Getting to Know Our President, Dan Linrud

When did you decide that you were going to join the ministry?
I grew up in northwest Washington, in the countryside near Ferndale, WA. As a fifth generation Seventh-day Adventist, from childhood I was engaged in our local church. In fact, my great-grandfather had donated the land and helped build the first Ferndale church. He and my grandfather were instrumental as members in ministry, preaching and presenting musical programs throughout the region. I was never able to meet them, as they both passed away before I was born. But, the seeds of their commitment to Jesus must have been planted in my DNA, because when I was 11 years old, the pastor of my church told me that he saw the presence and ministry gifts of Jesus in my life to become a pastor someday. When he said that, I knew in my heart that Jesus was calling me to serve him in pastoral ministry. While my teen years led me on a circuitous route, in grade 12 I recommitted my life to Christ and his call to pastoral ministry was renewed.

Where did you go to college?
As my senior year of high school concluded, I was very excited about attending Walla Walla College (now Walla Walla University). But God had different plans, as the summer progressed. The last weekend of July, I joined my church youth group in visiting the British Columbia Camp Meeting in Hope, BC. While there, the recruiter for Canadian Union College (CUC, now Burman University) literally grabbed me by the arm and pulled me into the CUC booth. When he was done with me, I had filled out the application but had no intent to attend there. A few days later I received a phone call from CUC indicating that my application to attend there had been approved. At that moment, it was the furthest thing from my intention. However, I decided I should pray about it and review the materials about the school and seek God’s leading. Three weeks later I was on my way driving to CUC, a school I had never heard of or visited nor knew anybody else who would be attending there. And once I got there and built relationships, I saw God’s leading in that adventure.

How did you and your wife, Verlaine, meet?
In my second year at CUC, I met a beautiful young brunette girl with an effervescent smile from Nova Scotia, Canada . I didn’t even know where Nova Scotia was, but I knew I wanted to get to know this gal better! She came to the college as the student Campus Ministries Leader, and I saw in her a deep spirituality and ministry gifts that attracted me to her. These had been honed during her years in the home of her pastor-evangelist father and her mother who was an Adventist teacher. At one point, I declared to my best friend, “By the Spring choir tour, I will be dating Verlaine!” My friend laughed, because at that time Verlaine was dating someone else. Sure enough, her relationship with the other guy ended and just a few weeks before the Spring choir tour she and I were dating! Within months, I knew that God had led me to my soul mate, life companion and ministry partner. The journey has been an adventure of fun and challenge as we have shared the joy of raising to beautiful daughters, now young adults, and have served in ministry together for more than 30 years.

When and where did you receive your first call to serve in pastoral ministry?
In the Fall of my fourth year of college at CUC, I received my official call from the Manitoba-Saskatchewan Conference in Canada. While I was a bit disappointed not to be returning to my home Washington Conference, I was excited to begin serving as a pastor. My first assignment upon graduation, was to go with three other pastors to a large property and work from sun up to dark for three months, turning raw land into a new conference youth camp and camp meeting venue. We surveyed, poured concrete foundations, built eight cabins, built a temporary restroom/shower facility, and then conducted the first camp meeting and two weeks of youth summer camp on the grounds. It was an exhausting, but rewarding adventure! As the summer drew to a close, the Conference President indicated that as there was not a suitable district available at that time, they would be sponsoring me to attend Seminary to earn my Master of Divinity degree. I was very disappointed, because I was eager to begin pastoral work. But Verlaine and I knew that God must have a plan in this, so we packed up and headed to Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. As I neared completion of my first year of studies there, an unexpected invitation came from the Washington Conference (the conference I had grown up in) for me to switch conferences and become their sponsored student. My wife and I could sense God’s leading in this, and upon completion of the degree, we moved to Washington to begin our ministry.

We enjoyed 10 years of rewarding ministry in the Washington Conference, serving in the greater-Seattle area. Then the Lord threw a curve ball our way, calling us to serve in the Ontario Conference in eastern Canada. Twelve years of ministry in the Hamilton, Ontario area (located between Toronto and Niagara Falls) were filled with great blessings, as I served as senior pastor of a large church and then planted a new small-groups-based church that experienced significant growth. During these years, I was also asked to serve on the Conference Board of Directors (Executive Committee) as well as many committees. In 2009 I was elected to serve as the Ontario Conference Executive Secretary (VP for Administration).

How did you arrive in Oregon?
It is interesting how God’s Spirit, working from his perspective, brings about various circumstances and relationships to accomplish his purposes in our lives. While a student at CUC, my wife’s uncle, Don Corkum, who was the Alberta Conference President, called Al Reimche to be the Ministerial Secretary of the Alberta Conference. During my last couple of years of college, I became a bit acquainted with Al. Through the years, our paths crossed at various meetings. At one point, his son and daughter-in-law attended one of my churches. On several occasions, Al called to invite me to be considered for pastoral positions, but my wife and I just never sensed it was the Lord’s timing for us to move. Finally, October 2013, Al invited me to come to Oregon to serve with him as the Assistant to the President. As soon as that call came, my wife and I sensed God’s strong leading back to the northwest, and December 1, 2013 I officially joined this amazing team!

Is there a Bible story that has your attention these days?
I have been thinking much of the story in 2 Chronicles 20 of Jehoshaphat’s call for the people of Judah to worship, pray and fast for God’s victory in the face of an advancing enemy. I am always encouraged by the message of verses 15-17: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’” (NIV)

While the church today faces many challenges, and it seems the enemy is advancing, we are Jesus’ Church—His Bride—and he has already made a way for us. Jesus has already won! This does not mean that there is nothing for us to do. He still calls us to march forward against the enemy (verse 16) advancing his plan for victory. There are specific positions he wishes us to take in this time in which we live, and he calls us to stand firm in his deliverance. But,there is no reason to be fearful or become discouraged by whatever challenges may confront us, because as we “go out to face them…the Lord will be with you.” I find great confidence and hope in this story, because I believe it is as much for God’s Church today as it was for his people at that time.

Can you give us a hint at your thoughts thus far for the future of the Oregon Conference?
During my years as a pastor, every Sabbath I would look at the circle of persons gathered for prayer before going onto the platform for the worship service, and I would say, “Remember, this is Jesus’ church and It’s All About Jesus!” I also emphasized this in church board meetings, in various committees and in the churches’ strategic planning. I am even more resolute in this today.

It is my intention to do what I can to facilitate the Oregon Conference to give greater focus to the great central truth that—everything we do, all that we are, our every accomplishment—It’s All About Jesus! As such, we are called as members in ministry to commit ourselves to knowing, loving, serving and sharing Jesus. I believe that it is vital to the health and success of the Oregon Conference, that we are able to identify how we may better grow in these four priorities of KNOWING Jesus and others, LOVING Jesus and others, SERVING Jesus and others and SHARING Jesus with others. In this context, as we seek the input of pastors, educators, conference staff and members (of all ages and cultures), I am eager to see how the Lord will lead us to establish measurable initiatives for effectively fulfilling these FOUR PRIORITIES. These initiatives will necessitate specific strategies, which will require identifying the resources the Lord will provide to accomplish them. We will take actions to intentionally and systematically address the health and effectiveness of our ministries, whether conference, churches, schools or other entities, as represented by the four priorities. We will take actions to initiate new means of advancing and growing the scope of God’s work across our Conference to better fulfill the four priorities.

I believe that through prayer and planning, the Lord will continue to lead the conference to achieve God-sized success in advancing His kingdom. Going forward, I envision an emphasis of focusing on Jesus, growing stronger biblical community, building vibrant teams, creating effective structures, employing bold initiatives, facilitating healthy churches and schools, multiplying new ministries, planting new churches, equipping and engaging all generations, fulfilling Jesus’ commission to help as many as possible to spend eternity with Him. Always remembering that it’s all for his glory, because—It’s All About Jesus!

What are some things that you and Verlaine do for fun?
Our greatest joy is quality family time, whether it is just the two of us as a couple, or together with our young adult children. We love the outdoor adventures of the northwest—hiking, kayaking and camping. We enjoy traveling and exploring new places and different cultures. I have been a lifelong fan of sports, from my early days of playing many sports to these days being a spectator. I especially enjoy the Seattle Seahawks. We are always blessed when there is opportunity for great fellowship and food shared with friends. But, nothing is more fun and meaningful than being in the will of God, knowing, loving, serving Jesus and others, and sharing Jesus with others!