Edwin Ludescher, who served as president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Euro-Africa Division from 1975 to 1994, died on June 11. He was 84.
During his tenure, Ludescher was instrumental in negotiating with political leaders to improve the situation of church members living in the then Communist countries of Eastern Europe. Colleagues remember that his efforts helped isolated Adventists feel connected to the worldwide church.
Ludescher was also a strong advocate for education. Under his leadership, the Euro-African Division established a region-wide sponsorship program for church administrators to earn advanced degrees at the church’s seminaries.
Current division President Bruno Vertallier said Ludescher had “inspired many people as pastor, missionary and president. The church honors this man of God."
Former division President Ulrick Frikart, and a long-time colleague of Ludescher said: “A great man in the noblest sense of the word just left us. He has marked the lives of thousands of people in Europe and in Africa. By his administrative talents, his love and vision for the church, and especially his deep and balanced faith, Edwin Ludescher has left lasting traces.”
Ludescher's ministry began in 1948 as youth pastor in Austria, where he met Gerda, who would later become his wife. In 1954, he served as a dean of men at the Collonges Theological Seminary in France for two years.
In 1956 he received a call as a missionary in Cameroon, Africa, where he and his family lived for nearly 10 years. In 1968, Ludescher was appointed director of the church’s Equatorial African Mission. Eliseo Cupertino, a missionary and close friend of Ludescher during the time said, “Great progress was made under his direction … both in terms of development of new activities in new territories and in terms of development of new institutions."
In 1975, during the General Conference Session, held in Vienna, Ludescher was elected President of the Euro-Africa Division, where he led until his retirement in 1994.
Ludescher was preceded in death by his wife Gerda in 2010. He is survived by two sons – Jurgen and Gerd – with their wives and children.
A memorial service is scheduled for Friday, June 29, at 2 p.m. at the Berne Seventh-day Adventist Church in Switzerland.