From ANN, July 4, 2015: A new treasurer was voted for the Adventist denomination while Dr. G. T. Ng, was re-appointed executive secretary. These recommendations from the nominating committee were quickly agreed to by the delegates on Friday afternoon (July 3) before the business meeting broke for the Sabbath.
With the retirement of Robert Lemon as the chief financial officer of the denomination announced well in advance, the nominating committee recommended Juan Prestol-Puesan, the undertreasurer for the past five years, as the new candidate. This was quickly voted and the delegates unanimously reelected Ng.
With perhaps the shortest acceptance speech in Adventist history, Prestol-Puesán said simply, “On behalf of my wife and myself, we’ll do our best, God helping us.” Born in the Dominican Republic, he has served as treasurer of various Adventist entities, including the Atlantic Union Conference, the Euro-Asia Division and the North American Division. Prestol-Puesán and his wife, Belkis, have two adult children.
In an interview, he said the biggest challenges of the church involve unity and the involvement of lay members. “I am pledging myself to communication, not only what we say to them, but how we listen to them, how we bring about a better working relationship,” he said. “We will do whatever we can to communicate with our people.”
The volatility of the world’s financial markets has made managing the church’s funds more challenging. Changes in interest rates in some parts of the world can mean a profit or loss of millions of dollars. “Changes in financial markets, changes in world economies, perhaps a few surprises—we will have to trust in the Lord,” Prestol-Puesán said. “But we also have to be careful and mindful managers of the Lord’s funds.”
Another challenge is changing demographics. “The new generation has questions about how the church operates,” Prestol-Puesán said. “Not only how the church uses its funds, but how the church involves them in ministry.” He pledged to focus on listening.
Ng, whose service for the denomination includes being a pastor, seminary professor, and administrator, was elected as GC secretary five years ago at the session in Atlanta. Since then, he has emphasized the need for audits of membership records around the world and has made membership retention a key focus of the denomination. His office also coordinates the Adventist missionary program. Ng and his wife, Ivy, have two adult children.
Ng thanked the delegates for their confidence following his election and, in a flash of his trademark humor, quipped, “I was hoping someone would refer this nomination back to committee.” His comment was a nod to the discussion that surrounded the nomination and election of the GC president earlier in the day.
Ng said the greatest challenge facing the church is changing the culture from members being spectators, while pastors do most of the work, to a culture where the priesthood of all believers is embraced and practiced. “Every member is an evangelist,” he said.
The challenges facing the denomination as it relates to membership revolve around the fact that membership growth in some parts of the world is flat or even declining. In general, membership growth is stagnant in parts of the world with high levels of education, affluence and secularism. And while the church in some parts of the world is experiencing unprecedented growth, the challenges in those parts of the world include keeping accurate records and maintaining high rates of retention. “We are leaders. Those numbers have to be believable. We have to have credibility before our members,” Ng said.
Pastor Myron Iseminger was re-elected to the position of undersecretary for the General Conference, a role he has filled since 2011. He was a church administrator in the northwest United States prior to that.
The Adventist News Network (ANN) is the official news service of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination.