GC Ministerial Secretary James A. Cress Dies
Sudden illness claims life of tireless Adventist leader and “pastor to pastors”

 BY MARK A. KELLNER, news editor, Adventist Review

AMES A. CRESS, 60, ministerial secretary for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists since 1992, died on the evening of November 26, 2009, at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

According to a family statement, Cress fell victim to “complications arising from a rare pathogen believed to have been contracted in the course of his travels. Upon his return from the last of his itineraries, the infection worsened. Despite the very best medical care and a valiant struggle, consistent with Elder Cress’s energetic approach to Christian service, he succumbed rapidly.”

HAPPY WARRIOR: Pastor James A. Cress, 60, the Ministerial Secretary for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, died Nov. 26, 2009 in Baltimore, Maryland. A supremely cheerful and enthusiastic Christian, he served the world church headquarters for 17 years in his position. [Photo: Mark A. Kellner/Adventist Review]
Cress always considered himself a “pastor on loan” to the world church headquarters, where he led out in training; encouragement; and mentoring of pastors, elders, deacons, and deaconesses around the world. His position saw him travel to many countries, holding seminars, preaching sermons, and working with local leaders and pastors to promote excellence in ministry.
Jan Paulsen, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, said: “We are devastated at this news, realizing the depth of service we all engage in, service that presents a possible challenge to our health and to our families. Let us keep his wife, Sharon, in our prayers. This is a tremendous loss to her, as well as to the church.”
Cress was the author of several books, including Common Sense Ministry, More Common Sense Ministry, and You Can Keep Them If You Care, and hundreds of articles for Ministry magazine, of which he was the publisher. In that role Cress continued and strengthened fund-raising efforts to send copies of Ministry to pastors outside of the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a way of building bridges between Adventists and other faith communities. This also led to the annual PREACH seminar, which under Cress’s leadership expanded to global satellite, cable TV, and Internet broadcasts, reaching 25,000 pastors each year with continuing education in homiletics.
“We are all shocked by this unexpected news,” said Gerald Karst, a general vice president of the world church, who also advised the Ministerial Association, of which Cress was secretary. “We have lost a colleague and a friend, whose commitment to the Lord and to the church was total. His passing leaves large shoes to be filled. He lived life to the full. He viewed life through positive eyes.”
Cress graduated from Southern Missionary College (now Southern Adventist University) with a B.A. in Theology and received an M.Div. degree from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University and a D.Min. degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He had previously served as a pastor, an evangelist in the Lake Union Conference, and ministerial secretary in the Mid-America Union Conference before joining the world headquarters team.
Cress’s wife, Sharon, who survives, is an associate secretary of the Ministerial Association, in charge of Shepherdess International, a ministry to pastors’ spouses and children. She has served the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a Bible worker, associate pastor, and seminary leader.

A brother, John C. Cress, of College Place, Washington, an Adventist pastor who serves with Adventist Health, also survives him. Another brother, David Cress, who had been president of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, died in an airplane crash in December 2004.
Charles E. Bradford, former president of the North American Division, spoke at the memorial service held December 5, 2009, at Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Takoma Park, Maryland. 

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