Ted N. C. Wilson was elected as president of the Seventh-day Adventist world church in July 2010 during the General Conference session in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Pastor Wilson holds a doctor of philosophy degree in religious education from New York University, a master of divinity degree from Andrews University, and a master of science degree in public health from the Loma Linda University School of Public Health. In addition to English, he speaks French and some Russian. He is married to Nancy and they have three married daughters and nine wonderful grandchildren. He served the church in many places and capacities including the Africa-Indian Ocean Division as a departmental director and later as executive secretary. He served as an associate secretary at the General Conference and subsequently, he was elected as president of the Euro-Asia Division in Moscow, Russia. Pastor Wilson returned to the United States to serve as president of the Review and Herald Publishing Association in Hagerstown, Maryland, until his election as an Adventist world church vice president in 2000.
AS PRESIDENT OF THE GENERAL CONFERENCE, HOW
DO YOU SEE THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH
AROUND THE WORLD TODAY?
The worldwide Adventist family, found in approximately
215 countries and areas, is an incredible testimony to the
power of God’s Word and the work of the Holy Spirit to keep
a world church together through our common focus on the
precious biblical truth that the Lord has given to us and the
hope of Christ’s soon coming. As Nancy and I travel around
the world, we see the direct results of the Holy Spirit’s leading
in today’s end-time setting. So, I am very encouraged with
what I see around the world.
At the same time, the Adventist Church faces some real
problems. People are often frustrated, and sometimes they
engage in internal struggles that become challenging for the
local church. These issues tend to detract from the church’s
mission. But, for the most part, the evangelistic outreach of
the church is fulfilling our mission by proclaiming the three
I am encouraged by God’s great power demonstrated in His church. If I get discouraged, I just lean on the Lord and say, “Lord, this is your Church, and it is that which God has the greater regard for.” Then I just rest comfortably and praise God.
AS WE COME TO THE END OF THIS QUINQUENNIUM,
WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE THE CHURCH HAS ACCOMPLISHED?
First, we want to give God glory for everything that has
been accomplished—every good thing comes from Him. And
we are so grateful for how the Lord has used creative minds
on all levels; the Holy Spirit has used them to accomplish
much more than we might have imagined from the General
Conference or Division levels alone. Some of the initiatives for
this quinquennium include:
• Revival and Reformation: One of the most far-reaching initiatives has been the call for revival and reformation. This seems to have penetrated just about every local church around the world. We know we’re living at the end of prophetic time; we’re living in the last tips of the toes of the statue described in Daniel 2. The next big event will be Christ’s return, and I think people all over the world sense that and are getting excited. So, the call for revival and reformation is certainly not something which originated with the church or its administration; the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy call us back to a humble understanding of who we are as God’s people and the task that has been given to us. So, the call for revival and reformation has certainly been one of the most pervasive calls and has reached just about every local place.
• Revived by His Word and 777: Undergirding all of that have been certain spiritual programs created by the Revival and Reformation Committee, which has been an enormous blessing to our church members personally. Revived by His Word is a church-wide initiative to read a chapter a day in the Scriptures. All over the world, people are reading the Word! I read the assigned chapter today, and it’s exciting to know that the worldwide church is reading the same Bible passages together. The 777 initiative means that, 7 days a week at 7 o’clock, Seventh-day Adventists are praying earnestly for the outpouring of the latter rain of the Holy Spirit. These two programs are really helping us to be prepared for the tremendous outreach that God has entrusted to our church.
• Mission to the Cities: Did you know that more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in large metropolitan areas? This has confronted our church in such a way that people say, “This is one of our biggest priorities because we need to go where the people are.” So, the Lord has really inspired people to do creative things in a contextualized way all over the world to reach souls in the big cities. And because the cities are only going to grow bigger, this initiative will continue until the end of time. The Spirit of Prophecy indicates that one of the best things we can do to reach the cities is to use medical missionary work or, as we call it, Comprehensive Health Ministry. Over the last two years or so, this has caught the attention of many administrators and church leaders. Church members are now becoming enthused about the practical way in which we can reach individuals through an understanding of better health, which can lead them closer to spiritual health. We’re so grateful that the Lord is blessing people enormously in this area of outreach and witness.
• International Bible and Mission Conference: During this quinquennium, almost 60 Bible and Mission Conferences have been held all over the world, with thousands of pastors being strengthened by the study of our fundamental beliefs, which are centered in Jesus Christ.
• The Great Controversy: This project has resulted in approximately 140 million copies of The Great Controversy being distributed worldwide. We have shared the full classic book, the smaller abridged version, and other versions, including about 25 million downloads from the Internet. And we have other great publishing outreach resources: in 2014, we distributed a book about Creation entitled Beyond Imagination, and in 2015, we are sharing another book entitled Health and Wellness. All of these books have been wonderful blessings, and Publishing Ministries, along with our media and other departments, has been tremendous in their participation.
• Creation Project: For the Creation Project, we asked every local church to share a beautiful film produced by the General Conference Communication Department and others. We wanted to bring to the forefront the very basic understanding that we were created in God’s image in six literal days and that on the seventh day, God blessed the Sabbath. That’s why we “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” God created human beings on the sixth day, and the Creation Project amplifies that and helps people to fully understand who we are as Seventh-day Adventists and where we are going. If you take the Creation story out of the Seventh-day Adventist faith, you have basically eliminated almost every beautiful doctrine that we appreciate.
• One Year in Mission, evangelistic outreach by young
people as volunteers for one year. Many other initiatives are
also taking place, including a very strong emphasis on media
and outreach, which is a coordinated approach through the
Hope Channel, Adventist World Radio, and many other avenues,
including the Internet. Many of these communication
and media outreach activities are going to become even more
important as we look to the future. So there are many things
that have happened this quinquennium. But, as we focus upon
using biblical principles and the Spirit of Prophecy to approach
our mission in a practical manner, we can see God’s blessing.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT WERE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES
THE CHURCH FACED DURING THIS QUINQUENNIUM?
The Church always faces challenges because the devil is
trying to stop the onward proclamation of the three angels’
messages. It is the devil’s studied purpose to distract God’s
church and to neutralize the efforts of faithful Seventh-day Adventist
In political and war-torn settings, our church has been
forced to adapt and to do the best it can. We have seen an
increase in natural disasters, which we know will happen in
the end-time, and Adventists continue to be willing to serve
in these areas. We’ve seen internal frustration in the church
when people disagree on certain fundamental understandings,
whether it is something doctrinal or something that’s
perceived as an approach to help people function as church
members. In all of these challenges, I’ve seen God working in an unusually dramatic way. The Lord promises to take
us through these challenges. We’re also told in the Spirit of
Prophecy that some of these problems will be allowed to
come to us so that the Lord can demonstrate His power. And
I’ve seen clear indications of that.
So, the closer we come to the Lord, the closer we will
come to each other because Christ is the great center that
draws us into close communion. I believe the Lord will return
very soon, so these challenges only fortify our opportunity to
lean on Him and see His power demonstrated.
THE 2014 GENERAL CONFERENCE ANNUAL COUNCIL
VOTED THE GLOBAL STRATEGIC PLAN FOR THE YEARS
2015–2020 UNDER THE BANNER “REACH THE WORLD.”
HOW CAN LOCAL CHURCH LEADERS BE ENGAGED IN THIS
The “Reach the World” plan for 2015 and beyond is not
some special administrative construct that is only to be a strategic
plan for church leaders. It involves every single member
of the church, and it can take the form of many creative ideas
that people might have, as well as some of the big themes
we already discussed—Mission to the Cities, Comprehensive
Health Ministry—but everyone has to find where God wants
them to fit into this particular initiative or some evangelistic
I am more and more convinced that this big “Reach the
World” program, which will focus on many of the initiatives
we’ve talked about, will succeed only when we humble ourselves
before the Lord, ask for the power of the Holy Spirit,
and work together with the power of church members who
are working closely with the church on outreach. In Testimonies
to the Church, volume 9, page 117, we read: “The work
of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and
women comprising our church membership rally to the work
and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers.”
To me, this is the biggest key to the future of God’s
expansion in this world.
So, “Reach the World” is just that. It will not be done
simply through mechanical aspects or through some kind of
remote control, or only by television, radio, or the Internet. All
of these things will work together, but the personal element
is the most important. So, we look forward to having every
church member involved in every aspect of outreach through
our “Reach the World” initiative.
DURING THE UPCOMING 60TH GENERAL CONFERENCE
SESSION IN SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, USA, WHAT ARE THE
MOST IMPORTANT AGENDA ITEMS TO BE DISCUSSED BY
We have a tremendous program of mission outreach
planned for the General Conference session, beginning with
an evangelistic meeting that will take place in San Antonio
prior to the General Conference session. In fact, it will be a
privilege for me to participate in that along with many others.
Mark Finley and Robert Costa from the GC Ministerial Association
will be helping to organize this outreach effort through
the North American Division and the Southwestern Union.
This evangelistic meeting will help to lay a foundation, so that
when people arrive in San Antonio, they will understand that
the Seventh-day Adventist Church is not just in town to carry
out some business activities, but that we are there for evangelistic
We will have a baptism at the session itself resulting from
those who accept the Lord at the evangelistic meetings. We
will focus on evangelistic outreach all over the world. We will
hear reports from every world division. We will focus on the
Bible and have a special emphasis on the Spirit of Prophecy
each evening. We will have outreach reporting and activities
for the future regarding young people, education—all kinds of
departmental areas of emphasis.
Expanding on the Revived by His Word initiative, we will
introduce a new initiative called “Believe His Prophets.” According
to 2 Chronicles 20:20, if you believe God’s prophets,
you will prosper. This will be a very practical, spiritual foundation
that will create a great enthusiasm for the mission of the
church—that is, to continue reading the Bible every day and
to add specific readings from the Spirit of Prophecy, so that
over a five-year period, we will read the entire Conflict of the
Ages series, a couple of pages a day, reading a chapter from
Scripture—it will be a powerful spiritual emphasis.
We also plan to emphasize the strong evangelistic outreach
for the cities and all of the things we have already outlined.
And we will have a very strong emphasis on media and
the spiritual preparation that is needed for the accomplishment of the last-day proclamation of the three angels’ messages.
Mission is going to be a primary focus for our entire
General Conference session. We will also hold regular business
sessions and discuss proposed updates to the Church
Manual. We will review proposed changes to our Fundamental
Beliefs—not to change any beliefs but to define them more
carefully. We will look at the subject of ordination and dedicate
considerable time to that, but the greatest emphasis will be
on the outreach of the Church because, as our theme for the
General Conference session indicates, “Arise, Shine, Jesus is
Coming!” What else is there that can capture our attention and
our reason for being except that the Lord wants to use us to
Reach the World—as we have been talking about—to prepare
the world for the Lord’s soon return? So the General Conference
session will have an enormous emphasis on mission.
CONSIDERING THE SPECIAL TIME IN HISTORY THAT
WE LIVE IN TODAY, WHAT WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
CAN YOU SHARE WITH THE LEADERSHIP OF THE WORLDWIDE
I would urge every leader and every church member at every level—everyone—to understand why Seventh-day Adventists were called and what the purpose for our movement is. It is larger than just a church. It is an Advent movement that was meant to finish God’s work on this earth.
I suppose one of the biggest challenges that I face as
an administrator and as a leader in God’s precious church
is to help our church members remember who they are and
why they are here. It’s so easy to get caught up in the laborious
activity of just living or to be so distracted by the things
around us that we forget why God entrusted us with this
So, I think one of the greatest appeals that I can make to
church leaders everywhere is to first—and I include myself
in this—humble ourselves before the Lord and recognize that
we are all sinners saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. His righteousness
alone provides our eternal life. The Lord has asked
us to accept His all-encompassing righteousness, justification
and sanctification, and to allow Him to work through us
to accomplish what He wants His church to accomplish. And
that’s the reason the Seventh-day Adventist Church exists: to
proclaim God’s precious last-day messages to the world. He
could have entrusted this task to the angels, but He decided
to give it to human beings. And what a privilege it is to be part
of this incredible outreach to a planet that needs to hear the
last-day message of hope—hope in the coming of the Lord,
hope not only for the future but, as Jesus said, hope that “I
have come to give them life more abundantly” here on this
earth and for the future. And as Seventh-day Adventists, it’s our happy privilege to be part of something much bigger than
ourselves, to see the big picture and to understand that soon
the Lord will return so we can be with Him forever.
FINALLY, WHAT DO YOU ENVISION FOR THE CHURCH
IN THE COMING YEARS?
Only the Lord knows exactly what will happen, but as I
look to the future, I see church members becoming much
more involved in local mission outreach. I see young people
becoming much more energized by simple Bible study and an
understanding of God’s plan for the church as they review His
instructions in the Spirit of Prophecy.
I see a much greater mobilization of church members, including
young people, for expansion of God’s Church. I also
see an enormous increase in the use of media, social media,
the Internet, television, and radio in proclaiming to an increasingly
interconnected and interactive population the precious
messages of truth. I see the church becoming more faithful
in its commitment to stewardship and the blessings that
can come when people are totally committed to using the
resources God has given to them in many ways for the final
I see the church recognizing that we are living in a very
momentous time. When everything around us seems to be
falling apart—politically, economically, socially—and when
we see ecumenical movements moving toward what we
know to be the final results of trying to force people against
their conscience to accept certain beliefs, we can see that
the world is coming to a climax. I also see the church becoming
much more conscious and excited about why we
are here as God’s special remnant church to proclaim a
message for all people.
I see many people coming closer to the Lord. Unfortunately,
the Scripture tells us and the Spirit of Prophecy indicates
that some people will go in the other direction and
succumb to the allurements of the world. There will be a
shaking and a parting of ways as some people focus on
Scripture and other people take a superficial approach. I pray
that all people—myself included—will humbly submit before
the King of kings.
One of my favorite texts is Joel 2:21. When you are discouraged
and frustrated because you can’t see how God is
working in your life, just insert your name into this text and
claim this promise. The text says, ”Fear not, oh land”—fear
not, Jonas; fear not, Ted—“Be glad and rejoice for the Lord
will do great things.” I have full confidence in this Advent
movement and, most importantly, in the One leading this
Advent movement—Jesus Christ, our great Savior, King of
kings and our best Friend.