Alvin Maurice Kibble, former vice president for the North American Division (NAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, passed to his rest on Friday evening, August 11, 2023, in Temecula, California, United States, after a fall that resulted in a brain injury. He was 76.
Kibble served in ministry for more than 50 years. A seasoned pastor and administrator, he was pastor of eight churches and contributed more than 35 years in church administration.
“Elder Kibble was far ahead of the NAD in terms of how we used big data and social media in a big way. He pressed the administration to jump into that arena,” NAD president G. Alexander Bryant said.
“It was a true delight to work shoulder-to-shoulder with him,” Bryant added. “Elder Kibble was a true visionary; he modeled servant leadership in a supreme manner. He was a personal friend, mentor, and colleague. I often turned to him for counsel and advice in critical matters, and I always marveled at how balanced he could approach almost any issue.”
Bryant continued, “He was the spiritual conscience of the North American Division, and his counsel was received because of the genuine love that emanated from him to all who were in the sphere of his influence.”
“Elder Kibble was an incredible leader, phenomenal mentor, and wonderful friend,” Tony Anobile, executive secretary for the Southwestern Union Conference and former NAD vice president for Multilingual Ministries, wrote on Facebook upon hearing of Kibble’s death.
Anobile’s comment on Facebook continued, “He genuinely cared about everyone and had a passion for seeing God’s church thrive. An incredible historian, his insights and wisdom were always treasured.”
“Elder Kibble was a man of prayer, and he was big on building relationships, on treating people with respect, and treating them well with class,” Maricel Pascual, Kibble’s administrative assistant and current administrative assistant for the NAD president, said. “He was a rare blend of an exceptional leader and a genuine human being. My regard for him is nothing short of the highest esteem.”
A Man of Learning and Substance
Kibble married the love of his life, the former Jewel L. Peck of Cleveland, Ohio, a registered nurse and a musician, in 1971.
He completed four residencies at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. Kibble is a graduate of New York Theological Seminary in New York, New York (1974), where he studied theology and urban ministry; the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in Berrien Springs, Michigan (1969), where he studied theology and pastoral ministry; and Atlantic Union College (now closed) in South Lancaster, Massachusetts (1967), where he studied theology and history.
In 1998, Kibble received the Alumnus of the Year Award from Atlantic Union College and was honored in 2015 by the NAD Pastoral Evangelism and Leadership Council with a Distinguished Service Award: Lifetime Achievement – Church Administration. On May 7, 2017, Andrews University awarded him with an honorary degree, Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, for his outstanding dedication, leadership, and scholarly contributions to the field of theology. He wrote dozens of articles and papers.
Kibble exemplified servant leadership. He held this as his personal mission statement: "Cooperating with God in the work of salvation to live a full, rich, well-balanced, and Christ-centered life of disinterested benevolence with eternity in view."
Kibble began his pastoral work in 1969 in Jersey City, New Jersey, and served in churches in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. He enjoyed a long tenure at the Allegheny East Conference. He was conference executive secretary from May 1984 to May 1987; vice president of the conference from May 1987 to December 1988; and from December 1988 to October 2000, he served as president.
Before he joined the NAD team, Kibble went back to pastoral ministry, serving as pastor of the Ebenezer Seventh-day Adventist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1998 to 2001. Kibble then served as an NAD vice president for 20 years.
While at the NAD, Kibble chaired the Breath of Life Television Ministry Executive Committee, Adventist Information Ministry Board, Liberty Editorial Board, Pine Forge Academy and Oakwood University boards, PARL Advisory Committee, NAD Litigation Committee, and the Regional [Conference] Scholarship Committee.
In November 2020, as retirement drew near, Kibble was honored for his role as NAD vice president with ministry oversight of executive training, coaching, and development; Public Affairs and Religious Liberty; Big Data Analytics and Social Media; and Literature Ministries. He was the division’s longest-serving employee, working 20 of his 51 service years at the NAD.
During a retirement celebration for Kibble in 2020, Carlton P. Byrd, president of Southwestern Regional Conference and former speaker/director for Breath of Life Ministries, said, “A statesman is a skilled, experienced, and respected leader figure.… When we think of modern-day statesmen of the Adventist Church in North America, the name ‘Alvin Kibble’ must be called,” he said. “His service, leadership, counsel, and words of admonition have all benefited the Adventist Church.”
At that same event, NAD executive secretary Kyoshin Ahn recalled a specific conversation he had with Kibble years before.
“We were talking about race and diversity. You were truly concerned for the future of the church, and you even got emotional. There was genuine love shown in that conversation. That day I realized how much you love this church and care about its future,” Ahn said.
In response to these and other comments offered at his retirement celebration, Kibble offered advice drawn from his years of studying golf. “Make every stroke count. Take deadly aim — aim as if your life depended on it. What you’re doing is so valuable and important for this church. Don’t waste anything. And don’t spend your time complaining about what you don’t have, when you have the forces of heaven backing you up,” he said.
Kibble’s life is celebrated by his wife, Jewel, sons Santo and Jason, and four grandchildren. Details about a memorial service are pending.