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5-25-16 Columbia Union Conference Officers Re-Elected During 27th Constituency Meeting


By V. Michelle Bernard, Visitor assistant editor and digital media coordinator

Delegates re-elected Frank Bondurant, vice president for Ministries Development; Celeste Ryan Blyden, vice president for Strategic Communication and Public Relations; Rubén Ramós, vice president for Multilingual Ministries; Rob Vandeman, executive secretary; Dave Weigley, president; Seth Bardu, treasurer; Walter Carson, vice president and general counsel; and elected Donovan Ross, vice president for education.
Photo by Hearly Mayr


On May 22 union delegates voted to re-elect all three executive officers during the 27th Columbia Union Conference Constituency Meeting: Dave Weigley, president; Rob Vandeman, executive secretary; and Seth Bardu, treasurer.

Delegates also re-elected four vice presidents and voted in a new vice president of Education, Donovan Ross, replacing Hamlet Canosa, who recently retired and was officially recognized for 43 years of service to the church. Ross has served in Columbia Union Education for 21 years, most recently as associate director for secondary education at the union.

The vice presidents re-elected include Frank Bondurant, vice president for Ministries Development; Celeste Ryan Blyden, vice president for Strategic Communication and Public Relations; Walter Carson, vice president and general counsel; and Rubén Ramós, vice president for Multilingual Ministries. Blyden's election signals the first time a woman has been elected as a union vice president at a constituency meeting. 

Weigley, a son of the Columbia Union, grew up in Enders, Pa., where he attended Blue Mountain Academy, a union school in Hamburg, Pa. He also attended Washington Adventist University (WAU) in Takoma Park, Md. He later graduated from Southern Adventist University (Tenn.), where he completed a Bachelor of Arts in Theology. He also holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Managerial Leadership and is soon to complete a doctor of philosophy at Andrews University. Weigley has served as a pastor, evangelist, conference communication director, ministerial director, stewardship director, executive secretary, and conference president. He has been serving as Columbia Union president since 2006.
"We thank each one for the confidence in this team," says Dave Weigley. "We are honored to serve and to be part of this great Columbia Union where we’re going to keep the main thing the main thing as we go forward. We aren’t perfect but we are forgiven by God’s grace, committed by God’s grace to go forward and finish the work."
Delegates also re-elected Rob Vandeman during the meeting. Vandeman, born in Hinsdale, Ill., graduated from Union College (Neb.), where he earned a degree in theology. He later obtained a second theology degree from Andrews.

Rob and Judy Vandeman, Dave and Becky Weigley, and Seth and Teresa Bardu are welcomed back to serve the Columbia Union for another quinquennium.
Photo by Hearly Mayr


Vandeman has served as a pastor in Colorado, Minnesota, and in the Chesapeake Conference, where he was pastor of the Spencerville church in Silver Spring, Md. He also served as Chesapeake president, executive secretary, ministerial secretary, and communication director. He joined the union team as executive secretary in September 2011.
Delegates’ returned Seth T. Bardu as union treasurer, a role he assumed in 2006. Bardu was born in Monrovia, Liberia, and has a degree in accounting from Oakwood University (Ala.) and an MBA from Andrews. Bardu has almost 30 years experience in finance-related denominational service in the Seventh-day Adventist Church and is an ordained minister. He previously worked for Adventist Church organizations the Northeastern and South Central conferences and for the Adventist Health System and Southern Union Conference.
"We have as strong a team of ministry specialists in persons of our vice presidents as anybody in this division," says Vandeman. "They are all highly qualified and extremely effective. I many times marvel at their individual and corporate accomplishments and it is a privilege to work in the large shadow they cast."
Other business included the REACH Columbia Union Urban Evangelism School graduation ceremony and the voted acceptance of the Constitution and Bylaws Committee report, which included a proposed reduction in the size of the Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee from the current 52 to 46 for the 2016-2021 quinquennium. The new committee is comprised of 22 church employees and 24 non-employees.

“They are an excellent group of members from our eight conferences and three institutions who will help give guidance to the mission within our territory,” said Vandeman. “They are diverse, representative, bring a wealth of experience, and share our desire to advance the mission of Christ in this union, and we look forward to working with them.”

Vandeman explains the desire for streamlining while maintaining the balance between church employees and non-employees. “We’re the third largest union in the NAD [North American Division], but we by far have the largest executive committee,” he said. “We want to assure that the committee retains the ability for healthy dialogue and the exchange of ideas."

Several NAD officers attended and participated in the constituency meeting, including NAD president Daniel R. Jackson, executive secretary G. Alexander Bryant, and assistant to the president Ken Denslow.

Click here for video reports, photos, and more stories from the constituency meeting.

North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists
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