New Presidents Elected in North American, East-Central Africa, and Euro-Asia Divisions
Beardsley heads GC Education; Olivers to GC Family Ministries
elegates to the fifty-ninth General Conference session Monday elected three new executives to head regions of the 16.3-million- member world church.
Dan Jackson, 61, is the new president of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists (NAD), elected June 28 by delegates of the world church at their business session in Atlanta, Georgia. Jackson was proposed by the church’s Nominating Committee and confirmed by the General Conference session delegates. He replaces Don Schneider, who has served as president since 2000.
Elected as the new president of the East-Central Africa Division (ECD), a region that encompasses 10 nations and 2.5 million members from Eritrea in the north to Tanzania in the south, was Blasious Ruguri. He was formerly the secretary of the ECD, and succeeds Geoffrey G. Mbwana, who was elected a world church general vice president.
The new leader of the Euro-Asia Division (ESD) is Guillermo E. Biaggi. Stretching over the 12 nations that replaced the former Soviet Union, the ESD ministers to more than 135,000 members. Biaggi, the former treasurer of the ESD, will follow Artur A. Stele, who was also elected a general vice president of the church.
Other division presidents were returned to office: Bruno R. Vertallier in the Euro-Africa Division; Israel Leito, Inter-American Division; Jairyong Lee, Northern Asia-Pacific Division; Erton C. Köhler, South American Division; Barry D. Oliver, South Pacific Division; Paul S. ?Ratsara, Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division; John Rathinaraj, Southern Asia Division; Alberto C. Gulfan, Southern Asia-Pacific Division; Bertil Wiklander, Trans-European Division; and Gilbert Wari, West-Central Africa Division.
The new NAD president, who had been featured in a March 2010 Adventist World profile, reacted to his election: “God never calls us to do things we are capable of, and this thing is so much bigger than me. But He has called, and I accept this with the greatest humility and with extreme gratitude to Don Schneider,” Jackson said.
Responding to the vote, Schneider said, “Jackson is a wonderful Christian whose leadership has demonstrated a commitment to the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”
Jackson is a native Canadian and, with the exception of five years of service in the Southern Asia Division, has lived and ministered in Canada. He is a graduate of Canadian Union College (now Canadian University College) and Andrews University, from which he holds a Master of Arts in Religion in Systematic Theology.
During his career, Jackson has served the church as a pastor, teacher, and administrator. He is currently the president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada. Dan and Donna, his wife, have three children and four grandchildren.
“My thoughts and prayers are with him,” said Carlton Byrd, pastor of Atlanta Berean Seventh-day Adventist Church here. “I had the privilege of meeting him at session and I look forward to working with him.”
All of new presidents are well-known to staff of the Adventist Review.
“Pastor Ragouri comes with 10 years of experience as executive secretary in East Africa,” says Claude Richli, associate publisher of Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines, and the former associate secretary of the ECD. “He’s a passionate evangelistic and a gifted administrator, and brings a wealth experience to his role.”
Gerald Klingbeil, Adventist Review/Adventist World associate editor knew Guillermo Biaggi when they served in Argentina. “Pastor Biaggi is a warm-hearted, mission-minded people person who is committed to the message and mission of this church,” he says. “He’s the kind of person that everyone would like to have as a friend.”
Separately, Lisa M. Beardsley, who holds a Master of Public Health degree from Loma Linda University, a Doctorate in Educational Psychology from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and a Master of Business Administration from the Claremont Graduate University in California, has become the first woman to serve the Adventist Church as Education Director. Beardsley, previously vice chancellor for academic affairs at Loma Linda University, came to the world headquarters in 2005 as an associate in the Education Department.
Willie and Elaine Oliver, who currently lead Family Ministries for the North American Division, will succeed Ron and Karen Flowers in running the program for the world church. He holds a Doctorate in Family Sociology, and master’s degrees in Pastoral Counseling and Family Sociology. Elaine holds a graduate degree in Higher Education with concentrations in student development and counseling. She is associate vice president for Enrollment Management at Washington Adventist University and serves with Willie in ministry conducting marriage conferences, retreats, and relationship seminars. The Olivers have been married for 25 years and are the parents of university students Jessica and Julian.