North American Division Says Goodbye to a ‘Quality Leader’
by Reggie Johnson
July 2, Toronto—The North American Division (NAD) of Seventh-day Adventists took time from its General Conference Session to bid farewell to NAD president, Alfred McClure. A dinner in his honor was held at the Crown Plaza Hotel ballroom in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on Sunday, July 2. McClure served as president of the NAD for 10 years before his decision to retire.
“When we began in our ministry forty-six and one-half years ago, we never dreamed that anything like this could ever happen to us,” said McClure. “We were just honored to be a part of the Lord’s work. And now that I have had the privilege of working with so many of you and being a part of God’s church, and the way that we’ve been able to fellowship and have a part in much of the world, particularly here in North America—it’s been a great blessing to us.” McClure’s career with the Seventh-day Adventist Church included positions such as president of the Southern Union and president of multiple conferences. He also spent time in pastoral and evangelistic work.
Many influential members of the Church were in attendance, including Kari Paulsen, wife to the president of the General Conference, who gave congratulations and expressions of appreciation to both McClure and his wife Frances. Alfred McClure “always represented the North American Division with strength and fairness,” said Bryan W. Ball, former president of the South Pacific Division. “What he had to say was said with well-chosen words and with dignity, even when sensitive issues were addressed.” Bryan Ball went on to state that, “Al was always an articulate advocate of the North American Division,” and that “He was also a good representative of the World Church.”
When asked how McClure must be feeling, former NAD president C. E. Bradford said, “It’s gotta be mixed emotions. The man has invested himself in his work, and in his territory, his union, and his coworkers. These are networks that are not easily broken.” Bradford went on to say that “It will take a little distance to really bring it into focus. . . . but he’s made up his mind and the Lord is with Him.” Bradford affectionately declared to McClure and his family, “You are quality people!”
Orville Parchment, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada, said, “It’s a sad day because Al McClure’s greatest contribution was to turn the tide of evangelism in North America. And I believe that with the momentum that is there now, the new president will have to continue it.”
Former General Conference secretary, G. Ralph Thompson, described McClure as an “excellent leader,” and said, “He and I have had a wonderful fellowship, and he has been a dynamic leader and this (ceremony) is an expression of appreciation.”
Harold Baptiste, secretary of the North American Division, told McClure’s family, “We’ve denied you the pleasure of having Al over the last couple years, so now we’re giving him back to you.” Baptiste, speaking to McClure, said “We are thrilled at the progress that was made in the North American Division during your administration.” In his closing comments, he summed it up, saying “I think history should record that Al McClure was the right man in the right place at the right time.”
McClure’s wife, Francis, who served as head of Shepherdess International for North America, said “It’s been a great adventure and I’m looking forward to a new adventure now.” McClure said, “I’m going to look forward to and enjoy the privilege of sleeping in my own bed virtually every night; giving up some of those frequent flyer miles for the opportunity to be at home.”
McClure thanked those in attendance, saying “Thank you for your kindness; for your friendship.” He encouraged the North American Division and their next president, saying, “I want to assure you that we will be praying for you and the leadership you continue to give to the church. We will be watching with interest.” In closing, he told the NAD workers, “We will not be joining the critics; we will be joining your supporters.”
Reggie Johnson is a senior communication and religion major at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI.
Photos should be available in the package of photos.