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Avery Varner Dick family.

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

Dick, Avery Varner (1914–2012) and Florence Arline (McTaggart) (1914–2005)

By Adlai Wilfred M. Tornalejo

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Adlai Wilfred M. Tornalejo is a theology instructor at South Philippine Adventist College, Digos Davao del Sur, Philippines. He finished his Bachelor of Theology from Mountain View College, Valencia, Bukidnon, Philippines in 2016. He earned an M.A. in religion in church history and theology from the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies in 2018.

First Published: January 10, 2021

Avery and Florence Dick were missionaries in China and the Philippines.

Early Life

Avery Varner Dick was a pastor, evangelist, church planter, and a missionary Bible teacher. He was born to Seventh-day Adventist parents Arthur C. Dick and Altie Wordell-Dick on November 15, 1914 on a farm in La Harpe, Kansas, U.S.A.1 Avery is the second among five boys; Willis, the eldest, was a missionary doctor who served as director of several medical institutions in the Philippines; then there were Marvin Edgar, Clyde, and Elwin Keith.2

Avery spent his early childhood years at their farm in La Harpe, Kansas. He was baptized in 1930 at Enterprise Academy. Records show that Avery couldn’t remember who baptized him, but it was either A. C. Griffin or R. E. Griffin.3

Education and Marriage

Dick attended Jeddo School, La Harpe, Kansas from 1921--1929. He went to Enterprise Academy at Enterprise, Kansas for his secondary education during the years 1929--1933. From 1933 to 1938 he attended Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska and finished with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Religion. He then attended Potomac University, Washington, D.C. on subsequent years 1944, 1953, 1955, completing a Bachelor of Divinity degree in 1958.4 He then went to Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan for higher education, earning a Master of Divinity in 19635

Avery Dick was married to Florence Arline McTaggart on June 8, 1938 at Campbell, Minnesota. Florence was born on September 24, 1914 in Campbell, Minnesota to parents Allan McTaggart, a Canadian who acquired U.S. citizenship and Alta Hurts, an American.6 Florence attended Campbell High School at Campbell, Minnesota from 1920--1932. Through the influence of Godly parents, she was converted to the Adventist faith and was baptized in 1931 by G. L. Budd, at Ten Mile Lake, Minnesota. She then attended Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1933 to 1937. She went to Washington Missionary College, Washington, D.C. in the summer of 1953 and completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1957.7

After their marriage Florence joined her husband in the ministerial work. In 1947 until 1950 she served in various places as a church school teacher. In 1950 until 1954 she taught in North Dakota. From 1955 until 1956 she taught at the North Dakota Junior High School. From 1956 until 1958 she served as a nurse aid at the Washington Sanitarium and Hospital. From 1958 until 1963 she served at Oshawa Missionary as a church school teacher during the 1958 to1959 school year and from 1959 until 1963 served as the head of the Home Economics Department of Oshawa Missionary College.8

Avery and Florence Arline had two children, namely Ardis, who was born in Rock Springs, Wyoming and Aubrey, who was born in Boulder, Colorado. Aubrey died when he was 16 years old due to a drowning incident.9

Ministry

Avery Dick started his ministerial work as a ministerial intern in 1938 at Wyoming Mission. From that year until 1946 he served as pastor and evangelist in Wyoming, Western slope of Colorado, Missouri, and North Colorado.10 After four years of ministerial internship, he was ordained in the ministry in 1942 during a Colorado campmeeting with Elders Carlyle B. Hanes, Neil C. Wilson, and G. F. Eichman officiating the ordination service.11

In 1947 the Dicks answered a call to serve as mission director in China. After being evacuated twice from the Communist army in China, the family moved to the Philippines in 1949 where they pioneered mission work in the Mountain Provinces Mission until 1952.12 Dick is recognized as the first official director of the Mountain Province Mission.13 They labored among the Igorots, a tribe in Ifugao of Northern Luzon.14 Dick established schools, a clinic, and planted several churches in the area.15

In 1952 the Dicks were called back to the United States and served as a district pastor in North Dakota until 1956.16 In 1956 he requested for a leave of absence from the Dakota Conference to pursue higher education. When his request was turned down, he resigned and moved to Takoma Park, Maryland, and finished a Bachelor of Divinity in Old Testament Studies in 1958 from Potomac University.17

From 1958 until 1963 he served as head of the Bible Department of Oshawa Missionary College (now Kingsway College) Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.18 He also taught Greek and other religion courses.19

In 1963 the family answered a call to serve Mountain View College, in Bukidnon, Philippines as a Bible teacher and head of the Theology department.20 During his years at MVC, Dick served as the chief photographer for two archeological digs in Jordan led by Siegfried Horn and professors from Andrews University, Walla Walla College, Columbia Union College, Middle East College at the site they hoped was ancient Hesbon.21 Some of his pictures are published in the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary, Adventist Review,22 and Andrews University Seminary Studies.23

After serving MVC, the Dicks returned to the United States at the end of 196824 and taught part time at Andrews University for one term.25 They then moved to Alberta, Canada where Avery served from 197026 as the head of the theology department of Canadian Union College (now Canadian University College).27

Later Life

The Dicks retired and settled in Loveland, Colorado in 1977. Even after retirement, he remained active in the ministry. He helped pastor the Estes Park Seventh-day Adventist Church28 and was an active member of the Campion Seventh-day Adventist Church. The Campion church library is named for him.

In 2005 Florence Arline died in Loveland while Avery passed away at the age of 97 on May 25, 2012 in Loveland, Colorado.29

Legacy

Avery and Florence Dick were dedicated church workers and missionaries who were passionate in their work. Avery Varner Dick is recognized as the first official director of the Mountain Province Mission. He was an educator who exemplified his love for continued learning. His years of service in the Far Eastern Division, especially his pioneering work in the tribes of Northern Luzon, have greatly contributed to the growth of the church in this part of the Philippines. As a missionary Bible teacher he was instrumental in training many pastors, especially in Canada and the Philippines. Avery Dick learned several languages and could speak them. He knew German, Greek, Hebrew, and Mandarin Chinese.30 Photography was his major hobby, but he also spent long hours working with his Greek and writing short articles about New Testament passages.31

Sources

“Avery Varner Dick,” Biographical Information Blank. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Archives, Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A.

“Avery Varner Dick.” Loveland, Reporter Herald, May 26, 2012.

Boraas, Roger S. and Siegfried H. Horn. “Heshbon Expedition: The Third Campaign at Tell Hesban (1973).” Andrews University Seminary Studies, Autumn 1975.

Dick, Avery. “Not Indians.” ARH, March 9, 1989.

Focus, Summer 2012.

Graham, M. S. “Camp Clean Up and Completion Report,” Canadian Union Messenger, May 30, 1974.

Labadisos, Alfred E. and Remwil R. Tornalejo. “Dick, Willis Gentry (1913–2013).” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, 2020. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BAW2&highlight=Dick,|Willis|Gentry.

“Mrs. Florence Arline Dick,” Biographical Information Blank. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Archives, Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A.

North American Division Minutes, August 1952. Accessed October 5, 2021.https://documents.adventistarchives.org/Minutes/NAD/NAD1952-08.pdf.

No author. “Dick Brothers Hold Reunion at Mountain View College.” Far Eastern Division Outlook, June 1967.

Horn, Siegfried. “The Organization of the Expedition.” ARH, January 16, 1969.

Rilloma, Nestor C. and Jose F. Sarsoza, Jr., 100 Years Back to the Future: Celebrating God’s Goodness. Manila: Philippine Publishing House, 2005.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1968; 1970. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

Wilson, Neal C. “Be a Contagious Example.” ARH, January 1981.

Notes

  1. “Avery Varner Dick,” Biographical Information Blank, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Archives, Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A.

  2. See Alfred E. Labadisos and Remwil R. Tornalejo, “Dick, Willis Gentry (1913–2013,” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, 2020, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BAW2&highlight=Dick,|Willis|Gentry.

  3. “Avery Varner Dick,” Biographical Information Blank.

  4. Ibid.

  5. Avery Varner Dick, Biographical Information Blank. See also “Avery Varner Dick,” Loveland, Reporter Herald, May 26, 2012. https://www.reporterherald.com/2012/05/26/avery-varner-dick/. Accessed October 5, 2021.

  6. “Mrs. Florence Arline Dick,” Biographical Information Blank, General Conference of SDA Archives.

  7. Ibid.

  8. Ibid.

  9. Focus, Summer 2012, 38.

  10. “Avery Varner Dick,” Biographical Information Blank. See also “Avery Varner Dick,” Loveland, Reporter Herald.

  11. Biographical Information Blank.

  12. “Avery Varner Dick,” Loveland, Reporter Herald.

  13. See Nestor C. Rilloma and Jose F. Sarsoza, Jr., 100 Years Back to the Future: Celebrating God’s Goodness (Manila: Philippine Publishing House, 2005), 57.

  14. Avery Dick, “Not Indians,” ARH, March 9, 1989, 2.

  15. Focus, Summer 2012, 38.

  16. North American Division Minutes, August 1952. https://documents.adventistarchives.org/Minutes/NAD/NAD1952-08.pdf. Accessed October 5, 2021.

  17. Focus, Summer 2012, 38.

  18. Biographical Information Blank

  19. Avery Varner Dick,” Loveland, Reporter Herald, May 26, 2012.

  20. Biographical Information Blank. See also, No author, “Dick Brothers Hold Reunion at Mountain View College,” Far Eastern Division Outlook, June 1967, 13.

  21. Siegfried H. Horn, “The Organization of the Expedition,” ARH, January 16, 1969, 7. See Focus, Summer 2012, 38.

  22. Focus, Summer 2012, 38.

  23. See Roger S. Boraas and Siegfried H. Horn, “Heshbon Expedition: The Third Campaign at Tell Hesban (1973),” Andrews University Seminary Studies, Autumn 1975, 101-116.

  24. SDA Yearbook, 1968, 326.

  25. Focus, Summer 2012, 38.

  26. SDA Yearbook, 1970, 308.

  27. See M. S. Graham, “Camp Clean Up and Completion Report,” Canadian Union Messenger, May 30, 1974, 190.

  28. See Neal C. Wilson, “Be a Contagious Example,” ARH, January 1981, 3.

  29. Avery Varner Dick,” Loveland, Reporter Herald, May 26, 2012.

  30. Biographical Information Blank

  31. Focus, Summer 2012, 38.

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Tornalejo, Adlai Wilfred M. "Dick, Avery Varner (1914–2012) and Florence Arline (McTaggart) (1914–2005)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 10, 2021. Accessed May 24, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BCIG.

Tornalejo, Adlai Wilfred M. "Dick, Avery Varner (1914–2012) and Florence Arline (McTaggart) (1914–2005)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 10, 2021. Date of access May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BCIG.

Tornalejo, Adlai Wilfred M. (2021, January 10). Dick, Avery Varner (1914–2012) and Florence Arline (McTaggart) (1914–2005). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BCIG.