The Team

Following after the model left by Jesus, the General Conference Youth Ministries Department has adopted a servant-leadership model. Our team is responsible for seeing the vision and direction of the leadership of the Seventh-day Adventist® Church implemented. Each person is responsible for their area of ministry to plan, implement, and execute the overall vision and focus of the Youth Ministries Department of the Seventh-day Adventist® Church.

Gary Blanchard | World Youth Director

Pastor Gary and his wife Erica have three young adult children (Gary, Ben and Sierra).  Erica is from Northern California and Gary is from Maine. “PG” as he is often called enjoys long walks in the woods, reading the Bible, going on dates with his wife and talking with God. 

Pastor Gary has served as a Bible teacher, chaplain, youth pastor, district pastor and most recently as the Texas Conference Youth Director. His motto is “making ministers for the Master.” He loves seeing young people “rightly trained” and empowered to be God’s army of youth. 

Gary has traveled around the world preaching the Three Angels Message and inspiring young people to do the same. Some of his messages can be viewed at and Pastor Gary’s gifts are encouragement, preaching and leadership and he daily seeks to “walk in the Spirit” so that he can be a contagious reflector of Christ.

His favorite Bible verse is 1 John 4:9 (NKJV), “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

Pako Edson Mokgwane | Associate Youth Director

Pako Mokgwane is the first born child of Thulaganyo and Masego Mokgwane and has two siblings, Boikgapo and Ogaufi and his wife, Ayakha. They have a son, Akim Thulaganyo Mokgwane. Pako is a Pastor’s Kid. He is inspired by the lyrics of the hymn “We Speak of the Realms.” It awakens the reality of the Maranatha motif—Jesus is coming again!

Pako draws strength from 1 Timothy 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” Pako is passionate about Youth Evangelism through the various forms of media. Media and physical opportunities prompt each young person do their part to expedite the coming of the Lord, contributing to TOTAL MEMBER INVOLVEMENT and more intentionally TOTAL YOUTH INVOLVEMENT. Pako is very sociable and outgoing.

Pastor Mokgwane is a product of Adventist Education, from Primary School to Graduate School. He completed his Bachelors degree in Theology at Andrews University in 2004, a Masters degree in Theology at Adventist University of Africa in 2015 and is currently pursuing a PhD in Organizational Leadership with the same Institution. He most recently served as the Youth, Stewardship, and Communications Director for the Botswana Union Conference after first serving as a frontline pastor in both North Botswana and South Botswana Conferences.

Dr. Andrés J. Peralta | Associate Youth Director

Dr. Andrés Peralta is an ordained minister born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. He answered the call of God and enrolled at Antillean Adventist University in Puerto Rico, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Theology. After completing his studies at Antillean, he enrolled at Andrews University where he earned his Master of Divinity. While enrolled at Andrews he simultaneously served as the Youth Pastor for Maranatha Spanish and Grand Rapids Central Spanish Seventh-day Adventist churches in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Upon completing his Masters, Dr. Peralta joined the Greater New York Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, there he served for ten years. He served as a district pastor before transitioning to the role Youth Ministries Director. While serving in the Greater New York Conference, he earned his Doctor of Ministry degree from Andrews University in Teamwork and Urban Youth Ministry. Dr. Peralta has been commissioned by the US Navy and the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventist as a Lieutenant Reserve Chaplain. 

Dr. Andrés Peralta is passionate about empowering children, youth, young adults and adults to grow in Christ, looking to Jesus as their ultimate example, while practicing servant leadership. He has been married to the love of his life, Martha for the past 16 years.  Their union has been blessed with their precious daughter, Melany Abigail. He enjoys reading, writing, travel, sport and spending quality time with his family.

Maria A. Manderson | Editorial Assistant

From her start as a teenager in Kingston, Jamaica West Indies, to coming to Silver Spring, Maryland, Maria has seen every position the Lord has blessed her with as an opportunity to serve God through serving others. Maria lives with her family in Baltimore, Maryland. The mother of three young adults, she enjoys traveling and being with her sons Andrew, Jonathan, and Nathaniel. Her hobbies are cooking, driving and reading and her favorite ice cream is grapenut.

“Over the past years I have learned many lessons and truths, but one of the most important ones is this, that, ‘God’s gifts and God’s call are under full warranty—never canceled, never rescinded.’ (Romans 11:29, Message Bible). That is sometimes a very scary reality, but it is also humbling because it makes me realize that each of us have to walk in the calling that God has called us to, and His way is always the best.”




If you would like one of our Directors to attend your event you may request the visit using the form below.

Division Youth Directors

Thirteen division youth directors support the General Conference Youth Department.

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Our History

Twice in our past, brave writers have undertaken the task of putting the Youth Department history into print.

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