Corporate entry: Seventh-day Adventist Church



The essence of the Seventh-day Church (SDA) teachings is contained in its name: it observes a Saturday Sabbath, the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, and stresses that the second coming (Advent) of Jesus Christ is imminent. These core beliefs differentiated the SDAs from the other missions. The Church began in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. It also emphasises the holistic spiritual and physical health of adherents, which has made medical work an integral part of the everyday work of its missionaries. Great importance is placed on diet and health, particularly in relation to biblical dietary rules against eating pigs, crustaceans and several other creatures. Much of the theology corresponds to that of other Protestant churches, such as belief in the Trinity and the infallibility of scripture. More distinctive are SDA beliefs in the unconscious state of the dead and the Church's doctrine of an investigative judgment.

The first Seventh-day Adventist missionaries, Pastor Griffiths F. Jones and his wife Marion, were sent by the SDA Mission Board of Australasia and landed on Gizo Island on 29 May 1914. Trader Norman Wheatley (q.v.) had invited the Mission, and Resident Commissioner Woodford (q.v.) encouraged them to come as a counter-balance to the already established Methodist Mission (q.v.). From 1914 until 1924 Adventist missionaries worked only in Western District, where they promoted the creation of village churches. They taught a philosophy which included the importance of health services, dietary regulations, small-scale businesses and English education, coupled with the Sabbatarian and other beliefs specific to the Church. Rev. Jones obtained a local crew for his auxiliary ketch, the Advent Herald, and sailed for Viru Harbour on the west coast of New Georgia, where he established the Mission headquarters and opened a school. He soon received requests to expand to Marovo, Nono and Roviana Lagoons. In 1915, the Jones family was joined by Oscar and Ella Hellestrand, which enabled Jones and his wife to move to Sasaghana in Marovo Lagoon to start a new school. In April 1915, D. Nicholson and his wife came to work with the two hundred inhabitants of Nggatokae (Gatokae)Island. That December David H. Gray founded a station in Marovo Lagoon, where Pastor Jones used Peo, his interpreter and his brother Ragoso (later a pastor) to get permission from Nepala, an old chief who lived on Telina Island, to buy land at Sasaghana, through their father Tatagu. In 1917, the Nicholsons opened work on Telina, and S. R. Maunder and his wife went to Ughele station, Rendova. Soon more staff arrived along with a new auxiliary ketch, the Melanesia (q.v.). The first ten SDA converts were baptised on 1 January 1918 and by 1918 four hundred were members of Sabbath schools. (Steley 1983, 1990, 100-103)

The Melanesia was the mainstay of SDA transport until the Second World War. Batuna Training College in Marovo Lagoon served as the Mission's headquarters from 1914 until the Second World War. Beyond evangelistic education, teaching focused on industrial crafts, and the Mission also emphasised establishing hospitals and dispensaries. The first language of instruction was Marovo, but there was a shift to English after the war. With G. F. Jones as Master, the Melanesia brought new missionaries R. H. Tutty, J. Radley, D. Woolston, and W. G. Mitchell. Soon after, a separate branch of the SDA Church was organized in the islands, composed at first of the ten European missionaries. In 1919, Tutty began work at Ndovele, north of Vella Lavella Island. This influenced villagers at Modo on Ranongga and Goghobe on Choiseul to call for an SDA presence there. The first camp meeting was held at Sasaghana in Marovo Lagoon, where the Maunders established their ministry until Tutty and his wife replaced them. (Golden 1993, 55)

Mission work was opened on the island of Ranongga in 1920, by a Western District evangelist named Pana. He gained two hundred converts within the first year and three hundred after two years, nearly all of them Ranongga people. To assist him, he was sent Jugha, a Marovo slave from a village south of Vanhanu, whose people had given him to the Mission for education at Telina School. Also in 1920, Harold Wicks succeeded Jones as Mission Superintendent and moved the headquarters to a small island off the New Georgia shore called Telina. By this time there were five central stations and seventeen outstations, and Solomon Islander Sabbath school memberships surpassed 1,100. A church was built on Telina in 1923. In 1921, the Methodists tried to establish a teacher at Ghoghombe on Choiseul, but the people asked for a Seventh-day Adventist teacher instead. Jugha, by then about twenty-four, arrived on the southern tip of Choiseul on 31 August 1921, accompanied by an interpreter from the Hambere outpost. Goghobe was chosen as the site for the mission. (Hook 1988) Jugha worked alone for six years until a European missionary arrived. He operated for a full year with no contact with the Mission, and in 1923 went back to Marovo to request more assistance. Kioto, his wife and Nangaha returned with him, and in 1925 Pastor Gray and his wife agreed to join them. By 1932, 160 Choiseul converts had been baptized and more than five hundred attended church services.

In 1922, the SDA established a printing press in the Solomon Islands, with a complete printing unit donated by the Signs Publishing Company of Australia, to publish in local languages. The printing press, located at Batuna, published the Gospel of John and a set of hymns in the Marovo language. Batuna Training School was established on Vangunu Island in 1924, under A. R. Barrett, to train indigenous workers. The Batuna site so impressed Wicks that in 1924 he shifted the SDA headquarters there from Telina.

During the 1920s, the Adventist mission extended into the central Solomon Islands and also Australian New Guinea. In 1924, R. H. Tutty and two Solomon Islander evangelists, Nano and Rongapitu, sailed on the Melanesia to Lavilai on Bougainville and established a station there. In 1927, A. J. Campbell worked for some months on Bougainville, and the next year the first two local converts were baptized there. Two years later, the first Solomon Islanders travelled outside the archipelago as evangelists-Oti and Salau began work on New Britain Island in the Bismarck Archipelago. Two Sabbath schools were opened near Inus on Bougainville's northern side, one of them by Pastor Gray, who was eventually placed in charge of national evangelists.

John David Anderson and his wife Guinevere arrived in the Solomons in 1920 and in September 1924 they began missionary work on Malaita. They arrived on Malaita in the Melanesia towing an 8.5 metre whaleboat. In 1926, in response to a call for a teacher from Talise village on the south coast of Guadalcanal, evangelist Jugha started a mission there. He carried on by himself for about six years until 1932 when Norman A. Ferris joined him. Within fourteen years after Jugha's arrival on Guadalcanal there were some six hundred SDA converts. (Golden 1993, 56)

Wicks returned to Australia in 1925, replaced by Pastor Peacock, who was himself replaced by J. D. Anderson in 1930. That year, Isabel Island received its first SDA workers-two local teachers-but apparently the work there was not continuous since Isabel in 1939 was reported to have been reopened as an SDA mission field. The Adventists moved into Rennell and Bellona in 1931, which had been closed to missionaries since 1910, but they made little progress until 1950, when the first permanent base was established there. (Steley 1990, 184-185) In the interval, Moa carried on his work without appointment by the Mission and, according to the first report in 1940, gathered about eighty converts. That same year three local teachers went to Makira Island.

Also in 1930, stations were opened at Cherovai, Rarutue, and Rumba. At the last-named, located some seventy kilometres from Inus on Bougainville, Gray established a school in 1936 with H. R. Hiscox as its teacher. The school's graduates later went as missionaries to other islands and to New Guinea. In 1937, Adventists moved onto Kolombangara Island and in the same year the Amyes Memorial Hospital was established there, with Canadian Dr E. W. Finkle as superintendent. On Bougainville another station was opened at Koburn, about five kilometres from Inus.

The Japanese invasion (1942-1945) hindered but did not stop the Mission's work. The European missionaries all left but local workers, under Kata Rangoso's leadership, carried on until 1946 when the Europeans returned. In 1947, the central school was relocated to Betikama just outside of Honiara, and in 1948 J. D. Anderson and A. R. Barrett returned and transferred their headquarters there. In the early 1950s, a second school was established at Kukudu on Kolombangara.

In 1949 Adventist work in the Solomon Islands came under the direction of the Coral Sea Union Mission, but in 1954 the Bismarck-Solomons Union Mission was organized which embraced the Solomons and the Bismarck Archipelago. In 1964, the SDA Church on Malaita became a separate unit from the rest of the Church, which was organised from Honiara. The first President of the SDA Church on Malaita was P. G. Cummings, previously based at a settlement for leprosy patients near Madang in Papua New Guinea. (Reye 2006)

On 22 August 1966, a new seventy-bed hospital at Atoifi at Uru Harbour on Malaita's east coast was opened, and in 1969 a nurses' training programme began there. (AR 1966, 70, 1978, 86) In 1966, Brian Mansfield-Dunn (q.v.), the first expatriate nurse appointed to Atoifi, was fatally speared there. In 1970, another hospital was opened at Kukundu on Kolombangara, where the Church already ran a large primary school. Education facilities were further extended throughout the Protectorate to cope with the influx of students and to lessen the need to send students to New Guinea to receive secondary education.

In 1968, the Church celebrated fifty years in the Solomon Islands since the first missionary arrivals in the Western Solomons. (AR 1968, 88) In October 1969, Dr Charles B. Hirsch, responsible for SDA education throughout the world, visited Honiara, and this encouraged developments in the education sphere. The Church had in place a localisation plan for education, health and administration. (AR 1969, 83)

Adventist schools were expanded in the late 1960s: Betikama, with 320 students, was between 1968 and 1970 extended to be a full secondary school with new classrooms, dormitories and staff houses built of permanent materials. Plans were that four hundred would be taken in during 1970, roughly equally divided between senior primary and secondary students. Form IV was slated to be introduced in 1971. On Malaita a new central and secondary school was built at Afutara south of Auki and a new church was built at Kukum on Guadalcanal. (NS Dec. 1967, 30 Oct. 1969)

Localisation was by now well advanced. In 1970, Pastor Elisha Gorapavu of Vella Lavella was appointed President of the Church in the Central and Eastern districts, and Pastor Nathan Rore, also of Vella Lavella, was appointed President of the Church in Malaita. Early in 1970, at Betikama, the Church held a Health and Welfare Congress, which was officially opened by the High Commissioner and attended by Dr A. A. Esteb, world leader of the SDA health and welfare work, and delegates from across the Solomon Islands. (AR 1970, 91; NS 15 May 1970)

The SDA Church had three local mission areas in the Protectorate, with headquarters at Kukundu on Kolombangara, Kwailabesi on Malaita, and Honiara. These three areas had in the past all been part of the Bismarck-Solomons Union headquartered at Rabaul. It was decided to relocate the headquarters to Honiara and include in the Union Mission the British Solomon Islands, the New Hebrides, the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and New Caledonia. This change was expected to facilitate church operations and communications, and especially liaisons and cooperation with government departments.

At the end of 1971, Betikama School terminated its primary departments and became fully secondary. It was renamed the Betikama SDA High School. The primary school section was moved to the nearby Burns Creek School and new buildings were planned for there. The Church's main hospital at Atoifi on Malaita was also further developed. Two new flats for nursing sisters and an eighteen-bed nurses' home were completed in cement brick, and subsidiary clinics were opened at Taramatta on South Malaita and Ambe in Fataleka. They were visited regularly by the SDA medical launch Dani, based at Atoifi, which was in almost constant use for medical patrols. The hospital maintained thirteen infant welfare clinics, at which 2,509 vaccinations were given in 1971, and personnel from the hospital treated 6,240 patients on medical patrols. A carving and copper-work industry was established at Betikama, which gave young people a chance to learn traditional carving skills and became a popular tourist outlet. (AR 1971, 101)

In 1972, the three Union missions in the Australasian Division (now the South Pacific Division) were reorganized: Bougainville Mission came under the direction of the Papua New Guinea Union Mission, and the Eastern and Western Solomons and Malaita Missions came under direction of the Western Pacific Union Mission. In the early 1970s, a new administrative headquarters was constructed for the Western Pacific Union Mission on the campus of Betikama School, and the Union staff transferred there from Rabaul in 1973. In 1972, the Kukudu Vocational School opened with twenty-five Standard VII leavers. At the start of the year Standard VII classes were added to primary schools. Previously, these classes had been conducted at central schools at Betikama, Kukudu (Vella Lavella) and Batuna (Rendova). At Betikama High School, the added buildings and faculties, and the addition of Form VI in 1972, showed the Adventists' desire to raise academic standards. Form V was introduced in 1973.

The Church owned and operated an aircraft that had been flown to the New Hebrides and New Caledonia. On 9 September 1972, the first Adventist airstrip in the Solomon Islands, Kukudu airfield, was opened and others were planned. (AR 1972, 108)

The key event in 1973 was the opening of the new Union Headquarters at Lungga Ridge near Honiara, on 11 December. The $200,000 project allowed the Church to fully shift its administrative headquarters from Rabaul to Honiara. High Commissioner Donald Luddington (q.v.) officially opened the new buildings, and the Church's world leader in Washington, D.C., Pastor Robert Pierson, attended. This remained the headquarters until the 'crisis years' (1998-2003), when the headquarters were transferred to Suva, Fiji. At the beginning of 2007 the three districts-Eastern, Malaita and Western-were recombined into one under a new Mission President, Pastor Andrew Kingston. (NS 18 Jan. 1974)

Also in 1973, an important link was forged to facilitate the smoother running of the Church's programme of travel to its outstations and hospitals when a twin-engine Piper Aztec was officially transferred from New Guinea to the Solomons. On 2 October news was received that Allan Paul, the first Solomon Islander to be sent to the Philippines for tertiary education, had been chosen among the twenty finalists as an outstanding overseas student, from thirteen Philippines universities and colleges. (AR 1973, 112-113)

In 1974, three new church buildings were completed and dedicated: at Talakale and Newland on Malaita and at Mondo in the Western Solomons. The Church was sponsoring sixty Solomon Islanders to study overseas. The membership of the youth division (Pathfinders) had increased to four thousand. The second vocational school for the Church's education programme opened at Afutara on Malaita, where seventeen boys were enrolled to study, by practical application, agriculture, building construction and joinery, and simple motor repair and maintenance. The vocational school at Kukudu, Kolombangara had two hundred students. Supporting industries continued to be developed at Betikama to offer students broader practical experience. Fencing was erected to contain the first of a cattle herd purchased for the school, and a small dairy shed was built. Expansion of the gardens and the irrigation system provided food and experience for the students, and the carving industry also grew. Ten industrial sewing machines and benches were installed to improve the sewing facilities for girls at the school.

Solomon Islands SDA membership reached 14,939 in 1970 and 19,113 in 1976. (NS 31 July 1964, 15 Jan. 1965; AR 1974, 119; Edridge 1985, 250; SS 1 Feb. 2007; Steley 1990, 185; Golden 1993, 40-57; Ernst 2006, 172; Lynne McDonald, personal communication, 23 Sept. 2011)

Related Concepts

Related Cultural Artefacts

Related Places

Published resources


  • Edridge, Sally, Solomon Islands Bibliography to 1980, Institute of Pacific Studies, University of the South Pacific; Alexander Turnbull Library; Solomon Islands National Library, Suva, Wellington & Honiara, 1985. Details
  • Ernst, Manfred, Globalization and the Reshaping of Christianity in the Pacific Islands, Pacific Theological College, Suva, 2006. Details
  • Golden, Graeme A., The Early European Settlers of the Solomon Islands, Graeme A. Golden, Melbourne, 1993. Details
  • Hook, M., Vina Juapa Rane: Early Adventism in the Solomon Islands, South Pacific Division, Department of Education, Wahroonga, 1988. Details


  • Solomon Star, 1982-. Details
  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate (ed.), British Solomon Islands Protectorate News Sheet (NS), 1955-1975. Details

Journal Articles

  • Reye, Arnold, 'They Did Return! The Resumption of the Adventist Mission in the Solomon Islands after World War II - Part 1', Journal of Pacific Adventist History, vol. 6, no. 1, 2006, pp. 49-56. Details


  • British Solomon Islands Protectorate, British Solomon Islands Protectorate Annual Reports (AR), 1896-1973. Details


  • Steley, Dennis, 'Juapa Rane: The Seventh-day Adventist Misison in the Solomon Islands, 1914-1942', MA, University of Auckland, 1983. Details
  • Steley, Dennis, 'Unfinished: the Seventh-Day Adventist Mission in the South Pacific, excluding Papua New Guinea, 1886-1986', PhD, University of Auckland, 1990. Details


SDA church and congregation, Ambe, Fakanakafo, east Malaita Island, 1978
Clive Moore


SDA clinic, Ambe, Fakanakafo, east Malaita Island
Clive Moore