Helena Kate Lewin was a Bible worker, author, and the one who pioneered the Junior Missionary Volunteer (JMV) activities. She organized the first JMV camp for the juniors.
The third child of Frank (1861-1938) and Annie (1869-1938) Lewin, Helena was born at Dannevirke, New Zealand on March 29, 1903. She had three siblings, Francis (1896-1978), Stanley (1897-1948) and Lena (1905-1977). Her parents accepted the Seventh-day Adventist faith when she was two years old at Pahiatua under the guidance of Pastor C. A. Paap.1 When Helena was five years of age the family moved to Cambridge where Helena attended the Pukekura Training School near her home.2 In 1913 the training school was moved to Longburn, further south in the North Island of New Zealand.3 Helena, anxious to attend the New Zealand Missionary College (now Longburn Adventist College), canvassed the book Christ’s Object Lessons in order to afford fees for the three years she was there.4 She studied the office worker and business courses and then graduated in 1922 from the Bible Worker’s Course.5
In January, 1923 Lewin commenced work in the Sanitarium Health Food Auckland Café for a two-year period. Gaining employment as a Bible worker in 1925 she was engaged in an evangelistic series at Tauranga and became a charter member of the first Seventh-day Adventist Church in that city. The next year she engaged in Bible work in Auckland as well as being appointed Assistant Missionary Volunteer (MV) secretary and working with the youth of the church. She filled the role of preceptress and matron at the New Zealand Missionary College for the next two years.6 Her enthusiastic and happy nature endeared her to the hundreds of youth in the Conference.7
Move to Australia
At the close of the Queensland Conference session in late 1928, Lewin was appointed Sabbath School and Missionary Volunteer secretary and moved across the Tasman to Australia.8 As well as organising programs and camps for the youth of the conference, she sensed the need for more activities for the junior youth. She organised the first Junior Missionary Volunteer (JMV) camp for boys at the beachside suburb of Redcliffe in December, 1930 and for the girls in January, 1931.9 This was the beginning of organised camping for the juniors which started a yearly tradition. With one counsellor and a cook she set about developing camping skills with the children, with nature study classes, first aid lessons, and camp fire construction. Even the wash pots were cleaned well, so that no points would be lost for each camp unit. The local wildlife of dragon lizards and possums created havoc by entering the food tent and stealing eggs and carrots.10 Lewin’s pioneering work for the juniors of the church was soon recognised with an invitation to work for them in the Australasian Union Conference (AUC).
Move to AUC Headquarters
In 1934 Lewin moved to the Union Conference at Wahroonga as Sabbath School secretary and Field Assistant in the Missionary Volunteer Department.11 Quarterly Sabbath School reports published in the church paper Australasian Record often included an encouraging article on making Sabbath Schools better with articles on making records, help for teachers, soul-winning, and how to study the lesson.12 At this time the camp program for youth received a big impetus and in 1940 Lewin was requested to form a separate JMV program with her acting as the Union Conference Secretary for JMVs.13
Lewin’s passion for Sabbath School work and the junior youth of the church was well recognised. She was a capable worker and wrote many articles and reports for the Australasian Record and a few in the Youth’s Instructor. She will be best remembered as the one who pioneered the JMV activities.14 From travelling extensively around the conferences paying visits to many local churches on behalf of the Sabbath School work, she easily moved into similar work for juniors with long periods away from the office.15 It is interesting to note that Lewin wrote the second article in an issue of the Australasian Record written entirely by women.16
Sadly, ill health forced her to retire early in 1946. For sixteen long and painful years she never lost her courage, enjoyed the visits of friends17 and was kindly cared for by her sister Lena, a ward sister at the Sydney Sanitarium and Hospital.18 Lewin passed away at the Sydney Sanitarium and Hospital on May 27, 1962. She was buried at the Avondale Seventh-day Adventist Cemetery at Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia.19
Flanigan, Veronica M. “MV Camping Through the Years.” Australasian Record, September 12, 1966.
Judge, A. G. “Sister F. Lewin obituary.” Australasian Record, June 20, 1938.
Leeder, S. T. “Brother Frank Lewin obituary.” Australasian Record, August 22, 1938.
Lewin, Helena. “In Three Happy Weeks.” Australasian Record, June 28, 1920.
Lewin, Helena K. “Report of the Sabbath School Department.” Australasian Record, October 8, 1934.
Life Sketch, Miss Helena Lewin, 1962, Ellen G White/SDA Research Centre, South Pacific Division. Avondale College of Higher Education, DF 3111.
Mills, J. “Oroua Missionary School.” Australasian Record, June 23, 1913.
“Miss Helena Lewin has been appointed…” Australasian Record, November 5, 1928.
Naden, L. C. “Lena Mary Lewin obituary.” Australasian Record, October 17, 1977.
Palmer, C. S. “Helena Lewin obituary.” Australasian Record, June 25, 1962.
“Recent Appointments.” Australasian Record, February 26, 1934.
Stewart, A. G. “A Personal Message.” Australasian Record, October 14, 1940.
Trim, Marye. “Adventist Women – 1939 and 1987.” South Pacific Record, May 30, 1987.
Turner, Bessie C. “Who Would A-Camping Go? Youth’s Instructor. September 19, 1933.
S. T. Leeder, “Frank Lewin,” Australasian Record, August 22, 1938, 7.↩
Life Sketch of Helena Lewin presented at her funeral, held in the Ellen G. White/SDA Research Centre, South Pacific Division, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia, DF 3111.↩
J. Mills, “Oroua Missionary School,” Australasian Record, June 23, 1913, 6.↩
Helena Lewin, “In Three Happy Weeks,” Australasian Record, June 28, 1920, 5-6.↩
Helena Kate Lewin Worker’s Biographical Record, South Pacific Division of the General Conference Archives. Folder: “Lewin, Helena Kate.” Document: “Worker’s Biographical Record.”↩
Life Sketch of Helena Lewin presented at her funeral.↩
“Miss Helena Lewin has been appointed…,” Australasian Record, November 5, 1928, 8.↩
Veronica M. Flanigan, “MV Camping Through the Years,” Australasian Record, September 12, 1966, 8-10.↩
Bessie C. Turner, “Who Would A-Camping Go?” The Youth’s Instructor, September 19, 1933, 10-12.↩
“Recent Appointments,” Australasian Record, February 26, 1934, 8.↩
Helena K. Lewin, “Report of the Sabbath School Department, Australasian Record, October 8, 1934, 3-6.↩
A. G. Stewart, “A Personal Message,” Australasian Record, October 14, 1940, 8.↩
Life Sketch of Helena Lewin presented at her funeral.↩
See “Miss H.K. Lewin…,” Australasian Record, March 27, 1939, 8; see also “Itinerating in North Queensland,” Australasian Record, October 13, 1941, 3-4.↩
Marye Trim, “Adventist Women – 1939 and 1987.” South Pacific Record, May 30, 1987, 7.↩
C. S. Palmer, “Sister Helena Lewin obituary,” Australasian Record, June 25, 1962, 15.↩
L. C. Naden, “Lewin, Sister Lena Mary obituary,” Australasian Record, October 17, 1977, 14.↩
Palmer, “Sister Helena Lewin obituary,” 15.↩