April 10, 2009

10CN: Bruce Johnston, Former NPUC President, Passes Away

Bruce Johnston, Former
NPUC President, Passes Away
83-year-old was missionary, evangelist, and educator
capBruce Johnston, a longtime Seventh-day Adventist educator, evangelist and church administrator, passed away in Medford, Oregon, early on the morning of April 6, 2009. He was 83 years of age. Bruce and his wife, Marianette, had remained in the Northwest since his retirement as North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) president in 1996.

Johnston was born in Medford, on November 23, 1925. He attended Walla Walla College (now Walla Walla University), graduating in 1950. The college experience also brought him together with the love of his life—Marianette Wilcox, who quickly became Marianette Johnston.

Following graduation, the couple stayed in the Northwest. Bruce pastored in both Centralia and Aberdeen, Washington, and then was sponsored by the Washington Conference for his advanced degree at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. While there he accepted an invitation to teach religion in the undergraduate school, at that time called Emmanuel Missionary College. He taught there for seven years, including summertime evangelism field schools.


[Photo: NPUC]


In September, 1963, the family moved to Collegedale, Tennessee., where for five years Johnston headed the religion department at what was then called Southern Missionary College (now Southern Adventist University).

Bruce then entered nearly a decade of international mission service. In 1968, he was called as an evangelist to the Far Eastern Division with headquarters in Singapore. During nine years there, he served in various capacities, including his last assignment as president of the Sarawak Mission in Borneo.

After the Johnstons returned to the United States for a study leave, they were unable to obtain work permits to return to Sarawak. Johnston then began his work in the Northwest, serving first as a church growth consultant to the NPUC and then as president of the Idaho Conference in 1979, a position he held until he was elected Washington Conference president in 1985. That role proved to be short]lived, since the invitation to serve as NPUC president came the following year.

While serving as NPUC president from 1986 until 1996, Johnston’s experience in both evangelism and global mission work provided the spark for a project in the early 90’s that galvanized members in the Northwest and beyond. “Operation Bearhug” mobilized evangelistic efforts to Russia, newly opened for the gospel after the fall of communism.

This program helped NPUC members to personally see the value of short-term missions around the world. He once said, “My experience in Russia has shown me the power of the Holy Spirit to move a whole nation. We must make the mission of the church our first priority. It’s not going to be finished anywhere until it’s finished everywhere.”

Since his retirement in 1996 from formal church employment, Bruce remained active in evangelism, leading several groups on short]term mission efforts to India and beyond. His most recent endeavor was launching the MegaVoice project with truth]filled portable solar audio units around the world with content translated into indigenous languages.

His wife, Marianette, son Jerry, daughters Kathy Frodhal, and Cyndee Holm survive, along with 8 grandchildren and 1 great]grandchild.

A memorial service is planned for 4 p.m., Saturday, April 11, at the Medford Seventh]day Adventist Church, 1900 Greenwood St., Medford, OR 97504. The church phone number is 541]772]6021.

The family has asked in lieu of flowers, memorial donations be sent to: MegaVoice Project, North Pacific Union Conference, 5709 N. 20th Street, Ridgefield, WA 96842.

               -- Reported by Steven Vistaunet, assistant to the president for communication, North Pacific Union Conference.