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Former Felon, now Adventist Pastor, Advocates for Former Prisoners—and More News


Pastor Aaron Chancy, 40, who leads Mount Carmel Seventh-day Adventist Church in Syracuse, New York, tells Religion News Service writer Eleonora Francica, "I didnt grow up wanting to be a pastor."

Let the record show that Chancys life history backs him up. He fathered eight children from five different women. He spent time in and out of jail on minor charges and a total of two years in prison on felonies. During that period, he had a red-eyed demons face tattooed on his right cheek.

"The tattoo symbolized my internal face. . . .  On the exterior of my face, I was always smiling. But thats not how I felt inside. Inside, I was angry. I was mad. I was hateful."

In 2008, Chancy had the tattoo removed with a laser. It didnt represent him anymore, he said, and was attracting too much negative attention. He graduated in 2016 with a bachelors degree in theology from Oakwood University, in Huntsville, Alabama, and in 2018 earned a Masters degree in divinity at Andrews University, in Michigan. He is now a PhD student and a faith leader for his community. 

He is also fighting for legislation that would give formerly incarcerated people like him a new chance in life.

. . .

"His life is just so rich with knowledge, experience, compassion and faith that he brings a tremendous amount to the jail and our jail ministry community,' said Keith Cieplicki, the executive director of Jail Ministry. 'I see him and his love for people as a tremendous foundation for the future.' "

His entire life story is worth reading on the Religion News Service website.

—From the Religion News Service, "Once behind Bars, a Pastor Advocates for Giving Released Prisoners a Clean Slate."

Senate Chaplain Barry Black Featured for 20-year Career

Baltimore Sun writer Maya Lora recently profiled Adventist chaplain Barry Black, who is marking his 20th year as United States Senate chaplain, a record length of service for that position.

Whenever Barry Black gazes upon the photos of his predecessors in the office of the U.S. Senate chaplain, his own image immediately sticks out.

“They go back so far that they start looking like James Madison and Benjamin Franklin. And all of the pictures are in black and white,” Black said. “Two of the pictures are in color. My predecessor, Dr. Lloyd John Ogilvie … And my photograph is in color. And I say, tongue in cheek, and I am in color.”

Black, 74, said the first highlight of his 20-year career as the 62nd chaplain of the U.S. Senate was simply being selected as the first African American person to hold his role.

Additionally, Black is the first Seventh-day Adventist pastor to serve as chaplain. 

The article offers praise from senators who have worked with him through the years.

U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, also a Democrat from Delaware, said that although “this is as partisan and divided a Senate as we have had in a century or more,” Black is able to “build and maintain authentic, positive relationships with senators of both parties.”

He added that Black is genuine and available to meet with anyone who needs him.

“He always seems to have time for you. Whoever he’s talking to, he helps you feel like you’re the most important person in the world he can talk to right now,” Coons said. “I think he brings to this very difficult service as the chaplain of the United States Senate the kind of seriousness and heartfelt commitment to ministry that this moment and this body, this Senate, needs and demands.”

—From the Baltimore Sun, "Baltimore Native Barry Black, the First Black U.S. Senate Chaplain, Celebrates 20 Years in Role."

LLUC Anthem Worship Music Group Releases Single

Anthem Worship, a worship collective based out of Anthem x Loma Linda University Church, has released its most recent recording titled "Giants." The single can be streamed on Spotify and Apple Music, according to

This powerful and uplifting track encourages listeners to find strength and hope in God’s presence, even facing life’s most daunting challenges.

“Giants is a testament to God’s unwavering guidance and support during trying times,” says Anthem Pastor and band leader Josh Jamieson. “We wrote ‘Giants’ as a reminder that no matter the challenges you face, God is with you, guiding you, and fighting on your behalf. We hope this song resonates with you and offers a sense of comfort, courage, and inspiration on your journey.”

With a mission to create inspiring and relatable music that encourages spiritual growth and connection, Anthem Worship continues to make a lasting impact within the Christian music community. Their previous EPs, “Universal Hearts” (2021) and “Human” (2022), have garnered praise and appreciation for their heartfelt messages and contemporary sound. Notable songs from their repertoire include “Here to Stay,” “Save the Day,” “Arms Wide Open,” “You are Strong,” and their popular cover of Elevation Worship’s “My Testimony.”

—From, "Anthem Worship Releases Inspiring New Single 'Giants.'"

Two Ukrainian Students Find Refuge and Educational Opportunities at Kettering College

A network of Seventh-day Adventist churches, colleges, and universities has been helping Ukrainian students finish their education in the United States, according to  Alese Undewood's interview for Spectrum News 1 Ohio. The students have been displaced by the war in their country.

Anna Prune and Victor Elkine are two nursing students who have been studying at Kettering since August 2022

In-between classes you can find Anna Prune and Victor Elkine comparing notes and reviewing homework. 

She’s speaking Ukrainian and he’s speaking Russian, but they understand each other. 

Since August they have been studying nursing at Kettering College.

Elkine always wanted to go to school in the United States. 

“Right when I got out of my military service in Israel, someone contacted me and he said there was an opportunity to study here with the Ukrainian group, especially that in Israel it’s not so safe,” Elkine said.

Thanks to help from a network of Seventh-day Adventist churches, colleges and universities, Kettering College has opened its doors to nearly 50 Ukrainian students since the war started.  

“I lived in the city called Bucha. A lot of people heard about the city because of a lot of terrible things there during Russian occupation,” said Anna Prun.

When Prun doesn’t have her eyes on the books studying, she’s watching a video that she made when the war began.

“It was one of the first cities which were bombed by Russia,” she said.

You won’t see war-torn images from her small city near the Capital.

Instead, in her video, it’s all about happy moments with family, friends and singing.

“I miss my previous life. I’m happy to be here, but I feel like my previous life was stolen,” she said.

. . .

While the future is uncertain, both have an idea of what will happen next.

“I plan to stay here for at least one year after graduation to work for them and to say thank you for all that they do for us,” Prun said.

“It’s the least that we can do to thank them,” said Elkine.

—From Spectrum News 1, "Ukrainian Students Find Education, Refuge in Ohio."


Pam Dietrich taught English at Loma Linda Academy for 26 years and served there eight more years as the 7-12 librarian. She lives in Yucaipa, California.

Photo by Hédi Benyounes on Unsplash.

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