Tributes flow for former Church president

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Zita and Yori Hibo.

Tributes are flowing for former president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Papua New Guinea, Pastor Yori Hibo, who died on March 9, aged 83.

Pastor Hibo was the first Papua New Guinean president of the Papua New Guinea Union Mission (PNGUM), serving from 1990–1995. Prior to that he was the first Papua New Guinean secretary of the PNGUM from 1985–1990. He also served the Church as president of the Central Papua Mission from 1977–1985 and again from 2000–2001.

Pastor Hibo made a significant contribution to the Church over many years, including being instrumental in securing land for the establishment of Pacific Adventist University.

Dr Oliver with Pastor Hibo and his wife Zita.

Former South Pacific Division (SPD) president Dr Barry Oliver described Pastor Hibo as a “wise counsellor and administrator”.

“His people skills combined with his knowledge of the customs and cultures of Papua New Guinea enabled him to address issues and solve problems which others were unwilling to consider,” Dr Oliver said. “His commitment to his God and his Church was an example for all of us who worked closely together with him.”

When Dr Oliver, his wife Julie and sons arrived in PNG in 1979, Pastor Hibo was the first person they met.

“He took the time to come and pick us up from the airport even though he was the president of the Central Papua Mission. What an introduction,” Pastor Oliver recalled.

“I thought to myself, ‘If everyone here is like this man, we are going to have an amazing experience!’ There was a perpetual twinkle in his eye and a huge smile was never far away—even in the most trying times. He was a wonderful mentor during our first year in Port Moresby when we worked hand-in-hand with him. Our boys, Clayton and Butler, became good friends and spent many hours playing together on the lower level of our home in Ela Beach.”

Pastor Yori Hibo, PNGUM president Pastor Thomas Davai, SPD president Dr Barry Oliver, and Sir Paulius Matane, Governor-General of Papua New Guinea, at the official opening of the Papua New Guinea Union office complex in Lae in 2008.

Current SPD president Pastor Glenn Townend also fondly recalls his association with Pastor Hibo while he was living in PNG.

“I remember him working with my dad when I was a boy in the mid 1970s,” Pastor Townend said. “He was a humble, fun, hard-working, wise pastor. I enjoyed catching up with him a couple of times in recent years. He will be greatly missed.”

PNGUM communication director Pastor Cameron Wari said Pastor Hibo “served God with distinction and humility even in his retirement”.

Most recently, Pastor Hibo had been living with his daughter Nancy at the Mount Diamond Adventist School just outside Port Moresby. He is survived by his wife Zita and children Lyndal, Nancy, Joanne, Butler, Serinah and Mervin.