In June of this year, Dr. Roland J. Hill, long-time Adventist Pastor, educator and author and a part of a family of three generations of Adventist Pastors, became President of United Prison Ministries International. He succeeds Mrs. Carolyn Bland, one of the co-founders of UPMI of the 41 year old ministry. His wife, Dr. Susie Hill, was elected Vice President.
Dr. Hill is a graduate of Oakwood College (now University). He holds a Master of Divinity from Andrews University Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry from Reformed Theological Seminary.
He began his ministerial career as a Pastor in the South Central Conference in 1975. He pastored in the states of Tennessee and Mississippi for 16 years. Then, in 1991, he switched to academic ministry at Southwestern Adventist University, where he became the first full-time African-American professor in the Religion Department.
He taught there for eight years. Ultimately, he transitioned back to the pastoral side of ministry, serving as a Pastor and a departmental director in the Texas Conference, prior to closing his 43 year ministerial career by pastoring in the Allegheny East Conferences for the final five years of his ministry.
His wife, Dr. Susie Hill, is a native of Honduras, who grew up in California. She is a retired educator, with a Bachelor’s degree from Andrews University, a Masters from Southwestern Adventist University and a doctorate from Texas Women’s University. They have two adult children, Mian and Sonia and three granddaughters.
Dr. Hill’s passion for prison ministry began while he was a professor at Southwestern. He has a passion for reaching men and realized that many of the men he wished to reach with the gospel of Jesus Christ, were incarcerated. He resisted his calling for years but yielded to the impression of the Spirit of God upon his retirement in Huntsville. The church he attended was having a prison ministry and one of the participants was a prisoner for whom Dr. Hill served as a Resident Assistant (RA) when they both were at Oakwood over 40 years earlier. Dr. Hill renewed his commitment to the Lord’s call on his life as it related to Prison Ministries and a little less than two years later, he and Dr. Susie Hill were asked to assume leadership at UPMI.
When asked about his vision for UPMI, Dr. Hill expressed his desire to continue the legacy of the iconic founders of UPMI, Richard and Carolyn Bland-a legacy that includes being used by God to send nearly 80 million pieces of literature and Bibles to over 3,000 prisons around the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia and being the conduit to untold thousands of prisoners to the saving gospel of Jesus Christ.
In addition to continuing that, Dr. Hill wants the southern Alabama-based ministry to become a major producer of Christian literature in the area of self-development, spirituality and self-reliance. He also wants to get into training church members in how to do prison ministry-how to find that delicate balance between sharing the gospel-which they must do-and proselytizing-which they cannot do.
May the Lord be with the Hills as they serve in the area of their passion.