Longtime Adventist Researcher, Pastor Retires
After some 40 years of service to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Monte Sahlin will retire. Sort of.
Story by Taashi Rowe
Monte Sahlin, who is probably best known for being one of the foremost researchers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America, recently retired from full-time ministry. Sahlin spent a significant time in the Columbia Union, most recently as Ohio Conference’s director of research and special projects, and was recognized at a special staff dinner last week in Dayton. Attendees spent the time reminiscing about how Sahlin’s work helped not just local churches, but the church as a whole.
Raj Attiken, previous Ohio Conference president, says, “Monte has made a vast and distinctive contribution to the mission of the Adventist Church at all levels of the organization. His clear, rigorous thinking and his careful and informed methods of research, analysis, and assessment of trends, behaviors and attitudes both within and outside the church have been a tremendous asset to church leaders, pastors and educators throughout North America."
Ron Halvorsen Jr., conference president, said, “We at the Ohio Conference thank Monte for his many years of dedicated service, not just for our conference, but our union and division. His faithful life and faithful service are deeply appreciated.”
Also, in May, the board of the Good Neighbor House, a community service outfit funded by Dayton-area churches also recognized Sahlin for his longstanding service.
Dave Hutman, pastor of the Stillwater church, started working with Sahlin while he was an intern in 1983. “Monte is a dedicated and deeply spiritual leader who always honored the Lord Jesus above his own self interest. I am thankful and praise God every day that He caused our paths to cross. Thank you Monte for all your guidance, direction and prayer on behalf of me and my family, my ministry and all the churches and people you have served.”
Mike Fortune, pastor of the Toledo First church, remembers how Sahlin helped them set up the nonprofit, Haven of Hope. “This organization has a nice mixture of church members and non Adventist community members on the board. Together, we do service projects and help combat the evils of human trafficking since one of the first homes we "made over" was a safe house for girls rescued from trafficking. ... We wouldn't be doing any of that without Monte's help.”
Sahlin started working for the Voice of Prophecy in 1970 and continued a consistent pattern of church work, which was only briefly interrupted by a year-and-a-half of graduate work while working for the government. He has served as assistant to the president at what is now Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.; director of a coffee house ministry in Washington, D.C., while teaching journalism at WAU; director of an inner city ministry in Boston; pastored several churches in Pittsburgh; pastored in Worthington, Ohio; served as assistant to the president of the Ohio Conference; spent 12 years at the North American Division in many roles, primarily as assistant to the president for research and development; and served eight years as vice president at the Columbia Union. All told, he has served 44 years in ministry.
Despite the retiree moniker, Sahlin will continue to serve as the executive secretary of an interfaith group of researchers; conduct community assessments for congregations and conferences; serve as an adjunct faculty member at Andrews University (Mich.); serve as executive editor for the Adventist Today magazine and write at least two books.
While expressing concern about the church’s need to do a better job engaging the next generation of church members, Sahlin says, “I think tradition has become overly important. There are still a lot of hurting people who need compassion and to hear the Good News and we all need to pitch in and make that happen.”
“I’ve greatly appreciated working with pastors and people,” Sahlin says. “I think that the church in the Columbia Union is on the frontier of mission. The Columbia Union still has the largest urban population of any of the unions in the North American Division so I think that there is still lots of God’s work to do in the Columbia Union.”