Shane Anderson to Serve as Lead Pastor of Pioneer Memorial Church

He was selected to replace Dwight Nelson, who retires on June 1.

Andy Im, Michigan Conference News
<strong>Shane Anderson to Serve as Lead Pastor of Pioneer Memorial Church</strong>
Shane Anderson, new lead pastor of Pioneer Memorial Church on the campus of Andrews University. [Photo: courtesy of Shane Anderson]

On March 22, the search committee responsible for selecting a new lead pastor for Pioneer Memorial Church on the campus of Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States, extended an invitation to Shane Anderson to serve in that capacity.

Anderson will be the fifth pastor to serve at PMC since the first worship service was conducted in the existing church building on February 14, 1959. Anderson follows Dwight Nelson, who began his ministry at PMC on June 1, 1983, and will retire on June 1, 2023, after 40 years of service there.

Since 2004, Anderson has served as senior pastor of the New Market Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Potomac Conference that also functions as the campus church for Shenandoah Valley Academy (SVA) in New Market, Virginia. He has also served in Washington State as senior pastor of the Forest Park church and lead pastor of Life House Seventh-day Adventist Fellowship.

Anderson received a Bachelor of Arts in theology from Walla Walla University in 1994, his Master of Divinity from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in 1999, and a Doctor of Ministry degree with a concentration in leadership from the Seminary in 2017. He has authored numerous articles published in professional journals and Adventist publications, and his book, How to Kill Adventist Education (And How to Give It a Fighting Chance!) has sold more than 20,000 copies worldwide in English, Spanish, and Korean.

He has held broad professional and church-related committee positions as an executive committee member for several local conferences, including the Potomac Conference, and has served as a board or committee member for various church and educational entities. Anderson has been a keynote speaker and seminar and workshop presenter for various camp meetings and professional conferences in the United States and internationally.

Anderson and his wife, Darlene, have been married for 28 years. They have two daughters, Sierra and Ellie. Darlene earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing from Walla Walla University and has served as the school nurse for SVA. Sierra recently completed her nursing degree from Southern Adventist University and currently serves as a missionary nurse in Bolivia. Ellie is currently a student at SVA and the senior class president. She enjoys playing her violin in the school orchestra and participating in intramural sports with her father.

“For many years now, PMC has been one of the leading churches in our global Adventist community,” Anderson said. “God has worked mightily through this dynamic and diverse congregation, and I am excited to have been called to serve as its lead pastor! I am grateful to Dwight Nelson for his leadership over the last four decades. His work at PMC has been filled with passion and vigor, and it is an honor to succeed him in leadership. I am looking forward to getting to know the members of the Pioneer and Andrews family, and to discover the ways God has chosen for us to work together to achieve His goals.”

Anderson family pictured (from left): Shane, Ellie, Darlene, and Sierra. [Photo: courtesy of the Anderson family]

He added, “While I certainly have convictions when it comes to my ministry goals, my vision for the future of PMC is not yet fully formed. Such vision is not something that one brings prepackaged to a church of PMC’s stature. Instead, I look forward to praying, visioning, and strategizing with the leaders of PMC, that together we might see where God is leading us next.”

“I am pleased to learn Shane Anderson has been selected as the incoming new lead pastor of our Pioneer family,” Nelson said after receiving word of the incoming PMC pastor. “We have prayed for God to guide the search process, and now Karen and I want to lend all the support we can to Pastor Shane and Darlene in order to facilitate Anderson’s transition to this campus congregation. Their 19 years as a pastoral couple of Shenandoah Valley Academy have prepared them for this new Kingdom assignment. And they will have, I know, the warm and prayerful support of Pioneer’s pastors, leaders, and members.”

PMC is a church within the Michigan Conference, which is responsible for selecting its pastoral staff. Andrews University, although it lies in the territory of the Lake Union Conference, is an institution of the General Conference. Due to the unique relationship of PMC and Andrews University, the standard process for selecting the lead pastor was adjusted.

Conference administrators met with the PMC elders and the pastoral staff on September 1, 2022, after Nelson announced his retirement during the Saturday (Sabbath) worship hour on August 13. Together, they outlined the unique process for selecting the new lead pastor, which included an electronic survey of the church elders and the formation of the search committee, with Michigan Conference president Jim Micheff serving as chairperson of the committee. The Michigan Conference, Andrews University, Lake Union Conference, General Conference, and PMC were represented on the committee. Student representatives coordinated by the chaplains from Andrews University and the PMC pastoral team also provided valuable input during the process.

The committee met monthly to pray and thoughtfully evaluate potential, well-qualified candidates for the position. Names were added to the list of candidates, including many submitted by PMC members. The committee prayerfully considered each name within the framework of the expressed needs of the students, pastoral team, and represented committee members. The committee eventually narrowed down the list and interviewed each pastoral couple on the short list on March 9, 2023.

After months of prayerful and thoughtful review and consideration, Shane Anderson was selected. On the evening of March 22, the official call to serve as the next lead pastor of PMC was extended to him after the elders had the opportunity to meet with the Andersons. 

“What a joy it has been to work with the search committee,” Micheff said. “Throughout the process, there has been such a sweet spirit and shared desire for God to reveal His choice to serve as PMC’s lead pastor. Although there were many qualified and gifted candidates, we believe God led us to the Andersons. They seem uniquely matched for PMC, and we believe God has been preparing them for this time.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Michigan Conference news site.

Andy Im, Michigan Conference News