Delegates to the 61st General Conference (GC) session in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, voted to accept the nominating committee’s recommendations on dozens of church leaders on June 7, 2022. The names voted include several new faces on a team from well-established GC departments, as well as GC Treasury, GC Secretariat and GC Audit Services. Newcomers to their positions are briefly introduced below, starting with the GC Secretariat, followed by the GC Treasury and the GC Audit Service, and ending with the department heads.
Delegates voted to elect Saw Samuel as Associate Secretary of the GC. He will fill a position left vacant by the retirement of John Thomas. Samuel had served as President of the Asia South Pacific Division since 2016.
As Division President, Samuel sought new ways to reach the many Buddhists and Muslims in his region while seeking God’s wisdom to value each day as a precious gift to be used wisely.
He was first elected as the division’s executive secretary in 2010. Prior to that, he worked for two years as the corporate secretary of the Southeast Asia Union Mission in Singapore. The rest of his career as a pastor and administrator was spent in Thailand, serving as executive secretary of the Adventist Thailand Mission (2002-2008); director of the Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program at the Thailand Adventist Mission (2006-2008); youth director at the Thailand Adventist Mission (2002-2004); pastor of Bangkok Adventist Hospital Church (2000-2002); and Chaplaincy Coordinator for Seventh-day Adventist English Schools in Thailand (1998-1999).
Delegates voted to elect Josue Pierre as Associate Treasurer of the GC. Since 2016, he has been Associate General Counsel of the GC. Prior to joining the Office of the General Counsel, he served as Associate Attorney for the Prince George’s County, Maryland, Office of Law from 2012 to 2016. Pierre, a Juris Doctor (George Washington University), is a member of the Maryland and Bar Associations of District of Columbia in the United States. His practice areas include contracts, transactions, real estate, procurement, procurement and data protection.
Richard Stephenson was elected Associate Treasurer for Technology Operations and Strategy. Prior to his election, he served as Director of Information Technology (IT) Services for the North American Division (NAD).
Stephenson became IT director at Madison Academy in Tennessee in 2005. In this role, he launched one of the first individual laptop programs in NAD, equipping each student with a laptop computer and printer , and leading the shift to online learning. environment. In 2008, he transitioned to CIO of the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference, its first full-time CIO. Stephenson emphasized educational technology for the dozens of schools at the conference.
In 2009, Stephenson accepted the call to become associate director of IT for the Southern Union Conference in Georgia, and in 2013 he became director of IT in that region. Under his leadership, the Southern Union began to house centralized payroll and accounting in the union office, along with many other services, on behalf of its conferences.
Stephenson enjoys integrating technology into the organization in a way that produces positive change.
Ivan Omaña was elected director of Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries (ACM) less than a year after becoming associate director of that department in August 2021.
Since 2015, Omaña has served as Associate Director of ACM for the NAD, providing support, encouragement, and faith-based oversight to over 300 chaplains in all areas of Pacific Union Conference and North Pacific Union Conference chaplaincy. . Previously, he served as senior chaplain at Florida Hospital Kissimmee (now AdventHealth Kissimmee; 2002-2015) and chaplain at Adventist Health Centers (2000-2002). During the 1990s, Omaña was pastor at the Conference of the Midwest of Venezuela, where he also served as the official translator of all major evangelical and ecclesiastical events.
Orathai Chureson was elected Director of Children’s Ministries. She has held the same position for the Southern Asia-Pacific Division (SSD) since 2015 and has also served as Director of Family Ministries in that region (2015-2021). In addition, since 2021, she has been coordinator of the Association of Ministerial Spouses within the SSD.
Chureson, Ph.D. in Education (Curriculum and Instruction), has experience as a teacher, business office clerk, and later a tertiary instructor in the English department of the Adventist International Institute for Advanced Study (AIIAS ).
She is a published author, having written the books A Glimpse of God’s Grace and Homeward Bound: Sermons for Children and Families.
She is married to newly elected GC Associate Secretary Saw Samuel.
Delegates voted to elect Ramon Canals Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference Ministerial Association after serving as principal of GC Sabbath School and Personal Ministries (SSPM) since April 2017. Canals was born in the Dominican Republic but grew up in New York. He served for years as a local church pastor in the New Jersey Conference in the NAD and served as a full-time evangelist, associate ministry director, and Hispanic Ministries Coordinator.
As leader of SSPM, Canals worked with division, union and conference leaders to define the vision for Total Member Involvement, a Seventh-day Adventist Church initiative to involve every member in the assignment. Canals likes to encourage people to get involved in the community and to win souls.
As an evangelist, Canals has held evangelistic meetings on most continents. He has also helped train Sabbath School teachers and conducted seminars for leadership conferences around the world.
Aurora Canals was elected Director of Spouse and Family Pastoral Care. Prior to being asked for her new position, she served as Undertreasurer of the Chesapeake Conference in the NAD.
Canals is an accomplished professional with extensive accounting and payroll experience. Prior to earning a degree in business administration, she worked with her husband as an assistant evangelist at the Oregon conference in the NAD. In this role, she helped prepare candidates for baptism. As the wife of a ministerial and Hispanic coordinator, Canals held convocations to train and resource church members to fulfill the mission of the church.
JAMES M. HOWARD
James M. Howard was elected the new director of Sabbath School and Personal Ministries. He had held the position of associate director of the same department since August 2021.
Prior to taking his current role at the General Conference, Howard served as pastor in the Ohio and Michigan Conferences and as Evangelism Coordinator and Director of Personal Ministries for the Michigan Conference. His ministry was preceded by a 12-year accounting career during which he last served as a business unit controller.
Throughout his ministry of preaching, teaching, training, and developing soul-winning resources, he has helped both leaders and lay people accept Christ’s call to share the three angels’ messages. with the others. Its burden is to lead each member into a closer walk with Jesus through fellowship with God, fellowship with the church, and active involvement in personal and public evangelism.
Busi Khumalo was elected the new director of youth ministries, having served as director of Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries and Adventist Youth Ministries for the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division since 2010.
An alumnus of Helderberg College in South Africa, where he pursued undergraduate and graduate studies, Khumalo served as youth director for the Southern African Union Conference from 2004 to 2010.
“A church without young people is a dead church,” says Khumalo. “I believe young people are the future of the church.”
Khumalo is also known as a strong supporter of urban evangelism, emphasizing the role young people can play in it. “Young people are dynamic, highly educated, sophisticated and some are indifferent to matters of faith. We must engage in extraordinary measures to reach out to the elite in societies around the world. Thereby, [we must be] intentionally including young Adventists to reach out to their counterparts.
RETURNED TO THEIR POSTS
GENERAL CONFERENCE SECRETARIAT
Moise JF Hensley Mooroven, Under-Secretary
Gerson Santos, Associate Secretary
Claude Richli, associate secretary
Gary Krause, Associate Secretary, Adventist Mission
Elbert Kuhn, associate secretary, Adventist Volunteer Service
Karen Porter, Associate Secretary, IPRS
GENERAL CONFERENCE TREASURY
J. Raymond Wahlen II, Under-Treasurer
Timothy Hiroki Aka, Associate Treasurer, Investments
George Egwakhe, Associate Treasurer German Lust, Associate Treasurer, IPRS Daisy Orion, Associate Treasurer
GENERAL CONFERENCE AUDIT SERVICES
Robyn Kajiura, director
Gary Blood, Associate Director
Boris Cardenas, Associate Director Daniel E. Herzel, Associate Director Guillermo Leal, Associate Director
C. Maurine Wahlen, Associate Director Associate Regional Directors
GENERAL CONFERENCE DEPARTMENTS
Communication: Williams Costa Jr., director
Training: Lisa Beardsley-Hardy, Director
Family Ministries: Wilbert Oliver, director; Elaine Oliver, Associate Director
Health: Peter Landless, Director
Planned Giving and Trust Services: Dennis Carlson, Director
Public Affairs and Religious Freedom: Ganoune Diop, Director
Publishing Ministries: Almir Marroni, Director
Stewardship Ministries: Marcos Faiock Bomfim, Director
Women’s Ministries: Heather-Dawn Small, Director