Thomas Charles Lawson

Photo courtesy of Adventist Heritage Centre, Australia.

Lawson, Thomas Charles (1893–1971)

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. 

First Published: January 29, 2020

Pastor T. C. Lawson was a pastor and administrator who became the president of the Trans-Commonwealth Union Conference in Australia between 1952 and 1963.

Thomas Charles Lawson was born in South Australia on December 5, 1893.1 His parents were Seventh-day Adventists, and Thomas initially worked as a builder before attending the Australasian Missionary College, graduating from the ministerial course in 1919.2 Lawson entered denominational employment on December 1, 1919, and was engaged in evangelistic work in Queensland.3 One year later, on November 30, 1920, he married Una Lily Hosking in the Avondale Church at Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia.4 A son, Deryk Willard Lawson, was born on June 30, 1922.5

By 1925 Lawson was teaching for the Church in Western Australia, and then for the years 1927 and 1928, he was preceptor (dean of men) at West Australian Missionary College (now Carmel Adventist College).6 Following a year engaged in evangelism during 1929, he returned to teaching in 1930 for three years. Then at the West Australian Conference Session in 1933, he was appointed as the Educational secretary of the conference.7 This was followed by two years (January 1934–December 1935) of teaching in the South New South Wales Conference.8 Lawson’s next appointment was back to Western Australia, where he was working again at West Australian Missionary College.9 He was ordained to the gospel ministry on December 13, 1939.10

From January 1940 to the end of 1943, Lawson was the principal of the Australasian Missionary College in Cooranbong.11 Lawson came to his leadership role at Avondale with better experience and preparation than many of his predecessors in the early decades; men who tended to have pastoral backgrounds but with no educational administration or teaching experience. Lawson’s next appointment was as the Educational and Sabbath School secretary in the Australasian Union Conference for five years, from early 1944 until the end of 1948.12

From January 1949 to the end of 1951, Lawson served as the Sabbath School and Home Missions secretary for the new Trans-Commonwealth Union Conference, which served the needs of the Church in the southern half of the Australian continent and Tasmania as well as the state of Western Australia. Then, from January 1952 until his retirement in February 1963, Lawson was the president of the Trans-Commonwealth Union Conference.13

Pastor and Mrs. Lawson retired to live in Warners Bay, New South Wales, until he died on August 25, 1971.14

While somewhat formal in his relationships with people, T. C. Lawson is remembered by those who knew and worked with him as an excellent administrator.15

Sources

“A wedding of interest. . . .” Australasian Record, January 10, 1921.

Minutes of the Australasian Missionary College Board, December 20, 1939. Avondale College Archives, Cooranbong, N.S.W. Box: 201. Folder: “Australasian Missionary College Board Minutes 1936–1941.”

Butler, S. C. “The Conference Session.” Australasian Record, May 8, 1933.

Osmond, Hilda M. “Move Forward.” Australasian Record, December 22, 1919.

Thomas Charles Lawson Biographical Records. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives. Folder: “Lawson, Thomas Charles.” Document: “Biographical Information Blank.”

“Thomas Charles Lawson obituary.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, September 27, 1971.

Notes

  1. Thomas Charles Lawson Biographical Records, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives, Folder: “Lawson, Thomas Charles,” Document: “Biographical Information Blank.”

  2. Hilda M. Osmond, “Move Forward,” Australasian Record, December 22, 1919, 2.

  3. Thomas Charles Lawson Biographical Records, “Biographical Information Blank.”

  4. “A wedding of interest . . . ,” Australasian Record, January 10, 1921, 8.

  5. Thomas Charles Lawson Biographical Records, “Biographical Information Blank.”

  6. Ibid.

  7. S. C. Butler, “The Conference Session,” Australasian Record, May 8, 1933, 4.

  8. Thomas Charles Lawson Biographical Records, “Biographical Information Blank.”

  9. Ibid.

  10. Ibid.

  11. Minutes of the Australasian Missionary College Board, December 20, 1939, Avondale College Archives, Cooranbong, N.S.W., Box: 201, Folder: “Australasian Missionary College Board Minutes 1936–1941.”

  12. Thomas Charles Lawson Biographical Records, “Biographical Information Blank.”

  13. Ibid.

  14. “Thomas Charles Lawson obituary,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, September 27, 1971, 14.

  15. Elma Coombe, interview by the author, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia, September 18, 2019.

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Devine, Lester. "Lawson, Thomas Charles (1893–1971)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed February 27, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=D7Z0.

Devine, Lester. "Lawson, Thomas Charles (1893–1971)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access February 27, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=D7Z0.

Devine, Lester (2020, January 29). Lawson, Thomas Charles (1893–1971). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved February 27, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=D7Z0.