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Fairley Masters

Photo courtesy of Lester Devine.

Masters, Fairley (1869–1954)

By Lester Devine

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Originally trained as a secondary history teacher, a career long Adventist educator, Lester Devine, Ed.D., has taught at elementary, secondary and higher education levels and spent more than three decades in elected educational leadership positions in two divisions of the world Church, NAD (1969-1982) and SPD (1982-2005). He completed his forty years of denominational service with a term as director of the Ellen G. White/Adventist Research Centre at Avondale University College in Australia where his life-long hobby of learning and presenting on Adventist heritage issues became his vocation. 

First Published: January 29, 2020

Fairley Masters, a colporteur and one of the first Adventist missionaries to be sent from Australia, was born in Campelpoure, India (now Attock, Pakistan), on November 23, 18691, the son of Captain George Masters, a British army officer. After his father retired from the army, the family emigrated to New Zealand, where his father became a government school teacher.2

Fairly Masters trained as a blacksmith, and along with his parents, joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church after attending an evangelistic campaign held by A. G. Daniells in Ponsonby, New Zealand, in 1888.3 Encouraged by Daniells, Masters entered colporteur work in New Zealand in 1890. He did well, although he faced strong prejudice against ‘book-sellers,” the result of the dishonest dealings of another door-to-door salesman in the community.4 Invited by Daniells, Masters moved to Sydney, Australia, and successfully canvassed there. In 1892, he attended the Bible School in Melbourne as a charter student. After three years he graduated from the missionary course.5

After graduation on September 8, 1894, the 25-year-old Fairly Masters, together with his parents, sailed from Australia to become Australasia's first overseas missionaries.6 The report of their departure stated that “although many workers have been trained for home fields since our work in the colonies commenced, these are the first that have gone from Australasia to a foreign country.”7 Masters worked as a colporteur in India from 1894 to 1896 in the cities of 8 Madras,9 Cawnpor10 (alternate spellings: Cawnpore and Kanpur), and Peshawar.11 On his return, he worked in Western Australia. There he met and married Esther Beatrice York and to them four children were born, George Maitland in 1899, Percy Franklin in 1901, Olive Dorothy in 1905, and Gordon Fairley in 1912.12

Fairley Master’s denominational records contain no entries after August, 1914. However, an entry in the Australasian Record in October 1941 summarizes his years of service:

Another delegate to the Session who has observed the growth of the work in this Division almost from its inception is Brother Fairley Masters. Fifty years ago, he became a charter member of the first church in Auckland, New Zealand. As a young man, he and his parents were sent out as the first foreign missionaries from this Division, to open up our work in India, the plan of the leaders of our organization being that the work in India should be pioneered by one family from America, England, and Australia. Returning to the home field two years later, Brother Masters engaged in canvassing work. In all he has given about forty years to the literature ministry, as colporteur and state agent, ably assisted by his wife. He has given good service in West Australia, South Australia, North and South New South Wales, Queensland, and New Zealand. His long experience in door-to-door visitation is now of inestimable value in the annual Appeal for Missions campaign in several conferences, and Brother Masters is only too glad to be able to assist in this way to send the third angel's message "to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people."13

Fairley Masters died on December 19, 1954.14 Pastor Reuben Hare wrote of him: “During the course of his ministry, our late brother served in every state [of Australia] and also in New Zealand; and of him it can truly be said, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord. . . .that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”15

Sources

“A report dated October 12…” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, November 5, 1894.

Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 10, 1895.

Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 29, 1896.

Fairley Masters Biographical Records. South Pacific Division of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Archives.

Hare, Reuben E. “Fairley Masters obituary.” Australasian Record, January 24, 1955.

Masters, Fairley. “He Left His Blacksmithing.” The Youth’s Instructor, November 14, 1950.

“More Personalities at the Session.” Australasian Record, October 20, 1941.

“On the 8th…” The Bible Echo, vol. 9, no 37, September 17, 1894.

Notes

  1. Fairley Masters Biographical Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Archives, Folder: “Masters, Fairley,” Document: “Biographical Information Blank.”

  2. Fairley Masters, “He Left His Blacksmithing,” The Youth’s Instructor, November 14, 1950, 5.

  3. Fairley Masters Biographical Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Archives, Folder: “Masters, Fairley,” Document: “Biographical Information Blank.”

  4. Fairley Masters, “He Left His Blacksmithing,” The Youth’s Instructor, November 14, 1950, 5.

  5. Fairley Masters Biographical Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Archives, Folder: “Masters, Fairley,” Document: “Biographical Information Blank.”

  6. “On the 8th…,” The Bible Echo, September 17, 1894, 296.

  7. Ibid.

  8. Fairley Masters Biographical Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Archives, Folder: “Masters, Fairley,” Document: “Biographical Information Blank.”

  9. “A report dated October 12…,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, November 5, 1894, 344.

  10. Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 10, 1895, 184.

  11. Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, June 29, 1896, 197.

  12. Fairley Masters Biographical Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church Archives, Folder: “Masters, Fairley,” Document: “Biographical Information Blank.”

  13. “More Personalities at the Session,” Australasian Record, October 20, 1941, 7.

  14. Reuben E. Hare, “Fairley Masters obituary,” Australasian Record, January 24, 1955, 15.

  15. Ibid.

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Devine, Lester. "Masters, Fairley (1869–1954)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed May 23, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=A7ZT.

Devine, Lester. "Masters, Fairley (1869–1954)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access May 23, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=A7ZT.

Devine, Lester (2020, January 29). Masters, Fairley (1869–1954). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 23, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=A7ZT.