Family Ministries Centennial History

Parenting is Exhausting

Family Ministries has been strengthening families in and out of the Seventh-day Adventist Church around the world for 100 years.

Family Ministries has been strengthening families in and out of the Seventh-day Adventist Church around the world for 100 years. Meet the creative men and women who have led this ministry during the past century:


In 1919 the General Conference Committee created the Home Commission, which started operating in 1922 with Arthur Spalding as director. He and his wife, Maud, created a series of leaflets dealing with various aspects of home life entitled The Christian Home Series. Arthur Spalding wrote the lessons, while Maud Spalding graded them.

In 1941 the Home Commission became part of the Department of Education, and for the next three decades, Adventist marriage and family life programs were promoted by Parent and Home Education secretaries. Former missionary Florence Rebok joined the Education Department in 1941 and worked faithfully to support Adventist families throughout the world.

Arabella Williams served as an academy teacher, missionary, and college teacher before becoming Parent and Home Education secretary at the General Conference. After retirement she appeared in Ripley’s Believe It or Not for being the oldest female water-skier at age 95.

ARCHA O. DART (1954-1970)
Archa Dart authored books and articles, edited journals, and devoted 47 years to the educational work of the Adventist Church. As Parent and Home Education secretary,
he was always in demand as a storyteller and speaker at camp meetings and other events.

W. JOHN CANNON (1970-1975)
W. John Cannon served as a pastor-evangelist in Great Britain and the United States before earning a doctorate and becoming a professor at Columbia Union College in Takoma Park, Maryland. In 1970 he joined the Education Department as Parent and Home Education secretary.

In 1975 the Home and Family Service (HFS) came into existence, with Delmer and Betty Holbrook as leaders. The Holbrooks organized and conducted training seminars for administrators, pastors, and laity in every division of the world. They also created a marriage and family series for radio and produced pre-marriage education videos for college students.

Ron and Karen Flowers joined the Home and Family Service (HFS) staff in 1980 and became directors in 1988. For a time they served as associates within the Church Ministries Department, until that department was disbanded and they became co-directors of the new Department of Family Ministries. Together they presented seminars on marriage, parenting, and family living in some 85 countries, developed a Family Ministries training curriculum, and authored more than 35 books, manuals, and other resources.

Willie and Elaine Oliver became directors of Family Ministries in 2010. They have conducted marriage conferences, retreats, and relationship seminars around the world. They are the founders of From This Day Forward and Journey Toward Intimacy marriage conferences; authors of many articles and book chapters; editors of the annual Family Ministries Planbook; columnists for Message Magazine and Adventist World online; authors of the 2019 world missionary book of the year, Hope for Today’s Families; and hosts for Real Family Talk, a program on Hope Channel.