Gary Thurber, executive secretary of the Lake Union Conference, has been elected to serve as president of the Mid-America Union, filling a vacancy created in July when Thomas L. Lemon became a general vice president of the General Conference.

North American Division president Dan Jackson, who chaired the specially convened session of the Mid-America Union’s Executive Committee for the vote on Tuesday, said he believed Thurber would bring exceptional qualities to the new post.

“Gary is a deeply spiritual and effective leader for Christ,” said Jackson after the secret ballots were counted. “Mid-America Union has just voted a prince to be their president. I have every confidence in Gary.”

Committee members considered 18 names and were challenged to list desirable traits in a president and consider the needs of the entire union. Several times throughout the day the group paused for both small group and corporate prayer.

During a phone conversation with Jackson immediately following the vote, Thurber said he was “deeply honored” to have been selected by the committee to return to Mid-America.

Thurber, who has served as executive secretary of the Lake Union Conference since 2013, was previously president of the Denver, Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Conference, one of the six conferences that form the Mid-America Union.

As union president, Thurber will be involved in the activities of Union College and AdventSource, which like the union’s offices are based in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Union College president Vinita Sauder said she looked forward to working with Thurber in his new role as chair of the Union College board of trustees.

“I’m confident he will be a strong supporter as we build the future of the union and continue to provide an extraordinary environment for the education for our students,” she said.

AdventSource director Brad Forbes said Thurber had a wide range of ministry experience that would prove a blessing to his organization, which is the official ministry resource distribution center for the North American Division and sells more than 5,000 resources for pastors and local church leaders.

“I am looking forward to working with him,” Forbes said.

Thurber began his ministry as a teacher at Redwood Academy in the Northern California Conference. From there, he served as an associate pastor and assistant director of Northwest Ministries Training Center at the Kent Church in the Washington Conference.

Ordained in 1987, Thurber has served as a pastor in the Kansas-Nebraska, Florida and Michigan Conferences. His assignments in the Michigan Conference also included director of Youth, Camp and Family ministries and, later, assistant to the president for administration. He has also served as president of the Indiana and Northern New England conferences.

Born in Stoneham, Massachusetts Thurber completed his bachelor’s degree at Southern Adventist University and earned his master’s degree in religion at Andrews University. He currently is enrolled in the PhD Leadership program at Andrews University.

Thurber is married to the former Diane Wynn. They have two adult sons.