Four Leaders Elected at Annual Business Session
BY ANSEL OLIVER, Adventist News Network [Return to Main Menu]
he Seventh-day Adventist Church's Executive Committee elected four new church officers and leaders October 12, the first full-day business session of its Annual Council meeting this year in Manila.
The committee voted new leaders for Southern Asia, North America, the world church headquarters, and a legislative liaison for Washington, D.C.
John Rathinaraj, secretary of Southern Asia Division, was elected division president. Based in Hosur, near Bangalore, India, the division provides administrative oversight for the church in India, Nepal, Bhutan and the Maldives. He replaces Ron Watts who resigned from the position earlier this year because of family health matters.
Rathinaraj, 59, said he will focus on growing membership in the region through church planting and evangelism, setting a goal of 200,000 new church members within one year. The region will hold about 1,500 public evangelism meetings this year, including 1,000 youth-to-youth meetings and 100 led exclusively by women.
"I praise God because the church has made me what I am," Rathinaraj said after his appointment. "As long as I live I must do His work and serve wherever He places me."
Rathinaraj said he is encouraged by the world church voting this week a $225,000 appropriation to establish a seminary in Nepal, a country with some 6,000 Adventists.
Rathinaraj holds a master's degree in history from Madurei University in the southern Indian province of Tamil, and bachelor's degrees in religion and education.
The world church Executive Committee also elected G. Alexander Bryant as an associate secretary of the General Conference and executive secretary of North American Division, which includes the United States, Canada and Bermuda.
Bryant, 51, became an Adventist at age 15 and currently serves as president of the church's Central States Conference, a historically African-American administrative church region in the Midwestern United States.
"It will be my goal to help the president with the tremendous mission we have in North America, especially in our large cities, and see what we can do to make greater inroads in those urban centers," Bryant said.
Since serving as Central States president beginning in 1997, Bryant said he has focused on church planting, including the initiative "Each One Reach One," designed for each member to see him or herself as a disciple.
He said he plans to continue making an impact on church planting in his new role, as well as getting youth involved at all levels of the church.
Bryant, who holds a master's of divinity from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, said he plans to transition to the headquarters of the world church and North American region in Silver Spring, Maryland at the end of the year.
Homer Trecartin, current planning director of the General Conference Office of Adventist Mission, was appointed to head up Adventist Volunteers as an associate secretary of the GC. Trecartin will continue to oversee the work of his current office as well as assuming new responsibility.
Trecartin, 52, who holds a master's degree in educational administration, will direct the recruitment of volunteers for all missions, ranging from student and short-term to permanent missionaries and Global Mission pioneers.
The Executive Committee also voted Barry Bussey, an attorney and Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) director for the church in Canada, as the new associate director for the GC Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department. He'll serve as the church's liaison to the United States Congress.
Bussey replaces James Standish, who earlier this year was appointed executive director of the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom.
In 2004, Bussey argued the position of the Adventist Church on the same-sex marriage reference case in front of the Supreme Court of Canada. He also led the campaign for Canada Post to issue a stamp commemorating the church's world session, held in Toronto in 2000.
"He'll be an active participant in legislative life in Washington promoting religious freedom for all," said PARL director John Graz. "This is a key position for us, not only for religious freedom in the U.S. but around the world."