Religious Freedom Conference

By Gary Zavoral  |  2018-12-22

From left, Associate Justice George Nicholson of the Third District Court of Appeals; Dr. John Mark Reynolds, a Houston Christian college administrator and popular Evangelical speaker; Elder Paul Watkins of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Dr. John Jackson, president of William Jessup University in Rocklin.

Area Christians Counseled to Be Civil When Debating Religious Freedom

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - About 600 Christians who gathered Friday, Nov. 16, to learn how to help preserve religious freedom in America were told to boldly declare their beliefs, but to debate civilly.

“And why must we do it civilly? Because the alternative is civil war,” said Dr. John Mark Reynolds, a Houston Christian college administrator and popular Evangelical speaker. “Not a shooting war, but a civil war of the soul, where we tear apart people … because we cannot compromise, because we cannot speak civilly, because we cannot just agree to disagree, but to boldly disagree.”

Reynolds, an expert on culture, society and philosophy, was the featured speaker in the first of three conferences bringing people of different faiths together to learn how to work side by side to preserve religious freedom. The series is presented by the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, Rocklin’s William Jessup University and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This first conference was held at The Church of Jesus Christ’s Chapel on Temple Hill in Rancho Cordova.

To show how far the United States has come in its intolerance of religious views, Reynolds quoted former U.S. Pres. Teddy Roosevelt, who said at a national convention at the turn of the 20th century, “We stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord.”

“Can you imagine what the Washington Post would do to the presidential candidate who would dare to say that today?” Reynolds asked.

Reynolds drew from history – especially the Bolshevik revolution in Russia – to show the result of what happens to a culture and even entire nations when a society blocks religious rights.

“A culture will die when religious freedom dies,” he said, “because religious freedom is the first freedom.”

He told about his great-great-grandfather leaving his family and farm to volunteer to fight for “Mr. Lincoln and liberty” in the Civil War.

“When I am told that religious people should be quiet about their religious beliefs, I point out that my great-great-grandfather did not leave to fight for a secular state. But instead he marched to a song that said, ‘In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea, with a glory in His figure that transfigures you and me, as He died to make men holy, let us’ – in the version I was taught – ‘die to make men free,  His truth is marching on.’ … His motivation was purely religious.”

Asked how we can effectively engage in a discussion about religious freedom among our neighbors in California, where there are so many voices wanting to squelch these freedoms and often are uncivil in their tone, he told of the four-fold lesson he learned from his mother, who loved to debate:

  1. If you lose your temper, you lose. He said to follow the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you, no matter how unpleasant others may be.
  2. Some people aren’t going to like you, even if you’re nice. “You can’t be so nice that you won’t have enemies.” After all, he said, “They killed Jesus, and you can’t get nicer than Jesus. I’m not trying to be flippant, but if you state your views clearly and you’re totally nice, there are still people who won’t like you.”
  3. Love your enemies. “Our Savior believed that you had to love your enemies, which means that Christians must be capable of making enemies. And some people are so nice that they’re incapable of making enemies. That’s not called being nice, that’s called being spineless.”
  4. Sometimes shut up. “When somebody is really suffering or hurting on an issue,” he said, “they come to you and say, for example, ‘Look, this sexual identity is central to my life and you disagree with me,’ just sit and listen. You’re probably not going to change anyone’s mind.” Reynolds said when he has had such disagreements, even with some in his own family, he tells them, “Here’s what I think, and I’ll tell you when I change my mind. … Because there’s more to life than this and we’ve clearly expressed our views, and we should just move on.” The relationship with family and friends is more important than the issue, he reminded the audience.

In closing, Reynolds told how Daniel of the Old Testament endured 70 years in Babylon, thanks in part to three or four miracles, but mostly because he was smart and cagey, having learned how to live among the Babylonians without having to compromise his core values and beliefs.

Emphasizing the need for civility in our conversations and debates, Reynolds said, “Some of us are so obnoxious that we need the miracle ratio to be daily, not one every 20 years. But if you’re getting yourself thrown into a lion’s den every day, you’re doomed.”

The next conference in this “Preserving Religious Freedom” series is planned for March 2019. For more on the series, including videos from local leaders on the importance of religious freedom, go to

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Fire Chief Praises Local Firefighters

By Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-12-22

Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Chief Todd Harms (second from left) spoke recently to Carmichael Chamber of Commerce members. He was joined by Community Relations officer Chris Dargan (left), Captain Christ Vestal and Chamber CEO Virginia Stone. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - “I couldn’t be prouder of our guys,” Sacramento Metro Fire Chief told Carmichael Chamber of Commerce members last week. Harms praised the part local firefighters played during recent wild fires in Butte County.

Sac Metro provided a helicopter, 10 engines, strike team leaders and 53 firefighters. This contribution swelled a force of 5,600 fire professionals that headed to Butte County from western US states. “When our guys began their shift that morning in Sacramento,” said Harms,” they were probably wondering how many calls they’d get and what they’d eat for lunch. They had no idea they’d be called away for 12 to 16 days and working 40-hour shifts. In the beginning, their job wasn’t about putting out fires; it was about getting people out. News media couldn’t show what complete devastation confronted them.”

Firefighters are used to evacuating neighborhoods, Harms explained. The need to simultaneously evacuate entire towns was horrific even for trained professionals. “Because most of the cell services were down, these guys couldn’t even call their wives to let them know they were safe. If was hard on their families. Our members did a great job.”

Known as the Camp Fire, the blaze that began on November 8 is counted at the most deadly in United States history.  Fire destroyed the town of Paradise and scorched more than 153,000 acres of Butte County. Eighty-five people died. Two hundred more remain unaccounted for at this time.

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Santa Claus Comes to Town

By Susan Maxwell skinner  |  2018-12-22

County Supervisor Susan Peters and puppy Phoebe share Christmas wishes with the North Pole Ambassador. Photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Clear skies – and faux snow -- blessed the 16th annual tree lighting ceremony in Carmichael Park last week.

Leading a community count-down, Supervisor Susan Peters ignited thousands of fairy lights on the 50ft park Christmas tree and surrounding illuminations. Peters’ date was puppy Phoebe – the County’s new First Dog.  The mini-schnauzer was rescued and adopted by Peters following the retirement of elderly predecessor Ernie, who prefers to stay home on cold evenings these days. Part of Phoebe’s big night out was a nose-to-nose with Santa Claus.

Big band carols heralded dignitary arrivals and scores of children stood patiently in line for an audience at the gilded throne with the merriest VIP of all.  An estimated crowd of 1500 attended.  Food trucks fed the multitudes.

Machine-generated snow flurries dotted upturned noses and eyelashes with white stuff. The park Christmas decorations may be viewed on the park’s Fair Oaks Boulevard frontage every night until the end of December.

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Sacramento Self-Help Housing Presents First-Ever Drive

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - On Saturday, December 15, 2018, Sacramento Self-Help Housing (SSHH) will host its first-ever “Housewarming for the Homeless” winter donation drive at the Cal Expo main gate loop from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. To make it as easy as possible for the community to participate, SSHH staff and dedicated volunteers will be on-hand to collect linens (such as blankets, single and double bed sheets and towels), small appliances (such as microwaves, toasters and coffee makers) and kitchenware to be distributed to hundreds of recently homeless individuals in Sacramento County.

Sacramento Self-Help Housing is a non-profit 501(c)3 agency dedicated to assist those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless to find and retain stable and affordable housing. With significant support provided by Sacramento County Department of Human Assistance, SSHH successfully opened 30+ transitional and permanent supportive houses for the most vulnerable in our community in 2018. Looking forward to 2019, SSHH expects to do the same. In response to this rapid growth and as a result of the ever-increasing number of homeless men, women and families in Sacramento County, SSHH is garnering donations to assist with the transition of their clients from the street and onto a path of sustainable independent permanent housing.

The “Housewarming for the Homeless” needs list includes the following: Linens: bath towels, hand towels, wash cloths, single and twin bed sheets, blankets, bed pillows, dish towels; Appliances: microwaves, toasters, coffee pots; Kitchenware: dishes, pots, pans, silverware

Each donation, big or small, will go directly to furnishing a home for a recently homeless individual or family in our community. For more information about Sacramento Self-Help Housing, please call 916-341-0593 or visit

Sacramento Self-Help Housing assists local homeless individuals and families worried about losing their housing to find and retain stable and affordable housing. The not-for-profit organization provides resources such as an updated housing database on the website along with shared housing options for those without sufficient income to rent a unit by themselves. In addition, Sacramento Self-Help Housing reaches out to local homeless men and women living in camps in local communities to assess their needs and, whenever possible, refer them to available mental health services, medical care, financial aid, and shelter and housing options. For more, visit or call 916-341-0593.

Source: T-Rock Communications

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InSight Now On Mars

Ashley Gudzak, Aerojet Rocketdyne  |  2018-12-02

NASA’s InSight Mars lander successfully touched down on the red planet with assistance of
Aerojet Rocketdyne descent and landing propulsion. Credit: Lockheed Martin

Aerojet Rocketdyne Propulsion Delivers to Planet’s Surface

REDMOND, WA (MPG)  – Using sophisticated propulsion devices provided by Aerojet Rocketdyne, NASA’s Mars InSight lander successfully touched down on the surface of the red planet Nov. 26.

The final phase of lnSight’s descent was powered by 12 Aerojet Rocketdyne MR-107N 50 lbf engines, providing variable pounds of pulsed thrust throughout its descent, which began firing after the lander jettisoned its parachute and heat shield. The engines maneuvered the craft clear of the falling parachute before bringing it gently to the Martian surface, where it will gather data on the planet’s seismology, rotation and internal temperature.

“We provided propulsion for every phase of this important NASA mission, from launch to landing,” said Eileen Drake, Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and president. “A mission like this leaves no margin for error and our systems successfully performed their critical roles as expected.”

Mars InSight began its journey May 5 with its launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Aerojet Rocketdyne supplied the RL10C-1 main engine and 12 MR-106 reaction control thrusters for the rocket’s Centaur upper stage, as well as helium pressurization tanks for the vehicle’s first and second stages.

During InSight’s roughly six-month cruise to Mars, four Aerojet Rocketdyne MR-106B thrusters, each generating four pounds of thrust, kept the probe on target via five trajectory correction maneuvers. Meanwhile, four MR-111C thrusters, each generating one pound of thrust, kept the craft stable and pointed in the right direction.

These same thrusters provided the final trajectory and pointing adjustments as the lander approached the Martian atmosphere. Aerojet Rocketdyne also supplied two helium pressurization tanks on the lander.

Mars InSight will study the deep interior of Mars, examining in depth its crust, mantle, and core. Aerojet Rocketdyne engines have flown aboard every successful U.S. Mars mission, including orbiters and landers. Additionally, Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion systems have taken NASA probes to every planet in the solar system and even beyond. The agency’s two Voyager probes, which launched in 1977, are equipped with Aerojet Rocketdyne thrusters. Voyager 1 is in interstellar space, while Voyager 2 is in the heliosheath, the outermost layer of the heliosphere.

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Another Star is Born

Story and pictures by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-12-02

Sacramento Fire Fighters recently helped restore Palm Drive’s Christmas tree star. Firefighter Jason Baldwin scaled a 100-foot ladder to replace lights on the Carmichael landmark.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Stretched by calls to fight Butte County fires, Sacramento firefighters recently found time to foster Christmas cheer at home. Thanks to the officers and Property and Business Improvement District leaders, the old Post Office star on Palm Drive shines more brightly.

Located in the central business area, the historical route is lined with Canary palms that community matriarch Mary Deterding planted around 1909. At the same time, her neighbor John Scroggs nourished a deodar cedar. The exotic transplants grew up with Carmichael. Scroggs’ cypress became famous in 1960, when the US Post Office planned a Palm Drive facility. Federal architects sentenced the evergreen to the saw mill.

Carmichael’s famed naturalist Effie Yeaw lived yards from the giant and began a petition to save it.  Washington DC relented. Marking the community victory, a low concrete wall and a plaque for Effie Yeaw remains beneath the tree.  Later in its 100-plus years, the deodar was crowned with a five-foot star whose illumination became a Christmas tradition. Long-time residents recall finding their way home on winter nights by the lofty icon.

The ornament shone through many more Decembers after the Post Office moved to Fair Oaks Boulevard. About 10 years ago, its wiring fizzled. The deodar remained dark until last year, when PIBD chairman Gary Hursh beheld its forlorn bauble. “PIBD’s trying to improve the quality of local businesses and our residential environment,” the attorney explained. “We decided the star needed to be relit.” AAA Crane Company owner Gary Matranga rose in a crane basket to string new lights on the stellar frame. As night fell last December, the lights came on again.

Gary Hursh this year supplied brighter lights and a new mission for firefighters. The job was completed last week when officer Baldwin restrung the icon. “We work hard to keep people safe,” observed Baldwin. “But by doing something like this, we have a chance to bring joy to the community.”

Power comes courtesy of RES T+D, an energy company now occupying the old Post Office. The Post Office Star will shine till January 2019 at 5945 Palm Drive. Learn about PBID at

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Deck the Halls with Brats and Strudel

Story and pictures by Susan Maxwell Skinner  |  2018-12-02

Festival founder Heidi Cadena (left), Pastor Richard Reimer and vendor Inge Inge Baylocq welcomed Santa Claus to the Walnut Avenue church gymnasium.

CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) - Chestnuts roasted, sausages sizzled and strudel were enjoyed at American River Community Church’s third annual German Christmas Fair last weekend. While Pastor Richard Reimer donned holiday apparel – elfen hat and lederhosen – a traditional Santa Claus granted Christmas wishes.

Attendance was boosted by the Sacramento German community, for whom gift markets – fragrant with cider and sauerkraut – are beloved Christmas traditions. Church member Heidi Cadena began the event three years ago as a fundraiser for the congregation’s ministries.

Among Carmichael’s longest-established places of worship, the American River Community Church is located at 3300 Walnut Avenue, Carmichael. Learn more at

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