Robert H. Pierson

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Robert H. Pierson
16th President of the General Conference of Seventh day Adventists
In office
Preceded by Reuben Richard Figuhr
Succeeded by Neal C. Wilson
Personal details
Born 1911
Died 1989
Profession Pastor

Robert Howard Pierson (1911–1989) was a president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. In 1935 he went to work in Bombay, India. In 1939, while in India, he was ordained as a minister of the Adventist church.[1] He returned to the United States in 1942 and was appointed to administrative positions of the church and also went to positions in the overseas divisions of the church till elected president of the General Conference in 1966 and served till his retirement in 1979.[2]


He served as president of the British West Indies Union (1944–1947), president of the Southern Asia Division (1950–1954), president of the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference (1954–1957), president of the Texas Conference (1957–1958), president of the Southern Africa Division (1958–1962), president of the Trans-African Division (1962–1966), and ultimately, president of the General Conference (1966–1979).

As of 2007, Pierson is the second-longest serving church president after A. G. Daniells.

Raymond Cottrell wrote, "Robert H. Pierson was a gracious person, a dedicated Adventist, a gentleman in every way, but also a person with clear objectives and resolute determination to achieve them."[3] He describes Pierson, Gordon M. Hyde and Gerhard Hasel as the "three architects" behind "the decade of obscurantism (1969-1979)".[3] According to Cottrell this "triumvirate" attempted to gain control of Adventist biblical studies in this decade.[3]

Publications and theology[edit]

Pierson was a prolific writer, both of prose and poetry. His biography Radiant With Hope[4] lists him as author of 28 books, many of them translated into multiple languages, as well as hundreds of articles.

Pierson wrote both adventure stories and devotional works. Journals, such as the Youth Instructor, a journal for Adventist youth (now discontinued), published both type of essays by him. In 1955, a seven part series entitled Forbidden Lands and Strange Places, Pierson described his travel to Afghanistan.[5]

Through the printed pages of the Review & Herald (now Adventist Review) and Ministry magazines, he appealed to the laity and leadership of the denomination to hold fast to teachings of the church reflected in the church's fundamental beliefs, including the doctrine of the work of Jesus Christ as High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary, and the concept of the true believers overcoming all their sins, with the aid of God, prior to their baptism with the power of the Holy Spirit ("the falling of the Latter Rain") to proclaim the Three Angels' Messages of Revelation 14 to the world, calling upon the people to take a stand for "the commandments of God (including the seventh-day Sabbath - Saturday) and the faith of Jesus". He wrote this theme in his papers and in his sermons, "Christ is waiting with longing desire for the manifestation of Himself in His church. When the character of Christ is perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own." [Christ's Object Lessons, page 69. Ellen G. White. 1900]

His appeal at the 1973 Annual Council was for a revival and a reformation of true godliness in the church, to prepare the church for the climactic events of the future. The lack of interest by both laity and leadership to this appeal was later described by him as "the greatest disappointment in my life".[citation needed]

In October 1978, faced with a risk of incurring a stroke due to the relentless pressures of his presidency,[6] to the surprise of all those attending a session of the Annual Council, he announced his retirement from the presidency, effective January 3, 1979. He presented his final speech as President on October 16, 1978, the same day Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was elected by the Conclave in the Vatican to succeed the late Pope John Paul I, is regarded as his most memorable. He outlined the changes that typically occur in a religious movement through the generations as it moves away from its more humbler, marginalized, but convicted, and dedicated beginnings to a much larger, acceptable, but more compromised position of the day. He appealed for the church not lose its way towards a materialistic, secularistic, compromising approach to the Advent faith. [7]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Former division and G.C. president dies suddenly". Southern Asia Tidings (Pune, India: Oriental Watchman Publishing House) 84 (3): 6. March 1989. Retrieved October 25, 2011. 
  2. ^ Land, Gary (2005). Historical dictionary of Seventh-Day Adventists. Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press. p. 234. ISBN 0-8108-5345-0. 
  3. ^ a b c The "Sanctuary Doctrine" - Asset or Liability?
  4. ^ Garne, Geoffrey E. (1991), Radiant with hope : Robert H. Pierson : the life story of Robert H. Pierson, sixteenth president of the General Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, June 16, 1966 to January 3, 1979, Harrisville, N.H.: Mountain Missionary Institute, p. 160, ISBN 0-912145-19-6 
  5. ^ Pierson, R. H. Forbidden Lands and Strange Places Youth Instructor at Adventist Archives
  6. ^ Adventist Review, October 26, 1978, page 1
  7. ^ Pierson, Robert H. (October 26, 1978), "An earnest appeal from the retiring President of the General Conference", Adventist Review 155 (43): 10–11 
Preceded by
Reuben Richard Figuhr
President of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
1966 – 1979
Succeeded by
Neal C. Wilson