In a clean sweep, three new senior administrators have been appointed for the South Pacific’s largest church region, in terms of membership, the Papua New Guinea Union Mission (PNGUM).
Dr Leigh Rice was appointed president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in PNG in a vote of the South Pacific Division (SPD) executive committee, which met in Wahroonga, NSW, 7-10 November.
Cross-cultural leadership requires a lot of listening, a lot of guidance, a lot of teasing out from the local people what’s going to work best for them, rather than imposing my set of expectations or my way of doing things.
Dr Rice was appointed general secretary of the PNGUM in late 2010 and has been leading the PNGUM in a caretaking role since Pastor Joseph Talipuan stepped down from the presidency in May for family health reasons.
|PNGUM president elect, Dr Leigh Rice.|
“Cross-cultural leadership requires a lot of listening, a lot of guidance, a lot of teasing out from the local people what’s going to work best for them, rather than imposing my set of expectations or my way of doing things,” said Australian-born Pastor Rice, reflecting on his experiences working as a mission president in Albania (2000-2005) and with Pacific Islanders in New Zealand local churches. Although the trend is towards home-grown leadership in PNGUM, there was unanimous support for Pastor Rice’s appointment from the PNG members of the executive committee, who see strategic benefits in terms of a strong relationship with the SPD and influence with the PNG government. “He was the obvious choice,” said Mr Richard Maru, a lay member of the executive committee from PNG. “For us it’s not about localising for the sake of localisation; it’s not the emotions of having a Papua New Guinea citizen [as president]; it’s about the best man for the job.”
The year-end executive committee meetings also saw a new general secretary and chief financial officer (CFO) voted in for PNGUM. Incoming general secretary Pastor Blasius Managos has been working alongside Dr Rice as associate secretary for the past year. From 2006 to 2010, Pastor Managos was the president of the New Britain and New Ireland Mission, his home region.
PNGUM’s new CFO is Australian-born Mr Bob Butler who has been overseeing the work of 126 Adventist hospitals and clinics in the East-Central Africa Division since 2008. His previous administration experience includes work with Sanitarium, local conferences, PNG missions and Adventist retirement villages in Sydney.
Pastor Kepsi Ilodo was voted into the position of Associate General Secretary for Papua New Guinea Union Mission. He had been a General Secretary, twice President of local Missions, and a very experienced pastoral leader, who will be graduating from Pacific Adventist University at the end of the year.
SPD president, Dr Barry Oliver, said he was looking forward to seeing what the new administrative team will be able to accomplish in PNGUM. “We believe that God has led in the appointment of the team and we believe that together with our church membership right across Papua New Guinea, they will be led of God and faithful to the mission of the Church to lead people to be disciples of Jesus,” he said.