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Could Dan Jackson Be North America’s Education President?

At his first press conference following his election as President of the Adventist Church in North America, Dan Jackson began by talking about education. “We have to be very intentional about education,” he said. “We need to embrace our schools.”

The first goal that he mentioned for the North American Division is a strategic plan for kindergarten through post-secondary education. “Our schools have to be a significant part of what we are doing,” he noted.

Certainly his family history plays a role in his view of the importance of Adventist education. He told the gathered reporters that his parents had split over his mother’s insistence on putting him in an Adventist school.

He also described pastors meetings in his territory where he took every opportunity to reinforce the importance of Adventist education to the church. “At each daily session we talked about Christian education,” he said noting that there are many issues connected with education.

At the college and university level, he will face his first test of an educational presidency.

Barring an appeal, Atlantic Union College is facing the loss of accreditation. In the General Conference Session Exhibit Hall, the college’s representatives were passing out cards imploring alumni and friends to pray for a miracle. While the separation between the levels of the church organization mean that as president of the North American Division, he will not have direct responsibility for what happens with AUC, he may be able to work behind the scenes to help bring about the miracle for which the college is looking.

La Sierra University was also mentioned during the press conference, and Jackson said that he had just told LSU President Randall Wisbey that he wants an opportunity to come to LSU to tell the faculty that “we love them.”

Given La Sierra’s status at the center of the denominational debate on creation, Jackson may be sought to play a peacemaking role.

Dan and Donna Jackson have three children and four grandchildren.

“I have a strong belief that we need to reach out to one another,” he said. “You may not agree with me, but we need to link arms and spend time talking and studying the Bible. We spend way too much time shooting at each other.”

Jackson is a product of Adventist education. He attended Canadian University College and Andrews University from which he holds an M.A. in Religion in Systematic Theology. During his career, he has served the church as a pastor, teacher and administrator.

Colleagues tell stories of his days at Canadian University College, and the role he played with the faculty after a visit from a General Conference official who told faculty to get out if they did not agree with the church on the topics of the sanctuary doctrine or creation. Jackson’s pastoral concern for the faculty was greatly admired.

Dan Jackson, newly elected president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, speaks about the new creation statement.

Naturally, the current politics in the church will play a role in his administration. The day after he was elected president, he made a speech on the floor supporting the motion to endorse the reaffirmation of creation statement.

At his press conference, he certainly hit all the right notes, reaching out for conversation with all, and finally praying one of the most beautiful prayers of the GC session, imploring God to be with all of the people of North America from the Inuit in Alaska to the commuter in New York City. He prayed for those who were hungry, those who were homeless, prayed that all could be touched by God’s love and ready when Jesus comes.

In the meantime, there is an educational system that needs his attention.


Bonnie Dwyer is the editor of SPECTRUM.

Photos: Gerry Chudleigh/ANN

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