Thomas Voted Review & Herald President
Moves from interim role, formally succeeds retiring president Smith
BY Adventist Review staff
ark B. Thomas, a veteran executive at Adventist Church-owned Review and Herald Publishing Association in Hagerstown, Maryland, was elected president of the 161-year-old organization at an RHPA board meeting June 17. Since April, Thomas had served as interim president, and now formally succeeds Robert S. Smith, whose official retirement date is July 1.
“We have the right information” for Seventh-day Adventist readers and others, Thomas said in a telephone interview June 18. “It needs to be put in the right format” for today’s market, he added. Moving forward, Thomas said the firm will emphasize digital publishing, and hopes to have 33 Seventh-day Adventist books available for the Apple, Inc., iPhone and iPad devices by the end of this year.
RHPA already distributes digital books for Amazon’s Kindle, and an iPad application by Logos Bible software allows readers to reference the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary.
The 161-year old publisher of magazines, books, and mission materials for the Seventh-day Adventist Church has had a difficult decade, with just one year in the black out of the last 10. Declining market share, rising costs for materials, and a large inventory of unsold goods propelled the situation that caused the Board of Trustees to overhaul the leadership team in late April, accepting the retirements of the president and financial vice-president, and releasing the vice-presidents of the Periodicals and Book divisions. The publishing house’s trustees, at an April 29 meeting, named Thomas, then RHPA’s vice-president for Graphics, interim president.
“We need to restructure and streamline our ministry,” said Thomas. “We’re told that the publishing work will go through to the end. But that doesn’t mean it will always look the same. We need to be agile in responding to changes in how people get their information.”
Before heading the Graphics division, Thomas was vice-president of the Book Division and the Marketing Division.
Thomas got his start at RHPA as a part-time “pressroom devil” while attending Columbia Union College, now Washington Adventist University. After college, he worked as an assistant manager of the Portland, Oregon, Adventist Book Center for three years before returning to the Review as a marketing representative.
In existence even before the Seventh-day Adventist denomination had a formal name, RHPA publishes books and magazines that aid church members in spiritual growth and outreach. Periodicals published by the house include Message, Vibrant Life, Insight and Guide magazines.
"The long and close relationship between the Adventist Review and the Review and Herald Publishing Association is of vital importance to both organizations and the entire denomination," said Bill Knott, editor and executive publisher of Adventist Review and Adventist World, both of which are printed and distributed by RHPA.
"It's quite literally true that both ministries were born on the same day in 1849,” Knott added. “We continue to offer our support and encouragement to the Review and Herald, and especially to Mark Thomas as he shoulders this important responsibility. As the largest client of the publishing house, with contracts totaling more than $5.5 million annually for both magazines, we need a stable print partner and a leadership team that can move quickly to ensure that this special relationship will continue for years to come."
In an e-mail to RHPA employees, board chairman Don Schneider, who also is president of the Church’s North American Division, expressed support for the institution and its new leader.
“Please know that my prayers are with you all as you do the important work of proclaiming a coming Savior,” Schneider wrote. “Please join me in asking our Lord to bless Mark Thomas with the wisdom he needs through the power of the Holy Spirit.”
More information on the publisher is available at www.rhpa.org.
-- With reporting by Kim Peckham, RHPA and Mark A. Kellner, News Editor.