class on a past Sunday, asking us, "Who Closed the Cannon of Scriptures?" It was very interesting. I have always been taught that "God changes not. He is the same today, yesterday, and forever." It only stands to reason that, if God spoke to the people all down through the ages, why would He change today and remain silent? There has been so much written that we do not have yet, so it makes sense that there is so much more to come.

We spent Father’s Day honoring our fathers by giving testimonies of them and of the values that they instilled in us. We also talked about our faith in our heavenly Father. We honor Him by following His Word.

We were also very happy to hear that Patriarch Dick Wilson came home from the nursing home. He has been through so much but we know that the Lord was also there with him. Sunday was also his birthday and, of course, Father’s Day and the first day of summer. What a beautiful day!!

We are very fortunate in this border area of Michigan and Ontario to be able to celebrate the birthdays of our two great nations. Happy Birthday to Canada on July 1 and Happy Birthday to the United States of America on July 4.  We love both of these friendly nations and pray that God will continue to bless them and that they, in turn, will thank the Lord for all His blessings.

In a Communion address, Priest Karl Bell relayed a story about a man who always prayed. One day someone asked him what he gained from praying all the time. He answered, "It’s not what I’ve gained but what I’ve lost. I’ve lost my fear (Jer. 33:38ff; Eph. 6:10-15) by putting on the whole armor of God. I’ve lost my anger by coming out of the darkness (Eph. 4:22ff). Bitterness is out of my life by accepting and acting on God’s Word. It’s an order by God to obey His commandments by controlling our emotions.

Apostle Murie, in his Communion remarks, which were along the same line, said that we should leave our bad emotions at the Church door and seriously consider whether or not to pick them back up when we leave. My question is, "What attributes have we lost through our prayers?

It’s Geneseo reunion time again. Three of our four priesthood members were able to go this year. They all came back with glowing testimonies of their experiences. They are also eager to attend again next year. We thank the Lord for the unity that exists there.

Praise the Lord! We will now be meeting for our worship services at the Holiday Inn at Haggerty Road and Grand River in Farmington, MI. We have chosen to meet on the first and third Sunday of the month. Meeting twice a month is far better than not meeting at all. May God’s Spirit be with us and bless us abundantly.

Sperry, Oklahoma Branch – Sr. Debbie Eastin Reporting

May’s rainfall brought relief from a three year drought in the State of Oklahoma. The Sperry area received a near record high of 15 inches of rain. By Memorial Week the lakes, ponds, and creeks were full or overflowing. Floodwater blocked roadways, damaged homes, and laid waste to spring crops. Being a blessed and provisioned people, our losses were minimal. The weekend of May 23 brought clear skies and the Blackgum Campground clean-up took place as scheduled. Seventy Roger Tracy, High Priest Elbert Rogers, Priest John Seaton, and new member Stuart Tindle joined others in preparing the ground for June events. Roger Tracy reported three new signs were placed at the campground: "Moroni Was Seen Here," "Two Angels Stood Here," and "Angels Sang with Us." Sunday’s guest speaker, Elder Alex VunCannon, arrived safely to present the message and part one of a series on prophetic lineage.

June was all about camps, reunions, and blessings. Senior High Camp kicked off on June 13 with Alex Tibbitts and Christian Dobson attending from the Sperry Branch. Attending the Idaho Reunion were Elder C.H. Whiteman, Pat Whiteman, and Patti Jobe. On June 20, the Oklahoma Reunion started with attendance by 18 members of the branch. The families in attendance included the Rogers, Van Meter, Powers, Tibbitts, Holt, and Tracy. On the heels of the Oklahoma Reunion was the Junior High Camp. Sperry attendees were Parker Tibbitts, Caitlin Dobson, and Haylin Butler. Those I spoke with enjoyed the camps and reunions and felt blessed to be there. The best quote came from High Priest Elbert Rogers: "The reunion was low in numbers but high in Spirit."

June blessings came in many forms. On Sunday, June 14, Alex VanCannon taught further on the ‘Calling of Prophets,’ and President James VunCannon brought the message. Scarlett Heilman, daughter of Lisa Heilman and Brandon Fitzgerald, was blessed by High Priest Elbert Rogers and Seventy Roger Tracy. The blessing was preceded by special music from the Children’s Choir. Following the service, guest and members gathered in the gym for a luncheon feast. Included in the lineup of desserts was a special cake presented to Matthew Jobe in recognition of his graduation from the University of Oklahoma with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. Certainly we were fed meat for our spirits and our flesh that day.

Although few in numbers due to reunion, Priest John Seaton provided the Father’s Day message on June 21. Presiding High Priest Steve Van Meter recognized the fathers with most children, the oldest, youngest, and newest member. All the men in attendance received a gift of a chocolate bar with message to take home.

In July, Independence Day celebration took center stage the first week as an abundance of fireworks lit the night skies. However, the focus turned quickly back to the needs of our congregation. On July 11, twenty men gathered together for a workday and Aaronic Priesthood meeting with Bishop Dan Keleher and Priest Keith Cruickshank. The day started with a hearty breakfast before class and dividing into work groups. The exterior of the building was spray washed, the storage shed was repaired as well as other maintenance work completed. (A big THANKS to all who attended and labored.)

We were further blessed with visits on July 19 and July 26. Elder Alex VunCannon presented the conclusion of the series on prophetic lineage for Sunday School and the Sunday message. Despite little sleep the night before and a boring car drive, he presented a wonderful message and demonstrated a true desire to serve the Lord. Prayers were offered for his safe return home. The blessings and Spirit continued the next Sunday. Mike Zahner, Roger Tracy, John Seaton, and Elbert Rogers sang a song that captivated our hearts and ushered in the Holy Spirit. Patriarch Leland Collins presented a sermon and his testimony. The service was uplifting and a fine conclusion to the quarter.

Rogers, Arkansas Branch – Sr. Lucy Minardi Reporting

It’s the busy time of year again. Several members have been on vacation this summer. Jim and Lucy Minardi, along with Laura and Lukas, traveled to Gulf Shores, AL. Rob and Bev Parrish visited the East Coast. Nita Cook attended the reunion at Independence. Other members have entertained family, so our attendance has fluctuated this summer.

We have had several guest speakers during the summer months. Apostle Terry Patience ministered to us earlier this summer. We were also blessed to have Seventy Roger Tracy on May 17 and Bishop Dan Keleher in June. Seventy Matt Goodrich, his wife Esther, and his mother-in-law also visited with us, providing music and an inspiring sermon.

Our Sunday School class is studying the Book of Mormon. Jim Browning is our teacher and we have enjoyed discussing our lessons each week.

We invite all to come visit us. We have some wonderful things to do in our area. Crystal Bridges Art Museum is fantastic, and a new children’s museum just opened in Bentonville. We also have Beaver Lake nearby. So, if you are vacationing in our area, make sure to come to church!!

Southern Indiana Branch – Sr. Rebecca Paris Reporting

Greetings from Southern Indiana to all of our friends around the world! Our summer has gone by all too quickly here. Most of our schools in the area had about 7 weeks of summer break from the second week of June until the last week of July. School is back in session and summer is now just a happy memory of no homework and family time together.

Nathan Paris will be a part of the high school play and will also be running with the cross country team. He recently joined a traveling baseball team as well to improve his skills in that sport. He will be preaching his first sermon for us in December. We look forward to seeing him bring the spoken word to our group!

Rachel Paris has graduated high school as Salutatorian of her class and is leaving the area to start her experience at Western Kentucky University. She will be greatly missed! We know she will enjoy meeting so many new people and learning all about theater and communications. We wish her good luck and know the Lord has a special plan for her life!

Courtney Caffrey is starting her third year of college. She will be doing internships this school year for her degree in social work.

Tristan Caffrey is starting his sophomore year of high school. His ankle, which he broke in April, has healed fine and he was able to wear regular tennis shoes on both feet just in time to start the new school year. Praise God!

Riley Woodruff started high school this year and made the high school volleyball team! Congratulations!

Kevin Woodruff made his middle school tennis team! Awesome!

Richard and Rebecca, along with Rachel and Nathan, had a great time journeying out to Oklahoma for Senior High Camp this summer. Many hearts were softened, and the Spirit of the Lord blessed us with many rich experiences and testimonies.

We want to thank the Lord that Brian Caffrey, an elder at our congregation, has been given the option to work 2nd shift at his work so he will be able to join us more often on Sunday mornings. He had been working the 3rd shift.

Southern Indiana congregation is looking forward to hosting High Priests Rod Walsh and Jack Evans in August and then seeing Priest Josh Turner in September. We always love having visiting ministry and invite anyone traveling through the Louisville, KY, area to let us know. Our church is located just 15 minutes away from Louisville.

Richard Paris is looking forward to being a part of the baby blessing of William Kevin Romer in August. It is always a joy and a blessing to witness this beautiful ordinance of a newborn baby. We send our love and prayers to each of you. We hope to meet someday in Zion.

First Branch – Sr. Brenda Evans Reporting

First Branch members have had a multiplicity of rewarding Church activities this summer.

Many of the branch members attended two or more of the reunions held in Iowa, Oklahoma, Illinois, and the Center Place Reunion held at First Branch, Independence. Each reunion was spiritually uplifting. The Oklahoma Reunion was directed by First Branch member, Apostle Don Burnett. The Geneseo, IL, Reunion, directed by First Branch member Elder Robert Moe and Apostle Robert Murie from Michigan, was probably the largest reunion in attendance as it was advertised as the "Geneseo Outreach Reunion" and invited members of churches throughout the Restoration to attend. The spirit of peace, unity, and harmony prevailed throughout the classes, the spoken Word, and the fellowship. Those attending recognized the special quality and worth of the week and there were many who spoke to this reporter of their desire to come back for next year’s reunion!

Youth camps involved several First Branch members, either as campers or staff members. The Remnant Vacation Church School was also staffed by several First Branch members and was held in the First Branch Worship Center. The children were treated to wonderful experiences of learning.

The Center Place’s summer preaching series is held at First Branch on Sunday evenings. Apostle Terry Patience, Patriarch Leland Collins, Apostle Don Burnett, President Ralph Damon, Presiding Bishop Kevin Romer, Seventy Ray Setter and President Fred Larsen have brought ministry in June and July. August speakers will include President Jim VunCannon, Presiding Patriarch Carl VunCannon, Seventy Roger Tracy and a closing service with High Priest Elbert Rogers preaching.

First Branch has been the scene for two weddings this summer. Tim Harrington and Cyndi Vreeland were married June 27 in a beautiful and sacred ceremony. The second joyful occasion was held July 26 when First Branch members Ken Byrd and Roxana Fishel were united in the sacrament of marriage by High Priest Kevin Romer. Ken and Roxana wanted to include their Church family as much as possible and invited members of First Branch to direct, coordinate, decorate, and participate in this sacred ordinance. May God’s blessings continue to pour out on Ken and Roxana and the people of First Branch as we knit our lives together in love and service to each other and to our Lord and Master.

Magic Valley, Idaho Branch - Br. James Watkins Reporting

The Idaho Saints have just completed a beautiful retreat out at the Brackett ranch. We met Friday, July 31 through Sunday, Aug. 2. We met to further our understanding of consecration, the gathering to Zion, and the temple rights as they were brought to the Church by Bishop W. Kevin Romer. Sadly, Bishop Romer was unable to come to Idaho as he was admitted to the hospital again for tests. We did watch his sermon on these subjects through the live-stream. Bishop Romer e-mailed information to Seventy Jim Watkins to further assist in explaining these subjects. We are all praying for Kevin’s healing.

The retreat was very well attended by the Idaho Saints. We look forward to another one in three months!

Carthage, Missouri Branch - Br. Dustin Westbay Reporting

The Carthage Remnant Branch has had a busy summer. We sent one senior high student, Jason Tevebaugh to Senior High Camp and Jeremiah, Jacob and Joshua Rea attended Junior High Camp. All of them had an amazing time at the camps and made lifelong friends.

Our little branch has a big beautiful addition to it, a gorgeous new Church sign, proudly displayed on the north side of the building.

Dustin and Tina Westbay are excited to share that they are in the process of adopting Daisy’s half brother. They are very appreciative of all the thoughts and prayers that have been with them through this process and welcome prayers in the next couple of months through the different court hearings to come.

Sister Jeannette Westbay is looking forward to her retirement on October 1 after working for the county for 35 years.

Life has been good to us and we look forward to more blessings that God has in store for our little branch.