Delegates attending the 61st General Conference Session on Wednesday, June 8, elected the executive secretaries and finance directors of the 13 divisions of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. These bodies are responsible for the work of the denomination for a set of countries in all regions of the world.
In South America, pastors Edward Heidinger and Marlon Lopes, respectively, will be in charge of these functions. They were recommended by the Nominating Committee and had their names, as well as those who will occupy the same positions in other locations, approved by the delegates attending the meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, with 96.4% of the vote.
Executive secretaries are responsible for, among other things, managing key church information regarding members, as well as data on evangelistic projects, growth, and initiatives that seek to strengthen and reconnect people who no longer attend church. In South America, this program is known as “Reencontro.”
The financial directors manage the denomination's resources, always focusing on missionary initiatives and support for local congregations, in addition to investing in specific areas, such as the new generations. Some of these work fronts are the Caleb Mission, A Year in Mission, and others.
Born in Puerto Inca, Huánuco, Peru, Edward Heidinger studied business administration at Universidad Unión Incaica (now Unión Peruana University [UPeU]). After completing the course, he continued at the institution to start a degree in theology, graduating at the end of 2003. He also has a master's degree in theology from the same institution.
Heidinger began his pastoral ministry in Tarapoto, Peru, in 2004. He then worked in Moyobamba. He later served as director of Personal Ministries, Sabbath School, and Global Mission for the Northeast Peru Mission, one of the church's administrative offices in the country, also assuming the responsibilities of ministerial secretary and executive secretary for the same territory in 2008.
In the middle of the same year, Heidinger was called to serve in the North Peru Union, another administrative headquarters, as director of Christian Stewardship and Health, additionally assuming the task of ministerial secretary and evangelist in 2009. In 2010 and 2011, he was executive secretary of the North Peru Union.
In 2012 and 2013, Heidinger served as assistant to the president of the South American Division (SAD), the denomination's headquarters for eight countries, based in Brazil. During 2014 and the first half of 2015, he was president of the North Peru Union. In 2015, he returned to Brasília when he was elected executive secretary of SAD. Married to Susana Delgado, he has two daughters: Priscilla and Rebekah.
With more than 40 years of work for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Marlon Lopes was born in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul. With a degree in accounting, he studied theology and holds a postgraduate degree in business management and finance, investments, and banking.
Lopes began his career in 1978 as a cashier and accountant at the Instituto Adventista Cruzeiro do Sul (IACS), located in Taquara, Rio Grande do Sul, where he stayed until 1983. From there, he went to Florianópolis to work as assistant treasurer of the Home and Health Education Service (SELS), remaining until 1985. He was transferred to Curitiba, Paraná, to perform the same function at Associação Paranaense, the administrative headquarters of the church for the state.
For two years, 1988–1989, Lopes was assistant treasurer for the Education Department at Associação Norte Paranaense, located in Maringá. From there, he went to the Instituto Adventista Paranaense (IAP) as treasurer, where he remained until 1992.
The following year, Lopes moved to Campo Grande, in Mato Grosso do Sul, to take over the treasury of Associação Sul Mato Grosso. In 2000, he returned to Curitiba as treasurer of União Sul Brasileira, the headquarters responsible for the work of the denomination for Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul. After eight years of work, he was appointed general director of Rede Novo Tempo, in Jacareí, São Paulo, where he remained for two years.
In July 2010, at the General Conference Session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, held in Atlanta, Georgia, United States, Lopes was elected finance director of the South American Division. In 2015, in San Antonio, Texas, United States, he was reelected.
Lopes has been married to Leni dos Reis since 1981, and the couple has three children (Wesley, Anderson, and Marlon) and three grandchildren.
This article was originally published on the South American Division’s news site