Oct 31, 2016

Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

Ted Wilson reflects on the life and legacy of seminary professor Raoul Dederen

A beloved professor of systematic and historical theology at the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Seminary at Andrews University in Berrien springs, Michigan, died on October 24 at the age of 91. Raoul Dederen passed away after battling cancer for more than a decade. 

Dederen started his time at the seminary in 1964 as a guest teacher. He then served as a professor of systematic and historical theology, before becoming dean from 1989 until his retirement in 1991. 

One of his major contributions to the denomination was his work as editor of the “Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology,” which was published in 2000.

Ted N.C. Wilson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist world church, wrote the following tribute in light of Dederen’s passing.

“Dr. Raoul Dederen and his dear wife, Louise, were wonderful, longtime friends since my attendance as a young student at the SDA Theological Seminary at Andrews University.  Dr. Dederen was one of my seminary teachers and helpful mentor of mine.  Mrs. Dederen encouraged me as a student while she directed the Heritage Room and further became the director for the Center for Adventist Research at the James White Memorial Library.  I miss them both.  On Monday, I left for Kenya and the East-Central Africa Division Year-end Council and just received the shocking news about Dr. Dederen’s death which took place on Monday.  His death brings me great sadness.

On behalf of the world church family, Nancy and I offer sincere condolences and Christian sympathy and love to his granddaughters of whom he loved dearly and the extended Dederen family.  What a beautiful hope we have in Christ’s soon return when we will see Dr. and Mrs. Dederen again through the grace of Jesus.     

Dr. and Mrs. Dederen were great people who loved our precious Seventh-day Adventist Church.  They were so gracious and caring as educators and church leaders.  They took such a personal interest in me as a student and as a young church worker.  I remained in contact with them and appreciated seeing them from time to time.  In the last number of years, I tried to call Dr. Dederen about every six months just to talk with him and pray together.  Dr. Dederen was an extremely dedicated, dynamic and talented Seventh-day Adventist pastor, theologian and church leader.  As a Roman Catholic young man in Belgium, God used his then acquaintance, future girlfriend and wife, Louise, to bring him to a personal relationship with Christ and the full truths of the Bible. He became a Seventh-day Adventist pastor, teacher and mentor for so many of us.  I praise God for this delightful couple. Some years ago, Dr. Dederen miraculously overcame a deathly illness through the blessing of the Master Physician and continued to live an active life of Christian service and witness.  In recent years, when Mrs. Dederen became ill, Dr. Dederen valiantly and lovingly cared for Mrs. Dederen until her death earlier this year.  What a wonderful witness of true Christian love.

Dr. Dederen was one of my favorite teachers with his signature emphasis on the doctrine of Christ.  He was very animated and interested in so many things of life.  It was a privilege to travel with him for about three weeks early in my work as Ministerial Association secretary in the then Africa-Indian Ocean Division.  We traveled to various places together in Rwanda, Burundi and the Congo.  He was a wonderful teacher in the classroom or in the field instructing pastors.  Throughout the years, he remained very alert and interested in what the church was doing even after retirement.  He continued his ministry in a powerful way by becoming very involved in his local church in Ann Arbor advising and sharing with others.  Our last phone conversation was on Sunday, July 24, 2016, when we talked about Mrs. Dederen, about his daily life and about the church.  It was a privilege to speak part of that conversation in French, his maternal language.  He was a precious friend and I plan to see him soon when the Lord returns to continue our conversation and to sit at the feet of Christ, our Savior, whom Dr. Dederen loved, about whom he taught and for whom he lived.”

-Ted N C Wilson, president, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

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