Ron Halvorsen, Jr. Accepts Call
On October 7, 2023, it was announced that Ron Halvorsen, Jr., has accepted the invitation to become the lead pastor at Collegedale Church of Seventh-day Adventists. Halvorsen, an experienced pastor and administrator, has a joint passion for church ministry and youth and young adults.
“I like working with all the different age groups, but I like the life and vitality that comes with campuses of a kindergarten through [graduate] level work and the dynamics of that setting,” says Halvorsen. “I am excited to again be in a setting working with the schools, working with the church team. While it is a local church, it is also a university and a [K-12] academy church. How can we be a church that reflects Christ to these young people?”
Defining the Need
This sentiment reflects what the search committee heard from members throughout the process. Franklin Farrow, one of the search committee members, says he regularly heard from people that they wanted a lead pastor who was relatable across the spectrum of diverse groups the church serves.
Collegedale Church, with over 3,600 members, serves a K-12 school system, a university campus, young families, members who have called Collegedale home for more than 60 years, and members of all ages in between. It also serves people of many cultures and worship styles.
Search committee members also received feedback emphasizing the importance of preaching the gospel in a way that upholds core Adventist beliefs and maintains the integrity of the gospel.
Over the five-month pastoral search process, Farrow feels the committee was presented, and worked through, an impressive, diverse, and extensive list of candidates. “It [was] a good pool to search from,” he says.
Bridgett Massengill, a head elder at Collegedale and member of the search committee, is especially appreciative for the integrity and spirit of committee members as they searched for a new lead pastor. “Every individual person in that room expressed their opinions, their thoughts, listened to their own stakeholders that they were there to represent.” Massengill also notes conference leadership truly wanted, listened to, and valued the desires and needs of the church. “They wanted this to be the desires of this church,” she emphasizes.
Both Massengill and Farrow describe the search process as spirit-led. From the selection of the search committee to the search committee process itself, the process was both faith-building and emotionally overwhelming. “We stopped many times mid-meeting and had prayer to ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and the process was extremely spiritual,” reflects Farrow, deeply impacted by the experience. He credits this to conference leadership bathing the process in a spiritual element of prayer.
Bathed in Prayer
Members at Collegedale weren’t the only ones praying. Halvorsen says he comes from a family where prayer has been a focus. “Dad in his ministry, [prayer] was always a huge piece of it.” So while Halvorsen was praying for God’s guidance, his family and other praying partners also joined him in prayer.
Since 2020, Halvorsen has been part of a prayer group of prayer coordinators from across the division. The group, organized by Ruthie and Don Jacobson, meet by teleconference every day for an hour. When the Collegedale church pastoral position was brought to this group, they started praying for God’s leading.
While Halvorsen started sensing that God was calling him to Collegedale, he shares, “It’s [also] important for me to know that not only was I seeing it and had come to peace with it, but that my wife and our daughter, who has been through so much with loss lately, that they were at peace with it and sensed it too.” He adds there were many other affirmations from people of prayer, such as members of his prayer group.
As the search process narrowed in on Halvorsen, it became clear that he was exactly who God had in store for Collegedale, says Massengill. He has a “deep passion, a heartfelt passion for God. The kind that literally, when he spoke with the [search committee], when he spoke with the church board, there were tears in that room. His heart for Christ, his heart for our church, his heart to follow the lead that God has, with a servant leadership mindset, it was amazing to see.”
Unanimous, Spirit-Led Decision
“It was literally a collective decision-making process that brought us to where we are today,” exclaims Massengill. “We had a unanimous vote for [Halvorsen], and that only comes from God.”
"I am so excited to have Ron Halvorsen, Jr. coming to Collegedale as the lead pastor,” says Gary Rustad, conference president. “Ron brings with him a passion for prayer, power in preaching, and a gift in leading members closer to their Savior and each other!”
Halvorsen and his wife Buffy have two adult children: their daughter Stephanie, who is a counselor living in Washington state, and their son Ronnie and daughter-in-law Josie, both nurses, who along with their three sons live in California. His mother lives in Florida. Being a tight-knit family, he and Buffy are especially thankful for FaceTime, which helps them stay connected to their family.
Halvorsen is no stranger to pastoring and managing diverse people groups. He has previously been a senior pastor at churches on Adventist college and university campuses and served as president of the Ohio Conference for six years.
“I've always enjoyed our college and university settings,” says Halvorsen. Together, he says the Collegedale church has an opportunity to be mentors in the lives of young people. He also invites God’s people to pray that “in these times, God will do even greater things for the sake of His people and the mission of the church.”
Recognizing the open pastoral positions at the church, Halvorsen says, “My plan will be to meet with the leaders there —the elders, the leaders at the school, the leaders of the church family, the staff, to get a better understanding of what the needs are and what will make the biggest impact in ministry there. We’ll go on this journey together; we’ll do it prayerfully.”
Halvorsen plans to attend and speak at the Collegedale Church’s fall festival on October 21 and will begin full-time as the church’s pastor on November 1, 2023.
Ron & Buffy Halvorsen, Jr.