General Conference (GC) session delegates elected six new presidents to the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s 13 world divisions and kept seven incumbents on Monday.
General Conference president Ted N. C. Wilson said officers at Adventist world church headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, would work closely with division presidents to fulfill the church’s mission of preparing people for Jesus’ return.
“Every division president is [also] a vice president of the General Conference,” Wilson reminded delegates during a discussion after the division presidents were elected Monday.
The six new division presidents are Leonardo R. Asoy (Southern Asia-Pacific Division), Mario Brito (Inter-European Division), Michael Kaminskiy (Euro-Asia Division), Ezras Lakra (Southern Asia Division), Glenn Townend (South Pacific Division), and Elie Weick-Dido (West-Central Africa Division).
These new leaders replace incumbents who retired, were not reelected, or, in the case of the Euro-Asia Division’s Guillermo E. Biaggi, moved to the General Conference as a general vice president.
Here are the names of the division presidents in alphabetical order:
- Leonardo R. Asoy, newly elected president of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division, most recently served as the president of the South Philippine Union Conference based in Cagayan de Oro City. He has served as a district pastor and division Sabbath school director. He and his wife have two grown children.
- Mario Brito is the newly elected president of the Inter-European Division (EUD) is, formerly Ministerial secretary of the Inter-European Division based in Berne, Switzerland.
- Dan Jackson, 66, was reelected for a second term as president of the North American Division (NAD). Jackson, a native of Canada, served as a pastor, teacher, and administrator in Canada and the Southern Asia Division.
- Raafat A. Kamal, 51, has been president of the Trans-European Division (TED) since 2014. Originally from Lebanon, Kamal began his denominational service as an educator. He served in England, Norway, Pakistan, and Iran.
- Michael F. Kaminskiy comes to the leadership of the Euro-Asia Division (ESD) after being secretary and vice president of the division.
- Erton C. Köhler, 47, was reelected as president of the South American Division (SAD), a position he has held since 2007. A native of Brazil, Köhler was the youngest division president when he was elected, after serving as conference and division Youth Ministries director. He graduated with a degree in Theology from Brazil Adventist University.
- Ezras Lakra was elected as president of the Southern Asia Division (SUD) and most recently served as president of the Northern Indian Union Section based in New Delhi. He and his wife have two children and one grandson.
- Jairyong Lee is returning as president of the Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD). Lee, president of the division since 2005, began his pastoral career in South Korea. He has served as a professor of theology, and was director of the 1000 Missionary Movement. He was elected division president after serving as Ministerial Association secretary, Stewardship director, and Global Mission coordinator.
- Israel Leito, 70, was reelected as president of the Inter-American Division (IAD). Leito, president of the IAD since 1994, has seen membership in that division go from 1 million to 3.7 million members. Leito, a native of the Caribbean island of Curaçao, breaks a record for longest serving division president, a position he has held for more than 21 years.
- Paul S. Ratsara has been president of the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division (SID) since 2005. Before that he served as the secretary of the division. Dr. Ratsara lost his wife, Denise, in 2013, following a battle with cancer. He married Joanne in November of 2014 and their blended family includes nine children.
- Blasious M. Ruguri was first elected president of the East-Central Africa Division(ECD) at the General Conference session in 2010. He began his career as a district pastor, eventually becoming division secretary. He studied global leadership at Andrews University.
- Glenn Townend is the new president of the South Pacific Division (SPD). He previously served as president of the Trans-Pacific Union Mission, and before that as president of the Western Australia Conference. He has served as a pastor, church planter, and conference administrator.
- Elie Weick-Dido comes to the presidency of the West-Central Africa Division (WAD) after serving as Sabbath School/Personal Ministries director for the division. Weick-Dido has earned D.Min. and Ph.D. degrees from Andrews University and served as pastor of a Haitian congregation in North America.