Kenneth H. Wood, 90, an influential former editor of Adventist Review, a national publication of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and a longtime elder of the church, died May 25 of congestive heart failure at a ManorCare nursing facility in Potomac. He lived in Silver Spring.
Mr. Wood was an Adventist pastor for several years but spent most of his career in administrative and editorial positions within the church, which has its world headquarters in Silver Spring.
For the past 28 years, he had been chairman of the board of the Ellen G. White Estate, a church archive that oversees the publications and spiritual legacy of a co-founder of the church. White wrote hundreds of devotional books and other publications that have had a formative effect on the development of the Adventist faith. Mr. Wood edited and updated many of those writings.
His greatest influence on the day-to-day activities of his 15 million-member church, however, came during his 16 years as editor of Adventist Review, a weekly journal that reflects and sometimes confronts the church's official views. Mr. Wood was the magazine's top editor from 1966 to 1982.
The Review has long been a "parallel source of influence" in the church, said its editor, Bill Knott. In the late 1960s, Mr. Wood navigated the publication through shifting cultural currents and raised issues of civil rights and equality that occasionally challenged the church's conservative hierarchy.
"I looked on the church paper as a voice to influence the church rather than just a mouthpiece reflecting what was happening in it," Mr. Wood said in an interview in Adventist Review in January. "It needs to be a trumpet giving a good sound and having a powerful influence."
Mr. Wood was known as a graceful writer and sensitive editor whose skill with words helped shape the thinking of generations of Seventh-day Adventists. In 1975, he wrote an editorial endorsing gender-inclusive language in church publications, and two years later, he hired the first female assistant editor of the Review. He was credited with helping open the ranks of church leadership to women, African Americans and other historically excluded minorities.
"His legacy was one of courage and of clarity as a writer," Knott said. "In many ways, I see Kenneth Wood in keeping with the early editors of the 1840s and 1850s. The magazine was founded by ardent abolitionists, and Wood brought back that courage. It has served us very well."
When doctrinal disputes erupted in the evangelical church, which holds worship services on Saturday, Mr. Wood saw himself as "a defender of the faith." He cleared articles with church leaders discussing church policy and doctrine.
"I tried to call the church to account where I felt it had strayed," he said in January, "but I am very much against anybody who tears it down."
Mr. Wood was born Nov. 5, 1917, in Shanghai, where his parents were missionaries. He lived in China until he was 15 and graduated in 1938 from Pacific Union College, an Adventist school in Angwin, Calif.
He and his new bride then spent four years leading tent revival meetings in California's San Joaquin Valley. After studying at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary, then in Takoma Park, Mr. Wood served as a church pastor in Charleston, W.Va., and Cleveland.
In 1947, he became a church administrator in New Jersey before coming to Takoma Park as regional director of Sabbath school and lay activities in 1951.
Mr. Wood developed an early interest in publishing and edited campus publications in college. He joined the staff of Adventist Review in 1955 and, in the late 1950s, received a master's degree in Greek and systematic theology from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary.
He wrote several books of essays on religious thought and, with his wife, wrote a biography of F.D. Nichol, his predecessor as editor of Adventist Review.
He traveled throughout the world and credited his long life to the abstemious health and dietary regimens of his Adventist faith.
"I'm a vegetarian," he said in the January interview. "I live a very disciplined life when it comes to rest and eating a balanced diet."
His wife of 69 years, Miriam Wood, died March 16.
Survivors include two daughters, Janet Stoehr of Silver Spring and Carole Xander of Gainesville, Fla.; a sisters; seven grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.
Confronts official views? It's not that I don't believe it, but I trying to think of an example. Anyone?
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/726