John and Alpha Cernik.

Record, March 9, 1991.

Cernik, John (1915–1999) and Alpha Lois (Giblett) (1912–2012)

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. 

John and Lois Cernik gave 39 years of denominational service, 26 of them in the Pacific Islands of the South Pacific Division.

John Cernik was born, in Harbord, New South Wales, Australia on January 17, 1915. Cernik’s mother died when he was ten and his father became a Seventh-day Adventist shortly thereafter. He attended church school and was baptized in 1933 while a student at Avondale College, which he attended from 1933 to 1938. He graduated from the normal (teacher training) course.1

John Cernik’s first denominational appointment was as a colporteur in South Australia.2 Appointed to the teaching ministry of the Church in mid-1939, he joined the staff of the Victoria Park School in Perth, Western Australia.3 One of the other teachers at the school was Alpha Lois Giblett, born in Bunbury, Western Australia on December 8, 1912.4 Lois grew up in the Harvey, Western Australia district and attended Carmel College and then Avondale College, graduating as a teacher in 1936.5 On December 26, 1940, John and Lois were married before leaving for mission service in the New Hebrides. John Cernik’s first responsibility in New Hebrides was as the director of the Aore Training School.6 According to the custom of the time, young women gave up their employment when they married; thus, there was no paid position in mission service for Lois. However, their wedding announcement does refer to taking up “their new appointment with its heavy responsibilities.” They were to be a team, one paid and the other a volunteer.7

To this marriage three children were born: Elisabeth Anne, Beverley, both in Tonga; and Julie Francis, on Rarotonga, in the Cook Islands.8

John and Lois Cernik were to provide the Church with 39 years of denominational service, 26 of them in the Pacific Islands:9

South Australian Conference              1939 Literature Evangelism
Western Australian Conference  1939- 1940 Teaching
New Hebrides 1940-1942 Teaching
Tonga 1943-1950 Principal
Rarotonga, Cook Islands 1950-1955  Principal
Western Australian Conference 1956-1961

1962-1963
Teaching

Teaching - Karalundi Aboriginal School
Victorian Conference 1964 Teaching - Lilydale Academy
Central Pacific
Union Mission
1965-1971 Principal - Fulton Missionary College
Papua New Guinea
Union Mission
1972-1977 Director - Workers’ Development Course, Sonoma College
South Pacific Division
office staff
1977-1985 Mission Hostel Supervisor
(Sustentee)

John Cernik was ordained to the gospel ministry in Tonga on July 16, 1949.10

The Australasian Record makes numerous references to the Cernik family during these years, reporting on the challenges and successes of their service, particularly in the three union missions of the South Pacific Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.11 They spent eight years after their retirement as supervisors of the South Pacific Division mission hostel, caring for the many missionaries who passed through the division headquarters on their way to and from appointments.12

In 1985 when John finally retired, he and Lois settled into their home on Turner Road, Berowra Heights on the northern side of the city of Sydney. Pastor Cernik died on February 25, 1999.13 Always an effervescent personality, Lois continued on alone spending her days in volunteer work in her local community and at Sydney Adventist Hospital until well into her nineties.14 She died on January 16, 2012, early in her 100th year.15

Sources

“Brother John Cernik . . .” Australasian Record, June 16, 1939.

Cernik, J. “With the Cook Island’s MV’s.” Australasian Record, January 25, 1954.

Cernik, John. “Conference Sabbath School, Haapi, Tongatabu.” Australasian Record, September 9, 1946.

Cernik, John. “God Has a Thousand Ways of Working.” Australasian Record, December 7, 1942’

“Distribution of Labour,” Australasian Record, September 26, 1938.

Engelbrecht, G. H. “Training Natives for Leadership.” Australasian Record, March 31, 1941.

Ferris, W. G. “Weekend at Beulah College, Tonga.” Australasian Record, September 5, 1949.

Findlay, Tracey. “Lois an Inspiration.” Hornsby Advocate. May, 2006. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives. Folder: “Cernik, John,” Document: “Lois and Inspiration,” Hornsby Advocate.

Grolimund, M. “Cernik-Giblett.” Australasian Record, March 3, 1941.

John Cernik Personal Service Record. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives. Folder: “Cernik, John.” Document: “Personal Service Record.”

John Cernik Worker’s Biographical Record. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives. Folder: “Cernik, John.” Document: “Worker’s Biographical Record.”

“Pastor John Cernik . . .” Australasian Record, August 8, 1977.

Roennfeldt, Ray. “Cernik, Lois obituary.” Record, March 17, 2012.

Woolley, Rod. Rod Woolley to Mrs A. L. Cernik. 10 March 1999. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives. Folder: “Cernik, John,” Document: Seventh-day Adventist Church Sustentation Department Letter.”

Notes

  1. John Cernik Personal Service Record, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Folder: “Cernik, John,” Document: “Personal Service Record.”

  2. “Distribution of Labour,” Australasian Record, September 26, 1938, 6.

  3. “Brother John Cernik . . . ,” Australasian Record, June 16, 1939, 8.

  4. John Cernik Personal Service Record.

  5. Ray Roennfeldt, “Cernik, Lois obituary,” Record, March 17, 2012, 20.

  6. G. H. Engelbrecht, “Training Natives for Leadership,” Australasian Record, March 31, 1941, 4.

  7. M. Grolimund, “Cernik-Giblett,” Australasian Record, March 3, 1941, 6.

  8. John Cernik Personal Service Record.

  9. John Cernik Worker’s Biographical Record, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives. Folder: “Cernik, John,” Document: “Worker’s Biographical Record.”

  10. Ibid; See also W.G. Ferris, “Weekend at Beulah College, Tonga,” Australasian Record, September 5, 1949, 3.

  11. For example see, John Cernik, “God Has a Thousand Ways of Working,” Australasian Record, December 7, 1942, 5; John Cernik, “Conference Sabbath School, Haapi, Tongatabu,” Australasian Record, September 9, 1946, 4-5;J. Cernik, “With the Cook Island’s MV’s,” Australasian Record, January 25, 1954, 7;

  12. “Pastor John Cernik . . . ,” Australasian Record, August 8, 1977, 16.

  13. Rod Woolley to Mrs A L Cernik, 10 March 1999, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives. Folder: “Cernik, John,” Document: Seventh-day Adventist Church Sustentation Department Letter.”

  14. Tracey Findlay, “Lois an Inspiration,” Hornsby Advocate, May, 2006, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Folder: “Cernik, John,” Document: “Lois and Inspiration,” Hornsby Advocate.

  15. Roennfeldt, “Cernik, Lois,” 20.

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Devine, Lester. "Cernik, John (1915–1999) and Alpha Lois (Giblett) (1912–2012)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 09, 2021. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=B7UE.

Devine, Lester. "Cernik, John (1915–1999) and Alpha Lois (Giblett) (1912–2012)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 09, 2021. Date of access October 15, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=B7UE.

Devine, Lester (2021, January 09). Cernik, John (1915–1999) and Alpha Lois (Giblett) (1912–2012). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved October 15, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=B7UE.