Lemon Elected Mid-America
Administrative V.P. follows departing Roscoe Howard
BY MARTIN WEBER, Communication Director, Mid-America Union
Thomas L. Lemon is the new president of the Mid-America Union of Seventh-day Adventists, elected November 18 by the executive committee in session at the organization’s headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska. Having accepted the position, he is now the leader of 64,000 Seventh-day Adventists in six local conferences within the nine-state region of the nation’s heartland.
Speaking by telephone with Adventist Review, Lemon said evangelism would be the chief focus of his tenure: “We’ve got a bazillion people out here in Mid-America that don’t know anything about the Lord, and that’s what we have to go after. We have to look at the world through His eyes and see that,” he said.
Lemon added, “Evangelization has to be one of our goals. If we stay doing what we’re doing, we’re not going to be doing it that much longer.”
Lemon replaces Roscoe J. Howard III, who will be vice president for mission and ministries of Adventist Health System, headquartered in Orlando, Florida. Pastor Daniel R. Jackson, president of the Adventist Church’s North American Division, chaired the Mid-America Union’s executive committee in electing its new president.
NEW UNION PRESIDENT: Thomas L. Lemon, formerly vice-president for administration of the Mid-America Union of Seventh-day Adventists, was elected president of the group Nov. 18, succeeding Roscoe Howard III, who is leaving to join Adventist Health Care in Florida. [Mid-America Union photo]
Since March 2009, Lemon has served as vice president for administration of the Mid-America Union, having formerly been president of the Minnesota Conference.
Lemon began his career as an Adventist pastor in Maryland, and also was a pastor in Texas. He moved to Mid-America territory in 1996 as assistant to the president of the Rocky Mountain Conference. He then served as ministerial director in Oregon before accepting the leadership of the Minnesota Conference in 2006.
Lemon earned his B.A. degree in theology at Southwestern Union College (now Southwestern Adventist University) and a master of divinity degree from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan.
Lemon has been married 33 years to the former Jan Elmendorf, a career educator. They are the parents of two adult children and also have two grandsons.
In the telephone interview, Lemon mentioned other priorities for Mid-America: The union, he said, would have to “take a hard look at education, that’s a biggie on our plates out here. And I think we have to explore new ways to work with Adventist Health Care to strengthen our presence in our communities. And we have to reeducate our people to look outward rather than inward.”
A decision on a replacement for Lemon’s old post will be decided “at a later meeting” of the union executive committee. Lemon told Adventist Review “there are some people that I have on my mind, but haven’t spoken with them yet.”
In closing, Lemon asked for prayer, and said, “Church leaders around the globe do not succeed without the prayers of the people around them, and we have to have that if we are to go forward.”
-- with additional reporting by Adventist Review staff