Long-time educator’s focus on preserving church history

New SPD heritage director David Jones at Sunnyside, Ellen White's former home in Cooranbong.

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With a passion for history, long-time educator David Jones is relishing his new role as heritage director for the South Pacific Division.

After more than 30 years as a teacher and a leader in Adventist schools in Australia, he now oversees a unique resource of artifacts, photographs and documents from the early days of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific.

“The collection is highly valued and it’s an important resource,” Mr Jones said. “We intend to preserve and promote it so that it is available to enjoy both by our church family and the wider community.”

Many of the thousands of items in the collection have been donated by the families of early Adventist missionaries who served in the islands of the Pacific.

“We’d like to thank all the people who have generously donated these valuable items and we are looking forward to continuing to engage with them in the future,” Mr Jones said.

“We’d also like to thank those who have worked on the collection in the past—they have done a stellar job.

“Since taking on the role I’ve had many people come forward offering artifacts that will be exciting additions to the collection. The types of items we are interested in are those that have significance to the mission and history of the Church in this region. But along with that, we want to know the stories behind the artifacts because that’s what adds interest and can help people connect with our past.”

Mr Jones’ other key areas of responsibility include the Adventist Heritage Centre and Sunnyside, Ellen White’s former home at Cooranbong.

With the recent easing of COVID-19 restrictions in New South Wales, he is keen to see the Sunnyside property reopened on a regular basis for visitors, especially on Sabbath afternoons.

“I’d love to see some old-time MV meetings held in the community centre, and films screened there too,” he said.

“We’re also keen to set up a process for people to book tours of Sunnyside that’s time efficient for everyone.”

As Mr Jones immerses himself in church history, the words of Ellen White serve as his inspiration: “We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history” (LS 196.2).

“Our collections and our historical documents are evidence of God’s leading in the past,” he said. “That can fill us with confidence that He continues to be with us now and in the future, which is reassuring in these uncertain times.”

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