Italian Family Ministries Leader Awarded the Spalding Medallion

Roberto Iannò has an extensive career creating resources to support families.

Lina Ferrara, Hope Media Italia, and Adventist Review
Italian Family Ministries Leader Awarded the Spalding Medallion
Adventist Family Ministries director Willie Oliver (left) hands the Spaulding Medallion for Distinguished Service to Robert Iannò on September 9. [Photo: Hope Media Italia]

Adventist Family Ministries at the General Conference (GC) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church conferred the Arthur & Maud Spalding Medallion for Distinguished Service on Roberto Iannò of the Italian Union of Churches Conference (IUCC) during the pastoral families’ convention in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Udine, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, on September 9.

“We usually give this award to an individual who has been outstanding, distinguished in his service; not all directors receive it,” Adventist Family Ministries director Willie Oliver said at the ceremony. “Roberto has exemplified what it means to be a family ministries director of high quality. He has been very methodical in his leadership. Simply outstanding,” he added.

Iannò has been serving as IUCC family ministries director since 2014, and he is also pastor of a local church. Over the years, he has raised awareness among churches and local family ministries leaders to implement programs aimed at nurturing families. His department translates the annual Adventist Family Ministries Resource Book, promotes Adventist Marriage Encounter Weekends, organizes the Helping Relationship Convention (now in its sixth year) and the Family Camp in summer, and implements other programs and local activities.

His ways of consistently putting into practice many diverse projects addressed to the various segments of the department — families, couples, parents, churches, and so on — led the family ministries world leaders to honor Iannò with the highest award given by Adventist Family Ministries. Iannò received the 49th medal conferred on an individual or a couple in four decades. He is also the first Italian to be given this award.

“I thank my wife, Anna, for her valuable and willing support in our common calling to serve families,” Iannò said. “I also thank the associate director, M. Antonietta Calà, for her professional contribution to the department, also enriched by the help of her husband, Patrizio Calliari.”

An Extensive Career

Iannò graduated from the University of Florence with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education, from Newbold College with a master’s in religion, and from the University of Padua with a master’s in family counseling. He also earned from Andrews University a Doctor of Ministry degree in family ministry.

He has served as the Italian Union executive secretary, education director, president of the Ethics Commission, and associate professor of Christian Education at Italian Adventist University Villa Aurora. He was also the speaker for the Italian Union satellite evangelistic campaign in 2000.

Iannò is an ordained minister who, besides being pastor of a local church, currently serves as Family Ministries director for the Italian Union and associate professor of theology of marriage and family at the Italian Adventist University.

He has lectured in the psychology department of the University of Padua and published several scholarly articles in the field of family relationships and premarital education. He has also published articles on family topics in Il Messaggero Avventista, the Italian denominational magazine, and in the General Conference Family Ministries Resource Book.

Iannò is married to Anna, a kindergarten teacher, and they have two children: Gianluca, married to Alessia, and Daniele.

He is certified as a Prepare/Enrich presenter and trainer in Italy, as an International Partner and licensee. He and his wife also started the Adventist faith expression of Worldwide Marriage Encounter in Italy, under the mentorship of John and Carolyn Wilt (International Executive Couple in the US).

The Arthur & Maud Spalding Medallion

Inaugurated in 1990 by then Adventist Family Ministries directors Karen and Ron Flowers, the Arthur & Maud Spalding Medallion for Distinguished Service was named after the first couple, the Spaldings, to lead family ministries in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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 titled The Christian Home Series. Arthur wrote the lessons, and Maud graded them.

The Home Commission became part of the GC Department of Education in 1941. During the next 34 years 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).

In 1975, at the General Conference Session held in Vienna, Austria, Delmer and Betty Holbrook were elected directors of the Home and Family Service. Delmer Holbrook, who served as director of Family Ministries (the Home and Family Service) with his wife Betty from 1975 to 1982, was the first of the 49 recipients of the Spalding award.

The original version of this story was posted on the Hope Media Italia news site.

Lina Ferrara, Hope Media Italia, and Adventist Review