Members of the General Conference Executive Committee (GCEXCOM) paused during Annual Council meetings on October 8, 2021, to remember scores of church workers and missionaries who became infected and ultimately lost their lives to COVID-19, starting in August 2020.
At the Adventist Church headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, leaders invited members attending the 2021 Annual Council in person or following the procedures online to stand for a moment of silence to reflect on the life of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their service.
Adventist Health Ministries honored those workers at Adventist hospitals and clinics who lost their lives to COVID-19 while serving others. Members of the GCEXCOM observed 30 seconds of silence to pay their respects to the commitment and sacrifice of those who died.
The Adventist Mission office put together a video that included the names, ages, and positions of some of the workers who passed away during the pandemic. “As we know all too well, COVID-19 has killed millions, and we have also lost many Adventist believers and church workers, our colleagues in mission to the pandemic,” the video’s narrator said. “These dedicated workers fell in the line of duty, carrying a message of hope to a dying world, a message of hope in [Jesus’] soon return.”
The nine-minute video, which Adventist Church president Ted N. C. Wilson described as “an amazingly touching presentation,” opened by showcasing the experience of missionary Manuel Bellosillo. Bellosillo, a 67-seven-old Filipino physician in Cameroon, was the first to become infected and die from the virus in August 2020.
Adventist Church Health Ministries director Peter Landless said at the time of Bellosillo’s memorial that the experienced Adventist missionary spent his life “in service to a broken world, for which he paid the ultimate price.”
The video message also honored the memory of church workers such as 67-year-old Daniel Reband, Media Ministry Department director in the Euro-Asia Division, who passed to his rest on October 5, 2020. It included 59-year-old Ervin González, who was Inter-American Division publishing director when he died from COVID-19 complications on December 31, 2020; and 45-year-old Pablo Carreño,the treasurer of the East Venezuela Union Conference, who passed away on April 22, 2021.
The showcase list also included pastors, evangelists, health workers, teachers, literature evangelists, and office workers. The disease affected many seasoned workers but also young missionaries. Among the workers were 42-year-old David Apu Baroi, an Adventist mission volunteer in the Bangladesh Union; 31-year-old Levi Hernandez, a pastor in the Central Tabasco Conference in Mexico; and 20-year-old Ingrid Garcia, who was women and children’s ministries director in the East Andean Venezuela Mission.
The tribute closed with an invitation for church members to look forward to the day when, according to the Bible’s teachings, those who died in the Lord will be raised to new life and welcomed to live with God. “Well done, good and faithful servant,” the video’s narrator read, quoting Jesus’ words in Matthew 25:23. “Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.” And it closed with, “Until we meet again on that glorious day.”