António Dias Gomes was a pastor and church administrator from Portugal.
António Dias Gomes was born April 20, 1901, in Oporto, Portugal. Joaquim Dias Gomes, his father, was baptized in 1907 by Clarence Rentfro, the American missionary who brought the Adventist message to Portugal in 1904. Thus, António had the privilege of being raised an Adventist by his parents. He was baptized into the Oporto Seventh-day Adventist Church in January 1913 at the age of 11. He was an active young believer gifted with a talent for preaching, so that at the age of 21 the leaders of the Portuguese Mission invited him to assist the pastor of the Adventist church in Lisbon. He did it so well that, after one year, in 1923, he was sent to Séminaire Adventiste du Salève in France to do his ministerial training. António studied there for about one year. In the middle of 1924, he returned to Portugal to work as a pastor in the Portuguese Field.1
Ministry Firsts, Marriage
Gomes started his ministry as pastor of the Portalegre church. Two years later, in 1926, he was sent to serve as a pastor of the church in Lisbon, the most important church of the Portuguese Mission. He remained there until 1931. His ministry was characterized by intensive missionary labor. In 1931 António married Mercedes Meleiro, a registered nurse. The couple was blessed with the birth of one son, Samuel, and one daughter, Gabriela.
Ordination and Administrative Ministry
In 1931 Gomes returned to pastor the Portalegre Church. But in 1933 he was once again assigned to pastor the Lisbon Church. In August of that year he was ordained to the pastoral ministry and was elected president of the Portuguese Mission. After the Portuguese Mission became a conference in May 1935, Gomes was elected president of the Portuguese Conference, which was part of the Iberic Union. He remained in office until December 1939. Under his leadership the Portuguese Conference developed considerably.2 A new series of tracts, under the title “Eternal Truths,” was published to be used as an evangelistic tool in the hands of lay people, and a new theology course was taught in Lisbon to prepare new workers for the Portuguese field.
In February 1941, after the organization of the Portuguese Union, which included the missions of Madeira, Azores, Cape Verde, and São Tomé and Príncipe, Gomes was called to be the president of this new union. He held this position until July 1950. During this period of nine years much was accomplished. The training of workers in the new Seminário de Portalegre (Portalegre Seminary) continued to be one of the main goals of Pastor Gomes; a Bible Correspondence School began to function in the Portuguese territory; evangelistic efforts increased; and the Portuguese Publishing House (Publicadora Atlântico) was established.
As a result, in 1950 the Portuguese Union had 1,450 members, of which 949 belonged to the Portuguese Conference, 127 to the Madeira Mission, 110 to the Azores Mission, 110 to the Cape Verde Mission, and 154 to the São Tomé and Príncipe Mission. In July 1950 António was called to serve as the director of the Sabbath School Department of the Southern European Division. He served here until 1955 when he returned to Portugal as pastor of the Portalegre Church. He retired because of ill health in 1956. In 1978 he tragically lost both his wife and his daughter. It was a difficult period in his life, but he was able to overcome the grief. Some years later he married Maria Isabel.3 Gomes died January 14, 1994. He was nearly 93 years old.4
Pastor António Dias Gomes left his mark on the development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portugal. He was the first Portuguese national to preside over Portugal (first as a mission, then as a conference and finally as a union). As an administrator, he was instrumental in the creation of the Portuguese Union. He was the first Portuguese Seventh-day Adventist to serve as a director of a church department at the division level. He authored the book, O Problema das Origens (The Problem of our Origins). This book had an impact in the defense of the Creationist point of view among the Portuguese Adventists at that time. He also directed production of the following journals and magazines: O Mensageiro Adventista (The Adventist Messenger), Revista Adventista (Adventist Review) and Saúde e Lar (Health and Home).
Batista, Maria Rosa. “Aguardando a ressurreição: Pastor António Dias Gomes.” Revista Adventista, February 1995.
Ferreira, Ernesto. Arautos de Boas Novas: Centenário da Igreja Adventista do Sétimo Dia em Portugal 1904-2004. Sabugo: Publicadora SerVir, 2008.
Gomes, António Dias. O Problema das Origens. Lisboa: Edição do Autor, 1959.
Maria Rosa Batista, “Aguardando a ressurreição: Pastor António Dias Gomes,” Revista Adventista, vol 54, no 560, February 1995, 20; Ernesto Ferreira, Arautos de Boas Novas: Centenário da Igreja Adventista do Sétimo Dia em Portugal 1904-2004 (Sabugo: Publicadora SerVir, 2008), 204.↩
There were 392 members and ten churches in 1939.↩
Unfortunately, her last name could not be found out.↩
Maria Rosa Batista, “Aguardando a ressurreição: Pastor António Dias Gomes,” 20. Ernesto Ferreira, Arautos de Boas Novas, 175-186, 192-206.↩