Kepsie Elodo, a pastor and veteran church administrator, pledged to make reconciliation a central focus of his leadership after being elected president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Papua New Guinea.
Elodo, who has served as president of the Bougainville Mission for the past three years, was voted president of the Papua New Guinea Union Mission on Wednesday, replacing Geoffrey Pomaleu, who was elected in 2015 but died from health complications on July 4.
“I am humbled,” Elodo said after the vote by the South Pacific Division’s Executive Committee. “God has called. My motto, and my family’s motto, is, ‘The Lord calls, we follow.’ Wherever the church calls we believe that God is calling us.”
At Bougainville, Elodo has been instrumental in reconciliation ministry among a population still carrying the scars of a bitter civil war.
He hopes to bring this emphasis into his new role.
“My passion is reconciliation,” he said. “I want to put the church — with the help of God and the leadership, right down to the lay people — in order, like King Hezekiah. People have differences even in the church, different thoughts and feelings, but if they can have peace — peace with God and peace with each other — then respect and trust and unity are built.”
Elodo has also been a strong advocate for reconciliation among family members.
Papua New Guinea is plagued by domestic and family violence.
Elodo told the story of one couple who went through one of his reconciliation programs. They had been married for 35 years, and the husband stood up and confessed that in all that time he had never said sorry to his wife for anything. “Praise God I am able to say sorry,” he said and promised to make things better.
Originally from the town of Efogi, Elodo grew up along the Kokoda track.
He has worked as an administrator at the Papua New Guinea Union Mission, South-West Papua Mission, North-East Papua Mission, Madang Manus Mission, and Eastern Highlands Simbu Mission, where he also served local pastor and district director.
He studied ministry at Sonoma College in the 1980s and more recently at Pacific Adventist University.
“His spiritual leadership has been very prayerful and people focused,” said Glenn Townend, president of the South Pacific Division. “Please pray for Kepsie and his family as they make the transition to this new responsibility.”