Wilson elected president of Seventh-day Adventist world church

VP, son of former president, to serve five-year term

Atlanta, Georgia, United States | Ansel Oliver and Mark Kellner

Ted Wilson, with wife Nancy, on the platform following his election as Adventist Church president. [photo: Josef Kissinger]

Ted Wilson, with wife Nancy, on the platform following his election as Adventist Church president. [photo: Josef Kissinger]

Ted N. C. Wilson, a vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and the son of a former church president, was today elected to serve as president of the 16.3-million member global Protestant denomination.

Wilson was appointed by the church's 246-member Nominating Committee and confirmed by the General Conference Session delegation, which is an international body of 2,410 appointed members and the highest governing body in the church.

Wilson replaces Jan Paulsen, who has served as president since 1999.

The appointment took place at the church's 59th General Conference Session, being held at the Georgia Dome and adjacent World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, United States.

"This is not just an organization, this is not just another denomination. This is God's remnant church," Wilson said in an address to delegates after his appointment.

"I do not know everything, but I shall seek wisdom from counselors and from the Bible and from the Spirit of Prophecy," he said, referring to the writings of church co-founder Ellen White.

"The Spirit of Prophecy is one of the great gifts God has given to the Seventh-day Adventist Church," Wilson said. "It applies to the past and to the future. And, we are going home soon."

Wilson asked that church members ask for God's guidance "and pray that the Holy Spirit would bring us revival and reformation."

Wilson, 60 years old, was elected as a general vice president of the Adventist Church in 2000 during the General Conference Session in Toronto. His 36 years of denominational service include administrative and executive posts in the Mid-Atlantic United States, Africa and Russia.

Wilson began his church career as a pastor in 1974 in the church's Greater New York Conference. He served as an assistant director and then director of Metropolitan Ministries there from 1976 to 1981. He went on to serve in the church's then Africa-Indian Ocean Division, based in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, until 1990. There he served as a departmental director and later as executive secretary, the second highest officer.

Following his post in West Africa, he served at the church's world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, as an associate secretary for two years before accepting the position of president of the church's Euro-Asia Division in Moscow, Russia, from 1992 to 1996. Wilson then came back to the United States to serve as president of the Review and Herald Publishing Association in Hagerstown, Maryland, until his election as a General Conference vice president in 2000.

An ordained minister, Wilson holds a doctorate degree in religious education from New York University, a master of divinity degree from Andrews University and a master of science degree in public health from Loma Linda University's School of Public Health.

During his address to delegates, Wilson was joined on stage by his wife, Nancy Louise Vollmer Wilson, a physical therapist. The couple has three daughters.

"Our spouses are so important. This wonderful woman is a spiritual backbone for me," Wilson said.

Wilson is the son of former General Conference president Neal C. Wilson, who served in the post from 1979 to 1990.

Many delegates on the floor of the Georgia Dome said Wilson's election demonstrated the church's confidence in his leadership.

Rob Vandeman, president of the church's Chesapeake Conference in the U.S. state of Maryland -- where Wilson is a member -- said he was "pleased" with Wilson's appointment. "This vote is an expression of the world church's view, that they have confidence in Ted Wilson because of his extensive experience," Vandeman said.

Daniel Jackson, president of the Adventist Church in Canada said: "I think Ted Wilson has been given a clear mandate from the Nominating Committee. He needs our prayers and our support. I'm happy at the unity of our church."

Jeffrey Brown, president of the church in Bermuda, said: "We are happy, too. He will be a strong leader; his strong principles will be healthy for the church."

Wilson is expected to address a press conference this afternoon.

The Adventist Church is a denomination that in recent decades has grown quickly in some world regions. Roughly one-third of membership now resides in Africa, while another one-third lives in South America and Central America. There are about 1.1 million Adventists in the United States, where the denomination was established in 1863.

The Adventist Church operates the largest Protestant network of schools and hospitals worldwide. The church also runs disaster response and development programs through the Adventist Development and Relief Agency International. It also sponsors a religious freedom forum, having established in 1893 what is now the International Religious Liberty Association.

The General Conference Session, held every five years, is an international spiritual gathering and business session to elect leaders and vote on proposed changes to the Church Manual and Constitution. Session runs through July 3.