View All Photos

Arthur Ferch

Photo courtesy of Carole Ferch Johnson.

Ferch, Arthur John (1940–1991)

By Lester Devine

×

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. 

Arthur Ferch was a pastor, church administrator, teacher, and published scholar.

Early Life

Arthur Johann Ferch was born in Hohensalza, Posen, Germany, on September 7, 1940.1 His parents, Arthur Willi Ferch and Maria Johanna (Chmielewski) Ferch were Seventh-day Adventists. German birth certificates of the time did not detail the Christian denomination of parents, but simply listed them as “believer” or “unbeliever.” Thus Ferch’s parents were described as “gottgläubig” (believing in God). Further, because Ferch was born during “Das Dritte Reich,” his birth certificate was stamped with a swastika, symbolic of the difficulties the world was experiencing at the time.2

Education

At the age of thirteen, Arthur was sent by his father to Seminar Marienhöhe, Germany for his high school education, but because he did not apply himself to his studies his father withdrew him from the school when he was sixteen and organized an apprenticeship for him as an interior decorator and sign writer.3 On the first day of that apprenticeship he determined that if ever he had the opportunity to study in the future, he would apply himself. Completing his apprenticeship at the age of nineteen, Ferch, who always had a great interest in seeing the wider world, traveled to Australia. His intention was to travel within Australia for two years and then return to Germany and study either medicine or theology.4

Working at his trade in Sydney, Australia, he made friends with an Adventist family who encouraged him to attend Avondale College. He was somewhat reluctant to follow their advice because at that point in time he had not read a single book in English. After some indecision, he did decide to enroll for one term, while at the same time booking a passage back to Germany for the month of May in case he failed in his studies. However, he found himself enjoying the relaxed and inclusive Australian culture, which had a positive influence on his decision to attend Avondale. Once there he was academically successful. Although he had been baptized while a student at Marienhöhe when he was sixteen,5 he experienced a complete conversion during the second year of his ministerial training at Avondale.6

Arthur graduated from Avondale in 1965 with a B.A. in theology and biblical studies, and after attending the first quarter of an Andrews University M.A. program at a summer extension school on the Avondale campus, married Carole Lesley Grave on February 20, 1966 in Perth, Western Australia.7 Carole, who was born in Surrey, England on April 24, 1942, had emigrated to Australia with her parents and graduated from the Bible Instructors course at Avondale College in 1963.8 To this union were born two sons, Richard David, who later qualified as a neurosurgeon, and Andrew Charles, who was to become a teacher of mathematics.9

By the time Arthur graduated from Avondale it had been six years since he had been back to Germany and his father felt it was time for him to come home. Thus he, with Carole, accepted a pastoral appointment in Mannheim in 1966, and while the church in Germany would have liked him to remain there, the young couple returned to Australia after one year in pastoral work in Germany.10

Following four years in ministry and evangelism in Victoria, Australia, Arthur was invited to join the Faculty of Ministry and Theology at Avondale College at the end of 1970.11 He was ordained at the Victorian Conference Session and Camp Meeting on January 9, 1971, just before the family relocated to Avondale College.12 By the end of 1973 he had completed a bachelor of divinity degree (honors) with the University of London.13 In 1979 he was awarded a doctor of theology degree (ThD) at Andrews University. The ThD in Old Testament required proven competence in five languages (English, French, German, Greek, and Hebrew) in order to gain admission, with the expectation of additional languages later learned as part of the program. After passing his qualifying exams to become a doctoral candidate Arthur used eight languages to write his dissertation research.14 His dissertation, The Son of Man in Daniel 7, made a vital contribution to the Seventh-day Adventist understanding and interpretation of the book of Daniel.15 Arthur also studied with the Vancouver School of Theology in Canada in 1977 and at Heidelberg University in Germany in 1979. The reluctant student of his high school years had matured into a scholar with exceptional credentials.16

During these years Carole took advantage of the opportunity of living in an academic community. She completed a first degree in modern languages at Pacific Union College while her husband was teaching there in 1977 and then an MA in religion in 1979 at Andrews University.17 In 2016, Carole was awarded a PhD in New Testament Studies at Avondale College of Higher Education.18

Denominational Service

On their return to Australia, Arthur resumed his position with the theology faculty at Avondale College,19 in time becoming its chair.20 It was while he was chair of the department and largely under his influence that the first master’s degree in religion in affiliation with Andrews University was offered by Avondale College.21 On May 1, 1984 he assumed the position of Field Secretary of the South Pacific Division. These were difficult years for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific following the struggles and turmoil of the post-Glacier View period and the contribution of Arthur Ferch at that time was significant. Confident in his understanding of theological issues as historically taught by the Church, he sought, not through polemic, but quietly through sound and thorough scholarship, to assist the Church in arriving at a balanced, richer, and greater understanding of the issues in contention, work which came to be valued by the international Adventist theological community. Those within and beyond the Church who disagreed with him theologically found it hard to refute the thoroughness of his scholarship. His interests also extended beyond theology. He had a great interest in denominational history, something largely overlooked in the South Pacific prior to 1985. With the support of Walter Scragg, South Pacific Division President, he worked to address that need, editing a publication of papers read at a symposium on Adventist History in the South Pacific between 1885 and 1918.22 A second symposium saw him edit and publish a second compilation of papers, this time taking in the span of time between 1919 and 1950.23

Academic Achievements

Arthur’s curriculum vitae contains five pages of single-spaced typing listing his published works; an academic output not seen before in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific.24 Not all of his considerable literary output was technical or scholarly in nature. He was comfortable writing for popular magazines as well.

Later Life

Arthur and Carole worked well together and complimented each other. While they did not have the kind of direct pastoral partnership a husband and wife team caring for a congregation would have, they had parallel careers with Carole heavily involved in counseling, chaplaincy, college lecturing, women’s ministries, and prayer ministry. Carole has observed, “our ministry fields were very different from one another’s, but we had many interesting conversations as a result.”25

Arthur’s friendly persona, combined with considerable diplomatic acuity, did much to provide a climate where open and candid discussion could take place. In his role as division Field Secretary, as one senior church leader put it, “he considered the whole division to be his college and the ministers his students.”26 His visionary leadership was evidenced in his ability to persuade division leadership to sponsor promising young people for doctoral study. He was instrumental in the selection of Robert McIver, Barry Oliver, and Ray Roennfeldt, all of whom completed a PhD at Andrews University and who gave a lifetime of service to the Church in the South Pacific in positions of leadership and considerable influence. He ran workshops and training institutes for ministers across the Pacific, and it was on the day following one such program in Western Samoa that he died in a road accident on the island of Savaii on September 5, 1991.13 His colleagues around the world, and in the South Pacific Division particularly, were devastated and struggled to understand the loss of a genuine friend, consummate Christian gentleman, and scholar, who, at the height of his intellectual powers and spiritual leadership, was taken from them.

His funeral service was conducted by Drs. Thomas Ludowici, Bryan Ball, Lawrence Turner, and Pastor Ripine Rimoni, president of the Samoan Mission in the Wahroonga, New South Wales Church. He was buried in the Avondale Adventist Cemetery, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia.27 Carole later married Dr, Bill Johnson and served many years as chaplain at Sydney Adventist Hospital and subsequently as Women’s Ministries Director of the South Pacific Division until her retirement in 2000.

Sources

“A New Impetus to Ministerial Excellence as Avondale Enlarges Theology Department.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, October 22, 1979.

Arthur John Ferch Biographical Record. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives. Folder: “Ferch, Arthur John.” Document: “Biographical Record.”

Arthur John Ferch Biographical Record. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives. Folder: “Ferch, Arthur John.” Document: “Worker’s Biographical Record.”

Arthur John Ferch Service Record. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives. Folder: “Ferch, Arthur John.” Folder: “Ferch, Arthur John Service Record.”

“Curriculum Vitae, Arthur J. Ferch.” Unpublished document held in the personal collection of Carole Ferch Johnson.

Ferch, Arthur J. “A First in the Australasian Division.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, October 2, 1982.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Authorship, Theology, and Purpose of Daniel." In Symposium on Daniel, edited by Frank B. Holbrook, 3 – 83. Washington, D.C.: Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1986.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Christ Our Only Hope." Australasian Record, October 5, 1985.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Codified Love." ARH, May l7, 1979.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Commencement Date for the Seventy Week Prophecy." In 70 Weeks, Leviticus, Nature of Prophecy, edited by Frank B. Holbrook, 64 -74. Washington, D.C.: Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1986.

Ferch, Arthur J. Daniel on Solid Ground. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1987.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Daniel 7 and Ugarit: A Reconsideration." Journal of Biblical Literature 99/1 (1980):75-86.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Daniel 9:25 and History." Adventist Review, May 5, 1983.

Ferch, Arthur J. "History of the New Testament Text." Record, March 25, 1989; April 8, 1989; April22, 1989; May 6, 1989; May 20, 1989; June 3, 1989.

Ferch, Arthur J. In the Beginning. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1985.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Judgment Exalts the Cross." Ministry 56/4 (April 1983).

Ferch, Arthur J. "Luther's Road to Freedom." Signs of the Times, October 1977.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Porphyry: An Heir to Christian Exegesis?" Zeitschrift fur die Neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 73/1, 2 (1982): l4l-147.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Remedy of the Ages." Signs of the Times, September 1971.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Review of J. J. Collins, Daniel. With an Introduction to Apocalyptic Literature." Andrews University Seminary Studies 24/l (1986): 56-62.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Review of K. Koch, Das Buch Daniel." Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 23 (1982): 119 - 123.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Review of N. E. Andreason, The Christian Use of Time." Andrews University Seminary Studies l7/2 (1979): 210-211.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Review of R. L. Smith, Micah-Malachi (Word Biblical Commentary)." Andrews University Seminary Studies 23/3 (1985): 313-316.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Rightly Handling the Word of Truth." Australasian Record, January 25, 1981.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Rightly Handling the Word of Truth." Ministry 54/8 (August 1982).

Ferch, Arthur J. "The Book of Daniel and the 'Maccabean Thesis'." Andrews University Seminary Studies 21/2 (1983): 129-141.

Ferch, Arthur J. "The Judgment Scene in Daniel 7." In The Sanctuarv and the Atonement, edited by Arnold V. Wallenkampf and W. Richard Lesher 157 -176. Washington D.C.: Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1981.

Ferch, Arthur J. "The Millennium, a Golden Age on Earth - or in Heaven?" Ministry, 50/5 (May

Ferch, Arthur J. "The Pre-Advent Judgment." Adventist Review, October 30, 1980.

Ferch, Arthur J. "The Pre-Advent Judgment - Is it Scriptural?" Australasian Record, August 28, 1982.

Ferch, Arthur J. "The Two Aeons and the Messiah in Pseudo-Philo, 4 Ezra, and 2 Baruch." Andrews Universiry Seminary Studies l5/2 (1977): 135-151.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Uses of the Cross." Record, April 28, 1990.

Ferch, Arthur J. "What Creation Means to Me." Adventist Review, October 9, 1986.

Ferch, Arthur J. "Which Version Can We Trust?" Adventist Review, September 6, 1990; September 13, 1990; September 20, 1990; September 27, 1990.

Ferch, Arthur, J., ed. Journey of Hope: Seventh-day Adventist History in the South Pacific, 1919 – 1950. Wahroonga, New South Wales: South Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists, 1991.

Ferch, Arthur J., ed. Towards Righteousness by Faith: 1888 in Retrospect. Warburton, Victoria: Signs Publishing Company, 1990.

Ferch, Arthur J. The Son of Man in Daniel 7. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1983.

Ferch, Arthur J., ed. Symposium on Adventist History in the South Pacific, 1885 – 1918. Wahroonga, New South Wales: South Pacific Division, 1986.

Ferch, Carole Lesley Personal Service Record. South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives. Folder: “Ferch, Carole Lesley.” Document: “Worker’s Personal Service Record.”

“Graduates’ Appointments.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, November 28, 1966.

Hammond, H. W. “Ferch-Grave.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 14, 1966.

Hohensalza, Stadtbezirk, Germany. Geburtsbejcheinigung (Birth Certificate), no. 501 (1940), Arthur Johan Ferch. Hohensalsa, Neugartenstrasse 13. Held in the personal collection of Carole Ferch-Johnson.

Judd, A. D. “Called to Serve.” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 1, 1971.

Ludowici, Thomas J. “Ferch, Arthur John obituary.” Record, October 26, 1991.

“Mr A.L. Ferch . . .” Australasian Record, November 30, 1970.

Windeyer, H. J. “Victorian Conference Session and Camp – Meeting.” Australasian Record, March 8, 1971.

Notes

  1. Arthur John Ferch Biographical Record; South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives; Folder: “Ferch, Arthur John;” Document: “Worker’s Biographical Record.”

  2. Hohensalza, Stadtbezirk, Germany, Geburtsbejcheinigung (Birth Certificate), no. 501 (1940), Arthur Johan Ferch, Hohensalsa, Neugartenstrasse 13, held in the personal collection of Carole Ferch-Johnson.

  3. Ferch Biographical Record.

  4. Carole Ferch-Johnson, email message to author, December 4, 2017

  5. Ferch Biographical Record.

  6. Carole Ferch-Johnson, email message to author, December 4, 2017

  7. H. W. Hammond, “Ferch-Grave,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 14, 1966, 15.

  8. Ferch, Carole Lesley Personal Service Record; South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives; Folder: “Ferch, Carole Lesley;” Document: “Worker’s Personal Service Record.”

  9. Arthur John Ferch Biographical Record; South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives; Folder: “Ferch, Arthur John;” Document: “Biographical Record.”

  10. Ibid; see also “Graduates’ Appointments,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, November 28, 1966, 8.

  11. “Mr A.L. Ferch . . . ,” Australasian Record, November 30, 1970, 16.

  12. A. D. Judd, “Called to Serve,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, March 1, 1971, 1; H. J. Windeyer, “Victorian Conference Session and Camp – Meeting,” Australasian Record, March 8, 1971, 8.

  13. Curriculum Vitae, Arthur J. Ferch, unpublished document held in the personal collection of Carole Ferch Johnson, 1.

  14. Lester Devine, personal knowledge from a conversation with Arthur Ferch when colleagues together at the South Pacific Division office.

  15. Arthur J. Ferch, The Son of Man in Daniel 7 (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1983).

  16. Curriculum Vitae, 1.

  17. Ferch, Carole Lesley Personal Service Record.

  18. Carole Ferch-Johnson, email message to author, 28 November, 2017.

  19. “A New Impetus to Ministerial Excellence as Avondale Enlarges Theology Department,” Australasian Record, October 22, 1979, 12.

  20. Arthur John Ferch Service Record; South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives; Folder: “Ferch, Arthur John;” Folder: “Ferch, Arthur John Service Record.”

  21. Arthur J. Ferch, “A First in the Australasian Division,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, October 2, 1982, 1.

  22. Arthur J. Ferch, ed., Symposium on Adventist History in the South Pacific, 1885 – 1918 (Wahroonga, New South Wales: South Pacific Division, 1986).

  23. Arthur J. Ferch, ed., Journey of Hope: Seventh-day Adventist History in the South Pacific, 1919 – 1950 (Wahroonga, New South Wales: South Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists, 1991).

  24. Curriculum Vitae, 3-8.

  25. Carole Ferch-Johnson, email message to author, 28 November, 2017.

  26. Ibid.

  27. Thomas J. Ludowici, “Ferch, Arthur John obituary,” Record, October 26, 1991, 14.

×

Devine, Lester. "Ferch, Arthur John (1940–1991)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 09, 2021. Accessed October 15, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=E7VT.

Devine, Lester. "Ferch, Arthur John (1940–1991)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 09, 2021. Date of access October 15, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=E7VT.

Devine, Lester (2021, January 09). Ferch, Arthur John (1940–1991). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved October 15, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=E7VT.