Greenidge, Richard (1873–1935) and Rebecca (1880–1965)

By Ney Julián Devis Arias

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Ney Julián Devis Arias has worked for the Seventh-day Adventist Church for 24 years as a district pastor, departmental, administrator, and theology professor. He is currently a candidate for a doctorate in pastoral theology degree from SETAI and works as departmental in East Venezuela Union Mission. He is married to Loyda Fermín de Devis, with whom he has two children.

Richard Edwin Greenidge was a pioneer in establishing Adventist education in Venezuela as he directed the first educational institution in the country, as well as laying the foundations for health institutions, with his wife Rebecca.

Early Life

Richard Edwin Greenidge was born in Barbados, on December 15, 1873. Details of his parents and their relationship with Adventism are unknown, though the Adventist message had reached the island by 1883 and in 1891 the first 17 believers were baptized.1 In 1898, A. J. Haysmer, field superintendent of West Indies Mission, baptized Greenidge.2

Education and Marriage

For eight years Richard Greenidge sold Adventist publications in the towns and villages of Trinidad.3 He returned to his native island and through the influence of Dr. Charles J. B. Cave,4 the first Adventist doctor to study for eight years with Dr. Harvey Kellogg, Greenidge went to American Missionary Medical College in Battle Creek, Michigan to study nursing. There he met Rebecca Lalor who had been born in Balaclava, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, and they married in Barbados after he finished his training.5

His Influence in the Health Message in Venezuela

While the Greenidges were in Barbados, the West Indies Union, which then oversaw the Bahamas and the Caribbean archipelago, called the Greenidges and Frederick and Rose Lane to work in Venezuela. Between 1908-1935, Juan Vicente Gómez, Venezuela’s president, approved freedom of worship, authorized European immigration, and eliminated financial support to the Catholic Church. Those political conditions were in force when the Greenidges arrived in Venezuela.6

On August 1, 1910, the two couples entered the country through the La Guaira port 7 and took a train to Caracas.8 The missionaries had accepted the invitation to go to Venezuela because of a friendship they made in Barbados. While working there they met a Venezuelan man who urged them to evangelize Venezuela. When asked to serve as missionaries to Venezuela, they immediately accepted. The Greenidges and the Lanes did not speak Spanish, nor did they know anyone who did, but when they arrived at Caño Amarillo Train Station, to their surprise the Venezuelan individual they had encountered in Barbados was at the station, even though he did not know they were coming. He helped them with the process of entering the country and finding a hotel.9

Richard and Rebecca Greenidge used their professional health training to start a clinic for massages and hydrotherapy treatments. As hydrotherapy specialized nurses, they formed a missionary team with the Lanes who organized series of Bible studies. They learned Spanish by using an English/Spanish dictionary.10 Richard Greenidge and Rebeca popularized some innovative electro-hydrotherapeutic procedures that attracted many patients. Those personal contacts aroused interest in the Adventist message. Through their efforts, the Greenidges started the Adventist medical program in Venezuela.11 When the Greenidges transferred to Camagüán, however, the hydrotherapy facilities they had opened eventually disappeared.

His Influence in Evangelizing Venezuela

One day Richard Greenidge met Miguel Corro, a carpenter. Corro, had become intrigued by a series of pictures used to illustrate the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation. Greenidge, sensing the man’s curiosity, invited him to study the Bible with Pastor Lane. That was the beginning of a Bible class every night in his home.12 Richard and Rebecca Greenidge were the first missionary team to go to different parts of Caracas.13 On March 26, 1911, after seven months of Bible studies and prophecy lectures,14 the first 11 people were baptized, resulting in the establishment of the first church in Venezuela,15 On October 13, 1911, the Greenidge’s only son, Luis, was born in Caracas.

His Influence in Education

Between 1921 and 1922, church leaders in Camagüán, Estado Guárico, decided to ask the Greenidges to start a boarding school for young people.16 The educational institution they established prepared missionaries, teachers, and secretaries to serve the church in Venezuela. In 1928 the mission named the school Colegio Adventista de Camagüán.17

His Death

The Greenidges worked until 1934. Because of health issues, Richard had to travel to the United States to receive better medical care, but succumbed to the disease, dying at the age of 61 on May 27, 1935.18 His wife together with her son, Luis, returned to Caracas and continued working for the church, including as a nurse for the Instituto Colombo Venezolano (Icolven) and later as food nutritionist in Adventists colleges in Honduras and Panama. She died in Venezuela on March 17, 1965, at the age of 85.

After Greenidge’s death, his son kept his legacy alive. Luis continued the establishment of educational work. On June 1, 1936, Pastor Luis Greenidge established Caracas Adventist School. For 20 years it operated at the mission headquarters. During September 1956, Richard Greenidge Adventist Academy opened, becoming the first school to offer high school level programs in the district.

Sources

García, Nathaniel. Sin temor al future. Caracas, 1989.

Greenidge, Louis. Comienzo y Desarrollo dw la obra de la Iglesia Adventista en Venezuela. Master’s thesis, 1935, Pacific Union College.

La Rosa, Edgar Brito. “El concepto rebautismal del adventismo en Venezuela.” D.Min. dissertation. Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, U.S.A., 2002.

Schupnik, Carlos. Aquí obró Dios: Historia de la Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Día. Nirgua,

Venezuela: Artes Venezuela Adventist University Institute Graphics, 2010.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1935.

Vega, Francisco Javier. “Génesis de un movimiento.” Mayaguez: Antillian College Press, 1993.

Notes

  1. Luis Greenidge, Comienzo y Desarrollo dw la obra de la Iglesia Adventista en Venezuela, master’s thesis, 1935, Pacific Union College.

  2. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1935), 21.

  3. Ibid.

  4. Ibid.

  5. Greenidge, 21.

  6. Carlos Schupnik, Aquí obró Dios: Historia de la Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Día (Nirgua, Venezuela: Artes Venezuela Adventist University Institute Graphics, 2010), 25.

  7. Nathaniel García, Sin temor al futuro (Caracas, 1989), 8.

  8. Greenidge, 10.

  9. García, 8.

  10. Greenidge, 11.

  11. Ibid., 10.

  12. García, 8.

  13. Ibid.

  14. Greenidge, Comienzo y Desarrollo dw la obra de la Iglesia Adventista en Venezuela, 13, 14.

  15. Edgar Brito La Rosa, “El concepto rebautismal del adventismo en Venezuela” (D.Min. diss., Andrews University, 2002), 82.

  16. Francisco Javier Vega, “Génesis de un movimiento” (Mayaguez: Antillian College Press, 1993), 98.

  17. Schupnik, Aqui obró Dios, 60.

  18. Ibid.; García, Sin temor al future, 10.

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Arias, Ney Julián Devis. "Greenidge, Richard (1873–1935) and Rebecca (1880–1965)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 09, 2021. Accessed January 19, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=2B0Y.

Arias, Ney Julián Devis. "Greenidge, Richard (1873–1935) and Rebecca (1880–1965)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 09, 2021. Date of access January 19, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=2B0Y.

Arias, Ney Julián Devis (2021, January 09). Greenidge, Richard (1873–1935) and Rebecca (1880–1965). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved January 19, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=2B0Y.