Paul Ratsara has resigned as president of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division of Seventh-day Adventists in what he described as an effort “to refocus the church that I love, back to its God-given mission.”
The General Conference Executive Committee, voting Tuesday, accepted a request from Ratsara to step aside for possible reassignment as a local church district pastor in his home Indian Ocean Union, which serves seven islands or island groups, including Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mayotte, Reunion, Rodrigues, and Seychelles.
“To refocus the church that I love, back to its God-given mission, and to prevent it continuing to be distracted, I have humbly decided to voluntarily request reassignment as a local church district pastor somewhere within the territory of the Indian Ocean Union, my home union,” Ratsara said in a letter to the General Conference Executive Committee, the top decision-making body of the Adventist world church.
Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Adventist world church, thanked Ratsara for serving as division president since 2005 and, before that, as the division’s executive secretary.
“We thank Paul Ratsara and his wife, Joanne, for their dedication to the cause of God and Pastor Ratsara’s many years of service to the church,” Wilson said. “Many positive aspects of church growth in the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division have taken place under his leadership. We will pray for God’s guidance and blessing on their continued witness for the Lord.”
Ratsara’s decision came after questions were raised within the territory of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division about an academic degree held by Ratsara.
Ratsara received a Doctor of Theology degree in systematic theology in 2014 from the University of South Africa, or Unisa, the largest university in the country.
It will be up to a local conference or field to invite Ratsara to work as a district pastor.
Ratsara said he would serve Jesus in any way he could.
“I love the Word of God, the preaching of the Word, and will enjoy focusing on helping church members value the beauty of evangelistic activities and witnessing through Total Member Involvement,” he said in his letter to the General Conference Executive Committee.
Solomon Maphosa, executive secretary of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, will function as the division’s acting president until the election of a new president.