January 23, 2024

Retired Church Leader George W. Brown Turns 100

He served the church in a variety of roles, including Inter-American Division president.

Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division, and Adventist Review
George W. Brown (center) shares a moment during his 100th birthday celebration with Elie Henry (left) and Israel Leito on January 14, in Avon Park, Florida, United States. [Photo: Libna Stevens/IAD]

Family, friends, and former co-workers gathered on January 14 to celebrate the 100th birthday of George W. Brown, former Inter-American Division (IAD) president, at Avon Park Seventh-day Adventist Church in Florida, United States.

“All I have felt thus far is love and more love,” Brown said as he welcomed the dozens who came to congratulate him. Also present was Brown’s wife of 72 years, Carla, his daughters, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

A Spiritual Leader

Greetings came in from General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson, who congratulated Brown for reaching such a milestone.

“The Lord has blessed you with many years of life and has provided you with many opportunities to cultivate a love for Christ in others,” Beverly Mattingly, Brown’s daughter, read from a letter. “Your spiritual leadership has surely been an inspiration to many. Your dedicated witness at 100 years of age is even more pertinent during these uncertain times of earth’s history. May God continue to guide, direct, and bless you as you enter this new year of life and as we come closer to Christ’s soon second coming.”

IAD administrators paid tribute to Brown for a life of unwavering faith, selfless service, and spiritual guidance during the more than 41 years he served in the division territory. 

“Over the past century, you have not only witnessed but have actively shaped the history of the Inter-American Division, leaving an indelible mark on the church and the members in that region,” IAD president Elie Henry said. “Your dedication to the teaching of compassion, kindness, and hope has touched the hearts of many, leaving an enduring legacy.”

A Beacon of Faith

Brown has been a beacon of faith and has exemplified the principles of grace and humility, while inspiring generations to deepen their connection with Jesus. His service to the church included district pastor, college dean at Caribbean Union College, education secretary, and president at the Caribbean Union, as well as youth ministries director, field secretary and president (1980-1993) of the IAD, adding 27 years at division level.

“We have come to celebrate a century of spiritual leadership and the profound impact you have had on countless lives,” Henry said.  IAD administrators presented special gifts to Brown and his wife.

A Mentor and a Guide

Former IAD president Israel Leito thanked Brown for his mentorship, help, and guidance from his early service in Aruba. Leito followed in Brown’s footsteps as IAD youth ministries director in the 1980s and later as IAD president after Brown retired in 1993.

“George Brown taught me so many things, never overbearing, very respectfully, helped and guided me,” Leito said. “I still have outlines of sermons you preached and left me. I still carry with me a folder you left on your president’s desk with how to guide a nominating committee in a union session, how to choose a president, et cetera, on your typed paper with your handwritten notes.” 

Leito shared that he asked God if he could follow Brown in reaching 100 years of age “with the mind, the kindness, with the leadership, with Christian spirit to continue blessing God’s church as you have done.”

A Christian Example

As a token of appreciation, Dinorah Rivera, former women and children’s ministries director of the IAD, shared a compilation of photographs taken during Brown’s service in the IAD territory and also birthday messages from former administrators who worked under Brown’s leadership.

“We love you. Those of us who were very young in the office remember you as somebody we could trust,” Rivera said. “You were always an example in every aspect of your life, and we are happy God has bestowed upon you long years with that same bright mind, with the same passion, love and commitment for the church.”

On behalf of the group of retirees from the IAD office, Elie S. Honore, former health ministries director of the IAD, expressed his gratitude for the many who trained, educated, and were mentored by Brown’s direct leadership. “All of us you have impacted by your constant holy respect for life itself, and your genuine gratitude to God for the healthy longevity you have been blessed with,” Honore said.

A Caring Grandfather and a Compassionate Friend

Brown’s granddaughter Nicole Brown-Dominguez read a tribute to her grandfather on behalf of the grandchildren, as well as friends and fellow members of the Avon Park Adventist phurch who expressed their heartfelt congratulations for his exemplary life.

Ruth Francis Archbold, daughter of Bender L. Archbold, former president of the IAD, and whom Brown followed as president, also shared how Brown was part of her family growing up and shared that she had a photo when she marched as the flower girl in Brown’s wedding.

Brown thanked the gathering and extended warm expressions of gratitude to his four daughters, Carlita Brown-Christian, Dela Vern Brown, Beverly Mattingly, Arlene Brown-Dominguez, grandchildren, great grandchildren, extended family, and the group from the IAD. “I am what I am because of the Inter-American Division. It is a transforming area of the world,” he said.

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.