UPDATED: Paul Ratsara Steps Down: GC Accepts Resignation as Unisa Begins Investigating Doctorate

Paul Ratsara, president of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division of Seventh-day Adventists (SID) has officially resigned the presidency amid a cloud of controversy over falsified academic qualifications. Ratsara has served as president of SID since 2005, before which he was the division’s executive secretary.

The General Conference Executive Committee accepted Ratsara's resignation Tuesday, May 31. A statement published on the Adventist News Network website quoted Ratsara as saying, “To refocus the church that I love, back to its God-given mission, and to prevent it continuing to be distracted, I have humbly decided to voluntarily request reassignment as a local church district pastor somewhere within the territory of the Indian Ocean Union, my home union.”

Trouble began for the embattled president on April 14 when The New Age, a daily newspaper in South Africa, reported allegations from SID church members that both Ratsara and SID Communication Director Paul Charles used falsified doctoral degrees to advance their careers. Both men have vigorously denied the charges.

At question was Ratsara’s 2014 Doctor of Theology (DTh) from the University of South Africa (Unisa) and Charles' PhDs from Freedom Institute and Canterbury University, respectively. A strongly-worded statement published on the SID website said, “The Church, after reviewing the relevant documentation and confirming with the educational institutions involved, can categorically state that both Dr. Ratsara and Dr. Charles successfully completed all requirements for their doctoral studies and obtained their degrees in a legitimate manner based on institutional criteria.”

In a hastily-convened session of the SID Executive Committee (EXCOM) called by General Conference President Ted N. C. Wilson on May 24th (a week after the regularly-scheduled EXCOM meeting ended), that statement was proven false. During the meeting, SID Vice President Hopeson Bonya confessed that he wrote five of the six chapters of Ratsara’s DTh thesis. The committee placed a motion on the floor to ask Ratsara to resign, but the motion was withdrawn. A subsequent motion to "register displeasure at the way the doctorate was obtained by Paul Ratsara" narrowly passed—30 for and 28 against.

During the same meeting, the SID EXCOM approved a motion to require Paul Charles to complete his bachelor’s degree within the next year while employed as SID communication director.

In a 2013 video interview with the General Conference-owned Hope Channel, Charles claimed two PhDs with a third doctoral degree in progress. That video was removed from YouTube on May 26. Hope Channel Marketing Director Fylvia Fowler Kline wrote in an email, "We wanted to inform you that the episode, 'From Poverty to PhDs' was deleted yesterday from the Let’s Pray YouTube Channel. When the veracity of any content element or guest in a Hope Channel episode is being questioned or scrutinized, the executive team of Hope Channel reserves the right to no longer broadcast part or all of the episode in question."

The questioning of Charles and Ratsara's academic qualifications has gone on for several years. Ted Wilson was notified of the allegations in February, 2015. Email correspondence from leaders in the Southern Africa Union Conference sent to GC vice presidents Pardon Mwansa and Ella Simmons in October 2014 called for the General Conference’s intervention. In February 2015, another request was sent including “a formal request for arbitration and investigation by the GC in order to clear this matter.” Wilson and GC Education Department Director Lisa Beardsley-Hardy were among twelve recipients of that email message. Mwansa and Beardsley-Hardy were the only ones to acknowledge receipt of the messages.

At the end of the May 24 SID EXCOM meeting, President Wilson, who chaired the meeting, asked Ratsara if he would like to say anything. Ratsara then offered his resignation, acknowledging the difficulty he would face following what amounted to a no-confidence vote against him. Wilson told Ratsara to sleep on it, suggesting that his resignation might not be accepted by the General Conference.

The next morning at staff worship, Ratsara told SID leadership that he had offered his resignation and that Wilson had asked him and his wife Joanne to give it some time, prayer and further consideration, noting that the GC might not accept his resignation.

On Sunday, May 29, Ratsara confirmed his resignation to General Conference and SID officers and to SID EXCOM and made the announcement to the rest of SID staff Monday morning, May 30.

On Tuesday, May 31, the University of South Africa confirmed that it has begun an internal investigation into allegations that Ratsara fraudulently obtained his 2014 DTh.

Accepting Ratsara's resignation, President Ted Wilson thanked the outgoing leader for his service to the division: “We thank Paul Ratsara and his wife, Joanne, for their dedication to the cause of God and Pastor Ratsara’s many years of service to the church,” Wilson said. “Many positive aspects of church growth in the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division have taken place under his leadership. We will pray for God’s guidance and blessing on their continued witness for the Lord.”

Ratsara has asked for reassignment as a local church district pastor in his home Indian Ocean Union, which includes Madagascar, Mauritius, and Seychelles. It would be up to the local conference or field to invite Ratsara to work as a district pastor. SID Executive Secretary Solomon Maphosa will serve as as the division’s acting president until the election of a new president.

For more on this story see:"Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division: Paul Charles "Does Not Possess Any Accredited Qualification" and "Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division President Paul Ratsara Offers Resignation Amid Academic Qualifications Scandal."

Jared Wright is Managing Editor of SpectrumMagazine.org.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7484


This website and you are to be congratulated for your investigative journalism on this story!!

I trust that Paul Ratsara will not be offered any other denominational employment. Now Hopeson Bonya and Paul Charles should follow suit!!

So many denominational employees have suffered more than Ratsara has in the wake of less wrong-doing!!

UPDATE Paul Ratsara’s request for reassignment to a local church should not be honoured. Only the annulment of his ordination will suffice.

I bear no ill-will against Paul Ratsara. However, it is also true that he has dishonoured his duty as pastor big-time, caused others to do the same and despised the sisterhood of churches under his care.by his lack of integrity and by his breaking of two of the ten commandments in the most public fashion. These actions have already annulled the calling to serve as an Adventist leader in any capacity. The General Conference should recognize this fact in the only way possible.


Truth emerges despite every means employed to obfuscate, hide, block, ignore, falsify and deny.

Integrity is golden.


May a healing process begin.

… for all involved, including a suffering church.


Once again, @JaredWright, thanks to you and your team for staying on top of this. I have to wonder if things would have reached this proper conclusion without your vigilant reporting.


“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
That spoke has been thrust into the wheel.
Or has it? Is it a spoke of steel or straw?
Will Ratsara retire on a generous superannuation at church expense? Will Paul Charles have his studies subsidised by the church or paid for in full? Will these men continue on the pay-roll of the church?


From the article quite a few persons were part of the “cover up” activities over the past couple of years.
Pardon Mwansa, Ella Simmons, Lisa Beardsly-Hardy, President Wilson, the 28 who voted No.

Paul has certainly done a lot of damage to the church. Confidence in its leaders. All the way to the top, President Wilson.
He did a lot of damage at the General Conference convocations – where the World Church for decades has been told that " the General Conference Sessions are the VOICE OF GOD". It certainly wasnt true in SA2015 with all the behavior that was going on there. The REFUSAL to use the electronic voting equipment. The Booing, the cat calling.
The “Babylonians” in their General Conferences conduct themselves much better than the Seventh day Adventists did at SA2015. And they have been discussing more volatile issues than just what to do with the 65% women membership.
Maybe the 144,000 will HAVE to come from Babylon and NOT from the SDA church population.

EDIT-- Gideon – A lot of local church people like your quote from Sr. White about “enfeebled, defective, bad behaviored” church. This gives them excuses to let church employees like Paul, Charles, Ted, and others off. And even excuse maybe illegal and criminal behavior by pastors and others at the Local church level.

EDIT-- Ivan – Yes! These persons need to be made member in the PEW. The should be barred from holding ANY Local Church Office for quite some time. Couple of years. And just be Regular Members of the SDA church. Taking away Church Membership is not necessary. I do not see that Re-Baptism is needful. But ANY position in the Organized or the Local Church should be prohibited for a couple of years. Even writing for any Church Paper or being on TV and ETC should not be allowed. Just local church membership in the PEW. No youth work, no S.S. Teaching. Just PEW WORK. Any educational work should be on their OWN TIME, OWN MONEY.
We have already had the problem with a person accused of Rape being in the Michigan Conf. going to the Ohio Conf for re-baptism, and being on the "preaching trail’ without even a “I’m sorry” to the person he assaulted.
There are LOTS of covered up scandals, a lot of members wounded, a lot of NO “I’m Sorrys” when there should have been. A lot of persons just moved to other territories [like the Catholic Church did – maybe we got the idea from them] with good recommendations just to get rid of them and cover up their sins. The SDA church has been as good at that as the Catholics.
We need for this to end. We say we want a PURE CHURCH, but we do not call for PURITY in our Leadership. We do not require PURITY in our Leadership. Because Leadership has the Ability to Hide the Un-pure actions.


There was never going to be a happy ending to this story (at least in the short term), and it’s encouraging to see that Pr Ratsara has now done the right thing and stepped down. As already mentioned by another commenter, there are other individuals at the SID who ought to follow suite.

But the story that’s emerged also has serious implications for the GC President. Ted Wilson needs to explain why he sat on his hands on this issue for approx. 2 years, ignoring repeated pleas from church members in SID to deal with the matter. To the point even of blocking their communication. The real healing wont begin until all parties in this sorry mess have been brought to account.


The coming into the picture of the GC President, Ted Wilson, and the manner in which he handled the matter during the latest SID EXCOM special meeting, as reported in the media, deepened the education qualification scandal and chaotic mayhem. While Ted Wilson’ s office bears the duty to ensure that divisions operate smoothly, it also has an added duty to maintain balance and objectivity when any member of its staff at division level, is alleged to have committed a misdemeanour. It was wrong, and shall remain so until eternity, for Ted to have caused SID EXCOM to rescind its earlier decision that it had taken to appoint a committee to investigate the Paul Charles and Pal Ratsara matter or one of the two. That is meddling into lower organization operations. Worse still is the administrative bungle to use an iron fist approach and summon a special SID EXCOM himself, thereby providing clear evidence of bias against accusers of the SID President. To even chair the meeting itself was the final straw. All this cannot be seen in any other way except messing up with a lower organization operations, appeals from whom he is obliged to consider. What justice does all this dispense to both sides of the divide? What objectivity is there? Clearly church administration deserves better than men like him who “doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus, and we petty men walk under his huge legs and peep about to find ourselves dishonourable graves”. I hope the GC President will desist from attempting to influence GC EXCOM not to accept Ratsara’s resignation as this helps to hold the whole SID at ransom. Let Ratsara’s family strengthen its reliance on God and not on men.


Onward Christian soldiers!, Ieadership,must have the confidence and respect of the followers , Where none exists, the leader must be relieved. This continued erosion of President Wilson’s judgement is at least palpable in North American and Europe. Tom Z


Question, interrupting Jones:

“What about the reputation?

Jones answers :

“The Christian has no reputation. He has character. The Christian asks no questions about reputation. Character, character is all that the Christian cares for and that the character of God, revealed in Jesus Christ.”

The above question was asked of Alonzo Trevier Jones from the audience, on February 24, 1895, during his 16th lecture given at the General Conference meetings held that year in Battle Creek, Mi, USA. It was recorded, before Heaven, in the official 1895 General Conference Bulletin, page 311.9.

I’m not aware of any ‘degrees’ that Jones ever obtained, and his ‘reputation’ – among Seventh-day Adventists – is still most widely that of an ‘apostate’. . . . But, ‘apostate’ from what, I wonder, given the current character of an SDA church hierarchy obsessed with mere ‘reputation’ and ‘degrees’ ?

The story of Merikay McLeod (Silver) comes to my mind.
Merikay was/is a talented author, journalist and Christian woman of healthy character, who was grabbed up by an SDA piblishing house in the early 1970s, even before she had finished her college degree. What the publishing house needed right then was more editorial talent, and then they got the editorial talent they needed, in the work of Merikay.

But, instead of rewarding her freely for her very valuable talent, that publishing house – a.k.a. ‘the church’, a.k.a. 'the GC’ – penalized her over the miserly issues of mere ‘degrees’, ‘hierarchy’, her DNA-‘sex’ and her young ‘reputation’. In the process they destroyed all of the good ‘what-might-have-beens’ regarding God’s publishing work at that publishing house, as it might have been edited by His talented servant, Merikay . . . and, yes, God was humiliated, too !


“Although there are evils existing in the church, and will be until the end of the world, the church in these last days is to be the light of the world that is polluted and demoralized by sin. The church, enfeebled and defective, needing to be reproved, warned, and counseled, is the only object upon earth upon which Christ bestows His supreme regard.”

When transitioning out of a competent non denom, mega-church into SDA circles, I noticed right away that the institution needed attention in 2 areas: decrease fanaticism and increase accountability.


“Will justice reign,
Will truth prevail,
Will any take their stand for mercy,
Who’ll choose to walk the narrow way,
And touch a broken world with healing,
Will justice reign?”

-Kathryn Scott


Thank-you, Jared for the timely reporting.


If any lesson has to be learnt from this drama is to investigate TW’s modus operandi and to reform the system.

In the legal arena, we talk of forming a judicial review, that is independent and impartial to investigate and report whether TW abused his office by the modus operandi in PR’s matter.

TW many times has advocated the laity to hold leadership to account. This is now the time.

If he will be found wanting, the remedy is simple: out, and elect a new leader to introduce reforms that will ensure procedural propriety.

Covering up a crime and sin for two years is not good enough.


This is more appropriate.



Someone got away and it is not PR. This “maneuver” may arguably be the most effective consequence of fostering PC’s personality trait that got him where he is. Congratulations SID!

J[quote=“spectrumbot, post:1, topic:11040”]
The questioning of Charles and Ratsara’s academic qualifications has gone on for several years. Ted Wilson was notified of the allegations in February, 2015.

And somewhere between these two events I recall a report of a SID committee meeting where TW had asked the chairman to reverse (or invalidate) the results and conclusions of the meeting.

Although TW is the GC president and is charged to running the corporate organization, one can effectively argue that TW lacks the ability to discern corporate from spiritual matters, a glaring mistake for a leader of a religious denomination which can only yield “grave consequence” for the corporate church. His level of threshold on these matters seem to be selective and variable, but that is to be expected from a team he leads that holds different standards of responsibility depending on their God-given sex chromosomes, XY or XX. This is the fundamental defect that has to be corrected before reforms can truly be made and what is glaringly manifested for the world to witness are but the derivatives of this fundamental defect.


This is certainly the next step regarding this issue. Ratsara and Paul already packed and are going now. But what about Ted Wilson? Isn’t the person who obstructs or hides information about a certain crime held responsible by the civil authorities? Well, what about the Church authorities???

Ted Wilson has a few questions to answer:

  1. Did he or did he not learn about this issue in 2014?

  2. If he did, did he immediately address the issue to others at the GC, or did he just fall asleep on it?

  3. If he did not address it, what could probably be the reason for covering it up?

  4. Who else at the GC knew about this case?

  5. What is the explanation for blocking people’s email address to stop more information from coming to the GC?

  6. What is going to happen (if anything) to the mafiosi lawyer (representing the SID) who wrote intimidating and threatening letters to the person who started this investigation (and took it to a successful end)?

  7. Ratsara and Paul had that lawyer spend time on their case; was that time paid by the SID (i.e., tithepayers’ money!)? Will TW work to have that money reimbursed by Rats and Paul?

There is no doubt that TW is badly involved in this case, and he cannot just move on pretending that everything is OK now - because it isn’t! I hope Spectrum @JaredWright keeps following this case.


It is difficult to believe that this would have festered for so long had more women been involved in the decisions.

Just this morning I was reading of two representatives (D) in the California State Assembly who were introducing bills calling for total transparency on bills introduced there; to be posted within 24 hours.
It is well known that many bills are “amended, even changed” in both state and federal legislatures before passing and the public never knows

The membership of the church should demand that there be less secretive decisions and complete revelations of such incidences affecting both them and the church organization. Pres. Wilson has failed miserably in his dictatorial style in making all decisions as if they were solely his to make, forgetting that members, not the administrators are the church.
(edited for grammar)


Everybody Knows
“Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
Everybody knows that the captain lied”

  • Leonard Cohen
  1. So who get’s to ask Ted Wilson, the world spiritual leader of Seventh-day Adventists, the man waving the big bible, why he appears to have colluded with cheating, lying and fraud? And who on the GC executive committee colluded with him?

  2. All we have here is one resignation. No admission of wrongdoing. No request for forgiveness. No remorse. People are trying to hang on to their jobs and pensions. The SID communications director, a conman, possibly a blackmailer, the one with 2 PhDs but no Bachelors degree, did he resign?

  3. Thank God for the Internet. Everybody can know what rot there is in Silver Springs and the stonewalling, cover up and probable bullying that occurs there as they “represent” God’s character on earth. What a joke. - Edgar


elaine, here’s my take:

ratsara has not been proven to do anything wrong…

he is stepping down, not as an admission of having done anything wrong, but because the situation fomented against him has reached critical mass - a point of no return - in which he feels no longer able to do his job in the way he would like…

is the case fomented against ratsara just, or unjust…until UNISA finishes its investigation, there’s no way to know…

meanwhile ratsara has a life to live, and a family support…we don’t know what offers ted wilson may have extended to ratsara in exchange for his stepping down, despite no case against him, and despite anything that has been said publicly…from what i understand, SID is the fastest growing part of the church…it’s in the church’s interest to have this matter resolved with minimal damage as quickly as possibile, and with equitability for all concerned…

i believe all of this has been ted’s only motivation, and that this outcome has been entirely predictable…

@Inge …actually i’m not figuring everything’s OK as long as UNISA doesn’t officially object…what i’m saying is that bonya’s confession establishes a classic he said v. he said dilemma, which will get nowhere in a court of law - recall that ratsara has denied any wrongdoing with respect to his degree…i believe what is needed is the location of the dissertation, evidence of bonya’s contribution, evidence that bonya’s contribution really was original, and not so dependent on other sources that it was part of the public domain, and evidence that ratsara plagiarized bonya’s contribution…in addition, i think it needs to be established whether bonya was writing out his own thoughts, or simply writing out what he and ratsara had previously discussed, or had reason to believe ratsara believed…that is, did ratsara plagiarize bonya, or did bonya effectively plagiarize ratsara…finally, i think we need to look at bonya’s confession in terms of reasoning and timing…is bonya and his story a credible witness entry in the event of a lawsuit lauched by ratsara against SID if UNISA finds nothing substantial against him or the degree it issued him…

until we have evidence that can stand up in a court of law, we have no case…

@NCBirder …i don’t know ratsara’s theological viewpoints, nor have i personally met or discussed anything with him…i do know he is presumed to be a male headship advocate, a position i have vigorously opposed on this site and everywhere else i comment…in ted wilson’s case, i have personally met and talked briefly with him, and also with nancy wilson…but here again, the wilsons are presumed male headship advocates, which doesn’t harmonize with my own views…i think i would defend the innocent until proven guilty approach for anyone, regardless of his or her views…