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West Indies Union Elects New Leaders
Bignall, Samuels Move Up in Wake of Allen’s Departure
 
BY NIGEL COKE, West Indies Union Communication director
 
eventh-day Adventists in the West Indies Union have new church leadership. Pastors Derek Bignall and Glen O. Samuels are the new president and secretary respectively of the Adventist Church in West Indies Union. They were elected at an extraordinary meeting of the Union executive committee on January 28, 2009, in Mandeville, Jamaica. Inter-American division president Israel Leito presided.
 
The elections were held after Patrick Allen, the current Union president, resigned to accept an appointment as Governor-General of Jamaica, becoming the first Adventist pastor in such a post, and the first Adventist head of state in Jamaica’s 47 years of independence. Allen is due to assume office on February 26, 2009.
 
 NEW LEADERS: Pastors Glenn O. Samuels (left) and Derek Bignall have been elected executive secretary and president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s West Indies Union. Bignall, who was executive secretary, succeeds Dr. Patrick Allen, who is due to become Jamaica’s first Adventist head of state on February 26. [West Indies Union photo]

In accepting his new role, Bignall, currently Union executive secretary, thanked the Union Committee for the confidence placed in him and pledge to carry on the work of his predecessor.
 
“This is an awesome responsibility to lead the team at this stage with over 260,000 members in over 700 churches with diverse cultures,” Bignall said. “The path that was planned for the church will be continued and increased. We want every member to catch the vision to share the gospel. We will increase our commitment to community work with the care of the needy and those who are depressed and oppressed. The church will be a lighthouse to Jamaica and the other islands of our union.”
 
Bignall commended Allen for his visionary and dedicated leadership over the past eight years, which has guided the Union from four Conferences and two Missions in 2000 to its present status of six Conferences, two Missions and one Experimental Field.  
 
Bignall served as Union executive secretary since 2005, capping more than 34 years of denominational service. A graduate of West Indies College (now Northern Caribbean University), and of Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, Bignall holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology and a Master’s Degree in Education. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Education at NCU.
 
He is married to Yvonne and they have one daughter, Shelli-Gaye Simone, who is currently a NCU senior .
Glenn Samuels, currently president of the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, will become Union executive secretary once a conference successor is chosen, it was also announced.
 
Speaking to the Executive Committee, Allen thanked his Adventist colleagues: “It is with a sense of anxiety and some burden that I take my leave from you,” said Allen. “It was so good working with this committee and I laud you for the level of discussion and decision that we made and your support for the vision that we cast in the Union.”
 
The Adventist Church in West Indies Union has more than 262,000 members worshiping in more than 735 congregations. It comprises the territories of Jamaica, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands.
 





 
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