Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee members pray over President Marcellus T. Robinson. | Photo by Kelly Butler Coe

Columbia Union Executive Committee Welcomes New President, Bids Farewell to Longtime Health Care Administrator


Story by V. Michelle Bernard

During today’s Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee meeting, Tim Bailey, newly re-elected Mountain View Conference president, shared a worship thought, encouraging committee members to keep their focus on sharing Jesus with others. Throughout the morning meeting, members heard reports and learned of new ways and initiatives to spread the gospel. 

The committee surrounded and prayed over Marcellus T. Robinson and his ministry as the newly elected president of the Columbia Union. Today represents the first executive committee meeting he has presided over since starting his position in March 2024. In addition to this committee, Robinson assumes the role of the new board chair of Kettering Health and Washington Adventist University, among other responsibilities. 

Robinson remarked that he is still amazed at the Lord and His sense of humor and purpose on his life. “Everything isn’t perfect, but we serve a perfect God,” he added. 

The committee also welcomed new members Elaine Buchanan, representing the Mountain View Conference, and Alejandro Pastor, representing the New Jersey Conference. 

Throughout the meeting, presenters shared examples of God’s goodness, including: 

  • José D. Espósito, assistant to the president for Evangelism, shared that in the first four months of 2024, the union has celebrated 1,777 baptisms, the highest total in any year within this timeframe in the union’s history. 

  • Dave Richmond, a committee member representing the Pennsylvania Conference, shared on a recent mission trip to Guyana that included Pennsylvania and Potomac Conference members. Richmond reported that 22 people were baptized during the event. 

  • Celeste Ryan Blyden, executive committee secretary, shared that with baptisms and professions of faith, the union’s net growth is up 2.47 percent, with the December 2023 membership at 152,062. She noted membership has steadily increased over the last 10 years. 

  • Blyden also noted that the union gave $2,000 in travel funds to every Columbia Union team that traveled to the North American Division-level Pathfinder Bible Experience. 

  • David Kavistan, an auditor from the General Conference Auditing Service, shared that the union received a clean opinion on their recent audit. 

  • Emmanuel Asiedu, union treasurer, noted an overall increase in union tithe of 2.42 percent compared to this time last year. 

  • Rubén A. Ramos, union vice president for Multilingual Ministries, shared that President’s Council has approved a new committee—the Refugee, Immigrant and Multilingual Committee—that will meet twice a year to represent the interests and needs of the communities they represent to union leadership. Ramos noted there are 18 different people groups within the family of believers in the union, with 57,267 total members. 

  • Weymouth Spence, Washington Adventist University president, said the university continues to celebrate its 120-year anniversary. He reported the long-awaited re-zoning of a section of Takoma Park, Md., has been completed, which will allow the leadership to rebuild the campus in a way that will meet the students’ changing needs. 

  • Terry Forde, president and CEO of Adventist HealthCare, presented for the last time before he transitions to a new role at a health system in Florida. He spoke of memorable and noteworthy moments of his time at the union, including the transition of the Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park, Md., to Silver Spring, Md.—where it's now known as the Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center—as well as the closure of the Hackettstown Regional Medical Center in New Jersey. After presenting Forde (second from left) with an obelisk, Robinson said, “On behalf of this board, we thank God for you and your service to Him and to Adventist HealthCare.”

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