Erton Köhler and Paul H. Douglas will replace G.T. Ng and Juan Prestol-Puesán, respectively.
Published on: 05-28-2021
Members of the General Conference Executive Committee (GC EXCOM) elected South American Division president Erton Köhler as the new secretary of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on April 14, 2021. They also voted Paul H. Douglas, director of the General Conference Auditing Service (GCAS) since 2007, as the treasurer/ chief financial officer-elect of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“I feel humbled and honored by your confidence,” Köhler told the hundreds of church leaders who met through Zoom this year. “I am praying for God to give me the skills that I need.”
Köhler was born in southern Brazil and has been president of the South American Division since 2007. He has extensive experience in church leadership positions, including as secretary and youth leader. He is married to Adriene Marques, a nurse, and the couple has two children.
Adventist Church president Ted N. C. Wilson highlighted some of Köhler’s characteristics as a leader. “He is a very professional person, a very mission-focused person, a very skilled administrator,” Wilson told the GC EXCOM members. “He knows how to approach things in a very articulate and systematic way.”
After a 197-to-16 vote confirmed Köhler as the new secretary, effective immediately, he thanked his predecessor, G. T. Ng, who announced his retirement. Köhler promised to do his best to learn from Ng’s “great and superb work.”
He vowed to be available, serving with a heart “completely focused” on the mission of the church. “I will be open to [listen] and to learn,” he said. “My job is to build bridges, not walls.”
Members of the GC EXCOM also voted on another Nominating Committee recommendation and elected Douglas as General Conference treasurer-elect.
“I am honored but, more so, humbled by the decision of this body and the leading of the Lord today,” Douglas told the hundreds of GC EXCOM members from around the world. “I am not worthy, but I am willing,” he emphasized minutes after leaders shared the results of the vote (204 to 10 in favor of the motion).
Jamaican-born Douglas has served in various capacities at GCAS since 1986, including as associate director before becoming director in 2007. In 2020 he developed a Road Map to Resilience for church leaders and their governing committees. This initiative seeks to help leaders be prepared “to sustain mission in times of crisis and provide an agile response to rapidly emerging realities.”
Before the GC EXCOM vote, Adventist Church president Ted N. C. Wilson said that Douglas “has distinguished himself in so many ways, including [in his] very high caliber of Christian ethics. He is always striving for the best.”
Wilson noted that in 2018 and 2019 Douglas helped to plant a church and led evangelistic meetings. “He is a humble servant of God; he brings an international perspective,” he said.
Douglas also expressed a word of thanks to his predecessor, Juan Prestol-Puesán, who will stay as treasurer until the end of July. “It is my desire to continue his legacy of stewardship in our church,” Douglas said. “And to our world family, let us work together so God can come.”