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The Papua New Guinea Union Mission headquarters in Lae, Papua New Guinea. 

Photo courtesy of Allen Akili. 

Papua New Guinea Union Mission, South Pacific Division

By Barry Oliver

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Barry Oliver, Ph.D., retired in 2015 as president of the South Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists, Sydney, Australia. An Australian by birth Oliver has served the Church as a pastor, evangelist, college teacher, and administrator. In retirement, he is a conjoint associate professor at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored over 106 significant publications and 192 magazine articles. He is married to Julie with three adult sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: July 16, 2020

The Papua New Guinea Union Mission, established in 1972, is the administrative body of the Seventh-day Adventist Church which has oversight of the entities and activities of the Church in Papua New Guinea.1

Current Territory and Statistics

The Papua New Guinea Union Mission (PNGUM) is a constituent union of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and is one of four unions in the South Pacific Division of the General Conference (SPD). Its headquarters are located at Coronation Drive, Lae, 411 Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea.

As a designated mission organization, the union operates under General Conference and South Pacific Division (SPD) operating policies. Those policies state that the officers of the PNGUM are elected by the South Pacific Division.2

The union mission president, elected by the Division, is a member of the Division executive committee, and is the Division representative in the conduct of the work in the union mission... The president shall, together with the union mission executive committee, supervise and carry forward the work in the union.”3 Division policy adds that “the union is authorized to elect or appoint at its session other employees answerable to the union executive committee as specified in Division policy and within the limits of the budget provided.”4

The territory of the PNGUM is Papua New Guinea. The local conferences and missions of the union are the Central Papua Conference, the Bougainville Mission, the Eastern Highlands Simbu Mission, the Madang Manus Mission, the Morobe Missiom, the New Britain New Ireland Mission, the Northern and Milne Bay Mission, the Sepik Mission, the South West Papua Mission, and the Western Highlands Mission.5

The unincorporated activities of the union are governed by General Conference and South Pacific Division Working Policy. The real and intellectual property of the union is held in trust by PNG Adventist Association Limited, an incorporated entity based at the headquarters office of the union in Lae, Morobe Province.

In 2018, the Papua New Guinea Union Mission had one conference and nine missions, with had a total of 1,070 church congregations and 3,206 companies.6 Church membership at the end of 2018 was 333,854.7 The union had a total of 1,557 active employees in its entities. The total tithe receipts for the union in 2016 were US$12,403,228. Its tithe and offerings per capita were US$64.95.8

Institutions and Services of the Papua New Guinea Union Mission

The PNGUM operates two secondary schools, one college, and four medical clincis.

Kabiufa Adventist Secondary School is located near Goroka in the Eastern Highlands Province. Its postal address is P.O. Box 228, Goroka 441, Papua New Guinea.

Kambubu Adventist Secondary School is located near Put Put Harbour in the East New Britain Province. Its postal address is P.O. Box 421, Kokopo 613, Papua New Guinea.

Sonoma Adventist College is located near Kokopo in the east New Britain Province. Its postal address is P.O. Box 360, Kokopo 613, Papua New Guinea.

Kabiufa Day Clinic is located near Goroka with the postal address P.O. Box 228, Goroka 441, Papua New Guinea.

Kambubu Day Clinic is located near Kokopo with the postal address P.O. Box 421, Kokopo 613, Papua New Guinea.

Omaura Day Clinic is located near Kainantu with the postal address P.O. Box 1753, Kainantu 443, Papua New Guinea.

Sonoma Adventist College Day Clinic is located near Kokopo with the postal address P.O. Box 360, Kokopo 613, Papua New Guinea.

Organizational History of the Papua New Guinea Union Mission

The Adventist Church was established in Papua with the arrival of S. W. Carr and Peni Tavodi in 1908.9 In 1917, the territory of New Guinea was included as one small entity in a group of countries known as the Melanesian Mission.10 Plans were made to form the North Queensland-Papua Mission in 1918. The recommendation stated:

WHEREAS, The territory of the Queensland Conference as now fixed presents almost insurmountable difficulties for' aggressive work being undertaken in the northern portion by the Queensland Conference; and WHEREAS, This northern section offers favorable opportunity for developing strong work, We Recommend, That the portion of Queensland to the north of the terminus of Brisbane-Rockhampton railway, together with Papua, be formed into a mission field under the supervision of the Union Conference, to be known as the North Queensland-Papua Mission.11

A. H. White was chosen as the first superintendent of the mission and the headquarters were in Charters Towers.12

In 1921, the New Guinea Mission was established as a separate entity.13 At the Australasian Union Conference session in September 1922, the union secretary, W. G. Turner, reported that “owing to the difficulty in operating Papua from Queensland, the organization known as the North Queensland-Papua Mission has been dissolved, the two fields now working as separate missions under the direction of the Australasian Union Conference.”14

The Papua Mission was organized in 1928 with headquarters at Bisiatabu. W. N. Lock was the first superintendent.15 The address of the Papua Mission changed to Bootless Bay, Port Moresby, Papua, in 1932,16 and to Mirigeda, Port Moresby, Papua, in 1935.17

In 1945, the Papua-New Guinea Mission was formed. It included all the territory of the former Papua Mission and the former Territory of New Guinea Mission.18 It was located in Port Moresby. The superintendent was R. A. R. Thrift.19 The name of the Papua-New Guinea Mission was changed to Papua North East New Guinea Mission in 1946.20

The region was organized as the Coral Sea Union Mission in 1949 with four local missions.21

The Bismarck Archipelago Mission, formerly included in the Papua-New Guinea Mission but organized as a separate mission in 1947, included the territory of New Britain, New Ireland, Bougainville, Buka, the Saint Matthias Group, the Admiralty Group, and adjacent islands. The other three missions were the Northeast New Guinea Mission, the Papuan Mission, and the Solomon Islands Mission.

In 1953, the Coral Sea Union Mission was divided into the Bismarck Solomons Union Mission and the reorganized Coral Sea Union Mission. With the formation of the Bismark Solomons Union Mission the following four PNG Missions were formed: the Bougainville Mission with headquarters in Inus and Cyril Pascoe, president; the Manus Mission with headquarters in Manus and Karese Manovaki, president; the New Britain Mission with headquarters in Rabaul and Eric A. Boehm, president; and the New Ireland Mission with headquarters in Kavieng and John Rongapitu, president.22

The reorganized Coral Sea Union Mission consisted of eight missions. The Central Papuan Mission, reorganized in 1949 and renamed in 1954, had headquarters at Ela Beach, Port Moresby, with Laurence I. Howell, president. The Eastern Highlands Mission, organized in 1953, had headquarters at Goroka with A. J. Campbell, president. The Eastern Papua Mission, organized in 1953, had headquarters at Tufi with Ngava, president. The Madang Mission, organized in 1949 and reorganized in 1953, had headquarters at Madang with T. F. Judd, president. The Morobe Mission, organized in 1953, had headquarters at Wau with John H. Newman, president. The Sepik Mission, organized 1953, had headquarters at Wewak with S. H. Gander, president. The Western Highlands Mission, organized 1953, had headquarters at Mount Hagen with F. J. Maberly, president. The Western Papua Mission, organized 1953, had headquarters at Port Romilly H. Martin Pascoe, president.23

In 1972, the Papua New Guinea Union Mission was organized with ten local missions.24 They were the Bougainville Mission, organized 1953; the Central Papuan Mission, organized 1908; the Eastern Highlands Mission, organized 1953; the Madang Manus Mission, organized 1949 and reorganized 1953, 1972; the Morobe Mission, organized 1953; the New Britain New Ireland Mission, organized 1953 and reorganized 1961, 1972; the North East Papuan Mission, organized 1953 and reorganized 1972; the Papuan Gulf Mission, organized 1954 and reorganized 1960; the Sepik Mission, organized 1953; and the Western Highlands Mission, organized 1953.25

After the formation of the PNGUM and the reorganization of missions the Madang Mission, Manus Mission, New Ireland Mission, East New Britain Mission, West New Britain Mission, Milne Bay Mission, and North Papuan Mission ceased to exist.

List of Executive Officers Since 1972

Presidents: O. D. F. McCutcheon (1972-1975); Lionel A. Smith (1975-1980); Donald E. G. Mitchell (1980-1985); Colin M. Winch (1985-1987); Albert A. Godfrey (1988-1990); Yori Hibo (1990-1995); Wilson Stephen (1995-2002); Thomas Davai (2003-2010); Joseph Talipuan (2010-2011); Leigh Rice (2011-2015); Geoffrey Pomaleu (2015-2016); Kepsie Elodo (2016-).

Secretaries: E. R Piez (1972-1973); Laurence J. Evans (1974-1977); Ritchie way (19771980); Colin M. Winch (1980-1985); Yori Hibo (1985-1990); C. G. Porter (1990-1995); Bradley R. Kemp (1995-2000); Thomas Davai (2000-2003); Dennis Tame (2003-2006); Neone Okesene (2007-2010); Leigh Rice (2010-2011); Blasius Managos (2011-2015); Henry Monape (2015-).

Treasurers: E. R. Piez (1972-1973); Owen S. Mason (1974-1976); Peter B. Brewin (1977-1984); Ronald L. Herbert (1985-1987); Douglas L. Oaklands (1988-1993); Graham M. McCutcheon (1994-1997); Victor Bonetti (1998-2002); Solomon Agdon (2003-2010); Robert Butler (2010-2019); Russell Strahan (2019-).

Sources

2019 Annual Statistical Report: 154th Report of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists for 2018. Silver Spring, MD: General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 2019. Accessed February 14, 2020. http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/ASR/ASR2019.pdf.

“ADM 10.05, Principles of Denominational Organization.” In South Pacific Division Working Policy. Wahroonga, New South Wales: South Pacific Division, 2018.

Carr, E. M. “New Guinea.” Union Conference Record, August 17, 1908.

Carr, S. W. “New Guinea.” Union Conference Record, October 26, 1908.

“En route from Tasmania...” Australasian Record, January 6, 1919.

Manners, Bruce. “Session Votes for Restructure.” Record, November 25, 2000.

Parmenter, K. S. “Australasian Division Mission Field Development.” Australasian Record, May 14, 1973.

Piper, H. E. “Special Session, Australasian Union Conference.” Australasian Record, September 13, 1948.

“Plans and Recommendations.” Australasian Record, November 11, 1918.

Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook. Various Years. http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks.

South Pacific Division Quinquennial Session Minutes. Action 2.5, “Realignment of Union Boundaries.” October 31, 2000. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives.

Turner, W. G. "Union Conference Proceedings: Secretary's Report." Australasian Record, October 2, 1922.

White, A. H. “North Queensland-Papua Mission.” Australasian Record, March 31, 1919.

Notes

  1. Much of the information in this article comes from the personal knowledge and experience of the author who spent six years as an administrator in Papua New Guinea, and subsequently was the secretary and then president of the South Pacific Division. The author also acknowledges the assistance of Pauline Yorio, administrative assistant, Papua New Guinea Union Mission, in the compilation of data for this article.

  2. “ADM 10.05, Principles of Denominational Organization,” in South Pacific Division Working Policy (Wahroonga, New South Wales: South Pacific Division, 2018).

  3. Ibid.

  4. Ibid.

  5. Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, “Papua New Guinea Union Mission,” page 276, accessed February 14, 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB2018.pdf.

  6. A current statistical overview of the Union at any time may be accessed at http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/Forms/AllItems.aspx?RootFolder=%2fStatistics%2fASR&FolderCTID=0x01200095DE8DF0FA49904B9D652113284DE0C800ED657F7DABA3CF4D893EA744F14DA97B.

  7. 2019 Annual Statistical Report: 154th Report of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists for 2018 (Silver Spring, MD: General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 2019), accessed February 14, 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/ASR/ASR2019.pdf.

  8. Ibid.

  9. E M. Carr, “New Guinea,” Union Conference Record, August 17, 1908, 5; S. W. Carr, “New Guinea,” Union Conference Record, October 26, 1908, 2-3.

  10. Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, “Melanesian Mission,” page 145, accessed February 14, 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1917.pdf.

  11. “Plans and Recommendations,” Australasian Record, November 11, 1918, 32.

  12. “En route from Tasmania...,” Australasian Record, January 6, 1919, 8; A. H. White, “North Queensland-Papua Mission,” Australasian Record, March 31, 1919, 6-7.

  13. Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, “New Guinea Mission,” page 142, accessed February 14, 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1921.pdf.

  14. W. G. Turner, “Union Conference Proceedings: Secretary’s Report,” Australasian Record, October 2, 1922, 9.

  15. Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, “Papua Mission,” page 130, accessed January 31, 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1930.pdf.

  16. Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, “Papua Mission,” page 73, accessed January 31, 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1933.pdf.

  17. Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, “Papua Mission,” page 76, accessed January 31, 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1936.pdf.

  18. Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, “Australasian Union Conference,” page 77, accessed January 31, 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1946.pdf.

  19. Ibid.

  20. Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, “Australasian Union Conference,” page 75, accessed January 31, 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1948.pdf.

  21. Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, “Coral Sea Union Mission,” page 78, accessed January 31, 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1950.pdf.

  22. Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, “Bismarck Solomons Union Mission,” page 83, accessed January 31, 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1954.pdf.

  23. Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, “Coral sea Union Mission,” page 89, accessed January 31, 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1954.pdf.

  24. Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, “Papua New Guinea Union Mission,” page 87, accessed January 31, 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1965.pdf.

  25. Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, “Papua New Guinea Union Mission,” page 109, accessed January 31, 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1973,74.pdf.

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Oliver, Barry. "Papua New Guinea Union Mission, South Pacific Division." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. July 16, 2020. Accessed January 31, 2023. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8827.

Oliver, Barry. "Papua New Guinea Union Mission, South Pacific Division." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. July 16, 2020. Date of access January 31, 2023, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8827.

Oliver, Barry (2020, July 16). Papua New Guinea Union Mission, South Pacific Division. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved January 31, 2023, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8827.