Former General Conference President Robert Folkenberg Memorial will be January 10

Robert S. Folkenberg, former president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, passed away during the week before Christmas, according to his family. He was 74. A memorial service is planned for January 10, at 4pm at the Avon Park Seventh-day Adventist Church in Florida, United States.

After decades of service in the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists and a short period of leadership in the Carolina Conference, Elder Folkenberg became General Conference president in 1990, an office he held until 1999. He resigned the presidency on February 8, 1999 amid allegations of financial impropriety and calls for him to step down. He was, and remains the only General Conference president to leave office under pressure to resign from other church leaders.

In August 1998 James E. Moore, a real estate developer and long-time business associate of Folkenberg sued Folkenberg for $8 million in a California court for allegedly reneging on a business agreement. The suit led to an investigation by the Church, uncovering further questionable business dealings, and raising concerns of conflicts of interest and abuses of office. Several news outlets including the Associated Press, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times reported. After Folkenberg resigned in February of 1999, Executive Secretary Ralph Thompson served as acting president until Dr. Jan Paulsen was elected in March.

Spectrum provided a thorough reporting of the events surrounding Folkenberg's resignation in the Volume 27, Issue 3, Spring 1999 edition of the journal.

The following is the Adventist Church's official news release about Folkenberg's passing, provided by the Adventist News Network:

Pastor Robert S. Folkenberg, an innovative church worker and mission advocate who served as president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, passed to his rest this week at the age of 74, according to the Folkenberg family.

SERVICE AS THE DENOMINATION’S PRESIDENT During his time as president, Folkenberg pushed the Church forward with the use of technology and brought CompuServe, a precursor to the world wide web, into use in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, making it the first denomination to use such technology. He wanted the church to be up-to-date in the latest technology and use all tools available to spread the gospel.

Folkenberg felt that Adventists had an exciting message to share and the Internet was a great way to expand the Church’s reach. The Adventist Church, he believed, could use the Internet to provide information, training and experiences that better demonstrate the global aspect of the Church’s operation.

“Elder Folkenberg was filled with creative and innovative ideas regarding church work and evangelism. As president of the General Conference, he strongly nurtured the media aspect of outreach for church activities and evangelism as well as pioneered the use of Internet for communication within the church structure,” Ted Wilson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, said in a statement to ANN.

Folkenberg also had a great passion for mission. It was the driving force of his ministry. During his time as Seventh-day Adventist world church president, he helped launch the Global Mission initiative, which has been responsible for establishing thousands of new congregations around the world.

“We could not have asked for a greater support than Folkenberg for Global Mission,” said Mike Ryan, former world church general vice president and the first director of Global Mission. “Elder Robert Folkenberg was visible, involved and passionate about proclaiming the hope of the gospel in places where Jesus’ name was not known. It mattered to him personally that the Church was organized and focused on mission and that every member made being Christ's Ambassador their top priority,” Ryan added.

Ryan said he remembers Folkenberg often saying, “Participation in Global Mission is not optional.”

In 1999, Folkenberg stepped down from his post at the General Conference and Jan Paulsen replaced him as president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

MINISTRY AFTER THE GENERAL CONFERENCE Folkenberg’s passion for mission and evangelism did not end after he left his position as president. Folkenberg developed the “Share Him” initiative—a mission and evangelism effort that trains individuals and local churches to hold evangelistic series in their communities and abroad.

“Elder Folkenberg spent part of his early ministry in frontline evangelistic activity and the last part of his ministry in direct evangelistic outreach through “ShareHim.” Evangelism and the proclamation of the three angels’ messages were the passion of his life,” Wilson said. “Whether he was in frontline or administrative work, his heart was in helping people know Christ and then become an active participant in the mission of the Church. His early ministry as part of an evangelistic team gave him the foundation for the rest of his life,” he added.

Folkenberg did not believe being an Adventist was a spectator sport and spoke often about what the Bible said regarding salvation—“if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (NKJV Romans 10:9) Throughout his career in the Adventist Church Folkenberg put an emphasis on “confessing” Christ—through technology, through mission and through the local churches with which he worked.

Recently, Frederick Seventh-day Adventist Church in the U.S. state of Maryland decided to participate in ShareHim. Church administrator Gail Boyer said of his passion, "Bob Folkenberg's 'raison d'etre' is that every person should hear the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ. He lived for evangelism.” Folkenberg even visited the church, even though he had just been told his cancer had recurred. He felt the Frederick Church was committed to evangelism and bringing people to Christ, Boyer said. “We had members that responded not only to doing a church-held campaign,” Boyer continued, “but also to doing a 'ShareHim' series in their homes. His love for the Lord was contagious!"

Jan Paulsen, who followed Bob Folkenberg as General Conference president, said this about his colleague: “Bob was a man of ideas, high energy and a congenial spirit. He assigned responsibilities to his colleagues, and then allowed them space and time to carry out their task. Micro-management was not his style. I found him easy to relate to, both as a colleague and a leader. Since he left office he continued to let his energies and creative ideas develop and flow into the life and mission of the Church, as seen particularly in the 'Share Him' program, which has been a blessing to our Church widely and for which he will be long remembered.”

A LIFE DEDICATED TO SERVICE Robert S. Folkenberg was born on January 1, 1941 in Santurcee, Puerto Rico to missionary parents. He went to school in Puerto Rico until the fourth grade before finishing elementary school in Cuba. He entered high school in California and ultimately graduated from Milo Adventist Academy in 1958.

Folkenberg first attended Atlantic Union College then Newbold College and graduated from Andrews University with a degree in Ministry in 1962. In 1963 he completed a master’s degree in New Testament Theology at Andrews University.

Folkenberg was an avid pilot. He secured a single and multi-engine airline transport pilot rating, commercial helicopter and sea rating and flew more than 2,000 hours, the majority of which were in Central America and the Caribbean.

Folkenberg dedicated much of his service to the Inter-America division. Serving first as a pastor in Panama (1966-68) he later became stewardship director of the Panama Conference (1968), president of the Honduras Mission (1970), secretary (1974) and later president of the Central American Union (1975). In 1980 he became assistant to the president for the Inter-American Division. He served in North America as president of the Carolina Conference in the United States (1985-1990) before being elected General Conference President in 1990.

“On behalf of the world church family of Seventh-day Adventists, we offer our deep sympathy, condolences and Christian love to Mrs. Folkenberg and the children, Bob Jr. and his family and Kathi and her family,” Wilson said in his statement. “What a privilege to be part of God’s great Advent movement looking forward to the time when there will be no more pain or death because of Christ’s final victory. What a marvelous reason to share HIM!"

Pastor Robert Folkenberg is survived by his wife Anita Emmerson along with their two children Robert Jr. and Kathi and five grandchildren. Robert Folkenberg Jr. serves the church as president of the Chinese Union of Seventh-day Adventists, and Kathi Folkenberg Jensen is a registered nurse.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Years ago when Folkenberg was GC president he attended the Maritime (Canada) Campmeeting at Pugwash NS. On the Sabbath he was there he shared a fellowship dinner with the tiny Pugwash congregation.

While I am no longer a member of the SDA church I remember elder Folkenberg with kindness and deep respect. He was a very nice fellow and the developments of later years did not alter my regards for him.

I extend my best wishes to his family for he was and is in my books a very fine person.

God grant him a place in the kingdom.


interesting one blog. for a man who spent his life in the church. Even those who invested in Davenport got better notice. He spent his life in that which he thought was right. He was true to duty as the needle to the pole. His reward is with God. his honor should be with us. Let us show his family that we honor his service and let them rest in peace. Just read Hebrews 11 for context. tom Z


My immediate reaction is there is no border to ugliness to back stabbing in journalism for sensationalism! Spectrum is no exception! Brother repeatedly kicking another brother on the teeth, again and again, while he on the ground long dead. Brother Robert S. Folkenberg is dead…revenge still wants a piece of him…let brother Folkenberg Rest in Peace. Let his family grieve proper and quiet in peace as they weep farewell to a husband, father, and grandfather, undisturbed far away from the attacks pandemonium of hubris journalism.
The beginning 4 paragraphs could be retracted and destroyed. Yes, yes…like Spectrum brought it out in the fourth paragraph: “Spectrum provided a thorough reporting of the events surrounding Folkenberg’s resignation in the Volume 27, Issue 3, Spring 1999 edition of the journal.” Why in God’s name bring it up again in the Robert S. Folkenberg’s wife, children and grandchildren hour of grieves? Is this Spectrum heralding heartless dark journalism “RUB SALT IN THE WOUND” while Robert S. Folkenberg family are the festered wounds…where is the DECENCY of respect for the dead? Words can heal but not this one. There is a time for all things…how about a time for silence, smells the global pardon of Seventh-day Adventist bulwark while Brother Robert S. Folkenbery holds the flowers of Christ forgiveness while the cynic journalism uprooted tombstone looks around for a coffin.

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Bob Folkenberg lived what he preached and asked others to do. Most leaders, if pressured to resign as Bob was, would have crawled into the woodwork. Bob actually left a greater legacy after his term as GC president, which still remains as ShareHim. I met Bob in 2001, and spent 2 weeks with him in the same hotel as we shared the Gospel in Venezuela. He shared his perspective as to what happened, and how things went down. He wasn’t bitter, as many would have been. I have been a respecter of Bob Falkenberg since that day, and friends until he passed. I will miss him, but I know his heart for mission lives in so many others.

As for Spectrum, I understand they are a journalistic website, but there are times when some things just need to be left unsaid. Thankfully you didn’t provide a link to the article referred too, but just left it as a side note.


While I understand your affection for elder Folkenberg, I didn’t see anyone refuting the charges brought against him. The writer of the article simply pointed out church history. I wonder was this zeal shown for those that were wronged by the elder. The Bible can point out the wrongs of some of the greatest men and women to ever walk the face of the earth, and we lose it when our faults are made known. SMH


It is an unfortunate fact of life, both inside and outside of the SDA church, that justice is seldom administered impartially. While it is undeniable that Bob Folkenberg acted inappropriately in the context of his dealings with James Moore, I believe his motives were decent and in the end, he was acting under duress. This ought to have been taken into account.

His indiscretions were almost trivial by comparison to those of many other church administrators over the years. Of particular note is the Davenport fiasco. So many senior administrators acted inappropriately in that matter, resulting in large financial losses to the church. What consequences did they suffer?

The real fruit of Bob Folkenberg’s life and ministry will be known only in the Kingdom, and I suspect many will be in for quite a surprise.


Notice I didn’t dispute the man’s faults, only that at times like these, when we remark on someone who has passed, not all things need to be remembered at that moment. I am fine with my faults being known, as they are out there for all to see, as was Folkenbergs. No need to SMH, as I didn’t lose it, nor dispute facts.

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Rest in peace?

Will anything good or bad said or written about him affect his rest?

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Taking stock of others rather than taking stock of oneself is about the dead affect ripples on rest of people still living not taking serious accounting of their own stocks, good or bad, clean their own act one-dimensional dark side first, the skeletons in their closets, before the press get too impress? Let’s begin with Seventh-day Adventists “ The not me attitude; can’t be me? ” North America Church Administrators from Local to Division to the General Conference Presidents who maybe calling the other kettle black, they surreptitious for their own good shall get burnt themselves? It’s a matter of time the big media will push blindly ahead until the last president at their own risk taste their own darkness must symbolically turn themselves in, to the lights.

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