July 16, 2020

Two Recipients Honored for Their Longstanding Service to Adventist Families

June 27, 2020, was scheduled to be the first Saturday (Sabbath) of the General Conference Session in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. COVID-19 changed those plans.

We were also scheduled to have a Family Ministries luncheon with our division directors and their families, in addition to the General Conference vice-president assigned to oversee Family Ministries, Geoffrey Mbwana, and his family, and our General Conference colleague in Children’s Ministries, Linda Koh, and her family.

Despite the postponement of the GC Session until May 2021, we had already commissioned the Spalding Medallion, the highest honor given by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Family Ministries, to be presented to our vice-president and our colleague in Children’s Ministries, who also served as director of Family Ministries of the Southern Asia-Pacific Division for seven years.

Geoffrey and Nakku Mbwana (right), with Adventist Church Family Ministries directors Willie and Elaine Oliver. Mbwana is one of the two recipients of the 2020 Spalding Medallion, the Seventh-day Adventist Church's highest honor for those who have served as leaders in Adventist family ministry. [Photo: General Conference Family Ministries]

COVID-19 could not stop us as we did a drive-by honoring the Mbwanas and the Kohs that afternoon to present them with the Spalding Medallion, as they became recipient number 47 and 48 of this award since it was commissioned in 1990.

We pray God’s abundant blessings on recipients Geoffrey Mbwana and his wife, Nakku, and Linda Koh and her husband, Oliver, as they allow God to continue using them for His glory.

The Spalding Medallion

Inaugurated in 1990 by then GC Directors of Family Ministries Karen and Ron Flowers, the Arthur & Maud Spalding Medallion was named after the first couple 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 director Arthur W. Spalding, 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.

The Home Commission became part of the Department of Education in 1941. Over 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 (formerly the Home and Family Service) with his wife, Betty, from 1975 to 1982, was the first recipient of the Spalding award.