George Atiga, 83, Passes to His Rest
Three Months After Retirement
Served Adventist Church for more than 60 years, baptized more than 100,000
BY GERRY CHUDLEIGH, communication director, Pacific Union Conference
George Atiga, Asian/Pacific ministries director for the Pacific Union Conference for 32 years, died Nov. 14, 2011, in Riverside, California. He was 83, and had retired just three months earlier.
While many people think of retiring after approximately 40 years of work, Atiga had been a full-time minister, evangelist and administrator for more than 60 years by the time he retired. During his career, Atiga conducted more than 100 evangelistic campaigns and baptized more than 100,000 people.
SIX DECADES OF SERVICE: Adventist pastor and administrator George Atiga, 83, died November 14, 2011, just three months after his retirement from a 60-year ministerial career. He was in charge of Asian/Pacific ministries for the Pacific Union Conference from 1979 until 2011. [PHOTO: PUC]
“George Atiga was not only a dedicated spiritual leader, but also a man of many spiritual gifts,” says Thomas Mostert, president of the Pacific Union Conference during most of Atiga’s ministry there. “His clear understanding of multiple cultures was the key to his long and successful leadership. It was a privilege to work with him through the years.”
The fourth of 12 children, Atiga was born in Santa Lucia, Ilocos Sur, Philippines, in 1928. His father was a pastor and his mother was a homemaker.
Atiga graduated from Northern Luzon Academy in 1948 and from Philippine Union College in 1951. He married his college sweetheart, Caroline, the next month. From 1951 to 1962, Atiga served as evangelist, revivalist and district pastor for 41 Adventist churches in Northern Luzon Mission in the North Philippines.
In 1962, the Atiga family – George, Caroline and three young children -- moved to Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA, where he attended the Seventh-day Adventist Seminary at Andrews University, while selling religious books door to door for the Lake Region Conference. In 1965, the Voice of Prophecy asked him to move to Southern California to work as a Bible instructor and as one of their translators. In 1967 he graduated from the California Graduate School of Theology with a Doctor of Ministry degree.
In 1974 the Central Filipino church, in Los Angeles, asked him to be their senior pastor, and the Southern California Conference soon asked him to also serve as their Asian/Pacific Coordinator. Five years later, Atiga became the first Asian/Pacific Ministries director for the Pacific Union Conference, a position he held until he retired, August 17, 2011.
Elizer Sacay, pastor of the Inland Empire Filipino church comments: "Aside from Pastor George Atiga's wisdom, I admire how he made anyone of us feel comfortable in his presence. We are so grateful of his innovative ministry."
Caroline, his wife of 60 years, two children and seven grandchildren, survive.