“When your current position feels like you’re a part of a family, you want to be sure that God is calling you when you leave.” With these words, President Ken Norton described both his reluctance to leave Guam and his confidence that God is leading him to his next position as president of the Montana Conference.
Elder Norton faithfully served as the president of the Guam-Micronesia Mission of Seventh-day Adventists for nearly five years. His wife of 27 years, Julie, has supported his ministry and also contributed to the success of GMM through the roles of Shepherdess, AVS Coordinator, Hospitality, and Facilities Manager. Together, they have been instrumental in the spiritual growth of GMM.
During his first tenure as a president, Elder Norton used his experience in technology to upgrade the mission's online presence: commissioning a website, blog, social media accounts, and an e-newsletter. Support for digital ministry laid the groundwork for streaming online programs when the pandemic hit. To reach every corner of their island, he passionately challenged each church member to “Arise and Shine” by joining one of seven evangelistic teams. This encouraged a closer working relationship among the mission’s churches and organizations.
Elder Norton was raised as an MK (missionary kid) and spent much of his childhood in Singapore where his parents served as missionaries at the Far Eastern Academy. He went on to become a student missionary in Thailand. After meeting and marrying Julie at Southern Adventist University, the couple returned to Thailand four years later where they helped start an English language school. The Nortons have since pastored and church-planted in Florida, Palau, Tennessee, and Guam.
They first came to the Guam-Micronesia Mission in 2004 when Elder Norton was asked to serve as the senior pastor of Koror SDA Church and district pastor of Palau, following the tragic murder of the DePaiva family. After two and a half years, it came time for the Nortons to leave Palau for the U.S. The then-president of GMM Remenster Jano half-joked, ”When are you going to return to be president of the mission?” They laughed light-heartedly as they said their goodbyes, yet a thought was planted. Nine years later, Elder Norton received a call to his dream job as president of the Guam-Micronesia Mission, and he recently reflected, “It’s been the highlight of our ministry so far.”
As Elder Norton leaves Guam-Micronesia for a second time, he has this parting message for the beloved members of the GMM:
"We have been so extremely blessed to work in a place that is, not only surrounded by physical beauty, but filled with amazing people! It is the beauty of the people that we will never forget. We count it a privilege to have served here in GMM, and we are confident that God will continue to use each and every member here to show His love to all those who need to build relationships with Him. We will always remember the kindness and hospitality shown to us on each island, and we look forward to gathering with you again, this time around God’s throne. Thank you.”
Trading flip flops for snow boots, the couple will enjoy living closer to their grown children, son Ken and daughter Michelle, as they continue to serve where God leads.