April 24, 2018

Australian Pioneer Among Indigenous People Dies at 77

Jarrod Stackelroth, Adventist Record

Twenty-two ministers were among those gathered at Trinity Gardens Seventh-day Adventist Church in Adelaide on Sunday, April 8, 2018, to farewell an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ministries (ATSIM) pioneer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Eric Davey, 77, was instrumental in setting up the 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.

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: Darren Garlett (National ATSIM director), John Beck (South Australia 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.

“Eric Davey, under the power of the Holy Spirit, accomplished much for God,” said Don Fehlberg, remote area senior pastor and Mamarapha College liaison for ATSIM, who presented at both the graveside service and at the church.

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 Davey first became involved in the ministry to the Aboriginal community.

In August 1966, he married Maxine Chamberlain, who played an important role in his life and ministry.

Davey was ordained in Trinity Gardens church in December 1972. He went on to work as a pastor in South Australia, Western Australia (WA), and Northern Territory (NT), helping to organize several churches.

In recent years, Davey was instrumental in starting the first Adventist Aboriginal company in Adelaide with Eric Hoare, who has since looked after the group.

Not only was Davey involved in ministry to Indigenous people but he was also passionate about education. He was instrumental in the re-opening of Karalundi (WA) Aboriginal community in 1986, and also in the establishment of Mamarapha College in Karragullen (WA) in 1997.

Davey returned to Adelaide in his retirement. Over the past ten years, he battled cancer in various forms after being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008.