Catch 22 for Paul Ratsara and Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division

In the Seventh-day Adventist organizational chart division presidents have lines of authority that go up and down. These individuals are both vice presidents of the General Conference who report to the General Conference president, and the chief operating officer of their division reporting to the Division’s Executive Committee.

Paul Ratsara, the president of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division and General Conference vice president this week found himself caught between the two. When the Division Executive Committee issued an implicit vote of no confidence in his leadership, Ratsara offered his resignation only to have the President of the General Conference step in and suggest that he sleep on that decision. Wilson also asked the Executive Committee to rescind a previously-voted action to conduct a forensic investigation of Ratsara's doctoral degree. Wilson reminded the committee that election of a new president would have to await approval of the General Conference Executive Committee at its Annual Council Session in October.

Wilson’s action puts everyone in a difficult position. If Ratsara retains his position, he is forced to work with people who have no confidence in his leadership and want him out. If he leaves, the Division Executive Committee can nominate someone as his replacement, but that nomination must wait for approval from the General Conference. It puts the Division at odds with the General Conference President. No one wins in this scenario.

In the not so distant past the people of Southern Africa told the General Conference brethren to mind their own business when the GC tried to force the merging of local conferences.

Forcing the retention of Ratsara turns back the clock to the days when the General Conference sent administrators from the United States to run mission conferences. Election of local leaders around the world was a major step forward for the church. The Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division should have the right to chose their own leader without interference from the General Conference.

Bonnie Dwyer is Editor of Spectrum Magazine.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Catch 22 for Ratsara and Ted Wilson. Best that both resign if you ask me.

Thanks to SPECTRUM for your excellent coverage of this saga. @bness


Integrity may be out of fashion in the world, but it should always be the guiding principle in church leaders. Without integrity a church leader ceases to be the representative of God’s character to their members and the world.

“We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters…that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules…and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square…” Michelle Obama


According to EGW the General Conference in session is the voice of God on earth.That voice spoke loud and clear at San Antonio. TW has every right nay duty to run the SDA church as he sees fit.

Those criticising his actions are really rebelling against God and should have the decency to leave the denomination rather than pick at the one God has chosen to lead.

The cardinals may indeed choose the Pope but they do tell him how to run the church.

TW was elected leader by the Spirit filled delegates at the GC session .end of discussion if you do not like it leave. Just close the door gently so you do not waken those asleep in the pews .No one will miss you.


October is soon and very soon. Everyone can afford to wait.

OldAbe: I believe that Ralph Thompson meant that Roman Catholic cardinals elect the Pope but do NOT tell him what do to. If so, he deserves a chance to correct his comment or perhaps delete and rewrite it.


grave consequences means down but not up., Tom Z


I fully agree with you.

“That voice” was so “loud and clear” it even overwhelmed the booing and hissing that TW allowed as he stood on the dais while JP spoke.


Thanks for the clear direction.


"Wilson reminded the committee that election of a new president would have to await approval of the General Conference Executive Committee at its Annual Council Session in October. "

Previous precedent exists where an individual unexpectedly died while serving as a Conference President, and the church managed to work through the issue until appropriate approval was obtained. The unfortunate example of David Cress, of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, killed in an airplane crash, comes to mind.


During the Atlanta General Conference Session, President Ted Wilson attempted to overrule the entire Southern Asia Division. After a majority voted for one leader, Eld. Wilson tried single-handedly to appoint an individual who was not voted. One of the delegates from the Southern Asia Division nearly went to news media outlets (CNN being headquartered in Atlanta) with this. The division witnessed Eld. Wilson’s actions as undercutting the process.Eld. Cooper who was vice-president at the time was able to convince the comittee member not to go to the news media as it would result in bad press. During that session, Eld. Wilson backed down. But in San Antonio, Eld, Wilson once again attempted to undercut the process and this time succeeded in imposing his selection for division president. This has not been widely reported. But many witnesses in the Southern Asian Division can attest to this. While Eld. Wilson seems to be a dedicated and prayerful leader, he seems not beyond the basic human urge to wangle and manipulate things. It must be added that Eld. Wilson may justify his actions in that the GC sends significant financial appropriation to such divisions as Southern Asia Divison. The GC clearly has a right to have a say in who is selected as a Divison president. But his actions betray the worst impulses of a colonial mindset. Undercutting an organic process and a lack of trust in local leadership only weakens the church.

  1. If Spectrum’s reporting is accurate then Paul Ratsara ‘cheated’ regarding his PhD thesis and ‘lied’ probably to the University of South Africa about originality of his work. He appears to have lied to his own Church constituents about his status. He has tried to con his own constituents and some in the World Church with nebulous, vague pronouncements, all politically correct but just ‘rubbish’ to anyone with an ounce of critical thinking.

  2. Paul Ratsara according to reports offered his resignation. There is nothing that indicates any admission of wrongdoing. No sign of remorse. No sign of restitution. This man is supposed to be the spiritual leader of millions of Adventists who have been betrayed and embarrassed by him. Some Spectrum posters talk of ‘poor Paul’ I want to advocate for the millions of good church members who have been betrayed. Dismissing lying, cheating and fraud due to one’s unfortunate circumstances insults all those who in the same circumstances became upright citizens and church members.

  3. According to Spectrum reports the spiritual world leader of Adventism, Ted Wilson wants an exposed cheat, liar and conman to continue as Division leader. Partly it has been suggested because it is inconvenient administratively to have a vacant position until Fall council.

  4. I don’t know what motivates Ted Wilson or the GC executive committee. But in the age of the Internet, one would assume that even if they don’t ‘give a damn’ about church members who fund their lifestyle or ‘biblical virtues’, political expediency necessitates that they recognize they have a problem. People want to know how much Ted Wilson and his committee knew. Have they colluded in deceit and fraud? Then there is the question of whether the women’s ordination vote was rigged. Rather than the voice of God at the GC session it was the voice of Ted Wilson having manipulated the delegates who from certain areas voted in blocks. Told what to do.

  5. There is NO Catch 22. Paul Ratsara needs to resign period. One hopes he asks forgiveness, shows remorse and offers restitution. Responsible people in the GC need to investigate Ted Wilson and determine whether he is suitable to continue as world spiritual leader of Adventists. Robert Folkenberg was forced to resign as GC President over his shady financial dealings. The concern was the reputation of the Church. The same needs to happen here. This is not about Ted Wilson showing compassion to his friend Paul Ratsara. This is about the reputation of the world wide Adventist Church which values 'whatsoever is true, whatsoever is noble, whatsoever is right, whatsoever is pure…" Philippians 4:8. -Edgar


Were those the same Spirit filled delegates that booed Jan Paulsen?

Edit: I think I may have missed some intended humor here. I didn’t initially notice the reference to “those asleep in the pews”, but another commenter picked up on this below :slight_smile:


The foremost concern of Ted Wilson is his reelection. He desires and expects that the division presidents will show absolute loyalty to him. If Paul Ratsara remains in office, Wilson will have no reason to expect any political opposition from within SID; Ratsara will whip votes for Wilson’s reelection and continue to do Wilson’s bidding. But if Ratsara resigns, SID can remain in Wilson’s coalition only if Ratsara’s replacement is chosen not by African peers but by Wilson himself. In order for Wilson to extract the allegiance he needs, he must be the one who picks the new president of SID.

Academic integrity, moral and legal issues pertaining to CV embellishment and the claiming of fraudulent degrees, and the diminishing of the reputation of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Africa may principally dominate the thoughts of first-world Seventh-day Adventists, but Wilson has more pressing matters on his mind right now.

It is easy for the GC executive committee to convene a special meeting in June or July and pick a new president of SID. For Ratsara or an interim to tread water for the next five months would be indicative of poor governance. But then again, good governance is not the most pressing matter on Wilson’s mind right now.


The SID is a division within The General Conference and cannot work in isolation or independently. For cohesive and uniform administration through-out all 13 Divsions there must be oversight from GC.

1 Like

Adventists advocating the papal model? That’s rife with inaccuracies, ironies, & dangers. We officially have a representative governance. Nobody is our pope. Those who want one should have the decency to leave the denomination.


Wasnt it A.G. Daniels who was told by Aunt Ellen that HE DID NOT have Kingly Powers
bestowed upon him by God?


Friend I just went back and looked at what Ellen said about the GC and about small groups of people telling people what to do. Look at “Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. IX, pages 257-261 and Manuscript 26, 1903 (April 3, 1903 Re: The Work of the General Conference) You are mistaken about what Ellen was saying.

Also I have found that very few respect what the GC says all the time. Some oppose some of what they do, others oppose other actions. Of those that know what they do, few if any accept everything. Moreover the GC in session has not given all power to any person. They have delegated things to different groups: the annual council, the unions, the conferences. Nobody is to exercise kingly power. No one is to act like the pope.

I find this passage especially relevant: "God has never given a hint in his Word that he has appointed any man to be the head of the church. The doctrine of papal supremacy is directly opposed to the teachings of the Scriptures. The pope can have no power over Christ’s church except by usurpation. {GC88 51.1}

No one person, not TW, not you, is appointed to tell us that we must leave the church because we don’t agree with you. That decision belongs to the local church. I am sorry you have such animosity for those who call our leaders to act with integrity. May God forgive you.


In Adventist governance the divisions are mere shadow offices of the GC, particularly in the world field. While we would like to think there is an up and down line of authority, as referenced in the article, and the dynamics are certainly complicated, Ratsara is actually and unquestionably the “president’s man” assigned to the SID. While he serves best having the confidence of the division committee, that is clearly secondary to his role as VP of the General Conference. Therefore, Ratsara in a moment of weakness offered his resignation to the division committee, (unless he was first advised to do so by Ted Wilson) which apparently was not the case. Ratsara forgot that President Wilson could take care of him, just like we often forget that Christ will take care of us. Unless Ratsara opts for retirement, there is the little problem of where the parachute might land in this case. Wilson would need a couple of night’s sleep to work that out. But don’t worry Pastor Ratsara, Ted has your back.


I’ll like to challenge some things old abe says. “TW has every right nay duty to run the SDA church as he sees fit.” Nobody has that right. The GC also voted vice-presidents and other associates and a committee with which they need to counsel. “Those criticising his actions are really rebelling against God.” Kings appointed by God were frequently opposed by prophets and these kings needed these prophets “rebelling” for the sake of God’s kingdom.
These “should have the decency to leave the denomination rather than pick at the one God has chosen to lead.” These are the one instead who are trying to save the denomination though some may leave because of this. Those who sincerely oppose the President do so because they also love the church and want it to be free of scandal such as what is happening in South Africa. Instead of leaving they should probably stay to help to keep the Church from going in the wrong direction. “The cardinals may indeed choose the Pope but they do not tell him how to run the church.” This is a very questionable statement and is false. “TW was elected leader by the Spirit filled delegates at the GC session end of discussion if you do not like it leave.” The GC committee was also elected by the GC session and they need to be heard of regarding this matter instead of this being handled individually even if he is the elected president. They were elected at the GC session too. What if two elected officials elected at the GC session disagree or if a number of officials oppose the President should the President go ahead regardless of the advice given. Can God chosen officials disagree or do they all have the duty to run the SDA church as “they” see fit? Should Ted Wilson confer with his associates of the GC Committee?


Did the Church subsidise or pay for Ratsara’s doctoral studies at UNISA and provide paid time-off official duties to attend to his academic pursuit? If so, and if the allegations that his doctoral thesis is not his own work are proven what recompense should be offered or required?