Our History

On October 8, 1919 the General Conference Committee created the Home Commission, which became operative in 1922 with Arthur W. Spalding as director, who worked in this capacity with his wife Maud, until 1941. Spalding created literature for the education of the entire family. A series of leaflets were produced dealing with different phases of home life entitled, The Christian Home Series.  Arthur W. Spalding wrote the lessons and Maud Spalding graded them.

Five books of the Christian Home Series came from the pens of Arthur Spalding and Dr. Belle Wood-Comstock, which provided instruction for family living.

Christian Home Day was set for the first Sabbath in February and is still preserved on the church calendar as Christian Home and Marriage Week, from the second Sabbath to the third Sabbath of February.

In June of 1941, a General Conference Convention on the home was held, perhaps the first Family Life International.

The Home Commission became part of the Department of Education in 1941. During the next three decades marriage and family life programs were promoted by Parent and Home Education Secretaries: Florence Rebok (1941-1947), Arabella Moore Williams (1947-1954), Archa O. Dart (1954-1970) and W. John Cannon (1970-1975).

At the General Conference Session held in Vienna, Austria in 1975, to address the need for stronger, more stable Adventist homes, the Home and Family Service (HFS) was organized. A husband and wife team, Delmer and Betty Holbrook, were elected as directors.  The Holbrooks organized and conducted training seminars for administrators, pastors and laity in every world division. 

Karen and Ronald Flowers joined the HFS staff in 1980. D. W. Holbrook directed HFS from 1975 to 1982, and Betty Holbrook served as director from 1982 until 1985 when Home and Family Service became part of the Department of Church Ministries (CM).

Family Ministries continued as a strong section of the Department of Church Ministries through the efforts of Betty Holbrook, an Associate Director of CM until her retirement in 1988, and Karen and Ronald Flowers, Associate Directors of CM until 1995.  D.W. Holbrook, Director of CM from 1985-1987 also assisted with Family Ministries.

At the 1995 General Conference Session held in Utretch, in the Netherlands, the Department of Church Ministries was disbanded, with several separate departments being formed, including the current Department of Adventist Family Ministries, with Ronald Flowers as Director, and Karen Flowers as Associate Director, until their retirement in June 2010, at the General Conference Session held in Atlanta, Georgia. During this time, an infrastructure of Adventist Family Ministries Directors were elected at Division, Union and Conference/Mission levels; and the Adventist Family Ministries leadership training curriculum was put in place, as well as the publication of annual Family Ministries Planbooks. 

At the General Conference Session held in Atlanta, Georgia, Willie and Elaine Oliver were elected on June 28, 2010 as Director and Associate Director, respectively, of the Department of Adventist Family Ministries. The Olivers came to the Department from a long career in Family Ministries, having directed the Department of Family Ministries of the North American Division (NAD) since its inception at the NAD Year-end Meeting in 1995; and Willie Oliver serving as Director of the Departments of Family Ministries for the Atlantic Union Conference (1994-1995), and the Greater New York Conference (1989-1993). 

During their first quinquennium as Directors of Adventist Family Ministries, Willie and Elaine Oliver prioritized the training of all Division and Union Directors of Adventist Family Ministries in the PREPARE/ENRICH modality of premarital and marriage enrichment education; developed Real Family Talk with Willie and Elaine Oliver, a television program seen on the Hope Channel around the world; continued the annual publication of Adventist Family Ministries Planbooks; advanced the Family-to-Family evangelism process as a part of the Mission to the Families in the Cities—Mission to the Cities—initiative of the General Conference; became authors of the Real Family Talk column in Adventist World online, while continuing to write the Relationship Rx column in Message magazine. They also published the book Real Family Talk: Answers to Questions about Love, Marriage, and Sex

Willie and Elaine Oliver were elected to a second term as Directors of the Department of Adventist Family Ministries on July 6, 2015, at the 60th Session of the General Conference held in San Antonio, Texas. During the 2015-2020 quinquennium the Olivers partnered with their GC colleagues in Children’s Ministries (Linda Koh) and Women’s Ministries (Heather-Dawn Small) to host an International Leadership Conference in Budapest, Hungary (May 10-13, 2017) using the theme Reach the World: Issues Impacting Children, Women and Families. In addition, the publication of the annual Planbooks, the Real Family Talk TV program, and a strong emphasis on family evangelism and leadership training continued. The Olivers also wrote Hope for Today’s Families—the 2019 Missionary Book of the Year, and Connected—Devotionals for an Intimate Marriage in 2020.