The story of Family Ministries in the Seventh-day Adventist Church begins on October 8, 1919 when the General Conference Committee created the Home Commission, with Arthur W. Spalding as director, who worked in this capacity with his wife Maud, until 1941. Spalding created literature for the education of the entire family. A series of leaflets were produced dealing with different phases of home life entitled, The Christian Home Series.
In June of 1941, a General Conference Convention on the home was held, perhaps the first Family Life International. The Home Commission became part of the Department of Education in 1941. During the next three decades marriage and family life programs were promoted by Parent and Home Education Secretaries: Florence Rebok (1941-1947), Arabella Moore Williams (1947-1954), Archa O. Dart (1954-1970) and W. John Cannon (1970-1975).
At the General Conference Session held in Vienna, Austria in 1975, to address the need for stronger, more stable Adventist homes, the Home and Family Service (HFS) was organized. A husband and wife team, Delmer and Betty Holbrook, were elected as directors. The Holbrooks organized and conducted training seminars for administrators, pastors and laity in every world division.
In 1980 Karen and Ron Flowers joined the Home and Family Service (HFS) staff of the General Conference, under the leadership of Delmer W. Holbrook and Betty Holbrook. The Holbrooks were elected at the General Conference Session held in Vienna, Austria in 1975, when the HFS was formally organized to address the need for stronger, more stable Adventist homes.
From 1975-1982 D.W. Holbrook directed HFS, and Betty Holbrook served as director from 1982 until 1985 when Home and Family Service became a part of the Department of Church Ministries (CM).
Family Ministries continued as a strong section of the Department of Church Ministries through the efforts of Betty Holbrook, an Associate Director of CM until her retirement in 1988, and Karen and Ron Flowers, Associate Directors of CM until 1995. D. W. Holbrook, Director of CM from 1985-1987 also assisted with Family Ministries.
At the 1995 General Conference Session held in Utrecht, in the Netherlands, the Department of Church Ministries was disbanded, with several separate departments being formed, including the current Department of Family Ministries, with Ron Flowers as Director, and Karen Flowers as Associate Director, until their retirement in June 2010, at the General Conference Session held in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1986 Elder Charles E. Bradford became the first President of the North American Division (NAD), which was a part of the transition from NAD becoming an entity of its own with Department Directors apart from the General Conference. Until this time Karen and Ron Flowers were General Conference staff serving North America in the area of Family Ministries.
In February 1987 Monte Sahlin became NAD Adult Ministries director and recognized that the notion that Family Ministries would be part of the age-level coordinators’ job description was not working too well, since the Union Conferences and Local Conferences were resisting the appointment of age-level coordinators. Sahlin immediately started connecting with the Union and Local Conference Church Ministries Directors (who were just beginning to be appointed since the 1985 vote that brought that Department into existence ).
In several Union Conferences and Local Conferences, the position of Adult Ministries Director was being given to the Directors of Sabbath School and Personal Ministries, and it is where Family Ministries became integrated among one of their many responsibilities.
In 1991, during Sahlin’s tenure as NAD Adult Ministries Director, with Family Ministries as one of his many responsibilities, the Adventist Association of Family Life Professionals (AAFLP) was established during the Family Life International Conference held annually at Andrews University.
In 1993 Monte Sahlin became Assistant to the President for Ministries, succeeded by Auldwin Humphrey from the Lake Union Conference as NAD Adult Ministries Director, who became responsible for Family Ministries until 1995.
At the 1995 NAD Year-End Meeting (YEM) held in Battle Creek, Michigan, the NAD Executive Committee acted on the vote taken at the General Conference Session earlier that year, disbanding the Church Ministries Department, with several separate departments being formed—among them the Department of Family Ministries. During this meeting of the NAD YEM, Willie Oliver who was serving as Director of Family Ministries (and Youth Ministries) for the Atlantic Union Conference was voted as the first full-time NAD Director of Family Ministries.
From 1995-2010, Willie Oliver served as the NAD Director of Family Ministries, assisted by his wife, Elaine. During his tenure as director, Willie Oliver developed curricula for Family Ministries, as well as for Single Adult Ministries, and Men’s Ministries, that were a part of the responsibilities of the Department, hosting many conferences were certification was offered in each of these areas of ministry.
At the General Conference Session held in Atlanta, Georgia in June 2010, Willie and Elaine Oliver were elected Director and Associate Director of the General Conference’s Department of Family Ministries, respectively.
It was then that Drs. Claudio and Pamela Consuegra were elected to serve as the Directors of Family Ministries for the North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, where they still serve to date. Throughout their tenure, numerous resources on the family have been developed and constituents have been motivated to view the family unit as a key center of discipleship as well as an avenue for fulfilling the gospel commission.
We celebrate this centennial year and give God the glory for what He has already done and continues to do through the Family Ministries Department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.