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Adventist Pioneer Honored: J.N. Andrews Sculpture Unveiling

Berrien Springs, Michigan, USA ... [ANN] A sculpture of the Seventh-day Adventist missionary John Nevins Andrews will be unveiled on the Andrews University campus on April 25.

The sculpture, which will stand in front of Pioneer Memorial Church, is expected to become the university’s signature art work. Funding for the sculpture has been provided by Andrews alumni and other donors.

The April 25 unveiling ceremony will start at 10:30 a.m. In attendance will be sculptor Alan Collins and several descendants of the Adventist missionary including Jean Andrews and Nevins Harlan, J.N. Andrews’ great-granddaughter and great-grandson, respectively. Also attending will be Chad Kirstein, a fourth-generation descendant of the missionary and a junior architecture major at Andrews.

The Andrews Alumni Association commissioned the sculpture to recognize the contributions of Andrews and his children. The sculpture will also point university students to the missionary spirit that marked the life of the Andrews family, said Rebecca May, Alumni Services director. "It will remind us to follow his legacy of service to church, community and the world," May said. "This is much more than just a work of art or a piece of metal. For generations to come it will represent where we came from and what this institution strives to be."

In 1960, Emmanuel Missionary College was renamed Andrews University in honor of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s first official missionary.

Work on the 7-ft.-tall bronze sculpture started in 1993. It depicts J.N. Andrews and his two children, Charles, 16, and Mary, 12, standing dockside in Boston in 1874 as they depart for Switzerland. A widower when he left North America, he was the first official Adventist missionary sent outside North America and was considered the foremost Adventist scholar of his time.

Collins is an internationally known Seventh-day Adventist sculptor. Among the commissioned works by the British-born artist are "The Good Samaritan" at Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, California; a memorial for John F. Kennedy in Runnymede, England; and "Regeneration," a 22-ft.-high symbolic form which stands before the Science Complex on the Andrews campus.

The sculpture unveiling and other events are part of the 1998 Andrews Alumni Homecoming Weekend, April 23 to 26. The weekend theme is "Legacy of Leadership: Celebrating the Life of J.N. Andrews."

John Nevins Andrews, for whom Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, is named, is best remembered as the first Seventh-day Adventist missionary to work outside North America. He was born in 1829 in Poland, Maine. He began his work as a minister when he was 21, in 1850, and was ordained in 1853.

In 1856 he married Angeline Stevens; their children were Charles Melville Andrews (1857-1927) and Mary Frances Andrews (1861-1878) and two who died in infancy. Two years after the death of his wife in 1872, J.N. Andrews (he preferred to go by his initials rather than his given name) sailed from Boston on Sept. 15, 1874, with his two children for Liverpool, England, en route to Switzerland, where he was commissioned to organize a church for converts to the Adventist faith. Aided in his work by his children, he also wrote religious tracts and published a French-language missionary publication, "Les Signes des Temps" ("The Signs of the Times").

Prior to his overseas mission duties, Andrews served the Adventist Church in various capacities, notably holding the position of president of the church’s organizational General Conference (at that time located in Battle Creek, Michigan) from 1867 to 1869 and then for a year serving as editor of the church’s publication "The Review and Herald," also in Battle Creek.

Andrews was considered the foremost intellectual of the early Adventist Church. He wrote extensively on the seventh-day Sabbath and made significant contributions to the development of various church doctrines such as Sabbath observance, tithing, church organization, the state of the dead and non-combatant status of Seventh-day Adventists in the military. Andrews died in Basel, Switzerland, in 1883, at the age of 54.

In 1874, the same year Andrews set out for Europe with his family, the first Seventh-day Adventist institution of higher education was founded in Battle Creek, Michigan Battle Creek College relocated to Berrien Springs, Michigan, in 1901 and took on the name Emmanuel Missionary College (EMC). In 1960, 77 years after the pioneer missionary’s death, EMC was renamed Andrews University.

The name was chosen to inspire students to follow Andrews’ example through lives marked by Christian scholarship and service to humanity. The name also honors the memory of J.N. Andrews, who served in the loftiest fields of Christian endeavor throughout his life.  "I know of but one way: find a field of labor, ask God to help, take off your coat, and pitch into the work."—J.N. Andrews

[Jack Stenger]