Brasilia, Brazil | ASN/ANN Staff

At 38 years old, Pastor Erton Carlos Köhler is the youngest president ever to head the South American region of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Members of the South American Division Executive Committee present when Pastor Köhler was nominated on Oct. 29 to replace Pastor Ruy Nagel, who retired, say that he reflects the youth and energy of one of the Adventist world church’s largest administrative regions. The South America Division is one of 13 administrative regions of the world Adventist Church.

Köhler’s nomination will be recommended to the Executive Committee of the world church, which is the body that elects division presidents.

When asked about his new role leading nearly 2.6 million Adventist church members in South America, Pastor Köhler said: “I feel extremely honored to serve the church in this function at this moment. I believe that maybe I was called to fulfill Ellen G. White’s prophecy that the young people will finish God’s work on earth.”

Ellen G. White was one of the young founders of the Adventist church. She, along with her husband James, John Nevins Andrews, Uriah Smith and other young pioneers of the church, nurtured the small group of Adventist believers in the church’s infancy. In 1844 at the start of the Adventist church, Ellen was 17, James was 23, and Andrews and Smith were in their 20s. As the youngest regional president for the world church, Pastor Köhler follows in the founding members’ footsteps.

“In South America 58.8 percent of the church’s membership is under 35 years old,” Köhler continued. “I am 38 years old and this is a reason for me to make a final call for all the young people to come to know Christ.”

“Pastor Köhler was chosen because he is young, because he is enthusiastic,” said Williams Costa Jr., communication director for the church in that region.

Pastor Köhler held the position of youth ministries director for the region for three years starting in 2003. “We want him to put the same kind of enthusiasm and energy that he put into our young people into the whole [region],” Williams continued, adding that Kohler is “also very well-organized and he is very good with planning.”

Köhler’s election follows the retirement of Pastor Ruy Nagel, who headed that church region for 11 years and served a total of 44 years in church ministry. In his new role, Köhler is not only a leader for the church in that region, he also becomes a vice president of the 15-million member Adventist world church, which is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States. Pastor Jan Paulsen, president of the Adventist world church, participated in the proceedings.

Before becoming youth ministries director for the entire South American region, Pastor Köhler was youth leader and then secretary for the Rio Grande do Sul Conference in Brazil. He has served as a local pastor and a youth leader for the church’s local conference and in the Northeast Brazil Union. Kohler graduated in 1989 with a degree in theology from the Brazil Adventist College.

A new communication director was also elected for the church in South America. Pastor Edson Rosa, former secretary for the church in Brazil, will be filling the spot vacated by Costa, who earlier this month was elected associate communication director for the Adventist world church.