Global executives of the Silver Spring, Maryland-based Seventh-day Adventist Church chose 64-year-old Jan Paulsen, a Norwegian, on March 1 as successor to church president Robert S. Folkenberg, who resigned February 8.
Folkenberg, 58, left the job three weeks after reports surfaced of a lawsuit against him and the 10.3 million-member denomination, which had grown 68 percent during his nine-year tenure.
"We are going to work our way around whatever differences that may be, because it's important that at the end of the day we pull together, and that is what the Lord has in mind," said Paulsen, who has been a pastor and later was chairman of the Adventist Disaster Relief Agency. Since 1995, he has been an Adventist conference vice president.
Just before the vote, entrepreneur James E. Moore of Sacramento, California, who claimed damage from business dealings with Folkenburg and Adventist organizations, said the civil action had been settled out of court. The terms have not been disclosed.
Moore, who was convicted of felony grand theft in 1989, alleged that in reneging on a real estate deal, Folkenberg and the Adventist Church were responsible for Moore losing $8 million. A General Conference statement called the allegation "frivolous," and the denomination has filed motions to have itself dropped as a defendant in the case.
In his resignation letter, Folkenberg said, "While I have repeatedly and publicly acknowledged mistakes in my dealings with Mr. Moore I rejoice that the integrity of my motives has not been called into question."
News accounts of the suit created a stir within the denomination known for its emphasis on prophetic teaching, health, and the seventh-day Sabbath. In January, a committee of leaders met to discuss Folkenberg's ...