During the divine worship service on Nov. 2, 2019, Daniel R. Jackson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America (NAD), said “When I think of the ongoing, never-ending debate in the church, all taking place within the context of human, natural and supernatural disasters, I am often shocked and disappointed in myself and in my church.”
Jackson, preaching a sermon entitled “The Vision Fulfilled!” declared to the delegates, families, and guests attending the 2019 NAD Year-End Meeting (YEM) Sabbath program that, “The solutions to the problems of the church are seldom found in more physical wealth, in tithe parity negotiations, or in strict adherence to policy. They will never be found on the basis of peaceful theological coexistence or even in better leadership.”
“Human solutions only mask human disease,” Jackson said.
Before Jackson began, G. Alexander Bryant, executive secretary of the NAD, gave an emotional introduction. “This one is tough because he’s made no secret that this is his last year-end meeting for the division as its president,” he said. “This day comes with some bittersweet feelings.”
Bryant introduced Jackson’s family, including his wife, Donna, an NAD Ministerial Association associated director; daughters Dana and Lara; son Daniel; son-in-law Joel Melashenko; daughter-in-law Marissa; and grandchildren. Also present was Jackson’s childhood friend, Lee Patterson. Bryant thanked the Jackson family for giving and sacrificing their “dad, husband and grandfather” for the leadership of the North American Division.
Bryant invited the administrative team on stage to pay tribute to Jackson. As the administrators joined Bryant, he shared their heartfelt thoughts. The descriptions about Jackson included comments about his genuine laughter and a great sense of humor, and his solid leadership with “a soft heart, thick skin and an unwavering vision.” Others appreciated his consecrated optimism, “ability to listen, take responsibility, act courageously, and empower the team,” as well as his prayerful decision-making.
“The legacy that Elder Jackson leaves behind is that he modeled servant-leadership to all of us,” stated Bryant. “God has given him a unique set of gifts: his humor, his humility, his servant-style leadership, and even in his ability to sing — God used that in leadership.”
“On behalf of the admin group you will be missed, we have been blessed, and your legacy is you have shown us how to lead in this century in the way that Christ would lead in a modern, challenging society,” concluded Bryant.
Jackson’s sermon expanded on the theme of this year’s NAD Year-End Meeting, “Pursuing His Promises.” Jackson reminded the congregation that “God was and is and ever will be the light of the world and the hope man’s anxiety and alienation — and the hope for the Seventh-day Adventist Church today.”
He recited John G. Magee Jr.’s famed poem “High Flight,” sharing that like the poet we as Christians sense the reality that, behind the rainbow, God is there.
Jackson used the story of the Assyrians imminent attack on Israel as an analogy to the church’s modern-day pessimism and anxiety about ecclesiastical issues and its leadership.
“In Isaiah’s day God’s people needed more than food, more than relief from the enemies around, more than a trustworthy king or a thriving kingdom. They needed a living faith,” said Jackson.
“Isaiah has a message for us today,” continued Jackson, as he read Isaiah 9:6. Jackson then explained how Isaiah the prophet portrays God through “different lenses: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince Peace.”
“The solutions to our problems will never be found by focusing upon external needs or conditions, but rather upon the inner needs that all of us possess; the renewal of our inner convictions about, faith in, and experience with God,” said Jackson.
“When we think in spiritual terms, God offers us everything in order to assure our stability and happiness now and through eternity,” said Jackson. “It is when we reach one hand to Him while we are still holding on to our own cares, burdens, or strange and unwarranted confidence in our own spiritual sufficiency — orkeep hold upon some forbidden thing with the other hand — that we find ourselves in danger. God wants two-handed Christians.”
“Our Spiritual safety rests only in the hands of God, who reveals Himself then and now,” concluded Jackson. “We are God followers not church followers, the role of the church is to serve as the conduit by which we introduce men and women to Jesus! Only Jesus brings redemption, full and free.”