“Side By Side” Adventist songwriter Jeff Wood Passes Away

His work, often behind the scenes, has touched the lives of thousands of Adventists.

Kimberly Luste Maran, North American Division
“Side By Side” Adventist songwriter Jeff Wood Passes Away

After 6 years of declining health that included two bouts with cancer, Jeff Wood, Adventist song writer, screenwriter, producer and director, passed to his rest on Oct. 11, 2018, in Angwin, California. He was 67.

Wood made a significant contribution to Seventh-day Adventist Church media during the course of a career spanning several decades. As one North American Division (NAD) officer stated, “Jeff’s fingerprints were all over almost every media project from the church before, during, and after the days of the Adventist Media Center in California.” Wood was the producer and director of at least two NAD video reports for General Conference sessions.

“Jeff’s fingerprints were all over almost every media project from the church before, during, and after the days of the Adventist Media Center in California.”

Wood helped create the Lifestyle Magazine television talk show, and his latest project was the writing of the 2018 Breath of Life Christmas special that will air on major television networks across the U.S. this holiday season. As producer and director, Wood also put his heart and soul into the 2012 film Hell and Mr. Fudge, the story of an eccentric stranger hiring Edward Fudge, a small-town preacher, to investigate hell.

A musician and prolific writer, Wood authored songs with members of the Heritage Singers, and wrote the Pathfinder song “We Are His Hands.” He may best be known for his song “Side By Side,” originally recorded by the Heritage Singers — and sung in thousands of churches around the world. Max Mace, founder/director of the Heritage Singers, commented on Facebook that his heart “is broken. Jeff and I really became good friends — we would email in the middle of the night when we both could not sleep. We had big plans; now will have to wait ’til we meet in heaven.”

Mike Tucker, speaker/director of Faith For Today broadcast media ministry, wrote this on Facebook in response to news of Wood’s death: “God blessed me immensely by allowing me to work with this gentle, kind man. I trusted him implicitly. He fully understood the goals and vision of Faith For Today and Lifestyle Magazine. He made our television programs great! Because of his attention to detail, Lifestyle Magazine has won an incredible number of high awards against productions with much greater budgets and better on-camera talent. And, by the way, Jeff was instrumental in the creation of Lifestyle Magazine in the first place. He produced probably 90 percent of the shows that have aired since its creation more than three decades ago.”

Tucker went on to share that visionary Wood was an important part of the small team that created Mad About Marriage. “Because of a creative session that included Jeff, we have television programs, live seminars, small group curriculum, impressive FB and Twitter sites, weekly marriage tips via email, and a webpage that boasts more than 400 articles and numerous short videos on marriage.”

“Jeff was an answer to my prayers for a producer when we were ready for production on The Seventh Day series [with Hal Holbrook], and we benefitted from every one of his many talents — producer, director, musician, writer, organizer,” said Pat Arrabito, co-founder of LLT Productions, a California-based, non-profit organization dedicated to producing documentary films on religious and historical subjects. “He had an amazingly creative mind and an innate ability to structure a project well. Jeff had this quiet, kind manner that always brought out the best in talent and crew.” Wood, who started work with LLT in 1998, produced and directed The Seventh DayHell and Mr. Fudge and The Wandering Day.

Jim Wood, who collaborated with his brother on many projects and currently works as a writer and associate producer at LLT, said that “Jeff finally won his six-year battle with disease. … He slipped out of his enemy’s grasp and into peace and rest just 17 days short of his 68th birthday. Those of us whose lives are intertwined with his are stunned, grief-stricken, heartbroken, and bereft. This is the price of love — the price we are willing to pay for his freedom.”

Jim added that Scripture gives humanity good news [see 1 Thess. 4:16, 17). He said, “We grieve, but we have hope.”

“We grieve, but we have hope.”

Wood is survived by his wife, Gerry; son, Jeremy; daughter, Jill; sister, Jan Wood; brothers James (“Jim”) and Jon Wood; and nieces and a nephew. A memorial service date and time will be announced soon.

Kimberly Luste Maran, North American Division