‘Double tragedy’ rocks large Minnesota church community; Church leader laid to rest

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It’s been a heavy month for Seventh-day Adventists in Minnesota. After 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS covered a fire that left extensive damage at St. Paul Eastside Seventh-day Adventist church on Jan. 17, we learned the church had lost a decorated leader just days before.

The church family of more than 10,000 members on Sunday laid Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists President Dr. Daniel Honoré to rest in Brooklyn Park, beginning the healing process from what church leadership has called a “double tragedy” in the new year.

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“The first thing that pops into my head is his beautiful smile,” Savannah Carlson, communication and human resources director for the Minnesota Conference, said about Honoré.

The more than two-hour long funeral service was packed, and speakers painted a picture of a beloved leader, husband and father. His legacy in the Adventist Church spans decades before he and his family stepped foot in Minnesota as the state-level president.

“I have a 4-year-old son…And he really connected,” pastor Obed Matus shared.

“I know it’s a little boy, 4 years old, connecting with an older man, but he was very kind and gentle with him, and he just took to him quickly.”

Matus leads Sabbath services at Minnesota’s Iron Range Adventist churches.

“He was in tears when he found out that Dr. Honoré had died,” Matus said of his son.

“I talked to him and I asked, ‘Did you hear that Dr. Honoré had died?’ And he kind of just looked into the distance and he waited a little bit, and he said, ‘Yes.’ And then he paused, and he said, ‘But Daddy, we’re going to get to see him again in heaven, aren’t we?’ And I said, ‘Yes, yes we will.'”

Matus got to know Honoré for just four months before he passed suddenly on January 13th at 59 years old. He died at home of natural causes, Carlson said.

“And my immediate reaction was shock. ‘What do you mean?’ He was healthy and strong and capable, and it was a big surprise for all of us,” she shared.

“It’s been a lot,” Carlson added, summing up the process of bringing Honoré in as the new president, losing him, and then losing a church home to fire.

Honoré had big plans for Adventists in Minnesota just five months into the job.

“He was like, ‘We’re gonna make an education endowment fund, I have ideas about how we can accomplish that,'” Carlson remembered.

“The goal is to have all Adventist students in Minnesota to be able to go to Adventist schools for free, and I think that’s a fantastic goal,” Matus added.

“He wasn’t just somebody who had a lot of great ideas for the church, for education, for evangelism, he was a down-to-Earth person that connected with people, especially children.”

The Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists have since started up that education endowment fund in Honore’s absence, the Dr. Daniel Honoré Education Endowment Fund. The family asked for donations toward the cause Sunday in lieu of flowers.