Andrew Kuntaraf, an advocate of using technology to empower better and more effective ministry, died on April 6 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident near Charles Town, West Virginia. He was 33.
Kuntaraf was director of the Seventh-day Adventist world church’s office of Adventist Church Membership Software, where he oversaw the development of standardized membership accounting software for church use worldwide. The software, now in its pilot implementation stage, is streamlining how the church maintains its membership database.
Kuntaraf told ANN last year that he expected the software to address discrepancies in accounting for the global denomination’s estimated 17 million members, lending greater accuracy and transparency to the process.
Kuntaraf grew concerned by church membership records when a colleague pointed out that the church was “keeping better track of its money than its members.” At the time, Kuntaraf was serving as associate director of the office of Seventh-day Adventist Accounting Software. There, he had worked to help the church implement a global standard for accounting software. Shortly afterward, he was hired under the church’s office of Secretariat to standardize membership records worldwide.
“Andrew had a heart for mission and viewed his work as a service to God,” said John Beckett, director of the Adventist world church’s Office of Global Software and Internet. The two church technology directors worked together closely on projects.
“His ability to make friends complemented his excellent information technology skills in a way that made him a great leader and colleague,” Beckett said.
Colleagues in the office of Secretariat echoed Beckett’s sentiment and added that Kuntaraf brought a spiritual tone to a job that could have been seen as purely technical.
“The passing of Andrew was a huge loss, not only to his family, but to God’s family worldwide,” said G. T. Ng, Adventist world church secretary. “Not only was Andrew technically qualified, but he was spiritually qualified. He was driven by the mission of the church.”
Andrew Oey Kuntaraf was born in Loma Linda, California on September 10, 1979, while his parents were pursuing higher education in the U.S. In 1987, the family moved to Singapore, where they worked for the church’s Southern Asia-Pacific Division, then called the Far Eastern Division. Andrew later returned to the U.S. to complete high school and college.
In 2001, he earned a bachelor's degre in business administration at the church’s Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, Tennessee, adding a master's degree in business administration in 2008.
In addition to his interest in technology, Kuntaraf was also a skilled musician, often embellishing hymns on the piano during song service at the Capital Chinese Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, where his parents are members.
“I used to joke with him and say, ‘Andrew, you are adding extra notes, I can’t keep up!’” said Norma Hendrixson, a family friend who watched Kuntaraf grow up and often led song service with him. At one point, Kuntaraf considered a career in music, Hendrixson said.
Kuntaraf was also an avid motorcyclist. He had borrowed a friend's motorcyle for a ride in town on the day of the traffic accident, family members said.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Andrew, and the Adventist Church will greatly miss his contributions at a time when more and more of the church’s mission relies on the Internet and technology,” said Williams Costa Jr., Communication director for the Adventist world church.
“Andrew was one of our cornerstones of technology for the world church,” he added. Costa had worked closely with Kuntaraf to prepare for the church’s upcoming Global Adventist Internet Network (GAiN) conference, scheduled for May in Dubai.
Peter Landless, an associate director for the Adventist world church’s Health Ministries department and colleague of Andrew’s mother, Kathleen, said Andrew was “like a son to my wife, Ros, and I in the kind deference he always showed us.”
“I was always impressed by his smile, his energy and his talents. It was an absolute blessing to know him. He epitomized the vibrancy that young people can bring to the church,” Landless said.
Kuntaraf is survived by his wife, Alysia; his parents, Jonathan and Kathleen, both employees at Seventh-day Adventist Church headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland; and his sister, Andrea.
A funeral service is planned for Sunday, April 14, at 4 p.m. at the Southern Asian Seventh-day Adventist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland.