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Seventh-day Adventist Church mortgage burning celebration

On December 4, the Tehachapi Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church officially celebrated the fact that they paid off their mortgage and now own their property and buildings outright. They actually paid off the mortgage last year, but as we all know, 2020 was a pretty tumultuous year and many celebrations were cancelled or postponed.

Before the Tehachapi SDA Church was established, Seventh-day Adventists from Tehachapi drove to Mojave to meet and fellowship. But in 1985, they began meeting at the Community Church, downtown on the corner of Green and D streets. God led them to build their church in phases, to help avoid incurring any debt. By 1997, they dedicated the first building of the project: the fellowship hall. They held worship services there and began building the sanctuary in the same frugal and prudent manner that helped them minimize their debt. Twelve years after breaking ground on the sanctuary, they completely paid off the mortgage. Now just over a year later, they were able to publicly celebrate that momentous milestone in a special mortgage burning ceremony.

Many worshippers from the SDA churches in Mojave and the Antelope Valley came to support their Tehachapi brothers and sisters, as did several of the previous pastors of the Tehachapi SDA Church and elders from the Southern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, including the president, Velino Salazar and treasurer Kathleen Diaz. Ms. Diaz presented a substantial check to the church, which current pastor Jose Gutierrez accepted gratefully. Later, he said that the church is praying to learn God's will for that money.

Some of the previous pastors in attendance included Eustace Laurie who was instrumental in strategizing to pay off the mortgage early and Erwin Joham who coordinated the building of the sanctuary. Pastor Joham told the miraculous story of how everything fell into place in God's time and in His way, bypassing and surpassing the plans made by the board members and church leaders.

There were at least 7 pastors in attendance at the celebration, all of whom had a hand in leading this church to the present day. There were some jokes that with so many pastors, the ceremony might take all night, but they accomplished it in a timely manner, with singing, prayers and tears of gratitude for what God has done for this little country church. As one of the pastors said, "It's not enough to build a building, we must now invite [people] to come to Christ."

The Tehachapi SDA Church will host a Christmas Eve candlelight service on December 24 from 5 to 6 p.m. and a candlelight communion and Agape Feast (a simple meal shared as a sign of love and fellowship) on New Year's Eve, December 31 at 5 p.m. All are welcome! If you would like to attend the Agape Feast, please RSVP by calling or texting (805) 994-8081 to ensure that there is enough food for all. Tehachapi SDA Church is located at 20335 Woodford-Tehachapi Rd. in Tehachapi.