“It’s Been an Honor and a Privilege to Serve You” — NAD President Dan Jackson Announces Retirement — NADYEM19 Report 1

The North American Division Year-end Meetings (NADYEM19) kicked off on Thursday afternoon, October 31, and run through Tuesday, November 5.

Delegates were eased into the meetings Thursday afternoon with just two reports: from NAD Ministerial, which highlighted its CALLED Pastors’ Family Convention happening in June 2020, and the Adventist Learning Community, which is a free resource for continuing education courses open to anyone with an internet connection.

On Friday morning, November 1, NAD President Daniel R. Jackson concluded his President’s Report by announcing that this would be his last report to the committee.

“At General Conference [Session] time, I am going to officially retire… I will retire sometime in June or July, whenever it is that we work it out with everybody. But what an honor you all have given to me to serve you and to serve this Division. It has been a privilege for me and it will be a privilege that I will always cherish…. I want to thank you for that privilege,” said Jackson, to a standing ovation from the audience, and a shout of “five more years!” from one delegate which elicited cheers and more applause. “I have a response to that, but I won’t say it publicly,” laughed Jackson.

During his President’s Report, Jackson discussed “Matters Trending” in the Church in North America, including Church Planting, Education, Youth & Young Adults, Women in Ministry, Hospitals, Christian Record Services, and more. Each of the topics in his report will be covered in more depth during individual reports throughout the week.

On the topic of education, Jackson lamented that in the last seven years, 256 Adventist schools have closed, and the church has lost access to 16,000 students. Speaking of youth and young adults, Jackson encouraged the unions and conferences to select young people as delegates to GC Session 2020. “Please, please make sure our young adults are represented in those corridors of power,” he said.

"I hope no one in the world…will ever get the impression that the North American Division will somehow pull back on this idea of having women in ministry. Because we won't," he declared during his section on this topic. He then recognized and affirmed the three women presidents of Adventist colleges in North America: Andrea Luxton (Andrews University), Joy Fehr (La Sierra University), and Vinita Sauder (Union College). Jackson also spoke to his desire to see the number of women pastors in North America increase. That number currently stands at 170-75 and has been steadily growing for the last several years. “I hope I live long enough to see the day when we have 1,000 women pastors in the NAD,” said Jackson, to cheers from the audience.

Executive Secretary G. Alexander Bryant followed with his Secretary’s Report. According to the most recent membership numbers (as of December 31, 2018), there are 1,257,913 church members, 5,606 churches, and 865 companies in the NAD. The membership has been steadily increasing, with a gain of a little over 91,000 members in the past five years.

The Southern Union has the highest membership with approximately 300,000 members, and the Pacific Union follows with about 225,000. The Southern Union also has the highest overall growth, while the Southwestern Union has the fastest percentage growth, stated Bryant.

The overall accession rate for North America has been declining, from 3.41% in 2012 to 2.66% in 2018. But, Bryant added, the accession rates for all of the other mainline denominations (Baptists, Episcopalians, Pentecostals, etc.), have been negative for the last seven years, with the exception of the Mormons whose rates have been positive.

Bryant then turned to the membership losses (due to dropped/missing and deaths). “These are the numbers that always break my heart,” he began. The total losses for the years 2013-2018 stand at 123,593 (77,496 dropped/missing and 46,097 deaths), while the total baptisms and professions of faith stand at 214,621, leaving the net gain at the just over the 91,000 mentioned previously. Unfortunately, added Bryant, the net gain has been getting smaller and smaller each year and if current trends continue, the rate of membership losses will soon match the gains.

Despite the disappointing trends, Bryant ended his report with a fiery sermon on what God will do through the North American Division. He delivered a humorous, allegedly true story about an Adventist pastor who drove a brand new 1966 Chevelle but could not manage to catch up to a rusted-out 1960 Volkswagen Beetle. It turned out the Beetle had been retrofitted with a 911 Porsche engine.

“I just want to tell you, we may look like a Volkswagen on the outside, but according to the promise of God we got Holy Ghost Porsche power on the inside! And I don’t know how God’s gonna do it, but the North American Division will finish God’s work in North America with a blaze of fire because we got Holy Ghost power! … God says we’re going to finish the work of God in this territory, in the United States, in Canada, in Bermuda, in Guam with the Holy Ghost power because the latter days will be greater than the former days,” concluded Bryant to cheers and a standing ovation from the delegates.

The report from the Adventist Education team, led by NAD Vice President of Education Arne Nielsen, garnered the most discussion during Friday’s business session. Leisa Morton-Standish, director of elementary/curriculum, reported on the strategic vision planning the team has been doing, which has included significant research into current trends and data in education. Based on their research, the team explored four categories: economic trends, social trends, education trends, and Adventist roots. These trends include:

• 47% of today’s jobs will be eliminated in the next 20 years

• we’re in a “treadmill economy,” working harder and longer with no appreciable gain

• people are more connected to technology than each other which has led to declining social skills

• there is a mental health epidemic, with almost 1/3 of today’s children having been diagnosed with an identifiable mental illness

• experiential learning where students can gain skills and knowledge through problem-solving projects increases critical-thinking skills

Morton-Standish outlined six reasons, based on Ellen White, that Adventist education exists:

1. It helps “restore the broken relationship between God and the student”

2. It helps students pursue intellectual greatness

3. It teaches occupational skills

4. It establishes the framework of a biblical worldview

5. It ensures essential courses of study about the Bible, science, and physiology

6. It includes “recreation as necessary as study and labor”

She then concluded with “three big ideas” based on the above trends:

1. “The economy and society is changing radically, and education is changing with it”

2. “To face our challenges effectively, we need to work collaboratively”

3. “Adventist education is extraordinarily well prepared to work to meet the challenges because we are built on divine counsel that was far ahead of its time”

“We want to transform lives to tackle big problems,” said Stephen Bralley, director of secondary education/accreditation. The team said they were committed to working on strategic objectives which include: celebrating the intrinsic value of the students and teachers, focusing on preparing for eternity, infusing the Adventist worldview through the curriculum, creating emotionally-healthy environments, and integrating service learning.

Nielsen then ended with three goals for Adventist education in the 21st century:

1. Ensuring accessibility

2. Creating a warm environment of inclusiveness

3. Attracting all students, parents, and communities to Adventist education

When the floor was opened for questions, several of the teachers on the committee expressed concerns about the state of Adventist education and its current inability to address the needs of students with mental health problems, learning disabilities, English-language learning, and various other special needs.

Evelyn Sullivan, director of early childhood/REACH, responded by discussing the REACH Program that outlines for teachers how to provide an inclusive environment for students with special needs, and future plans to come up with a certification program within REACH. Nielsen spoke to the issue of mental health, saying the team recognizes this issue needs to be addressed in the Adventist school system. “We know it [mental health] is a problem and so we are in the process right now of developing. We just don’t know what that looks like yet.”

Delegate Jeff Richardson, a teacher in the Georgia-Cumberland Conference, said his conference has done extensive research over the past 2.5 years in the area of school safety and they feel that “the resources provided by the church are lacking.” We’d like to see more collaboration and more updated materials, he told the team. Nielsen responded that they have discussed school safety in their directors’ meetings, but that it is the conferences who are in charge of developing procedures in each of their areas, so there should be safety plans in place, as developed by each conference. He added that he understands part of Adventist Education’s role is to provide resources and so they will take Richardson’s comments under advisement.

Tracy Wood, NAD director of youth & young adult ministries, spoke to his desire for more collaboration between his department and Adventist Education. We’re working with the homeschoolers and the public schoolers, and somehow we need to be able to connect our work with yours, said Wood to Nielsen. Wood continued, “My appeal to you, and to all of our leaders, is let’s figure this thing out. It’s not rocket science, for us to get into each other’s events… We need you at our Pathfinder events, we need to be at your events, we’ve got to connect this thing. And we can do it. We just have to be intentional about it.” He concluded his remarks saying that his hope is that over the course of the next five years the two departments will sit down to strategically connect on this issue.

Nielsen thanked Wood for his comments. “They are well-received…and we recognize that there are more Adventist young people in Pathfinders than there are in Adventist education, and so we know that’s very fertile ground,” remarked Nielsen.

Delegate Vanessa Pujic, a teacher in the Minnesota Conference, addressed the lack of support staff and systems currently in place in Adventist schools which adds to the difficulty in providing students with special needs the support they require. “At the Adventist schools I’ve worked at, we are 10 people or five people or three people trying to do the work of 20 or 30 or 40 people that would be present in the public school system providing support. So how are we addressing those…ideas?” she asked. Morton-Standish responded to say that public schools receive most of the funding for working with students with special needs, but that the Adventist school systems “do our very best to service every need we can with the resources we have.”

Nielsen concluded by letting the audience know that Gordon Bietz will speak to higher education during a report on Tuesday.

Three names recommended by the nominating committee were also voted during the Friday business session. The voting was done via the electronic voting devices the NAD has used for several years for its meetings. All of the names were approved:

1. Bonita Shields, currently NAD Stewardship Director, was elected General Vice President for Church Ministries to replace Debra Brill who is retiring (177 yes, 13 no, 4 abstain).

2. Judy Glass, currently CFO of Advent Source, was elected Undertreasurer to replace Mike Jamieson who is retiring (192 yes, 9 no, 0 abstain).

3. Michael Harpe, currently Stewardship Director for the South Central Conference, was elected NAD Stewardship Director to replace Bonita Shields (190 yes, 4 no, 0 abstain).

The NADYEM19 meetings are being live-streamed and are available on the NAD’s website here: https://www.nadadventist.org/news/2019-nad-year-end-meeting-video-coverage as well as on the NAD’s Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/NADAdventist/

Follow us on Twitter as we live-tweet the meetings at: https://twitter.com/spectrummag and join the discussion with #NADYEM19.

Alisa Williams is managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org

Image credit: NAD on Flickr.

We invite you to join our community through conversation by commenting below. We ask that you engage in courteous and respectful discourse. You can view our full commenting policy by clicking here.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9985

:anguished: :fearful:
This could lead to a very sad situation. I know, he wants to retire, and he deserves it. The problem is jot his retirement, but rather his replacement. I can already see the politicking picking up speed to “arrange” things so that a Wilsonite becomes the next NAD Prez, by the will oif VGod - of course… If this happens, it will be a disaster!

There is a possibility of sad times ahead for the Church in America.

Thanks Pastor Jackson for your dedication and passion, for fighting discrimination of women (you must be fed up with this issue…). Now let’s hope that we get someone with the same backbone as yours! :pray: :pray: :pray:


Someone saw TW buying a big load of fireworks this afternoon. Later on they took a picture of his home in the evening…

What could possibly be the celebration?.. :rofl:

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What is SSCU?..

ANY LGTarian will do it. This way there will be not only Unity but Uniformity as well! Complete peace.

In this case, the best candidate is Kevin Paulson… He may still be available to take any job… LOL


In the past several years it seems like the “Office and officers” of the
GC building have taken over much of what would seem to be the
business of the Division and Union leaders with all of these
Compliance Committee voting. And the challenging of the Unions on
decisions in their Unions.
Along with this there has been a deterioration in some of the 3rd world
areas. Questionable degrees earned. Finances gone missing. Fights in
church. Church personnel in jail. These have not been addressed.
Possible interference in what will be allowed to be taught in our schools and
other things mandated to be taught by GC decrees.
These are certainly “the best of times and the worst of times” for an
incoming NAD President.


Everyone Really! needs to read Loren Seibold’s Day 2 on
Adventist Today.
Great stuff.
Day 1 is there also.


Thank you for your valuable services all these years, Pastor Jackson. We wish you and your wife the “Lutkin’s Benediction” as you enter your retirement years.

Would it be too much to wish for a female NAD President as a successor? If there were a golden opportunity for our most reputable and honorable GC Pastor TW to enter into rapprochement, this is it. Let us see what choices he can come up with.


Hmmm. Nothing about providing a top notch state of the art education teaching the latest science. Strange, don’t you think?


Nice guy,
but his legacy will forever be tarnished by his complete servility, / submissiveness / subservience to TW on the women’s ordination controversy .

The UNITED METHODIST CHURCH has been ordaining their clergywomen since 1956.

So the NAD is decades behind the times — obsolescent and ossified —- when it comes to non discrimination and equality for all church members, men, women, gays, straights.

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Tim -
I don’t see anything NEW in those 3 goals than what has been.
Unless “ensuring accessibility” means no tuition charges some way.
OR, it could mean on-line education.
Atlanta Adventist Academy had several satellite schools. one in
mc minnville,tn in real time.

One of the problems I see that has happened over the at least past
25 years [maybe more] is the DECREASE in the number of ACTUAL
Seventh day Adventist children being born. With fewer children means
fewer elementary and high school aged children who are at local
churches. So HOW does a local church [most are probably around
100 members, maybe less] with a varying age group of child bearing
and non-child bearing age members support a “church school” for
elementary age? There may be not more than several who might be
high school age.
Parents have to consider is it better for the child to attend a larger
public school, than one where socialization is limited. And in Conferences
where there is a low number of high school persons available, is it
OK to have so much invested in an accredited boarding high school program.
And can parents afford to keep it afloat financially.

Something our North American Division HAS NOT thought about is SUNDAY
SCHOOL where the curriculum of Elementary and Academy Bible Classes are
taught for say 1/2 day to those age students and to attend public school during
the week.
My Jewish friends during the school year have SUNDAY SCHOOL for Religious
training, and separate the students by Age Group – beginner and advanced.
Seventh-day Adventists could do the same. OR EVEN do this on SABBATHS in
place of Sabbath School entertainment programs. Sabbaths they are already
separated by Age Group.


S.pineless S.outhern C.ookies$ U.nion

In other words…Little Debbie and her sugary treats funds many things. :slight_smile:


Got it!

Yep, the cookie people, and lots of others in the Southern Union are very conservative. Right up TW’s alley.


I believe Southern Union is the name. Several of the Conference
presidents have been in favor of Women Pastors in their territories.
BUT the Southern Union Office is against it, so not able to follow
through on their preferences.


I have always gotten a good laugh that a denomination that promotes “healthful” living…is currently well funded by Little Debbie’s sugary treats. lol

Little story:

Years ago at Weimar Institute, O.D. Mckee and crew came through to tour the grounds. On this way out, O.D. “treated” the staff to Little Debbie’s Peanut Butter bars. :sweat_smile::rofl:


I was just using what McMurphy used…

Interesting, Steve…I wonder if another generation will change this.

That was probably the least objectionable of the confectionaries.
A friend of mine worked at Little Debbies for years in the maintenance
and sewage end. He said the workers on the line were allowed to eat
as many as they wanted, just couldn’t take any home. After a week or
two most would not eat any more. LOL.
I did know a person who used to design the machines there. But he
felt a call to the ministry in his 40’s and became the pastor at my
family’s church in TN near Chattanooga.
My friend told me [don’t know if true] that the “oatmeal cookies” were made
from the trash of all the other cookies.


Yes, there are fewer children. But, I think there are also fewer Adventists than there were 25-35 years ago.

I honestly don’t see that being a very well attended option. I don’t think people want to have their one free day of the weekend tied up with church studies. But, sure, do it on Saturday.


lol…the Oatmeal Cookies probably were made from a lot of “leftovers”.

Yes, eating a massive amount of sweets would stop the appetite. The same things happen in Candy Stores…it becomes the sugar “Yuck” factor. :wink:

At least there was “peanut butter” in the bars! I have to say that it caused quite the stir among the staff as how to handle the “treats” tactfully. O.D. was a true salesman peddling his wares. :smiley: