West Indies Union Gets New Leadership
Bignall, Samuels take office after Allen becomes Governor-General
BY MARK A. KELLNER, News Editor, Adventist World, reporting from Kingston, Jamaica
ore than a quarter-million Seventh-day Adventists in the West Indies Union have new leadership: on February 28, Derek Bignall and Glenn O. Samuels took office as president and executive secretary of the union conference in a ceremony in Kingston, Jamaica.
It’s probably the only time Bignall, 61, will follow his immediate predecessor into the same job: Patrick Linton Allen, the former union president, is now Jamaica’s Governor-General, or chief of state.
Responding to the rhetorical question of whether he was ready to lead, Bignall said, “No. We have one leader, and that’s the Lord Jesus Christ. I am ready to serve.”
Bignall told the capacity crowd at Kingston’s Andrews Memorial Seventh-day Adventist Church that he was not taking office “to mark time, but to march forward.”
Newly elected West Indies Union president Derek Bignall (left) and secretary Glen O Samuels, affix their signatures to the pledge they made during the installation service at the Andrews Memorial Church in St Andrew. (Photo: Nigel Coke)
He challenged his audience to “help one person everyday,” and noted, “what a world it would be if the 263,000 Seventh-day Adventists in the West Indies Union would intentionally help one person each day.”
Bignall also said his administration would be marked by an emphasis on the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy writings of Ellen G. White, a pioneering co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist movement.
His remarks were preceded by comments from Samuels, who comes to the Union from the presidency of the Central Jamaica Conference. In his remarks, Samuels praised Allen, and said, “To us has been bequeathed a legacy of a rare vision that has challenged us. … We believe God’s church must grow no matter what the odds may be.”
In what he noted was “my first speaking opportunity in the church since last week,” Governor-General Allen, past president of the Union, spoke warmly of his successor and the new executive secretary.
“I commend them to you as gentlemen of honor and worthy of your support,” Allen said. “I know they will serve you well. We extend our best wishes, [and] I believe we have a good administration in the West Indies Union.”
Herbert Thompson, president of Northern Caribbean University, said he was “proud that our Union leadership are all graduates of North Caribbean University,” and that Bignall “must wake us up again” while in leadership.
Bignall served as Conference executive secretary since 2005, following 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.
In the West Indies Union, which comprises the territories of Jamaica, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands, more than 262,000 members worship in more than 735 Seventh-day Adventist congregations.