Textbooks used in the early days of the South Pacific Institute of World Mission.

Photo courtesy of Barry Oliver.

Institute of World Mission, South Pacific Division

By Graeme Humble

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Graeme Humble is a consultant missiologist, former field secretary and director of Adventist Mission for the South Pacific Division (retired 2019). His doctorate explored redemptive analogies and contextual theologising within a Pacific culture. He served in Papua New Guinea for 16 years as an area supervisor, mission president, union ministerial association secretary, senior lecturer, and dean of Pacific Adventist University School of Theology. His publications focus on contextualization and missiology.

The inaugural Mission Institute orientation program for missionaries, run at Avondale College, Australia, January 6-19, 1986,1 birthed what later developed into the Institute of World Mission (South Pacific Division). The programs were modeled on the General Conference’s Institute of World Mission (GCIWM) at Andrews University and were energized by Gottfried Oosterwal’s passion for mission as the GCIWM director. His annual visits, together with other Adventist missiologists and South Pacific Division departmental leaders, provided orientation and instruction for new and midterm missionaries.2 Oosterwal continued to inspire Mission Institute attendees until 19933 (except for 1990 due to a severe malaria attack when Robert E. Ford substituted for him4). Subsequent GCIWM directors, Jon Dybdahl,5 Pat Gustin,6 Lester Merklin,7 and Cheryl Doss8 also participated in SPD mission institutes.9 The aim of the programs was “to help new missionaries come to grips with transition to new cultures . . . (by giving) instruction in cross-cultural communication, contextualisation, and the global mission of the church.”10 The initial programs included childcare but by over successive institutes this transitioned into specific orientation and activities for missionary kids.11

The initial annual two-week Mission Institutes were coordinated by South Pacific Division (SPD) departmental personnel: in 1986 by Gerald Clifford, education director,12 from 1987 to 1988 by W. Peter Truscott, ADRA associate director,13 and Rommert (Bob) Spoor, associate education director for the institutes 1989-1992 and 1994.14

After the 1990 Mission Institute, Spoor proposed that “we have the necessary expertise in this Division to operate successfully. [Local] personnel can provide the basis for an effective program.”15 Oosterwal was “convinced . . . that the time has come for the Division to run this institute fully, to give it a special charter, and to appoint one of your experienced workers as its director.”16 A subsequent meeting in 1992 convened by SPD administrators, together with Oosterwal and key SPD missiologists, and considered the future of the Mission Institute in the South Pacific Division.17 The scope of mission and cross-cultural training needs within the division led the committee to “recommend that a full-time appointment be considered for the Institute of Mission in the South Pacific Division” with the observation that “if it is deemed impractical to employ a full time budget to meet the needs outlined above (there were 14 recommendations), then it is strongly recommended that the duties be assigned to an existing portfolio that is compatible.”18

In 1993 the organization of the Mission Institute was transferred to the SPD ministerial association secretary, John Gate, a former missionary to Papua New Guinea and an experienced administrator.19 In order to align better with the General Conference entity, the name of the Mission Institute in the South Pacific was changed to the South Pacific Division Institute of World Mission.20 As director of the Institute of World Mission (SPD), Gate led out in the mission institutes of 1993 and 1995 to 1996.21 Seeking to implement the major recommendation of the Oosterwal report, Gate pressed to have the full time IWM leadership appointment implemented.22 However, he was advised by Bryan Ball, the SPD president, that regrettably “there is not a budget available for a full-time appointment to this assignment.”23

When R. Bruce Roberts was appointed as Division stewardship director in late 1995, he was also appointed as the director of the Institute of World Mission (SPD) “with the guidance that it take about 25 percent of his time.”24 Roberts held a degree in anthropology, race relations, and sociology and had extensive mission experience in Vanuatu, the Gilbert andEllice Islands’ Mission (now Kiribati and Tuvalu), Papua New Guinea, and later as director of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministries for 15 years.25 He introduced an annual re-entry debriefing program for missionaries returning to their homelands on permanent return, “a first for the worldwide Adventist Church.”26 To better care for missionaries across the Pacific, “in-field debriefing in every Pacific island union mission” was also established.27 Initial in-service retreats were held at Loloata Island Resort, Papua New Guinea (June 12-14, 1998), and Pacific Harbour, Fiji (1999).28

At the SPD session in Canberra, Australia (2000), after Roberts was appointed as Western Pacific Union Mission president, Brad Kemp became the SPD Leadership and Pacific Resource director, as well as director of the Institute of World Mission (SPD).29 Kemp had served in various capacities for 12 years in Papua New Guinea. He consolidated the initiatives of his predecessors in the annual Mission Institutes held at Avondale College,30 the shorter Re-Entry Retreats,31 and In-Service Retreats.32 Kemp explored training for short-term mission33 and self-supporting or “tent-maker” mission.34

Upon Kemp’s appointment to SPD as associate general secretary at SPD’s final session in Melbourne, Australia (2005), Ray Coombe was appointed as the first SPD director of Adventist Mission, in conjunction with his appointment as Public Affairs and Religious Liberty liaison.35 Coombe’s extensive mission experience across the Pacific provided a firm foundation for his responsibilities, not only for the IWM (SPD)36 but every aspect of Adventist Mission–from mission offerings and camp meeting mission promotion to global mission projects for unreached people groups.37

Since Coombe’s retirement in 2010, the IWM (SPD) has operated under the auspices of People Services.38 Korey Dowling, the Human Resources manager, operated the Mission Institutes and Re-entry Retreats until 2014.39 Kaylene Humble, Expatriate support manager within People Services, in conjunction with Graeme Humble, Adventist Mission director and SPD field secretary,40 conducted the IWM (SPD) programs from 2015-2018 under the direction of David R. Potter, SPD People Services general manager.41 The Humbles had previously served in Papua New Guinea for 16 years and held multiple degrees in Global Leadership and Intercultural Studies. Upon their retirement at the end of 2018, Carol Boehm, SPD Mission Service and Support Manager within the SPD People Services group, and former missionary to the Solomon Islands and Fiji, has operated the IWM (SPD) programs.42

Sources

Ball, Bryan W., to John Gate. November 16, 1995. Private letter. South Pacific Division Institute of World Mission (SPD IWM) uncatalogued archives.

Brown, Nathan. “Introducing Adventist Mission.” Record, January 28, 2006.

Communication Department, South Pacific Division. “1996 Institute of Mission.” Inside 148, January 31, 1996.

Coombe, Raymond. “Mission Institute – A New Experience.” South Pacific Record and Advent World Survey, March 8, 1986.

———. “Mission Institute Provides Missionary Training.” Record, February 17, 2007.

———. “Mission Families Dedicated at Australia Day Services.” Record, March 8, 2008.

“Co-ordinator’s Report – Mission Institute 1990, South Pacific Division.” July 2, 1990. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

“Expatriates Receive Orientation.” South Pacific Record and Advent World Survey, April 4, 1987.

“Flashpoint – Missionary Program for New Appointees.” Record, April 3, 1993.

“Flashpoint – Missionary Re-Entry a First.” Record, June 12, 1999.

“Flashpoint.” Record, November 25, 2000.

Gate, John, to Laurie Evans. February 11, 1993. Private letter. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

———, to The Family of Delegates Mission Institute 1993. June 4, 1993. Circular letter. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

———, to Bruce Campbell Moyer. November 9, 1994. Private letter. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

———, to Vernon B. Parmenter. March 14, 1995. Private letter. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

———, to R. Bruce Roberts. November 28, 1995. Private letter. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

———, to Jon Dybdahl. November 29, 1995. Private letter. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

Hosken, Don. “WPUM President Earns His Stripes.” Record, November 25, 2000.

Kemp, Brad R. “Brief Report on Missionary Inservice Program, Fiji, October 11-15, 2001.” SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

———, to 2002 Mission Institute Attendees. November 30, 2001. Circular letter. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

———, to Returning Missionaries re 2004 Missionary Re-Entry Retreat. November 25, 2003. Circular letter. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

———. “Being a Creative Missionary?” Record, July 2, 2005.

Kingston, Kent, and Jarrod Stackelroth. “New Leaders Accept Appointments Humble-y.” Record, December 6, 2014.

Leach, Cecily. “Appointees Learn the ABC’s of Mission.” Record, March 17, 1990.

“Mission Institute 1987 – Delegates – revised Dec 1, 1986.” December 1, 1986. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

Mission Institute 87 Committee minutes, meeting No. 2, October 20, 1986. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

Nash, Adele. “Re-entry for Returning Missionaries.” Record, February 11, 2006.

———. “2006 Mission Institute Meets.” Record, February 25, 2006.

“New Missionaries Learn ABCs.” Record, April 8, 1989.

Oosterwal, Gottfried, to Rommert A. Spoor. January 16, 1990. Private letter. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

———, to Rommert A. Spoor. August 14, 1990. Private letter. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

Parmenter, Vernon B., to W. Peter Truscott. December 14, 1987. Private letter. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

———, to Rommert A. Spoor. March 1, 1988. Private letter. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

———, to Rommert A. Spoor. September 7, 1993. Private letter. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

“Program, Short Term Missionary Training Retreat.” SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

Recommendations and Observations Arising from Consideration of a Memorandum Presented by Dr Gottfried Oosterwal on the Future of the Missions Institute in the South Pacific Division, January 22, 1992. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

Record Staff. “SPD Looks Different with Discipleship Focus.” Record, October 3, 2015.

Roberts, Michelle. “Director: Volunteering “IS Important.” Record, April 17, 1999.

Seventh-day Adventist Church Yearbook. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association. Various years.

“South Pacific’s Appointees Study About Missions.” ARH, March 13, 1986.

“SPD Elections and Appointments.” Record, September 17, 2005.

Spoor, Rommert A., to Gottfried Oosterwal. May 18, 1988. Private letter. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

Stacey, Brenton. “Re-entry Program of Missionaries Established.” Record, February 20, 1999.

Wilson, Lynray, to R. Bruce Roberts. September 28, 1999. Private letter. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

Notes

  1. Raymond Coombe, “Mission Institute – A New Experience.” South Pacific Record and Advent World Survey, March 8, 1986, 5.

  2. For example, Gottfried Oosterwal and Borge Schantz were the guest speakers at the 1986 Mission Institute. See Raymond Coombe, “Mission Institute – A New Experience.” South Pacific Record and Advent World Survey, March 8, 1986, 5; “South Pacific’s Appointees Study About Missions.” ARH, March 13, 1986, 17. Russell Staples accompanied Gottfried Oosterwal in 1987. See the document “Mission Institute 1987 – Delegates – revised Dec 1, 1986,” SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, and “Expatriates Receive Orientation.” South Pacific Record and Advent World Survey, April 4, 1987, 11; Wesley Amundsen accompanied Gottfried Oosterwal to the 1989 Mission Institute – see “New Missionaries Learn ABCs.” Record, April 8, 1989, 12.

  3. “Flashpoint – Missionary Program for New Appointees.” Record, April 3, 1993, 4; John Gate to Bruce Campbell Moyer, 9 November 1994, private letter, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 1.

  4. Gottfried Oosterwal to Rommert A. Spoor, January 16, 1990, private letter, South Pacific Division Institute of World Mission (SPD IWM) uncatalogued archives, 1; see also Cecily Leach, “Appointees Learn the ABC’s of Mission.” Record, March 17, 1990, 13; and “Co-ordinator’s Report – Mission Institute 1990, South Pacific Division.” July 2, 1990, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 1.

  5. “Institute of World Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Church Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1996), 27; John Gate to Bruce Campbell Moyer, 9 November 1994, private letter, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 1.

  6. Michelle Roberts, “Director: Volunteering “IS Important.” Record, April 17, 1999, 7; Raymond Coombe, “Mission Institute Provides Missionary Training.” Record, February 17, 2007, 5; Raymond Coombe, “Mission Families Dedicated at Australia Day Services.” Record, March 8, 2008, 3.

  7. Raymond Coombe, “Mission Families Dedicated at Australia Day Services.” Record, March 8, 2008, 3.

  8. Adele Nash, “2006 Mission Institute Meets.” Record, February 25, 2006, 3.

  9. “Institute of World Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Church Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2000), 26; “Institute of World Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Church Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2006), 29; “Institute of World Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Church Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2011), 29.

  10. Adele Nash, “2006 Mission Institute Meets.” Record, February 25, 2006, 3.

  11. Raymond Coombe, “Mission Institute – A New Experience.” South Pacific Record and Advent World Survey, March 8, 1986, 5; Adele Nash, “2006 Mission Institute Meets.” Record, February 25, 2006, 3.

  12. Raymond Coombe, “Mission Institute – A New Experience.” South Pacific Record and Advent World Survey, March 8, 1986, 5.

  13. Mission Institute 87 Committee, Meeting No. 2, October 20, 1986, 1. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives; Vernon B. Parmenter to W. Peter Truscott, December 14, 1987, private letter, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 1; Rommert (Bob) A. Spoor to Gottfried Oosterwal, May 18, 1988, private letter, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 1.

  14. Vernon B. Parmenter to Rommert A. Spoor, March 1, 1988, private letter, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 1; Vernon B. Parmenter to Rommert A. Spoor, September 7, 1993, private letter, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 1.

  15. “Co-ordinator’s Report – Mission Institute 1990, South Pacific Division.” July 2, 1990, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 2.

  16. Gottfried Oosterwal to Bob Spoor, August 14, 1990, private letter, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 4.

  17. “Recommendations and Observations Arising from Consideration of a Memorandum Presented by Dr Gottfried Oosterwal on the Future of the Missions Institute in the South Pacific Division,” January 22, 1992. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

  18. “Recommendations and Observations Arising from Consideration of a Memorandum Presented by Dr Gottfried Oosterwal on the Future of the Missions Institute in the South Pacific Division,” January 22, 1992. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

  19. John Gate to The Family of Delegates Mission Institute 1993, June 4, 1993, circular letter, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

  20. John Gate to Laurie Evans, February 11, 1993, private letter, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 1.

  21. John Gate to R. Bruce Roberts, November 28, 1995, private letter, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 1; Communication Department, South Pacific Division, “1996 Institute of Mission.” Inside 148, January 31, 1996, 1-2.

  22. John Gate to Vernon B. Parmenter, March 14, 1995, private letter, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 1-2.

  23. Bryan W. Ball to John Gate, November 16, 1995, private letter, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 1.

  24. John Gate to Jon Dybdahl, November 29, 1995, private letter, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 1.

  25. Don Hosken, “WPUM President Earns His Stripes.” Record, November 25, 2000, 4.

  26. Brenton Stacey, “Re-entry Program of Missionaries Established.” Record, February 20, 1999, 11; “Flashpoint – Missionary Re-Entry a First.” Record, June 12, 1999, 5.

  27. Brenton Stacey, “Re-entry Program of Missionaries Established.” Record, February 20, 1999, 11.

  28. Lynray Wilson to Bruce Roberts, September 28, 1999, private letter, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 1.

  29. “Flashpoint.” Record, November 25, 2000, 3.

  30. Brad R. Kemp to 2002 Mission Institute Attendees, November 30, 2001, circular letter, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 1.

  31. Brad R. Kemp to Returning Missionaries re 2004 Missionary Re-Entry Retreat, November 25, 2003, circular letter, SPD IWM uncatalogued archives, 1.

  32. Brad R. Kemp, “Brief Report on Missionary Inservice Program, Fiji, October 11-15, 2001.” SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

  33. Personal knowledge of the author from discussions with Brad Kemp; Program, Short Term Missionary Training Retreat. SPD IWM uncatalogued archives.

  34. Brad R. Kemp, “Being a Creative Missionary?” Record, July 2, 2005, 10-11.

  35. “SPD Elections and Appointments.” Record, September 17, 2005, 5.

  36. Adele Nash, “Re-entry for Returning Missionaries.” Record, February 11, 2006, 1; Adele Nash, “2006 Mission Institute Meets.” Record, February 25, 2006, 3; Raymond Coombe, “Mission Institute Provides Missionary Training.” Record, February 17, 2007, 5; Raymond Coombe, “Mission Families Dedicated at Australia Day Services.” Record, March 8, 2008, 3.

  37. Nathan Brown, “Introducing Adventist Mission.” Record, January 28, 2006, 8-9.

  38. “South Pacific Division,” Seventh-day Adventist Church Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2011), 318.

  39. Personal knowledge of the author in interactions with Korey Dowling.

  40. Kent Kingston, “New Leaders Accept Appointments Humble-y.” Record, December 6, 2014, 7; Record Staff, “SPD Looks Different with Discipleship Focus.” Record, October 3, 2015, 9.

  41. “South Pacific Division,” Seventh-day Adventist Church Yearbook (Silver Spring, MD: Office of Archives and Statistics, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 2016), 335.

  42. Personal knowledge of the author.

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Humble, Graeme. "Institute of World Mission, South Pacific Division." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 09, 2021. Accessed December 06, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=27XY.

Humble, Graeme. "Institute of World Mission, South Pacific Division." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 09, 2021. Date of access December 06, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=27XY.

Humble, Graeme (2021, January 09). Institute of World Mission, South Pacific Division. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved December 06, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=27XY.