Pastor Ken Vogel, associate general secretary of the Australian Union Conference (AUC) has retired after 43 years of denominational service, with 17 of those years spent at the Union.
The AUC recognised the work of Pastor Vogel at the AUC Executive Committee meetings in November, where he was presented with a citation and thanked for his dedication and sacrifice over the years.
“It has been an awesome privilege to serve as a pastor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for these past 43 years,” said Pastor Vogel.
“My wife, Marlene, and I were married just prior to my commencement in ministry. We made a commitment to God that we would go wherever He sent us to and do whatever He asked, through the leading of the Church. What a whirlwind of life and ministry that commitment brought about,” he added.
One of his first positions for the Church was as a volunteer in Papua New Guinea, where he later returned as an area supervisor, pilot and principal. He also established a flying doctor ministry in collaboration with Dr Robert Wat and Sopas Hospital.
Marlene cared for their young children, totally isolated with no communication to and from the outside world, except a UHF radio which was used to contact Pastor Vogel while he was flying. They lived and worked in remote areas where they were the only white people and shared God’s love into areas never before reached by the Church.
Pastor Vogel has been involved in many areas of ministry such as church planting, public evangelism, bush flying, Bible college principal and teacher, church pastor, conference departmental leader, conference president, union secretariat and national public affairs, and religious liberty director.
While serving as the president of the Western Australian Conference, Pastor Vogel conceived the idea of Mamarapha College and helped develop the college from its inception through to its initial nationally accredited registration.
He was on the last Executive Committee for the Trans-Tasman Union Conference, where at their final constituency meeting, they voted to disband the Union and establish a single Union Conference for Australia. He then went on to become a member of the first AUC Executive Committee.
He is the author of the book, The Fighter, which tells the conversion story of Pastor Piari who was a warrior in Papua New Guinea. He also presented the Freedom in Focus series which highlighted both national and international freedom of religion issues, he produced the award-winning My Story: His Story television series and was an executive producer of the Tell the World movie.
“While every type of ministry was truly challenging and rewarding, the most satisfying ministry of all was as a local church pastor,” stated Pastor Vogel, “being a local church pastor allowed me to have a personal connection with my church family and the wider community in a deep and ongoing way.”
When asked what he has learnt over his years in ministry he answered, “be prepared to ask and listen, I don’t have to agree with everything everyone says but I do need to listen, to listen humbly and learn, and the flip side of that is to let new leaders lead, just because something has worked in the past does not mean that it always has to happen that way. Be prepared to support new approaches.”
Many who have worked with Pastor Vogel would call him supportive, diligent and level-headed, with an air of wisdom and calmness surrounding him wherever he went. He has been an excellent leader for the Church in Australia and part of this success comes from his humility and reliance on God.
“Be humble in God’s service,” explained Pastor Vogel, “God alone is eternal and all wise. No one of us is, but together we can be used by God to extend His kingdom of grace and prepare the world for Jesus’ soon return.”
In all his years of ministry, Pastor Vogel does have one regret which he intends on correcting in retirement, and that is the lack of balance between work life and personal life.
“My family will receive my time and attention, as will my own health,” stated Pastor Vogel, “I want to contribute to my local congregation and community, as well as be available to support the wider work of the Church where and when my experience might be called on.”
Having recently moved to Western Australia, to be closer to his daughter and grandchildren, Pastor Vogel will continue to share God’s love and minister to the community where he can.
“The next phase of Marlene’s and my journey will continue to be guided by the same principle as in the past, to do whatever and go wherever God calls us to,” added Pastor Vogel
AUC secretary Pastor Michael Worker said, “It has been a privilege working closely with Ken over the last twenty-seven years.”
“Ken has left an incredible legacy for the Church throughout his years of service, from being a key driver in the establishment of Mamarapha College, to being a leading advocate and supporter of the development of Safe Places Services through to standing tall as a statesman in representing the church in government and inter-faith relations in Public Affairs and Religious Liberty. The Church is richer as a result of his faithful dedication and service,” added Pastor Worker.
“Ken has been a mentor to many in the Church around Australia and Papua New Guinea. We wish Ken and Marlene God’s blessings in retirement.”