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 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: What do you enjoy most about your responsibilities as an elder?

Nigel Abrahams (Lifesource Adventist Fellowship, Denver, CO): I most enjoy the additional interaction with the congregation. The position naturally attracts people, many times people with whom I would not otherwise have had an opportunity to interact. It has truly helped me get to know my church family much better.

JoAnn Arnold (Bismarck, ND): Being of service and ministering to people, helping God’s children inside and outside our church. I want them to know that when they are hurting that I hurt with them, when they have spiritual concerns I too share their concerns and will try to help resolve them when possible. My goal is for them to feel loved and cared about, especially when they are having days that are not so bright and cheery for them.

Steve Bascom (Gutherie Center, IA): I enjoy the chance to represent our church to our community in various outreach programs. I also enjoy working and supporting our local members in their witnessing. I am happy to help during times of loss and crisis.

Joe Bates (Aitkin, MN): Saying yes to people when they come up with an idea for ministry and helping them implement it.

Alan Brass (Colorado Springs Central, CO): My joy comes from seeing our attendance continue to grow and our church becoming more multicultural than it has been in the past 26 years since my family began attending Central.

Bobby Franklin (Claremont, Pueblo, CO): Interaction with the pastor and the church.

Jenni Glass (New Haven, Kansas City, KS): Being an elder is not glamorous and comes with a lot of responsibility, but I most enjoy focusing on young adult ministry. I appreciate that at New Haven the elders can focus on specific ministries and demographics. I love seeing young adults active in all areas of the church from Sabbath School leaders, children’s ministry, community outreach and every facet of the church. 

Jenni Glass (New Haven, Kansas City, KS): Easily what I enjoy most is our elders’ meetings, and the camaraderie we have developed by working through difficulties together. Traveling the pilgrim way together makes the journey a joy.

Gina Olberg (Andover, MN): I enjoy being a part of the body of Jesus Christ. I enjoy learning from each other and encouraging each other. Many times I am the one who needs encouragement, and it is such a blessing to receive strength from my church family.

Merlin Wehling (Kearney, NE): I enjoy watching the body of the church come together, get behind an event and work for the Lord. Whether it be an evangelistic series, a church camp out or a high Sabbath, when the church comes together to make an event happen it is just plain awesome. Almost unstoppable.

Kathy Widicker (Bowdon Country Church, ND): Working with the pastor and elders to formulate an agenda for the calendar year.

For more questions and comments from local church elders click here.