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Dan Linrud Resigns as Oregon Conference President

Dan Linrud Resigns as Oregon Conference President

Facing backlash for his handling of conference finances, Dan Linrud resigned as president of the Oregon Conference of Seventh-day Adventists on May 23, effective immediately, according to two sources familiar with the situation. The conference later shared a statement confirming that the executive committee had accepted his resignation. “I am confident and at peace that this decision is best for the conference to be able to turn the next page to the next chapter,” Linrud said in the statement.

Kara Johnsson, vice president for administration, is now the highest-ranking conference officer. According to one longtime conference insider, Johnsson will function as the acting president. In a statement to Spectrum, Juan Pacheco, assistant to the president for communication, said the conference has no acting president in the interim. The conference press release, sent out after Spectrum published this news, states that Johnsson “will serve as the ranking leader in the absence of a president.”*

According to the conference’s statement, the search for a new permanent president will begin immediately.

Linrud tendered his resignation to a special meeting of the conference executive committee that was held at the conference office in Gladstone, Oregon. The conference has been in turmoil since it announced a multi-million dollar budget shortfall earlier this year, recently finalizing 20 percent cuts to pastoral and conference headquarters staff, along with church redistricting

After the budget issues came to light, Linrud wrote an open letter to constituents saying that rising expenses, including health insurance costs doubling in recent years, led to the shortfall and there had been no financial misconduct. According to numbers released by the conference, expenses increased 25 percent from 2020 to 2023, while tithe income only increased 7.5 percent. In 2023, the conference had a loss of $1.9 million. 

The North Pacific Union Conference recently approved a $3 million line of credit to help the Oregon Conference “cover operating expenses.” Some members of the Oregon Conference Executive Committee had reservations about the arrangement and the potential terms of repayment. 

In March, Spectrum reported that members of the conference executive committee called a meeting to consider Linrud’s future, but the committee ultimately voted to keep him in his position. In the two months since, a campaign to remove Linrud gained momentum.

According to multiple sources familiar with the situation, a request for a special conference-wide constituency session to consider Linrud’s leadership neared the required 15 percent of churches in favor. Faced with an extended and potentially damaging political process, Linrud had held off the growing pressure in order to better negotiate his transition to a pastoral role in an Oregon Conference church, sources said. He proposed this plan in today’s meeting, but the executive committee voted to accept his resignation without taking further action.

In April and May, Oregon Conference leaders held a series of town hall meetings throughout the territory. At one of the meetings, held in Portland, Oregon, and attended by Spectrum, some constituents questioned why conference leadership did not take immediate action when rising costs and inflationary pressures became a concern in 2022 and 2023.

“In hindsight, we deeply regret that and we wish that we had chosen differently,” Linrud said. 

“I wish I had better foresight,” he added. “Of course, I’m incredibly sorry for the impact that this has had.” 

Many constituents were upset that the conference decided to cancel its 2024 camp meeting to save costs. 

“I’m appalled at the lack of transparency,” one church member said. In response to why the conference did not reduce its budget last year, Linrud replied that there was “no major push” for budget reductions at that time.

“One of the challenges we have is [that] presidents in the Seventh-day Adventist Church don’t have MBAs,” he said. “We don’t come from a business background. We come from a leadership background and we depend very strongly on the financial people who we work with and financial people on committees to make key decisions around finance.”

In comments to the executive committee today, Linrud acknowledged that the town hall meetings around the conference had not gone well, sources said.

Linrud joined the Oregon Conference in 2013 and became president in 2016. Previously, he was a pastor and administrator at the Ontario Conference in Canada. In early 2022, he made the polarizing decision to terminate the conference’s vice president of education, Gale Crosby, which became a point of contention during his reelection. At the conference constituency session in 2022, Linrud was reelected as president with 73 percent of delegates voting in favor.

*Updated 5/23 with statements from the Oregon Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. An earlier version of this story described Kara Johnsson as the acting conference president. The story has been updated to reflect statements by the conference that there is no person with the title of “acting president.” Johnsson is the highest-ranking executive officer.

Update 5/24: The Oregon Conference provided further clarification from their local bylaws. All four executive officers, President, Secretary/Vice President for Administration, Treasurer/Vice President for Finance, and Vice President for Education are co-equal officers reporting to the conference executive committee. In the absence of a president, the secretary/vice president for administration is currently assuming the authority and duties of the president, such as chairing meetings as necessary, including the conference executive committee, ADCOM, etc. Although the Oregon Conference does not use the term, the generally used constitutional/corporate governance definition of “acting president” refers to someone who temporarily fills the role of the president without appointment or in their own right, merely because there is no president for a variety of reasons, including resignation.

About the authors

Alex Aamodt

Alex Aamodt is an editor-at-large and the Roy Branson Investigative Reporter for Spectrum. He graduated with degrees in English and Spanish from Walla Walla University and lives in Portland, Oregon. You can contact him here. His work is supported by donors who have given to the Bonnie Dwyer Investigative Journalism Fund. More from Alex Aamodt.
Alexander Carpenter, editor of Spectrum.

Alexander Carpenter

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