Twenty-two ministers were among those gathered at Trinity Gardens Seventh-day Adventist Church in Adelaide on Sunday, April 8, to farewell an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministries (ATSIM) pioneer.
Pastor Eric Davey (7.1.1941–27.3.2018) was instrumental in setting up ATSIM in Australia as the first associate director and second national director of the ministry, and, in retirement, became the first ATSIM director for South Australia.
He also conducted the first baptisms of Aboriginal people into the Adventist Church in South Australian towns such as Coober Pedy, Port Augusta, Quorn, Marree and Oodnadatta.
The graveside service was held first in Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills.
The memorial service then moved to Trinity Gardens church. Along with the South Australian Conference administration, many of the ministers who attended were Pastor Davey’s colleagues in ATSIM as well as three Indigenous ministers he had played a role in ordaining: Pastors Darren Garlett (National ATSIM director), John Beck (SA ATSIM director) and Eddie Hastie (retired). In attendance were also key ATSIM figures such as previous national director Steve Piez and Mamarapha College principal David Garrard as well as ATSIM representatives from other conferences.
“Pastor Eric Davey, under the power of the Holy Spirit, accomplished much for God,” said Pastor Don Fehlberg, remote area senior pastor and Mamarapha College liaison for ATSIM, who presented at both the graveside service and at the church.
Pastor Davey became a Seventh-day Adventist in 1960 and soon after became a literature evangelist. He was called to South Australia as the assistant publishing secretary and pastor before ministering in Whyalla and Port Augusta. It was during his time in Whyalla that Pastor Davey first became involved in ministry to the Aboriginal community.
In August 1966 he married Maxine Chamberlain, who played an important role in his life and ministry.
Pastor Davey was ordained in Trinity Gardens church on December 23, 1972, with Pastor Robert Porter. He went on to work as a pastor in South Australia, Western Australia and Northern Territory, helping to organise churches at Jigalong, WA, and Alice Springs, NT.
In recent years, Pastor Davey was instrumental in starting the first Adventist Aboriginal company in Adelaide with Eric Hoare, who has since taken over looking after the group.
Not only was Pastor Davey involved in ministry to Indigenous people but he was also passionate about education. He was instrumental in the re-opening of Karalundi (WA) in 1986, and also in the establishment of Mamarapha College in 1997.
Pastor Davey returned to Adelaide in his retirement. Over the past 10 years he battled cancer in various forms after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008.