Arthur F Parker was born on June 30, 1899 in Victoria, Australia. He accepted the Adventist message in 1911 after visitation and Bible studies by Adventist workers. Initially, he worked as a machinist in a sawmill, then a literature evangelist.
He attended the Australasian Missionary College (Avondale) from 1923–1925, while also working, as many students did, in the Sanitarium Health Food Company factory located on the campus. After graduation in 1926, Arthur entered the organised work of the Church in New South Wales until his appointment to mission service in 1930.
On November 21, 1928, Arthur Parker married Muriel Stace, a nurse at the Sydney Sanitarium. Little is known of her as she is not listed in the record of graduates in the Sydney Adventist Graduates Association database though her marriage declaration prior to her wedding indicates that she was a nurse, a “spinster” and had attained the age of 21 years!
By early 1930 the Parkers were on their way to mission service at Batuna, Solomon Islands, where Arthur was to be principal and Muriel, a teacher. In an April 28 letter to her sister, begun on the ship as they travelled to their new field of labour, and completed on their arrival, Muriel provided a detailed account of the journey and her first impressions of her new field of service. A second letter details their first weeks of missionary life and her work with the young people in the school.
Unfortunately, this committed young missionary’s service was brief. She died just six weeks after her arrival in the Solomons, on May 16, 1930, following a brief but painful illness.
Just before her death that Friday morning, Muriel sent a good-bye message to all and then asked her husband to sing Hymn 105 from Christ in Song, “I am trusting thee Lord Jesus”, which he did by torchlight. She then said, very distinctly, “Jesus is all the world to me, my life, my joy, my all” and quietly died. She was buried that evening, as the sun was dying in the west and the Sabbath hours were approaching.
As she had earlier requested, she was laid to rest near the school so that even in death she could still be a witness to the One for whom she had come out to the Solomons to work.
After three more years labouring alone, Arthur returned to Australia on furlough. While there, in 1934, he married Dr Dorothy Mills—born in 1901 and a staff physician for seven years at the Sydney Sanitarium—commencing a marriage that was to last more than 50 years. A 1926 graduate from medicine at Sydney University, she must have had some interest in mission service, for in 1933 she completed a diploma in Tropical Medicine.
Two daughters were born to this marriage: Dorothy Yvette in 1938 and Lynette Ruth in 1945.
During the next four years back in Solomon Islands as a combined pastor/doctor team, the Parkers established the first Adventist hospital in the region on the island of Malaita before returning to Australia in poor health—probably sometime in 1938, as the formal documentation provides conflicting dates and records of their years of service in Solomon Islands.
After recuperation this pastor/doctor team worked in Warburton, Victoria, from 1939 to 1941, after which Dr Dorothy established a private practice in Geelong, which she maintained for the next 39 years. Meanwhile, Arthur was ordained to the gospel ministry on January 21, 1945.
Former missionary Pastor Parker spent the last 24 years of his denominational service in the Victorian Conference—unusual for the time. Even more unusual in an era when pastors were frequently transferred was that the final 17 of those years were in the Geelong area. There, the Parker home was open to isolated young people so they could live with the Parkers and enjoy a Christian education. Dorothy was also the doctor for the annual Victorian Conference camp meetings for many years.
Pastor Parker retired in 1964, having completed almost 41 years of denominational service. In 1983 he and Dorothy moved into the Kressville Retirement Village in Cooranbong, NSW, near Avondale University College and there, after a cerebral haemorrhage, Pastor Parker went to his rest on December 15, 1985, followed in death by Dorothy on July 1, 1987.
Dr Lester Devine is director emeritus of the Ellen G White/Adventist Research Centre at Avondale University College.