Sydney, Australia ... [ANN] The current secretary of the South Pacific Division, Pastor Laurie Evans, 55, has been elected as the new president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific.

In a televideo-linked conference with the Executive Committee of the Adventist Church, meeting in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, and with phone links to other international center, the recommendation of the South Pacific Division committee in Sydney was ratified today. Evans’ appointment as president follows the retirement of Dr. Bryan Ball, who has served as president for the church in the South Pacific for the past seven years.

Evans comes to the position of president with administrative experience in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. Born in Wagin, Western Australia, Evans first trained as an accountant and served for many years in the financial management of church organizations before being ordained to ministry in 1980. Evans is married, with four adult children and two grandchildren.

Replacing Evans as South Pacific Division secretary is Dr. Barry Oliver, 46, a lecturer in Ministry and Mission at Avondale College. Oliver has served the church previously as an administrator in Papua New Guinea and as a pastor-evangelist.

Robert S. Folkenberg and G. Ralph Thompson were present in Sydney for the election process which normally takes place every five years at a world business session of the church.

Adventists continue to see strong numerical growth in the Pacific Islands with accessions totalling 10,704 in 1996. Adult membership in the South Pacific now stands at 296,021, with 48,767 members in Australia. [Ray Coombe]