Ron Halvorsen Jr., senior pastor of North Cascade Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Church in Burlington, Washington, will be the next senior pastor of Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists.
Gary Rustad, president of the Georgia-Cumberland Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, announced the decision Saturday morning during worship services, emphasizing Halvorsen’s background as a praying leader who has already pastored three SDA college and university churches.
In a press release issued by the conference, Halvorsen was quoted as saying: “I like working with all the different age groups, but I like the life and vitality that comes with campuses of kindergarten through [graduate] level work and the dynamics of that setting.
“I am excited to again be in a setting working with the schools, working with the church team,” he continued. “While it is a local church, it is also a university and a [K-12] academy church. How can we be a church that reflects Christ to these young people?”
At Saturday’s 9 a.m. Adoration service, Rustad said Halvorsen will officially begin his tenure in Collegedale alongside his wife, Buffy, on Nov. 1, and he is excited to have him join the team.
“Ron is an experienced pastor and administrator,” Rustad said. “He brings with him a passion for prayer, and he has a gift in leading members closer to their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Ron has pastored university churches before, and he knows and loves this setting, so much so that when he accepted this week, he said, ‘I’m gonna be there in two weeks.’ So on Oct. 21, Ron and Buffy are going to be here to celebrate with y’all the fall festival.”
The North Cascade church’s website describes Buffy as not only Halvorsen’s partner for many decades but also his longtime associate in team ministry. According to additional information on the website, Halvorsen was president of the Ohio Conference of Seventh-day Adventists before moving to Washington. He also has pastored College View Church at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska; Sligo SDA Church at Washington Adventist University (WAU) in Takoma Park, Maryland; and Keene SDA Church at Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas, according to a WAU biography on the pastor.
According to Halvorsen’s Facebook profile, he studied at Union College and Andrews Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, in the 1980s. In 2016, he received a Doctor in Ministry degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.
The search committee’s selection of Halvorsen follows an extensive period of transition for the church, which started five months ago with the departure of David Ferguson, the congregation’s most recent lead pastor. As reported in a recent Accent article, Collegedale church has lost four pastors in the past year. Carole Verrill, the church’s pastor for children’s ministries, said in the article that the conference plans to involve the new lead pastor in hiring individuals for the other three vacant pastor positions.
Bridgett Massengill, a head elder at Collegedale and member of the search committee, is especially appreciative for “the integrity and spirit of committee members” as they searched for a new lead pastor, according to the press release.
“Every individual person in that room expressed their opinions, their thoughts [and] listened to their own stakeholders that they were there to represent,” she is quoted as saying.
Both Massengill and Franklin Farrow, another search committee member, described the search process as Spirit-led, the press release stated.
“We stopped many times mid-meeting and had prayer to ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance,” Farrow said, “and the process was extremely spiritual.”
Halvorsen is the son of the well-known Seventh-day Adventist evangelist Ron Halvorsen Sr., who passed away in 2015. In a 2006 Southern Tidings article, Halvorsen wrote about his life and the life of his sister, Diane, as children of the well-known and well-traveled evangelist.
“Growing up Halvorsen meant living in every region of the country, in more states than I care to count,” he wrote. “ … It meant a life of serving God and caring for others.”
Halvorsen and his wife have two adult children: their daughter Stephanie, who is a counselor living in Washington state, and their son Ronnie and daughter-in-law Josie, both nurses, who, along with their three sons, live in California. His mother lives in Florida.