Meet the 2015 Columbia Union Notable Persons of Honor
During the Columbia Union Conference year-end meetings, Dave Weigley, Columbia Union president; Rob Vandeman, Columbia Union executive secretary; and Seth Bardu, Columbia Union treasurer, presented the fourth Columbia Union Notable Persons of Honor Awards to seven individuals.
“We recognize people who have taken seriously Solomon’s admonition [Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom] and have given their all in the service of God,” said Vandeman. “We celebrate them today, not just for their Earthly accomplishments in the church and the community, but because through their work, they’ve helped to advance Christ’s mission and build His kingdom.”
Read the biographies of the winners below.
Pastor Eleazar De Gracia
Pastor De Gracia was born into a Seventh-day Adventist home in Panama and immigrated to the United States on his own at a young age. After a number of years in this country, he dedicated his life to serving the Lord as a minister and enrolled at the University of Montemorelos, Mexico, where he completed his theological studies and met his future wife and companion to this day, Natalia González. The couple returned to the United States, and in 1988 began their pastoral service in New Jersey’s Bridgeton, Landisville and Vineland Spanish church district, of which Vineland grew from a group to a church of more than 240 members today.
Pastor De Gracia went on to serve in the Harrison, Newark and Sion district for just over seven years; the Dover District, Hackettstown and Paterson Eastside churches; and the West New York, Jersey City Heights and Gutenberg district. In June of 2008, he returned to Bridgeton and Hammonton Spanish, where he first began his ministry. He will retire this year, after 28 years in the ministry—all served New Jersey. Known as a family man, he will surely enjoy spending more time with his 3 children and 7 grandchildren.
Among many positive attributes, Pastor De Gracia will be remembered in New Jersey for his passion to serve the community, his genuine interactions with members of his congregations, and his dedication to the care and preserving of God’s temple. He has demonstrated commitment and dedication to implementing projects and meeting challenges head-on and will be remembered for his efforts to complete the new church building for Bridgeton Spanish and for his work in the conference’s Trust Services Department.