- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pastor Neal C. Wilson, 90, who served as president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church from 1979 to 1990 and was the father of the denomination’s current president, died Tuesday at a care facility in Dayton, Md.

As president, Mr. Wilson furthered the church’s mission in the Soviet Union two years before the fall of communism, helping obtain permission to establish an Adventist seminary and administrative headquarters near Moscow in 1987.

He also oversaw the 1980 adoption of a revised statement of the church’s fundamental beliefs, the creation of Adventist World Radio shortwave service that now broadcasts in more than 80 languages, and the relocation of the denomination’s world headquarters from Takoma Park, Md., to its current location in Silver Spring, Md.

During his tenure, Mr. Wilson visited 170 countries where the church operated institutions of health care, education, evangelism and publishing. He was known to remember thousands of people, even after brief meetings. After retirement in 1990, Mr. Wilson pastored churches in California and served as an adviser to the denomination’s Europe-Asia division.

Neal Clayton Wilson was born in Lodi, Calif., in 1920, the son of a missionary and church administrator. After earning a degree from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary in 1944, Mr. Wilson served the church in Egypt until 1958, first as a pastor and evangelist and later as the regional administrative president.

He then worked as an administrator in California and Maryland before his appointment as president of the church’s North American division in 1966. He served in the post until his appointment as president of the denomination.

Mr. Wilson’s son, Ted N.C. Wilson, was elected president of the Adventist world church in June. Mr. Wilson’s father, Nathaniel, Mr. Wilson and son Ted comprise the only three generations of Seventh-day Adventists known to have sat on the General Conference’s executive committee.

Survivors include his wife, Elinor Esther Neumann, son Ted, daughter Shirley Wilson-Anderson, four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Memorial gifts may be sent to the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Adventist Heritage Ministry, Adventist World Radio or Christian Record Services for the Blind. A public memorial service is scheduled for Jan. 19 at the church’s Silver Spring headquarters.