We have lost a gifted leader and a dear friend.

We have lost a gifted leader and a dear friend. The death of Jere Patzer, 61, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Pacific Northwest, is not only the death of a personal friend—I’ve known Jere for thirty years since ministry days together in Oregon. But it is also the loss of an uncommonly gifted church administrator in our community of faith. Jere’s passion for God and his church, his energetic vision and buoyant leadership style, his personal commitment to mission lived out in his own evangelistic preaching on nearly every continent (all the while serving as an administrator), his loving devotion to family (his wife Sue and sons Darin and Troy and daughter Carissa and their four young grandchildren) and friends—it isn’t hyperbole to recognize that men like Jere are a rare gift. And I shall miss him.

I was thinking of Jere as I wrote and preached last week’s teaching on theodicy, “Is God to Blame?” Jere waged a two and a half year battle against non-Hodgkins lymphoma. His emails through that dark and difficult passage of his life, however, are not only the candid admission of suffering and pain—they are also the brave and confident testimony of a disciple of Christ, who not unlike Job, declared, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).

In 2003 Jere wrote one of his four books, The Road Ahead: A Vision for Spiritual Leadership in the 21st Century. His autographed copy is one I now treasure. In a chapter dealing with the adversity that all leaders face, he noted that “sacrifice has always been part of leadership” (117). As an example, he cites a letter William Miller, one of the progenitors of our community of faith, wrote on May 3, 1843: “My health is on the gain, as my folks would say. I have now only twenty-two boils from the bigness of a grape to a walnut, on my shoulder, side, back, and arms. I am truly afflicted like Job. And about as many comforters—only they do not come to see me as did Job’s, and their arguments are not near so rational” (118). Touché!

Jere never embraced the evil that cut him down. Nor did Job. Nor did Jesus. But woven through the final chapter of his life was the shared testimony: “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that he is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (II Timothy 1:12).

Jere lived and led with the radical hope of Jesus’ return, as does his family, as must we all. For in a world as unsettled as ours and a life just as uncertain as his, trusting in the only One who can save us is the most rational hope of all.

Comments

There's an interesting passage in the book Education (pp 95-96)that suits the "PrimeTime" topic well. EGW talks about how the Holy Spirit prepared the disciples, and the results: "To every nation under heaven was the gospel carried in a single generation." Then a few lines later she presents our opportunity: "The presence of the same guide in educational work today will produce the same results as of old." The gospel could close with our "PrimeTime" generation!

Jere Patzer led a VERY inspiring life. He not only talked the talk, but he REALLY walked the walk--WITH GOD. He lead by example. He encouraged his pastors to evangelize, and he did so himself without any hesitation. One could never say he didn't do what he preached. He has left a HUGE hole in God's organized work, but we must trust God somehow has a plan. When my mother died a few years ago, Jere unexpectedly flew down for the funeral to be of comfort to my brother and family, one of the workers under his watch; a thoughtful deed that was always remembered with a great deal of love. None of us had any idea we would all be mourning his untimely death in a few short years. Oh what a special time we have to think and look forward to--THE BLESSED HOPE!!! We now have the hope we will see Jere again. KRL

I am very sorry to hear of the loss of your friend. It is a blessing for you to know that you will see him again someday.

I had the privilege of teaching Jere when he was in the eighth grade at the Parkersburg (WV) Junior Academy. He came to schol every day with a winsome smile on his face. That same smile is reflected in the picture on this web page. He was an excellent student and his sense of humor brought a great deal of interest to the classroom. I have folowed his career with interest and have always prayed that I may have had some positive influence in the remarkable leader he became. He perpetuated his family's notable heritage of dedicated leadership to the Gospel mission.

Thanks Dwight, You remind me of one word that doesn't get mentioned as much as so many others about Jere Patzer(encouraging, spiritual leader, optimistic, kind-hearted, etc.) and that is this word: Zealous zealous for Christ. Allowing nothing to distract. "God give us the super-natural ability to love YOU with an undivided heart." Thanks for your tender-compassion and encouragement to our family Dwight, and to all those that suffer and question. Sincerely, Jere's Son

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