July 20, 2021

President of the Allegheny East Conference and Wife Die in House Fire

The following article is composed of two statements, one from Dave Weigley, president of the Columbia Union Conference in the United States, and the other from Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Both leaders share their hope and sympathies. The Allegheny East Conference is based near Pottstown, Pennsylvania.—The Editors 

In his statement on July 19, 2021, Dave Weigley, president of the Columbia Union Conference, based in Columbia, Maryland, United States, said: “It is with a very heavy heart that we write to inform you that Elder Henry J. Fordham III, president of the Allegheny East Conference, and his wife, Sharon, passed away in a house fire overnight.

“Today we lost a giant, a legend in Adventist ministry — Elder Henry Fordham III — and his dear wife, Sharon. Together, they made an indelible contribution to the work of God.

“Anyone who knew and worked with Henry knew him to be a Christian gentleman who had a soft touch, a big heart, and a tremendous love for Jesus. Sharon, a gracious, kind, and dedicated woman, was the quintessential First Lady of the Allegheny East Conference and all the churches Henry pastored. When we all get to heaven, I’ll be the first to ask the Lord why we lost our dear friends. Today our hearts are broken, but, like the apostle Paul says, we do not grieve without hope.

“The Columbia Union family is shocked and heartbroken by this tragic news. Details are still unfolding, but as more information becomes available through the Allegheny East Conference, we will share it with you.

“We are praying for the Fordham family and the Allegheny East Conference family and will do all we can to support them through this devastating loss.”

Earlier on July 19, Ted N. C. Wilson, president of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, shared his heartfelt condolences on Facebook. A transcription of his comments follows.

“What tragic and disheartening news to hear of the passing of Pastor Henry and Mrs. Sharon Fordham. Pastor Fordham, president of the Allegheny East Conference, was a trusted church administrator and a long-time friend. He came from a long line of faithful Adventist leaders. His kind and godly leadership will be missed by all and by me personally. 

“I recall attending a few years ago the opening of the new Allegheny East Conference headquarters and also experiencing the beautiful setting of the Pine Forge Academy property. He and his wife, Sharon, gave loving care to the Allegheny East family, and their passing will be strongly felt by all. 

“What a shock to see this announcement. According to reports, the Fordhams passed away in a house fire. Our hearts go out to the grieving family members and all church members of the Allegheny East Conference. May the Holy Spirit comfort each of you, and may the Lord come soon!”

The original versionof this release was posted by the North American Division’s Columbia Union Conference. Ted N. C. Wilson’s comments were posted on the Adventist News Network.