No one in Seventh-day Adventist churches, besides the pastor, has more influence than an elder. Who better, then, to provide insight into the best ways to support our pastors? With that in mind, OUTLOOK editor Martin Weber asked each president of Mid-America’s six local conferences to select two elders—one from a larger church and another from a smaller church—who represent the excellence and spirituality of their calling. Eleven responded to our request for an interview. In this nine-part series, these elders share their wisdom on how to make pastoral appreciation a practical, year-round experience in our churches.
OUTLOOK: You have been chosen by your conference president as being an exemplary local church elder. What does this mean to you?
Nigel Abrahams (Lifesource Adventist Fellowship, Denver, CO): It’s quite a humbling honor. The honor is in knowing you’ve been entrusted with a share of the responsibility of caring for God’s people. But it is humbling to realize how little one can do of themselves.
JoAnn Arnold (Bismarck, ND): As a church elder I have been selected as a spiritual leader, as an under-shepherd of God’s people to help guide, direct, and train our people. Most of all I love all our people and want them all saved in God’s kingdom. It is a very humbling experience as it is a sacred trust and a responsibility that I take very seriously. As a Seventh-day Adventist Christian it is my privilege to share with members and non-members that Jesus is my Savior and Lord and that He loves them and wants them to share eternity with Him.
Steve Bascom (Gutherie Center, IA): I feel this is an opportunity to act as a servant leader for our local church.
Joe Bates (Aitkin, MN): It means I am privileged to be a part of a group in our church that is actively seeking God to bring revival and growth to His church.
Alan Brass (Colorado Springs Central, CO): It is a humbling privilege to be asked to serve in a capacity such as elder. That being said, it is a humbling privilege to be asked to serve in any capacity, when your church sees you as being the right person for this time.
Bobby Franklin (Claremont, Pueblo, CO): It’s an honor and privilege.
Jenni Glass (New Haven, Kansas City, KS): Being an ordained local church elder is a confirmation of my calling to ministry. Most people just see elders on the platform on Sabbath, but I have learned that the biggest ministry for elders is PRAYER. Being an elder means being a prayer warrior, a listening ear and support system for the pastors and congregation.
Michael Kelsey (St. Louis Central, MO): It is an important responsibility to help God’s work grow where we live. Being asked to lead can be scary in some ways, but to stretch past our comfort can show us things about ourselves that God has been trying to help us see.
Gina Olberg (Andover, MN): It means being in tune with my church family, with their needs and concerns about personal lives. It means being open to conversation and questions. Learning people’s names and family structures, sympathizing and also rejoicing with each other. Most of all it means leaning on Jesus, accepting His grace and showing that grace to others. And asking forgiveness when I fail in these things.
Merlin Wehling (Kearney, NE): As a leader of a small church I have many things that I attend to, but by far the most important responsibility as a leader is to keep all leaders and directors working and serving in harmony and unison. With resources and workers in short supply in a small church, it is vital that all involved are committed and supportive. I have been so blessed to be a leader here in Kearney where so many are willing and able to help out and support the work of the church.
Kathy Widicker (Bowdon Country Church, ND): It is a humbling experience. It is a great responsibility.
For more questions and comments from local church elders click here.