Seated are Alexander and Emma King. Standing left to right are Alvan, Hayden and Romney. (Photo was taken in 1936 after the accidental death of son Vincent. Daughter Irene is away at college.)

Photo courtesy of Glenice Reid.

King, Alexander Lawrence (1887–1970)

By Milton Hook

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Milton Hook, Ed.D. (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, the United States). Hook retired in 1997 as a minister in the Greater Sydney Conference, Australia. An Australian by birth Hook has served the Church as a teacher at the elementary, academy and college levels, a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and as a local church pastor. In retirement he is a conjoint senior lecturer at Avondale College of Higher Education. He has authored Flames Over Battle Creek, Avondale: Experiment on the Dora, Desmond Ford: Reformist Theologian, Gospel Revivalist, the Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series, and many magazine articles. He is married to Noeleen and has two sons and three grandchildren.

First Published: November 19, 2021

Alexander King served the Seventh-day Adventist Church primarily in the publishing work of the Church. First, he was a literature evangelist and then later he was an editor at the Signs Publishing Company for twenty-four years working with the Signs of the Times and Life and Health.

Alexander Lawrence King was born at Charters Towers, Queensland, on February 2, 1887, to George and Christina (Wilkie) Hing. His father was from Canton, China, and his mother from Edinburgh, Scotland.1 George Hing did some work as an interpreter in the local court and found Alexander a job as a clerk in the law office when Alexander was still a teenager.2 Alexander was one of ten children in the family. He was christened in the Anglican (Episcopalian) Church but when he was sixteen years of age, he joined the Methodists and began preaching for them on the street and at their pulpit. Another preacher sold him cheaply a small collection of Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) books. He did not read them until the only SDA in town, Alexander Costello, visited his door while canvassing in 1904 and told him of the Saturday Sabbath. He then read the SDA books purchased earlier and was convinced Costello was correct. That same year Alexander, too, began canvassing SDA books.3

Church Career

Alexander’s canvassing experiences began in suburban Brisbane at Paddington.4 He then travelled west from Brisbane into the rural villages of Beaudesert,5 Harrisville,6 Glamorgan Vale7 and Tarampa throughout 1905. He offered books such as Coming King and Desire of Ages.8 Selling the latter proved to be extremely difficult, gathering only three orders in three months despite working long hours. He wanted to attend the Avondale School for Christian Workers but was left virtually penniless so he set out to walk south for several hundred kilometers and conserve his meager resources for his school fees.9 He enjoyed academics and remained at the institution from 1906 through 1910, improving his education but not graduating from any particular course.10

As soon as the 1910 school year was completed Alexander returned to canvassing in Queensland until April 1911. He sold Bible Readings for the Home Circle and Practical Guide to Health in the Rockhampton district.11

A major change occurred when Alexander was appointed to serve on the editorial staff of the Signs Publishing Company (SPC) in Warburton, Victoria.12 This period of approximately three years, late 1911 through 1914, was a fresh learning experience for him and a role to which he would return later in his career. During this time, on May 16, 1913, he married Emma Alfreda Weber whom he had met in Rockhampton while canvassing. The service was performed by Thomas Craddock in Craddock’s home in Prahran, suburban Melbourne.13 Emma was a talented violinist.14

Alexander and Emma were blessed with five children. They were Irene (b.1914), Alvan (b.1918), Hayden (b.1920), Vincent (b.1922) and Romney (b.1924).15

In 1915 Alexander was assigned to public evangelism in the North New Zealand Conference.16 He changed his surname from Hing to King in order to reduce prejudice. Towards the close of 1919 he was transferred back to Australia to be the Press Bureau representative for the Australasian Union Conference at the church headquarters in Wahroonga.17 It proved to be a twelve month term before returning to the SPC editorial office18 for his outstanding contribution to the mission of the church as an editor, extending over the next twenty-four years, 1920 through 1944.

On his return to the SPC Alexander first worked as a proof-reader, 1920 through 1927,19 with a break during 1923 and 1924 as associate editor of the Australasian Signs of the Times periodical.20 In 1928 he was assigned to be the editor of the Australasian Life and Health,21 a role he held until 1939.22 However, he did not entirely leave his editorial work with the Signs of the Times. In 1934 and 1935 he was acting editor for the Signs of the Times23 and then was appointed its chief editor, 193624 through 1944.25 There were, therefore, some years, 1934 through 1939, when he carried the role of editor of both magazines. Alexander’s editorial years witnessed the difficult times of the Great Depression and the Second World War. Furthermore, he and his family suffered the loss of son Vincent in 1936 due to a fatal accident with a rifle.26

After the war years Alexander returned to pastoral ministry. He had begun his public witness as a preacher for the Methodist faith and would conclude his active service at Seventh-day Adventist pulpits. He was never ordained but held a ministerial license. From 1945 through 1950 he cared for churches in the West Australian Conference27 and then returned to Victoria, serving in a similar capacity until 1955.

Retirement

Alexander and Emma chose to spend their retirement years in the SDA community at Cooranbong, New South Wales. Emma died on February 23, 1961 and was buried in the Avondale Memorial Cemetery.28 Alexander remained among his friends in Cooranbong and died on June 30, 1970. He, too, is buried in the Avondale Memorial Cemetery.29

Sources

Adair, R[eginald] H. “Alexander Lawrence King.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, August 3, 1970.

Adair, R[eginald] H. “Life Sketch of A.L. King.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, August 10, 1970.

“Brother A.L. King and family…” Australasian Record, December 27, 1920.

“Brother A.L. King, with his wife…” Australasian Record, September 29, 1919.

Hay, Marian, “Vincent Lionel King.” Australasian Record, May 11, 1936.

Masthead, Signs of the Times (Australasian), January 1, 1923.

Masthead, Signs of the Times (Australasian), March 19, 1934.

Masthead, Signs of the Times (Australasian), January 6, 1936.

“Monthly Summary of Australasian Canvassing Work.” Union Conference Record, November 1, 1904.

“Monthly Summary of Australasian Canvassing Work.” Union Conference Record, February 1, 1905.

“Monthly Summary of Australasian Canvassing Work.” Union Conference Record, June 15, 1905.

“Monthly Summary of Australasian Canvassing Work.” Union Conference Record, October 1, 1905.

“Monthly Summary of Australasian Canvassing Work.” Union Conference Record, November 1, 1905.

“Monthly Summary of Australasian Canvassing Work.” Australasian Record, April 10, 1911.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbooks. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1916-1955.

State of Queensland. Birth Certificates. State Government of Queensland Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Brisbane, Queensland.

Turner, W. G[ordon]. “Emma Alfreda King.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 27, 1961.

Notes

  1. State of Queensland, Certificate of Birth no. C/4912 (1887), State Government of Queensland Office of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Brisbane, Queensland.

  2. Romney King, interview by Milton Hook, Hornsby, New South Wales, May 5, 2020.

  3. R[eginald] H. Adair, “Life Sketch of A.L. King,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, August 10, 1970, 13.

  4. “Monthly Summary of Australasian Canvassing Work,” Union Conference Record, November 1, 1904, 4.

  5. E.g., “Monthly Summary of Australasian Canvassing Work,” Union Conference Record, February 1, 1905, 4.

  6. “Monthly Summary of Australasian Canvassing Work,” Union Conference Record, June 15, 1905, 5.

  7. “Monthly Summary of Australasian Canvassing Work,” Union Conference Record, October 1, 1905, 6.

  8. “Monthly Summary of Australasian Canvassing Work,” Union Conference Record, November 1, 1905, 6.

  9. R[eginald] H. Adair, “Life Sketch of A.L. King,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, August 10, 1970, 13.

  10. Romney King, interview with Milton Hook, Hornsby, New South Wales, May 5, 2020.

  11. E.g., “Monthly Summary of Australasian Canvassing Work,” Australasian Record, April 10, 1911, 6.

  12. R[eginald] H. Adair, “Life Sketch of A.L. King,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, August 10, 1970, 13.

  13. Romney King, interview with Milton Hook, Hornsby, New South Wales, May 5, 2020.

  14. W. G[ordon] Turner, “Emma Alfreda King,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 27, 1961, 14.

  15. Romney King, interview with Milton Hook, Hornsby, New South Wales, May 5, 2020.

  16. E.g., “North New Zealand Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1916), 134-135.

  17. “Brother A.L. King, with his wife…” Australasian Record, September 29, 1919, 8.

  18. “Brother A.L. King and family…” Australasian Record, December 27, 1920, 8.

  19. R[eginald] H. Adair, “Life Sketch of A.L. King,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, August 10, 1970, 13.

  20. E.g., Masthead, Signs of the Times (Australasian), January 1, 1923, 3.

  21. “Life and Health,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1928), 303.

  22. “Life and Health,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1939), 302.

  23. E.g., Masthead, Signs of the Times (Australasian), March 19, 1934, 6.

  24. Masthead, Signs of the Times (Australasian), January 6, 1936, 6.

  25. “Signs of the Times” (Australasian), Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1944), 269.

  26. Marian Hay, “Vincent Lionel King,” Australasian Record, May 11, 1936, 6.

  27. E.g., “West Australian Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1945), 69.

  28. W. G[ordon] Turner, “Emma Alfreda King,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 27, 1961, 14.

  29. R[eginald] H. Adair, “Alexander Lawrence King,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, August 3, 1970, 14.

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Hook, Milton. "King, Alexander Lawrence (1887–1970)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. November 19, 2021. Accessed February 27, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9IEY.

Hook, Milton. "King, Alexander Lawrence (1887–1970)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. November 19, 2021. Date of access February 27, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9IEY.

Hook, Milton (2021, November 19). King, Alexander Lawrence (1887–1970). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved February 27, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=9IEY.