Maurice Valentine, a general vice president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, died around 9:00 a.m. this morning after suffering a heart attack at his home. He was 63.
Valentine was elected as a vice president during the 2022 General Conference Session after briefly serving as vice president for media ministries at the North American Division. Prior to that, he was the president of the Lake Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
At the time of his election at the General Conference, Valentine told the Adventist Review in an interview that the Adventist church needed to return to a “word-centric” mission, referring to the “word” in the Bible. “I’m excited for the opportunity for us to refocus on who we are as a people through revival and reformation.”
His roots within the Seventh-day Adventist Church ran deep. As a young student, he sold religious books door-to-door in New York City and went on to build his life around the church’s mission and values.
Valentine began his pastoral ministry in 1985 after graduating from Oakwood University with degrees in communication and theology. He called the Central States Conference of Seventh-day Adventists home over the next two and a half decades, and he would go on to lead over a dozen churches across Colorado, Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska.
“Pastor Valentine’s death is a tragedy for the world church. He was a very godly leader and an important part of our world church leadership team,” General Conference President Ted Wilson wrote in a Facebook post. Valentine climbed the ranks of the Adventist Church’s administration when he began serving as the assistant to the president of the Central States Conference.
He worked his way up at the Mid-America Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, where he started as the union’s ministerial director. He eventually became vice president of administration of the Mid-America Union, and then was elected as the president of the Central States Conference in 2012. Valentine would go on to lead the Lake Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists as their executive secretary in 2015 and was later elected as their president in 2017.
In 2019, he reaffirmed women in ministry during a meeting of the Lake Union Executive Committee, imploring his colleagues to “give them respect” for feeling called to pastoral ministry. “They shouldn’t be hurt for what they feel in their hearts,” Valentine said, according to a report from the Lake Union Herald. “We should never browbeat anyone. It’s un-Christlike. Each of us, as leaders, we should go out and articulate that we treat everyone as we want to be treated.”
He was elected by the North American Division executive committee as the vice president for media ministry in April 2021. During his brief one-year tenure, Valentine chaired the boards of several Adventist media ministries including It Is Written and the Voice of Prophecy. Valentine was elected as a general vice president of the General Conference during the 2022 General Conference Session.
Multiple sources have confirmed that just prior to his death, Valentine was present at a meeting of the Biblical Research Institute Committee in Berrien Springs, Michigan. While there, he prayed in each building on the campus of Andrews University. At the committee meeting, he spoke with passion—unaware that it would be his final sermon, concluding a lifelong dedication to the Adventist church’s mission.
“Elder Valentine was a very kind and spiritual man who had a deep passion for God's work,” said Vic Van Schaik, president of the Indiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, in a text message to Spectrum. “He and [his wife] Sharon have been a tremendous personal blessing to Angela and I over the years, starting back to our time serving in Iowa-Missouri. This is a great loss to many, especially his family, and we lift them up in prayer, asking that God will bring them comfort and strength.”
Valentine is survived by his wife, Sharon, and their three adult children. His sudden death deprived him of a chance to share his thoughts on helping lead the General Conference. However, during his farewell letter to the staff of the Lake Union Conference, Valentine wrote of how high of an honor it was for him to serve, saying it “is an honor no one deserves.” “I have felt very honored to even be considered to serve in the region where our movement was officially birthed,” he said. “And yet when I look at the cross, no sacrifice is too big to make. None. . . . What a blessing it is for all of us, as the family of God to be entrusted with finishing the work.”
Samuel Girven, a journalist based in Timberville, Virginia, is the Special Projects Correspondent for Spectrum.
Title image: Tor Tjeransen / AME (CC BY 4.0)
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