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William A. Loveless

From Spectrum Magazine.

Loveless, William Alfred (1928–2014)

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: September 23, 2020

William Loveless was an exceptionally gifted church pastor and innovative educator who served at length in the two largest Seventh-day Adventist communities, Sligo Church near the General Conference headquarters on the East Coast of America in addition to Loma Linda University Church on the West Coast with its diverse medical and educational fraternity.

Heritage and Training

William Loveless, Jr., commonly known as Bill, was born in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, on January 17, 1928, to William Clyde Loveless and his wife, Mary Katherine (Trovinger). He had a younger sister, Joanne (b.1929).1 At the time, his father was the Bible teacher and dean of men at Oshawa Missionary College.2 By 1930 they had transitioned to Indiana Academy where they had a housemaid to enable both parents to teach. His father taught bookkeeping, geometry, and orchestra. His mother taught shorthand and typing.3 Later they moved to Hinsdale, Illinois, and Glendale, California. While in elementary school at Hinsdale, he developed his own cottage industry by squeezing carrots and delivering the juice by bicycle to the neighborhood. On the north side of Hinsdale lay the Salt Creek Woods, which he often frequented to observe birds. When he was only twelve years old, he led members of the Audubon Society on a tour of nesting sites, and they were so impressed they made him an honorary member. His interest in birds led him to house a flock of racing pigeons. He later wrote of these exploits in his book titled Beating Wings (Review and Herald, 1964).4

In California during his early teenage years, he continued his entrepreneurial endeavors, selling Sunday newspapers on the city street, playing his saxophone at local gigs, watering the lawns at Glendale Hospital, sweeping floors at a gymnasium, and conducting his own shoeshine. William attended Glendale Union Academy and La Sierra College, but in his sophomore year certain faculty members didn’t approve of his musical tastes; so, they asked him to continue his education elsewhere. He went to Walla Walla College, Washington State, supplementing his fees by being a dormitory barber and working summers as a hospital cook. His prowess as a chef remained with him, conducting cooking demonstrations at his churches throughout his career. He graduated from Walla Walla College with a major in theology in 1949.5

Church Career

For three years, 1949 through 1952, Bill nurtured the Orchard Hills Church community in Spokane, eastern Washington.6 On August 17, 1952, he married Edna Maye Alexander, who was serving as an assistant dean of women at Walla Walla College. Bill’s father, who by that time was an ordained minister, performed their wedding service.7 For the next twelve months Bill took time out to obtain a Master of Arts degree from the Seventh-day Adventist Seminary in Washington, D. C.,8 followed by a return to ministry as an ordained man, first in the Moscow/Troy area, northwestern Idaho,9 and then back to Spokane, Washington.10 In conjunction with his evangelism in Spokane, he conducted a thirteen week TV program on Sunday mornings titled “Family Life Hour,” beginning in February 1957.11

In 1957 Bill accepted an appointment to be associate pastor at Sligo Church in the Potomac Conference. Later, on June 1, 1961, at the age of thirty-three, he became the leading pastor of the 2,400-member congregation, the youngest person to be assigned the responsibility.12 His thirteen years at Sligo Church were characterized by a number of significant innovations together with his compelling preaching, a conversational style that eschewed a pulpit or lectern. When he first arrived, he challenged the church board to end a policy of refusing membership to non-white individuals.13 He initiated the Student Missionary program, cooperating with nearby Washington Missionary College (later Columbia Union College and now Washington Adventist University) to send a student, Marlin Mathieson, to Mexico for the summer of 1959.14 Each year another student was sponsored, and the program blossomed under his guidance in spite of initial resistance from church headquarters.15 He also conducted a regular Sunday evening evangelistic series on TV titled “Conversation.” This initiative was augmented in 1964 when he united with Dr. Winton Beaven to conduct a Sunday afternoon TV series titled “Concept.”16

During his ministry at Sligo Church, Bill studied at the University of Maryland. His major professor, knowing his ministerial role, tailored a collection of units in philosophy, sociology, anthropology, psychology, and educational administration that combined to be a useful doctorate for his future work. He was awarded an Ed.D. in 1964.17

In 1970 Bill was selected to lead the ministerial team at Loma Linda University Church, the largest congregation in the denomination. He brought with him the same inimitable style, the same innovation, charisma, and unflagging optimism that he displayed at Sligo.18 He also lectured in the Division of Religion at Loma Linda University.19 Edna, who had also earned an EdD, worked as a textbook writer for the General Conference20 and was a member of the General Conference Bible Textbook steering committee.21

A major move in Bill’s journey occurred in 1976 when he accepted the presidency of the Pennsylvania Conference, a role he held for two years. He also held the portfolio of Radio and TV.22 He was the first to create a support group for pastors, a thoughtful initiative to nurture the mental and emotional health of his ministerial team.23 At a seminar years later, he reflected candidly on the challenges faced by conference presidents and offered some solutions.24

Following his short spell in conference work, he entered the academic arena for which he was best qualified, educational administration. He was elected to be president of Columbia Union College. In his term of office, 1978 through 1990, he launched evening classes for working adults who wished to improve their educational qualifications and career prospects. He called it the Adult Degree Program, later the School of Graduate and Professional Studies.25 Edna enjoyed serving as a lecturer in creative writing.26

In 1990 Bill returned to the West Coast in order to once again nurture the Loma Linda University Church, the largest in the denomination with a membership of 6,000.27 Members were the major sponsors for the building of the St. Petersburg Church in Russia, Bill traveling there to be present for its dedication in 1997.28 He initiated the Loma Linda University Church Broadcasting Network, their Musical Arts Ensemble, and what became their annual Spiritual Renaissance Retreat.29 He also served as an adjunct professor at La Sierra University (1990-1994), the Loma Linda University Faculty of Religion (1990-2000), and the University of California, Riverside (1999-2001). His high sense of social justice prompted him to preside over the ordination service of Jennifer Scott, the first in the denomination to receive the same recognition as male ministers. One of his peers wrote, “His methodologies and preaching style were iconoclastic….” He was “an out-of-the-box thinker in areas of church leadership and spiritual practice.”30

After more than fifty years of service, Bill was due for retirement in 2000, but he was irrepressible. He joined the Department of Educational Services and Behavioral Science at Loma Linda University’s School of Dentistry, and as a licensed counselor he was also active in “Pathways,” a Riverside marriage and family-therapy practice. “Whether it was his wisdom and wit in a conference room, an office, or an elevator,” one said, “he was a constant source of educational insights, creative solutions, and personal affirmation.”31

Sunset

Bill hardly ceased ministering to people. He maintained a private counseling practice up until he passed away on September 15, 2014. Two weeks later a memorial service was conducted in Loma Linda University Church. He was survived by Edna and their two daughters, Marti and Marilynn.32

Sources

Bond, C. Lester. “TV Series in Spokane.” North Pacific Union Gleaner, January 21, 1957.

Calbi, Wendy. “Three Teachers Receive Zapara Awards for Excellence.” Columbia Union Visitor, July 15, 1990.

“CUC President Accepts LLU Pastorate.” ARH, March 8, 1990.

Huff, Barbara. “Adventists Dedicate St. Petersburg Church.” ARH, February 1998.

Loveless, Edna Maye. “Request Rather Than Command.” ARH, March 14, 1974.

Loveless, Edna Maye. “Teaching Children About God.” ARH, August 5, 1976.

Loveless, W[illiam] C. “On Sunday evening, August 17…” North Pacific Union Gleaner, September 22, 1952.

“New TV Program in Washington Area Begins September 20.” Columbia Union Visitor, September 17, 1964.

“Noted Pastor William Loveless is Dead.” Adventist Today, September 15, 2014. Accessed September 5, 2021. https://atoday.org/noted-pastor-william-loveless-dead/.

“Saying Farewell to William Loveless.” Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, September 22, 2014. Accessed September 5, 2021. https://dentistry.llu.edu/about/school-news/saying-farewell-william-loveless.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1928-2000.

“Student Missionary Leaves for South America.” Columbia Union Visitor, June 30, 1960.

Widmer, Myron. “Life in a Fishbowl and Other Issues Conference Presidents Face.” ARH, July 11, 1991.

“William Loveless.” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2021. Accessed July 31, 2021. https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/G4MP-N44.

“William Loveless is New Sligo Church Pastor.” Columbia Union Visitor, April 6, 1961.

Notes

  1. “William Loveless,” FamilySearch, Intellectual Reserve, 2021, accessed July 31, 2021, https://www.familysearch.org/tree/pedigree/landscape/G4MP-N44,

  2. “Oshawa Missionary College,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1928), 276-277.

  3. “Indiana Academy,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1930), 292.

  4. “Saying Farewell to William Loveless,” Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, September 22, 2014, accessed September 5, 2021, https://dentistry.llu.edu/about/school-news/saying-farewell-william-loveless.

  5. Ibid.

  6. “William Loveless is New Sligo Church Pastor,” Columbia Union Visitor, April 6, 1961, 3.

  7. W[illiam] C. Loveless, “On Sunday evening, August 17…” North Pacific Union Gleaner, September 22, 1952, 6.

  8. “William Loveless is New Sligo Church Pastor,” Columbia Union Visitor, April 6, 1961, 3.

  9. “Directory of Workers,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association), 454.

  10. “Directory of Workers,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1956), 387.

  11. C. Lester Bond, “TV Series in Spokane,” North Pacific Union Gleaner, January 21, 1957, 2.

  12. “William Loveless is New Sligo Church Pastor,” Columbia Union Visitor, April 6, 1961, 3.

  13. “Noted Pastor William Loveless is Dead,” Adventist Today, September 15, 2014, accessed September 5, 2021, https://atoday.org/noted-pastor-william-loveless-dead/.

  14. ‘Student Missionary Leaves for South America,” Columbia Union Visitor, June 30, 1960, 1.

  15. “Saying Farewell to William Loveless,” Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, September 22, 2014, accessed September 5, 2021, https://www.dentistry.llu.edu/about/school-news/saying-farewell-william-loveless.

  16. “New TV Program in Washington Area Begins September 20,” Columbia Union Visitor, September 17, 1964, 2.

  17. “Saying Farewell to William Loveless,” Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, September 22, 2014, accessed September 5, 2021, https://dentistry.llu.edu/about/school-news/saying-farewell-william-loveless.

  18. “Saying Farewell to William Loveless,” Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, September 22, 2014, accessed September 5, 2021, https://dentistry.llu.edu/about/school-news/saying-farewell-william-loveless.

  19. E.g., “Loma Linda University,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1971), 348.

  20. Edna Maye Loveless, “Request Rather Than Command,” ARH, March 14, 1974, 13-14.

  21. Edna Maye Loveless, “Teaching Children About God,” ARH, August 5, 1976, 12-13.

  22. E.g., “Pennsylvania Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1977), 55.

  23. “Noted Pastor William Loveless is Dead,” Adventist Today, September 15, 2014, accessed September 5, 2021, https://atoday.org/noted-pastor-william-loveless-dead/.

  24. Myron Widmer, “Life in a Fishbowl and Other Issues Conference Presidents Face,” ARH, July 11, 1991, 14-15.

  25. Ibid.

  26. Wendi Calbi, “Three Teachers Receive Zapara Awards for Excellence,” Columbia Union Visitor, July 15, 1990, 7.

  27. “CUC President Accepts LLU Pastorate,” ARH, March 8, 1990, 6.

  28. Barbara Huff, “Adventists Dedicate St. Petersburg Church,” ARH, February 1998, 18.

  29. “Noted Pastor William Loveless is Dead,” Adventist Today, September 15, 2014, accessed September 5, 2021, https://atoday.org/noted-pastor-william-loveless-dead/.

  30. “Saying Farewell to William Loveless,” Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, September 22, 2014, accessed September 5, 2021, https://dentistry.llu.edu/about/school-news/saying-farewell-william-loveless.

  31. Ibid.

  32. Ibid.

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Hook, Milton. "Loveless, William Alfred (1928–2014)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. September 23, 2020. Accessed December 01, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=A9PL.

Hook, Milton. "Loveless, William Alfred (1928–2014)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. September 23, 2020. Date of access December 01, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=A9PL.

Hook, Milton (2020, September 23). Loveless, William Alfred (1928–2014). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved December 01, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=A9PL.