Delegates to the 61st General Conference (GC) Session in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, voted to accept the recommendations of the Nominating Committee on dozens of church leaders on June 7, 2022. The names voted include several new faces in a team of well-established GC departments, as well as GC Treasury, GC Secretariat, and GC Auditing Services. Those new to their positions are briefly featured below, starting with GC Secretariat, followed by GC Treasury and GC Auditing Service, and concluding with departmental directors.
Delegates voted to elect Saw Samuel as an associate secretary of the GC. He will fill a position left vacant by John Thomas’s retirement. Samuel had been serving as president of the Southern Asia- Pacific Division since 2016.
As a division president, Samuel sought new ways to reach the many Buddhists and Muslims in his region even as he sought wisdom from God to value each day as a precious gift to be used wisely.
He was first elected executive secretary of the division in 2010. Before that, he worked for two years as ministerial secretary of the Southeast Asia Union Mission in Singapore. The rest of his career as pastor and administrator were spent in Thailand, serving as executive secretary of the Thailand Adventist Mission (2002-2008); director of the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program at the Thailand Adventist Mission (2006-2008); Youth director at the Thailand Adventist Mission (2002-2004); pastor of the Bangkok Adventist Hospital Church (2000-2002); and chaplaincy coordinator for Seventh-day Adventist English Language Schools in Thailand (1998-1999).
Delegates voted to elect Josue Pierre as an associate treasurer of the GC. Since 2016, he has been serving as associate general counsel of the GC. Prior to joining the Office of General Counsel, he served as an associate county attorney with the Prince George’s County, Maryland, Office of Law from 2012 to 2016. Pierre, a Juris Doctor (George Washington University), is a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia bars in the United States. His practice areas include contracts, transactions, real estate, purchasing, procurement, and data protection.
Richard Stephenson was elected as an associate treasurer for technology operations and strategy. Before his election, he was serving as director of Information Technology (IT) services for the North American Division (NAD).
Stephenson became IT director for Madison Academy in Tennessee in 2005. In that role, he launched one of the first one-to-one laptop programs in the NAD, equipping every student with a laptop and printer, and leading the shift to an online learning environment. In 2008, he transitioned to director of IT for the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference, its first full-time IT director. Stephenson placed significant emphasis on educational technology for the dozens of schools in the conference.
In 2009, Stephenson accepted the call to serve as associate director of IT for the Southern Union Conference in Georgia, and in 2013, he became IT director in that region. Under his direction, the Southern Union began to host centralized payroll and accounting at the union office, as well as many other services, on behalf of its conferences.
Stephenson loves to integrate technology into the organization in a way that produces positive change.
Ivan Omaña was elected director of Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries (ACM) less than a year after he became associate director of that department in August 2021.
Since 2015, Omaña had served as the assistant director of ACM for the NAD, providing support, encouragement, and denominational oversight to more than 300 chaplains in all areas of chaplaincy in the Pacific Union Conference and the North Pacific Union Conference. Previously, he served as senior chaplain at Florida Hospital Kissimmee (now AdventHealth Kissimmee; 2002-2015) and as a chaplain in Adventist Care Centers (2000- 2002). During the 1990s, Omaña was a pastor in the West Central Venezuela Conference, where he also served as the official translator for every major evangelistic and ecclesiastical event.
Orathai Chureson was elected Children’s Ministries director. She has served in the same position for the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) since 2015 and also served as Families Ministries director in that region (2015-2021). Additionally, since 2021, she has served as a coordinator for the Ministerial Spouses Association in the SSD.
Chureson, who holds a Ph.D. in Education (Curriculum and Instruction), has experience as a teacher, business office clerk, and later, a tertiary instructor in the English Department of the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS).
She is a published author, having authored the books A Glimpse of God’s Grace and Homeward Bound: Sermons for Children and Families.
She is married to the newly elected GC associate secretary Saw Samuel.
Delegates voted to elect Ramon Canals ministerial secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association after being director of GC Sabbath School and Personal Ministries (SSPM) since April 2017. Canals was born in the Dominican Republic but grew up in New York. He served for years as a local church pastor in the New Jersey Conference in the NAD and has been a full-time evangelist, associate ministerial director, and Hispanic ministries coordinator.
As leader of SSPM, Canals worked with division, union, and conference leaders to cast the vision of Total Member Involvement, an initiative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to get every member involved in mission. Canals enjoys encouraging people to get involved in the community and soul winning.
As an evangelist, Canals has conducted evangelistic meetings on most continents. He has also helped to train Sabbath school teachers and taught seminars for leadership conferences around the world.
Aurora Canals was elected director of Pastoral Spouses and Families. Before being tapped for her new position, she was serving as undertreasurer of the Chesapeake Conference in the NAD.
Canals is an accomplished professional with a comprehensive accounting and payroll management background. Before acquiring a degree in Business Administration, she worked with her husband as assistant evangelist in the Oregon Conference in the NAD. In that role, she helped prepare candidates for baptism. As a Ministerial and Hispanic coordinator’s wife, Canals organized convocations for training and resourcing church members to fulfill the church’s mission.
JAMES M. HOWARD
James M. Howard was voted as the new director of Sabbath School and Personal Ministries. He had been serving as associate director of the same department since August 2021.
Before taking his current role at the General Conference, Howard served as a pastor in the Ohio and Michigan conferences and as the evangelism coordinator and Personal Ministries director for the Michigan Conference. His ministry was preceded by a 12-year accounting career in which he last held the position of business unit controller.
Throughout his ministry of preaching, teaching, training, and developing soul-winning resources, he has helped both leaders and laypeople to accept the call of Christ to share the three angels’ messages with others. His burden is to lead every member to a closer walk with Jesus through communion with God, fellowship with the church, and active involvement in both personal and public outreach.
Busi Khumalo was elected as the new director of Youth Ministries, after serving as Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries and Adventist Youth Ministries director for the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division since 2010.
An alumnus of Helderberg College in South Africa, where he pursued undergraduate and graduate studies, Khumalo had served as Youth director of the Southern Africa Union Conference from 2004 to 2010.
“A church without young people is a dead church,” Khumalo says. “I believe that young people are the future of the church.”
Khumalo has also been known as a firm supporter of urban evangelism, emphasizing the role young people can play in it. “Young people are dynamic, highly educated, sophisticated, and some are apathetic to matters of faith. We need to engage in extraordinary measures to reach the elite in the world’s societies. Thus, [we must be] intentional in including Adventist young people to reach out to their counterparts.”
GENERAL CONFERENCE SECRETARIAT
Moise J. F. Hensley Mooroven, undersecretary
Gerson Santos, associate secretary
Claude Richli, associate secretary
Gary Krause, associate secretary, Adventist Mission
Elbert Kuhn, associate secretary, Adventist Volunteer Service
Karen Porter, associate secretary, IPRS
GENERAL CONFERENCE TREASURY
J. Raymond Wahlen II, undertreasurer
Timothy Hiroki Aka, associate treasurer, Investments
George Egwakhe, associate treasurer German Lust, associate treasurer, IPRS Daisy Orion, associate treasurer
GENERAL CONFERENCE AUDITING SERVICES
Robyn Kajiura, director
Gary Blood, associate director
Boris Cardenas, associate director Daniel E. Herzel, associate director Guillermo Leal, associate director
C. Maurine Wahlen, associate director Associate regional directors
GENERAL CONFERENCE DEPARTMENTS
Communication: Williams Costa Jr., director
Education: Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, director
Family Ministries: Wilbert Oliver, director; Elaine Oliver, associate director
Health: Peter Landless, director
Planned Giving and Trusted Services: Dennis Carlson, director
Public Affairs and Religious Liberty: Ganoune Diop, director
Publishing Ministries: Almir Marroni, director
Stewarship Ministries: Marcos Faiock Bomfim, director
Women’s Ministries: Heather-Dawn Small, director