J. N. Andrews Sculpture Points Students to Mission
Work Unveiled on April 25, 1993
by Jack Stenger, June 9, 1998, published in Focus Spring 1998
Work Unveiled on April 25, 1993
He stands over his trunk, countenance full of purpose, facing east toward a distant mission field. With an outstretched hand the figure points his children toward Europe, where together they would embark on a great adventure that would change history.
The man was John Nevins Andrews, the first official Adventist missionary. In 1874, he left Boston with his two children for Europe and together the heroic trio would establish the Adventist Church in Switzerland. They also started a missionary movement that would extend, eventually, to more than 200 countries around the globe.
In 1998, the university that bears his name immortalized Andrews' example. On April 25, a bronze sculpture of J.N. Andrews was unveiled before a crowd of 600 people on the Andrews campus. The sculpture, titled Legacy of Leadership, was sculpted by Alan Collins, an internationally known Adventist artist.
Collins said it is not without reason that his sculpture is positioned in front of Pioneer Memorial Church, pointing eastward, toward the James White Library and beyond. "In this educational context, students first study, then they go out to serve," he said.
Among the commissioned works by the British-born artist are The Good Samaritan at Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, Calif; 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. A resident of Salinas, Calif., Collins was an art professor at Andrews in the 1970s. In recognition of the uplifting symbolism and excellence of his art, Andrews awarded the artist an honorary degree in 1988.
In 1993, the Alumni Association established a committee to raise funds for the sculpture. Loren Hamel, a Berrien Springs-based physician, chaired the effort. Alumni viewed the project as a reminder of the missionary origins of their school and the missionary aspirations of the school's namesake. "His whole life was dedicated to church service and mission. The sculpture points students to follow the Andrews' family example," said Rebecca May, Alumni Services director.
The "Legacy of Leadership" 1998 Alumni Homecoming Weekend celebrated the life of J.N. Andrews and his children. Throughout the weekend, Andrews memorabilia was on display in the Campus Center and a university-produced play titled "The Ablest in Our Ranks" brought to life the Andrews family adventures. The unveiling was the weekend's capstone event and more than 12 descendants of the missionary attended the Sabbath-morning ceremony, including Jean Andrews and Nevins Harlan, Andrews' great-granddaughter and great-grandson, respectively. Also attending was Chad Kirstein, a fourth-generation descendant and a junior architecture major at Andrews.
When placed on its limestone foundation, the bronze sculpture stands 10-feet tall. It depicts the single-parent father (Andrews' wife, Angeline, died in 1872) flanked by his two children, Charles, 16, and Mary, 12. The family is standing dockside in Boston, waiting for the ship that would take them to Europe. Prior to his pioneering missionary work, Andrews established himself as one of the early church's leading scholars. He served as the third General Conference president, was briefly the editor of The Review and Herald, and assisted in the development of several church doctrines including Sabbath observance, church organization and the state of the dead. Of him, Ellen Write wrote to the church in Switzerland, "We sent the ablest man in our ranks."
On special occasions, a grassy mall on the Andrews campus is lined by flags, each one representing the nations of the diverse Andrews student body. Now, at the end of this mall stands the sculpture of the man who started the Adventist missionary movement. The colorful scene is more than a picturesque backdrop for ceremony. It is the realized dream of John Nevins Andrews. Out of his missionary endeavor, was born a world church.
"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.