May 26, 2023

G. Ralph Thompson Passes Away at 94

Thompson was the executive secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Rachel Ashworth, Adventist News Network and Adventist Review
Former executive secretary of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church G. Ralph Thompson, passed away at the age of 94. [Photo: General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists]

George Ralph Thompson, beloved pastor and former executive secretary of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, fell asleep in Jesus on Sabbath, May 20, 2023. Thompson was a remarkable individual whose contributions to mission and in leadership to the Seventh-day Adventist community will be remembered.

Reflecting on Thompson’s life, Ted Wilson, president of the General Conference, shared his admiration for the late church administrator. “Pastor Thompson was a mentor and wonderful friend for many years. I had the privilege of working with him when I was a division secretary and as an associate secretary with him at the General Conference. He had a great, positive belief in the Seventh-day Adventist message,” Wilson said.

Born on March 20, 1929, in Connell Town, Saint Lucy, Barbados, George Ralph Thompson was the son of George Gilbert and Edna Thompson. He dedicated his life to ministry and was ordained as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor in 1959. Thompson’s commitment to his faith was unwavering, and his impact on the lives of those he served was profound.

Thompson held various significant roles in the Seventh-day Adventist Church throughout his career. He began his journey as an evangelist in the South Caribbean Conference in Trinidad and Tobago from 1950 to 1953. Following this, he served as a teacher, church pastor, and chairman of the Department of Theology at Caribbean Union College in the South Caribbean Conference from 1953 to 1954 and from 1959 to 1964. His passion for ministry and leadership skills led him to become the president of the East Caribbean Conference in Barbados from 1964 to 1970, followed by his tenure as the president of the Caribbean Union Conference in Trinidad and Tobago from 1970 to 1975.

During the 1975 General Conference Session in Vienna, Austria, Thompson’s passion for ministry and leadership skills led to a nomination and election as vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Washington D.C., United States. He served in this role until 1980, when he transitioned to executive secretary, one of the three chief administrative positions in the General Conference. He remained in this position serving the church for four five-year terms, making him the longest-serving person to hold this position in Adventist Church history.

Erton Köhler, current General Conference executive secretary, said, “Pastor Thompson was an example of faith and leadership. His tenure as General Conference secretary, the longest in Adventist Church history, underscored his unyielding dedication to our mission. He was a deeply spiritual leader who shaped our church’s trajectory. Pastor Thompson was a mentor to so many around the world that I am certain his example will continue to inspire future generations of Adventist leadership.”

Even after his retirement, Thompson made valuable contributions as a field representative for the Ellen G. White Estate, further exemplifying his lifelong commitment to the Adventist Church.

Thompson’s commitment to his faith was matched only by his devotion to his family. He married Imogene Clotilde Barker on July 19, 1959, and together they raised three children: Carol Jean, Gerald Randolph, and Linda Mae.

In his professional life, Thompson exemplified love, kindness, and selflessness. His powerful sermons, leadership, and unwavering commitment to the Seventh-day Adventist message have left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of those who had the privilege of knowing him and on the church to which he dedicated his professional life. He was also a dedicated father and husband to his wife, Imogene, and three children, who can find solace in knowing they will meet him again in eternity.

In the words of Wilson, “We extend to the entire Thompson family our heartfelt sympathy and Christian love. Certainly, the Holy Spirit will come close to them at this time, bringing encouragement and hope for Christ’s soon return.”