Members of the General Conference Executive Committee (GC EXCOM) have appointed two senior leaders on April 14, 2021, during the Spring Meeting—one of the annual business meetings of the world church. The new appointments came after General Conference executive secretary GT Ng and CFO Juan Prestol-Puesán announced their retirements.
South American Division president Erton Köhler was elected the new secretary of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“I feel humbled and honoured by your confidence,” Köhler told the hundreds of church leaders meeting through Zoom this year, a few minutes after the vote. “I am praying for God to give me the skills that I need.”
Köhler was born in southern Brazil and grew up with a desire to follow in the footsteps of his father, who served as an Adventist pastor. Köhler completed a bachelor’s degree in theology at the Adventist Teaching Institute (now Brazilian Adventist University) in 1989 and graduated from the same school in 2008 with a master’s degree in pastoral theology. Currently, he is pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree from Andrews University.
From 1990-1994, Köhler served as a local church pastor in São Paulo. He was then elected Youth Ministries director of the Rio Grande do Sul Conference in 1995, and in 1998 he became the Youth Ministries director of the Northeast Brazilian Union. In July 2002, Köhler returned to the Rio Grande do Sul Conference, where he had previously served, to become the executive secretary. The following year he was elected as Youth Ministries director for the eight countries comprising the South American Division. After serving for four years as youth director, he became the South American Division president in 2007.
Köhler is married to Adriene Marques, a nurse, and the couple has two children.
GC EXCOM also voted Paul Douglas, director of the General Conference Auditing Service (GCAS) since 2007, as treasurer/chief financial officer-elect.
“I am honoured 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, who met virtually. “I am not worthy, but I am willing,” he emphasized.
Jamaican-born Douglas has served in various capacities at GCAS since 1986, when he was appointed audit manager. He holds a bachelor’s degree and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree in accounting, as well as a professional certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership. He expects to complete his PhD dissertation in 2021.
In 1993, Douglas became a GCAS regional manager. In 1997, he was elected as GCAS assistant director, and he became GCAS associate director in 2000. For the past 14 years, he has served the global church as GCAS director.
In 2020, he developed a “Roadmap 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.”