Roscoe J. Howard, Former NAD Executive Secretary, Passes to His Rest

Roscoe J. Howard, former North American Division (NAD) executive secretary, passed away in Apopka, Florida, on Jan. 21, 2019, after a struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Howard was working as vice president for Missions for Adventist Health System (now AdventHealth) when, in 2015, he was diagnosed with ALS, a progressive nervous system disease that weakens muscles and impacts physical function. He was 64.

“Roscoe was shaped in a unique way by the hand of God to become the man and the instrument God would use in many varied and diverse ways,” said G. Alexander Bryant, NAD executive secretary. “Roscoe had a special blend of spirituality, intellect, articulation, humor, and laughter that was carefully woven into every assignment he undertook. God used education to shape and mold him to be the multi-faceted and diverse leader that he would become.”

Howard’s educational shaping started in elementary school in a humble community in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He then attended Auburn Academy in Washington, followed by Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, and then on to Oakwood College (now Oakwood University) in Huntsville, Alabama, for a short stint. He earned a masters of divinity from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, and a doctorate of ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

Howard began his ministry as the pastor of a two-church district in Oak Harbor, Washington. An African-American pastoring two Caucasian congregations was almost unheard of 40 years ago.

Then the Lord took Howard to pastor the largest African-American congregation in the Pacific Northwest, Emerald City Seventh-day Adventist Church, located in Seattle, Washington. Though drastically different, Howard excelled in both of these diverse assignments, leading members into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, and growing the congregations at the same time.

The North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC) called him to the union to serve as the Youth director and vice president of Regional Affairs. As Howard served on various committees around the division and spoke on issues in an articulate, intellectual, and well thought-out manner, it didn’t take long for the recognition of his gifts to spill out beyond the borders of the NPUC.

His next shaping came through the ministerial assignments that carried him from the west coast, across the country, to the east coast.

The Mid-America Union called Howard to serve as the executive secretary of its territory. As he continued to grow and demonstrate his administrative prowess, the NAD asked him to serve as the executive secretary for the division. Having served in this capacity for several years, the Mid-America Union Executive Committee took a surprising step and asked Howard to return to its field to serve as the president. Howard said yes.

Howard served as president of Mid-America Union for a relatively short period of time when he was asked by Adventist Health System, located in Orlando, Florida, to serve as vice president for Spiritual Wellness. He accepted that call late in December 2010, and served with distinction, dignity, and creativity until struck with ALS. Howard took on this disease as he did all of his assignments: with courage, faithfulness, and an unshakable trust in God.

“Throughout Roscoe’s ministry and assignments, he never lost sight of what was important — and that was his family,” said Bryant. “He was always able to keep them as the top priority no matter what the assignment, and they were able to stay a tight knit unit throughout his ministry, his life, and until his death.”

Howard is survived by his wife, Osceola, and children, Heather and Seth. A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, at the Forest Lake Seventh-day Adventist Church in Apopka, Florida. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Oakwood University Alumni Association Greater Orlando Chapter at 3653 Rochelle Lane, Apopka, Florida 32712.

This article was written by the North American Division Office of Communication with G. Alexander Bryant, executive secretary of the NAD, and originally appeared on the NAD’s website.

Image courtesy of the NAD.

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I want to give my condolences to Roscoe’s family in their loss. I met Roscoe Howard once at the Innovations Conference in Ohio when he was still working in the Mid-American Union, and he asked me after I told him what conference I worked in this question: “Does your conference president know you are here?” That question drew laughs from both of us. The fact that he was at this conference that was maligned by some told me something about the heart, mind and spirit of Roscoe. May he rest in peace as he awaits the return of Jesus.

I had the privilege of meeting Roscoe when he moved to Orlando. The smile on Roscoe’s face in that picture is the smile you always saw when you met him. What a kind and cheerful man! I am saddened by his loss, but his dignity and grace throughout his illness is a testimony of his character. Sincere condolences to his family as you live with the hope that burns within our hearts: hope in the coming of the Lord.

Greetings in Jesus…I am Dr. Roscoe Howard youngest sister Bella, and just for the heart record he is survived by his sister’s, Twyla, Taya, Bella, & Tami who will love him with forever love. Also, his aging father who also waits for the sound of the trumpet when he will be united in love with his son again, and a host of nephews, nieces, & friends.
We will miss our brother more than anyone can know.
Blessings & Honor to Jesus who sits on the throne. He
will one day wipe away every tear from our eyes…there will be no more death, sorrow & pain for these things shall pass away


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