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Arthur Currow.

Photo courtesy of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Archives.

Currow, Arthur (1872–1964) and Margaret Elizabeth [Lizzie] (Reid) (1874–1955); later May Lacey White (1873-1969)

By Stephen J. Currow

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Stephen Currow, D.Min. (Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California, the United States), is the vice president (academic) at Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW, Australia. Trained as a pastor, he has worked in various ministry positions including pastor, lecturer, and administrator in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the United Kingdom. His research interests and publications have been in the areas of congregational life, youth ministry and Adventist mission history. He is married to Narisa and has two adult daughters.

Arthur Currow was the first Australian Seventh-day Adventist missionary to Fiji. He was instrumental in the conversion of Ratu Meli, one of the first Seventh-day Adventist converts in Fiji.

Early Years

Arthur Currow was born in Queenscliffe, Victoria, Australia on November 21, 1872 to Salvator and Elizabeth Currow (nee Wayth).1 He had eight brothers and three sisters with only five of the brothers surviving childhood.2 Of these twelve children, Louis (1867-1947), Arthur and Miriam (1880-1965) became Seventh-day Adventists and all three served as missionaries in the South Pacific.3 After leaving school, Arthur worked as a printer and managed a newspaper for some years. He became a Seventh-day Adventist by reading the Great Controversy and had Bible studies with two colporteurs. As a result he attended the new Australasian Bible School in St. Kilda and used his printing skills working for the Bible Echo.4 At the Bible School, Arthur fell in love with May Lacey.5

Due to plans for developing the Avondale School for Christian Workers, the St. Kilda Bible School closed. Arthur went to work for the tract society in Wellington, New Zealand in 1894.6 In 1895, he attended the Avondale Industrial School,7 which was developing the facilities for the Avondale School for Christian Workers.

Employment

Later in 1896, Arthur, along with his brother Louis (and Lizzie Hubbard, later to become Louis’ wife) attended the first training program at the Summer Hill Institute.8 After that he canvassed, often with his brother, in Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales.9

In 1899, Currow, along with a number of others, requested denominational sponsorship to study medicine. However, he was unsuccessful and the panel of the Australasian Medical Missionary and Benevolent Association recommended that he study another year at Avondale.10 Ellen White’s Educational Fund contributed to his fees and those of his sister Miriam.11

When E. D. Sharp, a minister from the North Pacific Conference was unable to take up an appointment to Fiji, the North Pacific Conference offered the budget to the Australasian Union Conference to assist J. E. Fulton in Fiji.12 Consequently the Australasian Union Conference appointed Arthur Currow to go to Fiji13 becoming the first Australian Seventh-day Adventist Missionary in Fiji.14

Initially, Currow’s call to Fiji was for ministry and literature evangelism.15 However, with his background in printing, Fulton immediately assigned him to printing the Fijian language magazine, Rarama.16 Inevitably his role also grew to include giving some basic medical treatments,17 teaching a class of children and another of adults,18 fundraising for a ship to replace the wrecked Cina,19 the Suvavou Church,20 and serving as treasurer.21 In a letter to Willie White requesting a donation for the Suvavou Church, Currow described his work as “very pleasant” and giving “constant joy,” yet expressed his frustration at his inability to respond to the many requests created from the interests aroused through Adventist literature. He lamented that “the isles shall wait [patiently and long] for the law.”22

In 1903, Currow encouraged his brother Louis and his wife to come to Fiji as self-supporting medical missionaries.23 He dreamed this type of work would open doors for mission among the Europeans and the indentured Indians.24

In November 1903, Fulton called the first Fiji Council and Arthur Currow served as its Secretary. This Council was to establish the name for the Church in Fiji, develop strategies for mission, and determine applications of SDA belief in the Fijian context.

In 1904, Currow married Margaret Elizabeth Reid in Napier, New Zealand.25 Margaret Elizabeth Reid was born December 16, 1874.26 The service was conducted by Pastor W. L. H. Baker who wanted them to stay longer in New Zealand and commence work for the Maoris.27 This request, initially to E. H. Gates, created quite a storm with John Fulton instructing Arthur to return to Fiji immediately, which he did,28 and Baker was left to explain himself to both Fulton, currently at Avondale, and Irwin, the AUC President.29 Although the Currows returned, Fulton was not happy with the attitude expressed in his letter responding to Fulton’s demand that he return to Fiji immediately.30 John Fulton’s wife Susie also returned to Fiji with their children just after Arthur and Margaret Currow had arrived.31 Soon after her arrival, Suzie wrote several letters to John Fulton who was still at Avondale reporting her dissatisfaction with Arthur Currow’s attitude and performance. She reported his words as, “I have married a wife, please excuse me.”32 On receiving these letters, Fulton corresponded with Irwin about his concerns, including his presumption that Louis Currow supported his brother’s attitudes. After considering this correspondence several times, the Union committee decided to recall Arthur Currow.33 Arthur and Margaret left Fiji on November 11. 1904,34 returning to Napier where he continued a self-supporting medical ministry for the next eight years.35 During these years, their son Reginald Viti was born in 1908.36

After the appointment of John Fulton as President of Australasian Union Conference in 1912, Arthur Currow was appointed to the Lau Group in Fiji.37 Although this appointment was later rescinded, he re-entered formal employment with the Church in New Zealand, ministering in New Zealand.38

In 1919, after his application to return to work in Fiji had been declined,39 Currow moved with his family to California with the dream of pursuing his interest in medicine, studying pre-med at Pacific Union College in 1919-20.40 On completion of this year at PUC, he worked in pastoral evangelism in the Southern California Conference, pioneering work in the San Fernando Valley. He was ordained in 1925.41 Due to health issues, he retired in August 1927.42

Later Years

Margaret Currow died on April 12, 1955 and was buried in Placer, California.43 On December 19, 1955, Arthur married May Lacey White. She had been married to Willie White. But she had been a close friend of Arthur Currow back at St. Kilda Bible School, 60 years earlier. Initially, they resided at the Azusa Valley Sanitarium.44 Arthur died on May 8, 1964 at Angwin, California and was buried in the Napa cemetery.45 May died on September 7, 1969 at Angwin and was buried in the White family plot in Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, Michigan.46

Sources

Adams, Miriam. “By Faith Alone.” Australasian Record, April 30, 1956; May 7, 1956; May 14, 1956; May 21, 1956; May 28, 1956; June 4, 1956.

“Arthur Currow”, Review and Herald, July 2, 1964.

Arthur Currow Personal Service Records. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives. Folder: “Currow, Arthur”, Document: “Personal Service Record”.

Arthur Currow Service Card, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives; Folder: “Currow, Arthur.” Document: “Service Card.”

Arthur Currow Sustentation Records. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives. Folder: “Currow, Arthur.” Document: “Sustentation Fund Application Blank”.

Australasian Union Conference Council Minutes, 1897-1909, 5th Meeting, May 31, 1904, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives.

Australasian Union Conference Council Minutes, 1897-1909, 6th Meeting, August 5, 1904, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, 254.

Australasian Union Conference Council Minutes, 1897-1909, 17th Meeting, August 9, 1904, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, 268.

“Australians in the United States.” Australasian Record, March 12, 1956.

Baker, W. H. L. “Arthur Currow/Margaret Elizabeth Reid.” Marriages in the District of Napier 04/485, March 8, 1904.

Baker, W. H. L. to E. H. Gartes. March 3, 1904. Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College, of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW.

Baker, W. H. L. to G Irwin. March 25, 1904. Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW.

“Council Meeting in Fiji.” Australasian Record, May 15, 1904.

Currow, A. “The Situation in Fiji. Australasian Record, March 1, 1902.

Currow, Arthur. “Extract of a Letter to W. C. White.” December 4, 1902. Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW.

Currow, Arthur to Ellen White. July 4, 1897. Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW.

“Currow, May Lacey White,” Obituary Citation, Lake Union Herald, February 10, 1970. Accessed May 7, 2019. https://encore.andrews.edu/iii/encore/record/C__Rb3715310__SCurrow%2C__P0%2C6__Orightresult__U__X6?lang=eng&suite=cobalt

Currow, Stephen J. “Pioneer Australian Adventist Missionaries to Fiji: Arthur Currow (1901-04 & 1903-06).” Journal of Pacific Adventist History, vol. 2, no. 2, December 2002, 29-37.

“Distribution of Labour.” Australasian Record, September 16, 1912.

Foreign Mission Board Minutes 4, “Fiji.” June 20, 1901, 16. General Conference Archives, Silver Spring. MD.

“First Year 1895 Industrial Students.” Avondale School for Christian Workers Register. Avondale College of Higher Education Archives.

“From letters received . . . ,” Australasian Record, February 24, 1913.

Fulton, J. E. “The Work in Fiji.” Review and Herald, April 15, 1902.

Fulton, J. E. “The Work in Fiji.” Australasian Record, January 1, 1904.

Fulton, J. E. to G. Irwin. March 13, 1904. Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW.

Fulton, J. E. to G. Irwin. April 20, 1904. Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW.

Fulton, J. E. to G. Irwin. May 19, 1904. Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW.

Fulton, J. E. to G. Irwin. May 24, 1904. Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW.

Fulton, John, to W. C. White. November 27, 1901. Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW.

Fulton, John. “Cause in Fiji.” Review and Herald, April 14, 1903.

Lloyd, Ernest. “Full of Years and Good Works - Elder and Mrs Arthur Currow.” Review and Herald, August 3, 1959.

“Margaret Currow.” California Death Index 1940-1997.

Mission Secretary. “Notes From the Field.” 4th Sabbath Reading, May 28, 1904. Personal collection of the author.

Morse, G. W. “Letter to Arthur Currow.” February 27, 1899. Letter File, Sydney Adventist Hospital Heritage Room, Wahroonga, NSW.

“Reginald Currow obituary.” Pacific Union Recorder, September 30, 1985.

“Report from the Committee on the Distribution of Labour.” Australasian Record, July 31, 1901.

“Fiji Mission.” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1904. Washington DC: General Conference, 1904.

“Shipping.” Fiji Times, March 30, 1904.

“Shipping.” Fiji Times, November 12, 1904.

“Southern California Conference: Ministers.” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington DC: General Conference, 1926.

“The descendants of Salvator Currow and Elizabeth Caroline Wayth.” Unpublished document in the personal collection of the author.

White, Arthur L. “Life Sketch of May Lacey White Currow.” Adventist Review, November 3, 1969.

Wilson, G. T. “New Zealand.” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, September 10, 1894.

Notes

  1. “Currow, Arthur obituary,” Review and Herald, July 2, 1964, 24.

  2. “The descendants of Salvator Currow and Elizabeth Caroline Wayth,” unpublished document in the personal collection of the author.

  3. See Stephen J. Currow, “Pioneer Australian Adventist Missionaries to Fiji: Arthur & Louis Currow (1901-04 & 1903-06),” Journal of Pacific Adventist History, vol. 2, no. 2, December 2002: 29-37; and Miriam Adams, “By Faith Alone,” Australasian Record, April 30, 1956; May 7, 1956; May 14, 1956; May 21, 1956; May 28, 1956; June 4, 1956.

  4. Ernest Lloyd, “Full of Years and Good Works - Elder and Mrs Arthur Currow,” Review and Herald, August 13, 1959, 6.

  5. Arthur L. White, “Life Sketch of May Lacey White Currow”, Australasian Record, November 3, 1969, 12-13.

  6. G. T. Wilson, “New Zealand,” Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, September 10, 1894, 256.

  7. ”Currow, Arthur obituary,” Review and Herald, July 2, 1964, 24; and “First Year 1895 Industrial Students,” Avondale School for Christian Workers Register, Avondale College of Higher education Archives, 62.

  8. Bert Clifford and Noel Clapham, “Health & Healing,” in Noel Clapham, ed., Seventh-day Adventists in the South Pacific 1885-1985, (Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company, n.d.), 79.

  9. Arthur Currow Personal Service Records; South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives; Folder: “Currow, Arthur;” Document: “Personal Service Record.”

  10. G. W. Morse to Arthur Currow, February 27, 1899, Letter File, Sydney Adventist Hospital Heritage Room, Wahroonga, New South Wales (NSW).

  11. Arthur Currow to Ellen White, July 4, 1897, Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW.

  12. Foreign Mission Board Minutes 4, “Fiji,” June 20, 1901, General Conference Archives.

  13. “Report from the Committee on the Distribution of Labour,” Union Conference Record, July 31, 1901, 93.

  14. See Stephen J. Currow, “Pioneer Australian Adventist Missionaries to Fiji: Arthur & Louis Currow (1901-04 & 1903-06),” Journal of Pacific Adventist History, vol. 2, no. 2, December 2002: 29-37.

  15. “Report from the Committee on the Distribution of Labour,” Union Conference Record, July 31, 1901, 93.

  16. John Fulton to W. C. White, November 27, 1901, Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW.

  17. J. E. Fulton, “The Work in Fiji,” Review and Herald, April 15, 1902, 17.

  18. John Fulton, “Cause in Fiji,” Review and Herald, April 14, 1903, 14.

  19. A. Currow, “The Situation in Fiji,” Union Conference Record, March 1, 1902, 9.

  20. John Fulton, “Cause in Fiji,” Review and Herald, April 14, 1903, 14.

  21. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1904, (Washington, DC: General Conference, 1904), 59.

  22. Arthur Currow, “Extract from Letter to W. C. White,” December 4, 1902, E. G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW.

  23. J. E. Fulton, “The Work in Fiji” Union Conference Record, January 1, 1904, 3.

  24. ”Council Meeting in Fiji”, Union Conference Record, May 15, 1904, 2; “Notes from the Field,” 4th Sabbath Reading, May 28, 1904, held in the personal collection of the author.

  25. W. L. H. Baker, “Arthur Currow/Margaret Elizabeth Reid,” Marriages in the District of Napier 04/485, March 8, 1904.

  26. “Margaret Currow,” California Death Index 1940-1997, accessed April 20, 2004, www.ancestry.com.

  27. W. L. H. Baker to E. H. Gates,” March 3, 1904, Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW; J. E .Fulton, to G. Irwin, March 13, 1904, Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW; W. L. H. Baker, to G. Irwin”, March 25, 1904, Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW; J. E. Fulton to G. Irwin,” April 20, 1904, Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW.

  28. “Shipping,” Fiji Times, March 30, 1904, 2.

  29. W. L. H. Baker to E. H. Gates,” March 3, 1904, Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW; J. E .Fulton, to G. Irwin, March 13, 1904, Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW; W. L. H. Baker, to G. Irwin”, March 25, 1904, Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW; J. E. Fulton to G. Irwin,” April 20, 1904, Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW.

  30. Ibid.

  31. J. E. Fulton to G. Irwin,” May 24, 1904, Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW.

  32. Ibid.

  33. J. E. Fulton to G. Irwin, May 19, 1904, Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW; J. E. Fulton to G. Irwin,” May 24, 1904, Letter File, Ellen G. White Research Centre, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW; Australasian Union Conference Executive Committee Minutes, 5th Meeting, May 31, 1904, “A Portion of a Letter from J. E. Fulton, 252; Australasian Union Conference Executive Committee Minutes, 6th Meeting, August 5, 1904, 254; Australasian Union Conference executive Committee Minutes, 17th Meeting, August 9, 1904, “A Letter from J. E. Fulton, 268.

  34. “Shipping,” Fiji Times, November 12, 1904, 2.

  35. Arthur Currow Sustentation Records; General Conference Archives; Folder “Currow, Arthur;” Document: “Sustentation Fund Application Blank.”

  36. “Reginald Currow,” Pacific Union Recorder, September 30, 1985, 56.

  37. “Distribution of Labour,” Australasian Record, September 16, 1912, 3.

  38. ”“From letters received . . . ,” Australasian Record, February 24, 1913, 8.

  39. Arthur Currow Service Records; South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives; Folder “Currow, Arthur,” Document: “Service Card.”

  40. “Currow, Arthur obituary,” Review and Herald, July 2, 1964, 24.

  41. Arthur appears for the first time in the 1926 Southern California Ministerial Directory as ordained. “Southern California Conference: Minister,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook 1926 (Washington DC: General Conference, 1926), 73.

  42. Arthur Currow Sustentation Records; General Conference Archives; Folder “Currow, Arthur;” Document: “Sustentation Fund Application Blank.”

  43. “Margaret Currow,” California Death Index 1940-1997, accessed April 20, 2004, www.ancestry.com.

  44. “Australians in the United States,” Australasian Record, March 12, 1956, 12.

  45. “Currow, Arthur obituary,” Review and Herald, July 2, 1964, 24; and “Arthur Currow,” California Death Index 1940-1997, accessed April 20, 2004, www.ancestry.com

  46. Arthur L. White, “Life Sketch of May Lacey White Currow,” Australasian Record, November 3, 1969, 12-13; “Currow, May Lacey White,” Obituary Citation, Lake Union Herald, February 10, 1970, accessed May 7, 2019, https://encore.andrews.edu/iii/encore/record/C__Rb3715310__SCurrow%2C__P0%2C6__Orightresult__U__X6?lang=eng&suite=cobalt

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Currow, Stephen J. "Currow, Arthur (1872–1964) and Margaret Elizabeth [Lizzie] (Reid) (1874–1955); later May Lacey White (1873-1969)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 09, 2021. Accessed September 23, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=B7V5.

Currow, Stephen J. "Currow, Arthur (1872–1964) and Margaret Elizabeth [Lizzie] (Reid) (1874–1955); later May Lacey White (1873-1969)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 09, 2021. Date of access September 23, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=B7V5.

Currow, Stephen J. (2021, January 09). Currow, Arthur (1872–1964) and Margaret Elizabeth [Lizzie] (Reid) (1874–1955); later May Lacey White (1873-1969). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved September 23, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=B7V5.