December 16, 2022

Bert B. Beach, Adventist Religious Liberty Pioneer, Dies at 94

For decades, Beach was the face of the Seventh-day Adventist Church to other faiths and civic entities.

Tor Tjeransen, Trans-European Division, and Adventist Review Staff
Bert B. Beach [Photo: courtesy of the Beach family]

Bert B. Beach passed to his rest in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, on December 14. He was 94. He will be remembered as a statesman on behalf of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. For many years he served as the director of the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty Department of the General Conference.

In 1962 Beach was Education and Sabbath School director of the Northern Europe Division (later Trans-European Division), based initially in London and now in St. Albans, United Kingdom. That year, F. D. Nichol, then editor of Adventist Review, asked him to go to Rome to observe the proceedings of the Second Vatican Council. The council met for two to three months every autumn between 1962 and 1965.

Bert Beach had just turned 34 when he took on the assignment, and in his own words, “knew next to nothing about Catholics.” In November 1962, the Adventist Review printed the first article Beach wrote about the Vatican council.

Beach became secretary of the Trans-European Division, and former General Conference president Jan Paulsen succeeded him in 1980. Paulsen expressed his appreciation for the life and service of Beach. “Bert Beach, more than any other leader from of our church, pioneered for us the importance of communicating with people whose religions convictions and values differed from ours — important for us to understand them and for us to be understood.”

Reinder Bruinsma, a retired Adventist leader who, among other positions, was also secretary of the Trans-European Division, also commented on Beach’s passing. “[Beach] was a great leader and was known inside and outside the church for his leadership qualities, his erudition, and the way he represented the Adventist Church worldwide in all sorts of forums,” Bruinsma said. “I’ve gained more respect for him over the years, and our relationship developed into a warm friendship. Our joint assignments for the church, … especially in the Balkans, Hungary, and the Baltic States were fascinating and fruitful events.… Beach leaves an empty spot.”

The family is tentatively planning a late January memorial service and will share further details when they become available. A more detailed obituary will also follow.