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Remembering Fred Kinsey, a Graceful Adventist Voice

Fred Kinsey

Fred Kinsey, a longtime minister, teacher, and speaker for the Adventist Church, died on Monday, July 17, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. His wide-reaching work as a professor at Pacific Union College, communication leader at several administrative levels of the denomination, and director of the Voice of Prophecy impacted countless individuals.

Kinsey obtained a BA in history from Loma Linda University and gained a background in commercial radio as the classical music announcer for the Earthlink Radio Network. He went on to receive an MDiv from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University and then served as an ordained pastor in Ohio from 1978 to 1981. 

In 1981, Kinsey began 20 years of service in the Northern California Conference, as communication and stewardship director and assistant to the president. In 1985, he also began his teaching career at Pacific Union College where he instructed classes in design, debate, and public relations, eventually becoming the chair of the communication department.

“Interacting with my public relations professor Fred Kinsey both in and out of class helped me see the value of asking questions and taking in a variety of perspectives on a given topic or challenge,” wrote Darrren Hagen in a 2008 edition of ViewPoint, the journal of Pacific Union College. “He would often take a strong opinion on a topic, but then freely give ground to an alternate view expressed by someone else present. . . . He also left me with some golden words of wisdom on humility and learning: A good education teaches you how little you really know.”

Even after his time at PUC came to an end in 2002, he returned as a guest speaker for graduation in 2006 and left a lasting impression on the campus population. “Fred was deeply loved by his students, many of whom asked him to do their weddings,” says Richard Osborn, who served as president of PUC. “Not only was he a brilliant professor influencing students in their communication skills, he was a preacher extraordinaire.” Osborn adds, “We also asked him to be the Week of Prayer speaker one year. . . . He moved me and the audience with the great voice he possessed.”

After leaving PUC, Kinsey became assistant to the president of the North American Division for communication, where he served from 2005–2010. Rajmund Dabrowski, former director of communication for the General Conference, remembers working with Kinsey for a GC Session. “I welcomed his involvement and I remember one comment he made: ‘Just let me know what you need and we will deliver,’” Dabrowski says. “Of course it was easier to say it, but I recall his spirit of cooperation, especially when the world church press corps welcomed the expertise of many talented professionals from within NAD.” 

In 2008, Kinsey began his term as the fourth speaker and director for the Voice of Prophecy (VOP), a radio ministry founded by H. M. S. Richards. According to a biography for Sealing Time Ministries, Kinsey recalled Richards visiting his childhood school and demonstrating an impressive command of the Bible. The man and his mission left a lasting impression on young Kinsey’s life, extending to Kinsey’s new role at the Voice of Prophecy. In an interview with the Adventist Review about media ministries, Kinsey said, “Although the methods have changed over the past 50 years, the message that needs to be displayed hasn’t changed much at all. . . . We need to be real and say, just as Richards said to us, that grace is the most important thing in our lives, for without it we have no hope.”

Combining this grace-based message with his mission, Kinsey made a number of changes at the Voice of Prophecy, including involving a team of four primary presenters, two of whom were women. During this time, he also published a book with the Pacific Press Publishing Association titled I Am Persuaded. Speaking with Spectrum after his four-year term at the VOP came to an end in 2012, Kinsey noted, “For me personally, I am very honored to have worked with the VOP. I look forward to continuing to lift up Jesus somewhere in the organization I love so much—the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”

Kinsey went on to do just that, making lasting impressions through speaking engagements, camp meetings, and everyday interactions. 

At the 2015 General Conference Session, Bonnie Dwyer, emeritus editor of Spectrum, recalls Kinsey asking her to speak with a religion reporter from the Washington Post to explain the upcoming vote about women's ordination. “I deeply appreciated all the work that Fred had done to help this reporter understand the situation in all its complexity,” she says. “Fred wanted the nuance of the Adventist story shared. And I always admired him for going the extra mile to get that done.”

Kinsey is survived by his wife, Lynette, his two children, Stephanie and Jeffrey, and four grandchildren. In a brief statement on Facebook, the Kinsey family said, “From our family to yours—thank you for the many thoughts, messages, and prayers that have been sent. Many have shared what his sermons, college classes, and friendships have meant to them. We hope that his life—one dedicated to ministry—will be his legacy… and live on.”

In his book I Am Persuaded, Kinsey writes on the book of Romans. In particular, Romans 8:38–39 were verses he quoted often in his radio broadcasts: “For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Kinsey took these promises to heart. “It’s that assurance [of God’s love] that has become the bedrock of my faith—the bedrock of my life,” he writes. “It is the hope by which I live, and the message that I proclaim to the world.”

Update: His family has set up a scholarship fund at Pleasant Hill Adventist Academy in Fred Kinsey's honor. 

 


Isabella Koh is Spectrum's 2023 Summer Intern. She is a recent graduate of Andrews University with a BA in English literature and minor in Chemistry. She has a passion for storytelling and plans to continue developing her writing career in the future.

Title image credit: North American Division Office of Communication Photo Archives  / Spectrum

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