Sanderson, Arthur James (1865–1927)

By Eriks Galenieks


Eriks Galenieks, Ph.D. in OT theology and intertextuality (Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan), taught at the Adventist University of Africa, Nairobi, Kenya, for nine years. His publications include The Nature, Function, and Purpose of the Term Sheol in the Torah, Prophets, and Writings: An Exegetical-Intertextual Study, and several book chapters, dictionary and encyclopedia articles. He edited The Sabbath and the Bible and The Trinity and the Bible.

First Published: October 7, 2020

Arthur James Sanderson, physician and pastor, was born October 1, 1865. After earning a medical degree at Cooper Medical College of San Francisco, he became associated with St. Helena Sanitarium for 10 years, eight as medical superintendent.

Arthur’s marriage to Alice Smith led to the birth of a daughter, also named Alice. However, Mrs. Sanderson died from tuberculosis soon thereafter, in 1892.1 Dr. Sanderson subsequently married Emma Griggs, sister of educational leader Frederick Griggs. They had two children, Martha and Marion.

In 1901, while he was superintendent at St. Helena, Ellen White warned Dr. Sanderson repeatedly concerning the dangers of “mind control” and “mind-cure” and other “speculative theories” that seemed to fascinate him. Pleading with him not to resist the influence of God in his life, she also warned and counseled him that his wife did not exert a good influence on the sanitarium nurses and called her to shun “worldly, frivolous entertainments,” by which she was “slighting God.”2

In 1906 Sanderson left St. Helen and opened the El Reposo Sanitarium. Though his sanitarium was privately-owned, he taught and practiced the “principles of health” throughout his two decades of medical ministry in the Bay Area.3 He also served the Berkeley church in the roles of “pastor, leader, and minister.” With the help of Dr. Sanderson’s “able, consecrated leadership” the congregation grew in membership from “a few to about 200.”4

While visiting friends in the eastern United States, Emma Griggs Sanderson died from heart failure on October 3, 1923.5 Dr. Sanderson later married Neva Huernergardt, his wife until his death July 2, 1927. Still the owner and operator of El Reposo Sanitarium at the time of his death, Sanderson left a legacy of dedicated service as a physician and pastor.


“Death of A. J. Sanderson, M.D.” ARH, July 14, 1927.

Roberts, G. A. “Arthur James Sanderson obituary.” Pacific Union Recorder. July 21, 1927.

Roberts, G. A. “Dr. A. J. Sanderson obituary.” ARH, August 25, 1927, 22.

White, Ellen G. “An Appeal to Be Converted Fully to Christ: Enjoy His Love, and Be a Help to Others.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 18. Ellen G. White Estate, 1990.

White Ellen G. Ellen G. White to A. J. Sanderson. October 6, 1901. Letter 133, 1901. Ellen G. White Estate.

White Ellen G. Ellen G. White to Brother and Sister A. J. Sanderson. September 18, 1901. Letter 123, 1901. Ellen G. White Estate. Letter 123, 1901.

White, Ellen G. “Letters to a Physician-in-Chief of a Large Sanitarium,” 1901. The Sanderson Collection. Folder: WDF 160 Vault. Andrews University, Center for Adventist Research.

White, Ellen G. “The Dangers of Mind-Cure: Neither Husband nor Wife to Control the Mind of the Other: An Appeal for Conversion.” Manuscript Releases, vol.18. Ellen G. White Estate, 1990.


  1. H. A. St. John, “Alice E. Sanderson obituary,” ARH, August 2, 1892, 15.

  2. Ellen G. White to A.J. Sanderson, October 6, 1901, Letter 133, 1901, accessed April 29, 2018,

  3. “Death of A. J. Sanderson, M.D.,” ARH, July 14, 1927, 24.

  4. G. A. Roberts, “A.J. Sanderson obituary,” ARH, August 25, 1927, 22.

  5. “Campus News of Pacific Union College,” Pacific Union Recorder, October 18, 1923, 2.


Galenieks, Eriks. "Sanderson, Arthur James (1865–1927)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 07, 2020. Accessed June 18, 2024.

Galenieks, Eriks. "Sanderson, Arthur James (1865–1927)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. October 07, 2020. Date of access June 18, 2024,

Galenieks, Eriks (2020, October 07). Sanderson, Arthur James (1865–1927). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 18, 2024,