Former GC President Receives Norwegian Honor
It was a reunion of longtime friends—Pastor Jan Paulsen, a Norwegian Seventh-day Adventist, and two civic leaders, ambassador Knut Vollebæk and Ole Christian Kvarme, bishop of Oslo for the Lutheran Church of Norway.
PAULSEN HONORED: Jan Paulsen flanked by Bishop Ole Chr. M. Kvarme (left), Church of Norway, and OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Knut
Vollebæk, after receiving the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit at the Sabbath evening program during the East Norway Conference camp meeting, June 2, 2012 at,
Norwegian Junior College (Tyrifjord Videregående Skole).The June 2 encounter was a joyous event: Paulsen, now-retired president of the General Conference, received the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit, one of the highest forms of royal honor given to civilians, presented by Vollebæk on behalf of King Harald V of Norway. The Order of Merit was founded by King Olav V, Harald’s father, in 1985 and is conferred on foreign and Norwegian nationals as a reward for their outstanding service in the interest of Norway or in service for humanity.
Paulsen told the audience at the Sabbath evening program during the East Norway Conference camp meeting at Norwegian Junior College that the short reason given by the royal palace for appointing him a commander of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit meant a lot to him: “Service for the good of humanity.”
“What matters is what we have done for our fellow men,” Paulsen said in his address. He paraphrased Jesus’ words in Matthew 25: “I was in prison, you did not visit me. I was struggling with HIV/AIDS, why did you shun me?” Paulsen then stated what may well be termed the philosophy of his ministry: “Serving our Lord is not about what we have said; it is about how we treat other people.”
Mark Finley, a former general vice president of the world church, represented the General Conference at the ceremony. He read a letter from current GC president Ted N. C. Wilson, thanking Paulsen for his outstanding leadership. “Your commitment has inspired the church in its mission to reveal the loving character of Christ to all peoples” the letter from Wilson said.
Bishop Kvarme, who was one of the people behind Paulsen’s nomination for the honor, came to know the Adventist leader during the bilateral dialogue between the Lutheran World Foundation and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which took place between 1994 and 1998, where both Kvarme and Paulsen were part of their respective delegations.
“These consultations brought us together and formed our friendship,” said Kvarme, who noted Paulsen had been a catalyst in developing educational institutions in West Africa. Paulsen’s contribution in developing Adventist-owned Babcock University in Nigeria to become a well-respected university not only in Nigeria but the whole region is well known, he added. The bishop also mentioned Paulsen’s initiative in establishing the church’s response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic through the foundation of the Adventist AIDS International Ministry with an office in South Africa as well as the cooperation with the World Health Organization in an effort to reach the UN Millennium Development Goals.
“You have performed your leadership as a committed Adventist, a devoted evangelical Christian, and a distinguished international citizen of Norway,” said Kvarme.
—Tor Tjeransen, Norwegian Union Conference