Record Rewind: The kindly missionary who loved his people

Pastor Arthur Jacobson.

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Arthur Jacobson was born in Napier, New Zealand, on July 30, 1908. When Arthur was just three years of age, his mother died, and his aunt, Esther Anderson, who was the deputy matron at the Sanitarium (now Sydney Adventist Hospital) in Sydney, Australia, resigned her position and returned to New Zealand to care for him and his older brother, Howard.

After attending New Zealand Missionary College (1924–1926, now Longburn Adventist College), Arthur completed his education at the Australasian Missionary College (now Avondale University College) and graduated from the ministerial course there in 1929.

From January 1930, Arthur was busy in evangelistic work in North Queensland and between 1930 and 1934 he pastored in Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, Charters Towers and the Atherton Tablelands.

While a student at Avondale, Arthur met Norma Isabelle Woodgate who was born in Brisbane on January 16, 1912. After her graduation as a teacher from Avondale, she taught music at the West Australian Missionary School near Perth (now Carmel Adventist College). Arthur and Norma married during Arthur’s years in North Queensland and their first child, Brian Arthur Jacobson, was born in Townsville in 1934. [pullquote]

The young couple soon entered mission service—and here the official records in the South Pacific Division archives and the Adventist Heritage Centre differ somewhat—but it would seem that the Jacobsons served in Fiji from 1935 to 1938 and then moved to the Cook Islands where Arthur was the president of the mission there from 1938 for about four years.

While serving in the Cook Islands, the Jacobsons experienced some difficulties in their marriage, but Norma’s intention to continue to live on Rarotonga—in separate accommodation from her husband—was not acceptable to denominational leaders and the family was returned home to Australia, settling in Adelaide, South Australia.

Arthur was ordained to the gospel ministry on March 22, 1942, either in New Zealand on his way to Adelaide or after he arrived there. The accounts agree on the date but differ as to the location. The Jacobson family remember Arthur as a kind, compassionate and gentle man and it is suggested his ordination immediately after the family left behind the difficulties of the Cook Islands experience was an endorsement of his contribution there.

With Arthur and Norma reconciled, the Jacobson’s daughter, Betty Joy, was born in Adelaide in 1942 and Arthur pastored there for a few months. His personal service record has Arthur in ministry in North Queensland during 1943 and then, with his family, he was back in mission service in Fiji from 1944–1948.

Eventually his marriage to Norma ended, and from 1949 Arthur was engaged in evangelistic work in New Zealand. On September 25, 1952, in Auckland, Arthur married Lois Joan Stevenson. In time, three sons were born to this union, Martin, Brett and Craig. Before long the new family unit was in mission service, this time in Tonga—initially at what is now Beulah College from 1956 and then as president of the Tonga Mission for several years (about eight years altogether in Tonga).

On his return from mission service, Arthur pastored in New Zealand, initially in Auckland, and his last pastorate prior to his retirement was the Hamilton church where he led out in the establishment of the new church school in that community.

After retirement on July 28, 1973, with Arthur completing 44 years of denominational service, including 19 years as a missionary in the South Pacific, the Jacobsons built a family home in Cooranbong, New South Wales, near Avondale. In their later years, Arthur and Lois moved to a family property in Widgee, Queensland.

Pastor Arthur Jacobson died on October 10, 1992 at the age of 84 years after a lifetime of committed service. Survived by his wife, Lois, and his five children, Arthur was buried on the family property at Widgee. As Pastor Cyril Pascoe noted at the time, “the Jacobson family, the Gympie church, and friends and neighbours will sorely miss the kindly missionary who loved his people. He loved his God and His Word and sought by godly living to draw all to his Saviour.”

Dr Lester Devine is director emeritus of the Ellen G White/Adventist Research Centre at Avondale University College.

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