Ted N. C. Wilson began his church career as a pastor in 1974 in the Greater New York Conference. He married Nancy Louise Vollmer Wilson, a physical therapist, in 1975. The couple have three daughters: Emilie Louise, married to Pastor Kameron DeVasher; Elizabeth Esther, married to Pastor David Wright; and Catherine Anne, married to Dr. Robert Renck. The Wilsons have eleven grandchildren. Born in Takoma Park, Maryland on May 10, 1950, the son of former Seventh-day Adventist Church president Neal C. Wilson and Elinor E. Wilson, Wilson spent part of his childhood in Egypt.
Wilson served as an assistant director and then director of Metropolitan Ministries in New York from 1976 to 1981. He also served the Africa-Indian Ocean Division (now known as West-Central Africa Division), based in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, until 1990, as a departmental director and later as executive secretary. Following his post in West Africa, he served for two years at the General Conference World Headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, as an associate secretary. He went on to accept the position of president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Euro-Asia Division in Moscow, Russia, which he held from 1992 to 1996.
Pastor Wilson returned to the United States to serve as president of the Review and Herald Publishing Association in Hagerstown, Maryland, until his election as a vice president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 2000. In 2010 he was elected president, the position he currently holds.
An ordained minister, Pastor Wilson holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Religious Education from New York University, a Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University, and a Master of Science in Public Health degree from the Loma Linda University School of Public Health. In addition to English, he speaks French and some Russian.
1. As president of the General Conference, what is your perception about the Seventh-day Adventist Church as we come to the end of this quinquennium?
What a privilege to be involved in God’s last-day Advent movement. It is a worldwide movement that is led by the Holy Spirit. It has a specific role to lift up Christ; His Word; His righteousness; His sanctuary service; His saving power in the great controversy; His three angels’ messages of Revelation 14 and the fourth angel of Revelation 18; His health message; His last-day prophetic mission to the world, including the need to plead for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit; and Christ’s soon second coming. We are seeing a dramatic increase in lay people taking control of the evangelistic destiny of this movement as we enlist and encourage them in Total Member Involvement. God is raising up dedicated lay people and young people to do a great work of evangelization. We are to claim Jeremiah 33:3 (NKJV): “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” We need to submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit and pray for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit to finish the work on earth so Jesus can come soon. We are to understand our special mission as indicated in Testimonies for the Church, volume 9, page 19: “In a special sense Seventh-day Adventists have been set in the world as watchmen and light bearers. To them has been entrusted the last warning for a perishing world. On them is shining wonderful light from the Word of God. They have been given a work of the most solemn import—the proclamation of the first, second, and third angels’ messages. There is no other work of so great importance. They are to allow nothing else to absorb their attention.”
2. Many initiatives were launched in recent years. In your opinion, which have created the most impact for the Adventist Church?
God has blessed the initiatives that have been launched because they are based on instruction from the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. The Lord has greatly blessed Revival and Reformation, Mission to the Cities, Comprehensive Health Ministry, Centers of Influence (centers to reach out to people especially in the large cities), One Year in Mission (soul winning and service by young people), massive publishing distribution programs, Total Member Involvement, various programs and activities of departments, etc. Many of these programs have experienced strong support and results, for which we praise God. He is the One who has blessed us enormously. Revival and Reformation has been very well received by the local churches, and has laid a foundation for many outreach programs. The program that appears to have been received with enormous welcome and reception has been Total Member Involvement. Lay people have rallied to the call to be involved in the mission of the church. It has been so gratifying. This is God’s biblical and Spirit of Prophecy plan. We are to understand our role as part of an urgent message, following Christ’s admonition in His own words in John 9:4: “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” Everyone is to be involved in this final work, as is indicated in Testimonies for the Church, volume 9, page 116: “The leaders in God’s cause, as wise generals, are to lay plans for advance moves all along the line. In their planning they are to give special study to the work that can be done by the laity for their friends and neighbors. The work of God in this earth can never be finished until the men and women comprising our church membership rally to the work and unite their efforts with those of ministers and church officers.”
3. What blessings experienced by the Adventist Church would you like to highlight?
The awakening of the lay people around the world in understanding the Total Member Involvement concept has been a great blessing. The Holy Spirit has inspired many people to become very focused on the mission of the church to God’s glory! Another great development is that many more people are aware of the urgent times in which we live just before Christ’s soon coming. People have been drawn to the Word of God and the Spirit of Prophecy as they humble themselves in prayer to the Lord. We have seen the world church accept the need of humility before God and ask for the outpouring of the latter rain of the Holy Spirit. We have seen young people become so passionate about the mission of the church. Much of the church in many parts of the world is made up of young people who are on fire for the Lord! This tells me that the coming of the Lord is soon!
4. Will Reach the World, the Adventist Church’s strategic plan, continue during the new quinquennium?
Yes, this will be the overall strategic plan and has been strongly adjusted to be shorter, more focused, and personal in its emphasis on the grand mission entrusted to the Seventh-day Adventist Church as outlined in Revelation 14:6–12 and Revelation 12:17. There are very specific “key performance indicators” that are focused on strong mission points needed for the church in its outreach activities. God will guide His church as we work together around the world to “reach the world” through the power of the Holy Spirit.
5. In that case, what is the purpose of launching the new slogan, “I Will Go”?
Although the overall strategic plan will continue with the theme of Reach the World, the personal appeal for this coming quinquennium is the wonderful, individual commitment to the Lord to be part of the last proclamation of prophetic truth to the world and say to the Lord, in the spirit of Total Member Involvement, “I will go!” It is so important to see that God has called everyone to be part of His mission for the last days of earth’s history. “I Will Go” gives a personal opportunity to everyone to join God’s prophetic proclamation to the world. It provides everyone to personally commit themselves to this task in connection with their relationship with the Lord, and then to join with others in a local and global outreach under the direction of the Holy Spirit. We are not saved in groups, nor can we witness through someone else doing it for us. Yes, we will certainly work together and carry out God’s commission as a church and in groups, but it must start with each of us personally in our commitment to the Lord, saying to Him, “I will go.” This is to be our response to what Christ has done for us on the cross and what He is doing for us in the Most Holy Place of the heavenly sanctuary. It is our response to His appeal to join Him in this great commission in Matthew 28:19–20 and Mark 16:15.
6. In your opinion, what is the best contribution pastors and local church leaders can give to fulfill the mission of the Adventist Church in these end times?
Each of us, whether pastors, local church leaders, or church members, are to focus on the mission of the church and realize that we need to be revived and reformed through God’s power in Bible study, study of the Spirit of Prophecy, and earnest prayer. We need every day to be connected to the “Vine,” Jesus Christ. We need to plead with the Lord for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit. We need to humble ourselves before the Lord and realize we are the Laodicean church of Revelation 3:14–22. We need to accept Christ’s offer in Revelation 3:18, accepting God’s precious truth or “gold” tried in the fire, putting on His pure white robe of righteousness, and placing spiritual eye salve on our eyes so we can see clearly according to God’s will and perspective. What a beautiful text that is: “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” We need to help our church members realize that we are a distinctive movement that fulfills the definition of God’s last-day people in Revelation 12:17. God is calling us to be a prophetic people with a prophetic message on a prophetic mission. We must sound the alarm that Jesus is coming soon and there must be an urgency to our work, life, attitude, and perspective. The Holy Spirit must be in control of our lives as we submit to the righteousness of Christ that justifies us and then sanctifies us in becoming more and more like Jesus.
7. As you see the horizon from your perspective, how do you visualize the opportunities for the Adventist Church in the next years?
To begin with, I don’t think we have many years ahead of us; I truly believe that Jesus is coming soon. No one should predict when His coming will be, but it will be soon. Everything around us speaks to the nearness of His coming, reminding us of what Romans 1:16–32 says regarding unrighteousness, which is on the increase everywhere. When you are separated from Christ, you are open to distraction and control by the devil. God wants us to live by His Holy Word, relying completely on Him. I see believers worldwide humbling themselves and being filled by the Holy Spirit to accomplish the last proclamation of the three angels’ messages. I see church members humbling their hearts and working for the Lord and others in increasing selflessness, allowing God to speak through them. I see church members around the world following in Christ’s footsteps, helping people physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. I see our church members focusing on Revival and Reformation, Mission to the Cities, Comprehensive Health Ministry, literature distribution, and so many other outreach activities combined in Total Member Involvement—everyone being in Christ and doing something for Jesus. Pray earnestly for the Lord to lead you into many avenues of service that will lead to Bible studies on the part of many. There are so many ways in which to point people to Christ and His saving power. Those opportunities are all around you. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide your service for Him. God will lead local churches to be united in their love for Christ and service to others as they share the wonderful news of a soon-coming Savior. May every member and every church worldwide in word and in actions point others to Christ, His precious Holy Word—the Bible, His allencompassing righteousness of justification and sanctification, His marvelous sanctuary service sharing His plan of salvation, His saving power for each of us as we find ourselves in the great controversy between Christ and Satan, His powerful three angels’ messages with Christ’s righteousness at the core, His lifechanging health message, His last-day message and mission to the people of this globe, our need to plead for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit in these last days of earth’s history, and the Savior’s second coming that brings us the blessed hope! As our upcoming General Conference Session theme says, “Jesus is coming! Get involved!” May this be our experience as we prepare, through the Holy Spirit’s leading, for an eternity with Christ—all through His love, blood, grace, and saving power!