Fernandez, Marcel Christophe (1942–2012) and Dorothy (1948–2010)

By Eudritch Jean, and Jean-Michel Martin

×

Eudritch Jean: Diploma in Electronic Engineering (Haitian State University), B.A. in Theology (Adventist University of Haiti), and M.T.S. (Friedensau Adventist University [FAU], Germany). Jean worked as an electronic engineer in Haiti for twelve years and shortly served as assistant pastor at the district of Bethanie in the Central Haiti Conference. Currently, he is working as volunteer for the Institute of Adventist Studies of FAU. He plans to pursue doctoral studies in ethics.

Jean-Michel Martin, Ph.D. (University of Geneva), is a retired church historian who has taught history in the Adventist University of France in Collonges-Campus Adventists du Salève.

Marcel and Dorothy Fernandez were missionaries in Tahiti and Cameroon. Marcel Fernandez also served as president of the French Adventist Seminary in Collonges, France, from 1980 to 1984.

Early Life

Marcel Christophe Fernandez was a third-generation Seventh-day Adventist. He was born on October 10, 1942 in Palissy (department of Oran), Algeria, to Manuel Fernandez and Josephine née Calatayut.1 He spent most of his childhood in his home village, Bouguirat, and attended the local primary school. Later, he went to the boarding school of Mostaganem, Algeria, for his secondary education, which he completed at the high school of the French Adventist Seminary in Collonges-sous-Salève.2

Education, Early Career, and Marriage

After his secondary education, Marcel studied psychology at the university of Aix-en-Provence, France.3 In addition, he attended the School of Arts of Bordeaux, France, where he studied education. In 1965 he began work as a specialized educator in Avignon, Aix-en-Provence.4 Two years later he went to Papeete, French Polynesia, to teach and lead the Adventist primary school, namely Tahiti Missionary School.5 While working there until 1969, he met Dorothy Brotherson, a young woman from French Polynesia. Marcel married Dorothy on August 7, 1969, in Bessan, France.6 They had five biological children, Jean-Manuel, Lionel, Audrey, Annie-Laure, and Michaël, and were the legal guardians of another one, Bunga né Matondo.

Missionary in Cameroon

After their marriage, the couple went to Cameroon to serve as missionaries. Marcel received a call to serve as teacher and vice-principal at the Cameroon Training School in Nanga-Eboko.7 In the meantime, his wife worked as the dean of girls.8 The couple served there for one year. Afterwards, they moved to Sangmelima in the southern part of Cameroon. In 1970, Marcel was called to be principal of the Adventist secondary school of that city, a position he held until 1973. He also served as a teacher of Bible and English, and his wife taught French.9

At the end of 1973, the Fernandez family returned to France where they spent a year in Bordeaux in order for Marcel to complete his bachelor studies in education. Toward the end of his studies he received a call to return to Africa to become president of the Adventist seminary in Nanga-Eboko, Cameroon.10 Marcel and Dorothy accepted the call and worked at the seminary in Cameroon until 1980.

Back to Europe

After working as missionaries in Africa for a decade, the Fernandez family returned to France. In the summer of 1980, Marcel became president of the French Adventist Seminary at Collonges-sous-Salève and held this office for four years.11 He was also involved in teaching education and psychology, while his wife worked as a secretary and English teacher.12 Under his leadership, the department responsible for pastoral training became the School of Theology.13

Pastor, Broadcaster, and Administrator

At the end of his tenure as president of the French Adventist Seminary, Fernandez remained a teacher at the school of theology and the secondary school of the seminary until 1998. However, he also became involved in other activities. From 1986 to 1987, he worked as pastor in the nearby city of Saint-Julien-en-Genevois, France. In 1993 he was ordained to the ministry. After his ordination, he pastored the church of the seminary in Collonges-sous-Salève, France, for five years.

In September 1998, Fernandez ended his teaching and pastoral activities at the French Adventist Seminary which, in the meantime, became Salève Adventist University.14 The couple then started a radio ministry for French countries. Under the pseudonym of Christophe Selmar, Marcel prepared spiritual and educational broadcasts that were aired by Radio Inter Val (Gard and Lozère, France) and Radio Semnoz (Annecy, France).15 Dorothy served as secretary of the radio ministry. Some of the broadcasts were also aired by Adventist World Radio in order to reach Muslim countries around the Mediterranean area.

Besides his career as educator, pastor, and broadcaster, Marcel was an administrator at the union and conference levels. In 1983 and 1984 he worked as departmental director for education at the Franco-Belgian Union Conference.16 Concurrently, he held a similar position at the South France Conference, serving at this level until 1985 and again from 1989 to 1994.17 He also worked as departmental director for communication for the Attached Field “Trans-Mediterranean Territories” (MISSERM) from 1999 to his retirement in 2007.18 From 2002 onwards he served as secretary of that field and was the president of the Maghreb Field.

Later Years

Due to the failing health of Dorothy, the Fernandezes retired from active service in 2007 and moved to the Parpalho in the Cevennes, France.19 Dorothy could rest and recover from her first cancer.20 In the meantime, Fernandez was busy in taking care of his sick wife and in receiving every weekend some groups of young Adventists for pastoral care.21 In March 2010, Dorothy became sick again and was diagnosed with a brain tumor.22 She died at the end of the year on December 24.23 Around two years later, Fernandez passed away as well. He died on June 13, 2012, at the hospital of Annecy, France.24 He was then 70 years old.

Contribution

Marcel Christophe and Dorothy Fernandez served the Adventist Church for about four decades. They contributed to the development of Adventist education in Cameroon and France. Their radio ministry contributed to the spreading of the Adventist message within French-speaking countries. Until recently, the broadcasts of Christophe Selmar were still aired in some of them. In addition, Fernandez was involved in mission outreach within Muslim countries particularly in North Africa. For more than a decade, he was an important figure of MISSERM.

Sources

“Avis de Décès.” Dorothy Fernandez. Accessed January 22, 2019. http://dorothyfernandez.centerblog.net/.

“Carte d’Identité.” Revue Adventiste, May 1982.

“Dates Importantes.” Campus Adventiste du Salève. Accessed January 29, 2019. .

“Décès du Professeur et Pasteur Marcel Fernandez.” Ellen White: Centre de Recherche. Accessed January 22, 2019. http://www.ellenwhitecenter.org/news/20120613/deces-du-pasteur-et-professeur-marcel-fernandez.

“Dorothy.” Dorothy Fernandez. Accessed January 22, 2019. http://dorothyfernandez.centerblog.net/.

“Euro-Africa: Claude Villeneuve.” ARH, June 14, 1984.

“For the Record: New Positions.” ARH, August 14, 1980.

General Conference Committee, General Conference Archives. Accessed January 29, 2019. http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Minutes/GCC/GCC1974-12.pdf.

Sauvagnat, Bernard. “Entrevue avec Marcel Fernandez: Le Séminaire à Bout Portant.” Revue Adventiste, May 1982.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association,1968-1972, 1982-1985.

Notes

  1. “Carte d’Identité,” Revue Adventiste, May 1982, 5; Annie-Laure Fernandez, interview by Eudritch Jean, WhatsApp Call, January 30, 2019.

  2. Annie-Laure Fernandez, interview by Eudritch Jean; Bernard Sauvagnat, “Entrevue avec Marcel Fernandez: Le Séminaire à Bout Portant,” Revue Adventiste, May 1982, 8.

  3. “Décès du Professeur et Pasteur Marcel Fernandez,” Ellen White: Centre de Recherche, accessed January 22, 2019, http://www.ellenwhitecenter.org/news/20120613/deces-du-pasteur-et-professeur-marcel-fernandez.

  4. “Carte d’Identité,” Revue Adventiste, May 1982, 5.

  5. Ibid. See also “Tahiti Missionary School,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1968), 348; “Tahiti Missionary School,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1969), 359-360.

  6. Annie-Laure Fernandez, interview by Eudritch Jean.

  7. “Carte d’Identité,” Revue Adventiste, May 1982, 5.

  8. “Cameroun Training School,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1970), 307.

  9. See “Sangmelima Secondary School,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1971), 373; “Sangmelima Secondary School,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1972), 342.

  10. General Conference Committee, December 12, 1974, General Conference Archives, accessed January 29, 2019, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Minutes/GCC/GCC1974-12.pdf.

  11. “For the Record: New Positions,” ARH, August 14, 1980, 24; “Euro-Africa: Claude Villeneuve,” Adventist Review, June 14, 1984, 21.

  12. See “French Adventist Seminary,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1982), 367; “French Adventist Seminary,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1983), 384.

  13. “Dates Importantes,” Campus Adventiste du Salève, accessed January 29, 2019, .

  14. In between, the French Adventist was first named Saleve Adventist Seminary, then Saleve Adventist Institute.

  15. Annie-Laure Fernandez, interview by Eudritch Jean. See also “Décès du Professeur et Pasteur Marcel Fernandez.”

  16. “Franco-Belgian Union Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1983), 104; “Franco-Belgian Union Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1984), 106.

  17. “South France Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1983), 106; “South France Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1984), 107; “South France Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald, 1985), 107. See also Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook from 1989 to 1994.

  18. See Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook from 1999 to 2007. MISSERM, Mission et Service pour les Musulmans (Mission and Service for the Muslims), was the term used by the Seventh-day Adventist Church for its missionary work among the Muslim countries around the Mediterranean area.

  19. Annie-Laure Fernandez, interview by Eudritch Jean.

  20. Ibid.

  21. Ibid.

  22. “Dorothy,” Dorothy Fernandez, accessed January 22, 2019, http://dorothyfernandez.centerblog.net/.

  23. “Avis de Décès,” Dorothy Fernandez, accessed January 22, 2019, http://dorothyfernandez.centerblog.net/.

  24. “Décès du Professeur et Pasteur Marcel Fernandez.”

×

Jean, Eudritch, Jean-Michel Martin. "Fernandez, Marcel Christophe (1942–2012) and Dorothy (1948–2010)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Accessed September 23, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BB7C.

Jean, Eudritch, Jean-Michel Martin. "Fernandez, Marcel Christophe (1942–2012) and Dorothy (1948–2010)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 28, 2021. Date of access September 23, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BB7C.

Jean, Eudritch, Jean-Michel Martin (2021, April 28). Fernandez, Marcel Christophe (1942–2012) and Dorothy (1948–2010). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved September 23, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BB7C.