Tenney, George Cidus
1899 - 1900
George Cidus Tenney was born in 1847 in Wisconsin, USA. College educated, Tenney became a Seventh-day Adventist and was ordained a minister sometime in the late 1870s. For the next ten years he worked as a minister in the northern States of Wisconsin, North Dakota and Minnesota. In 1887 he was appointed to serve as a missionary in Australia.
Located in Melbourne, Pastor Tenney was initially assigned responsibility for editing the Church’s newspaper the Bible Echo. In 1888 the Australian Conference was organised and George Tenney appointed its first president. He served in this capacity until 1892. Tenney returned to the United States at the end of 1892 where he represented the Australasian region at the 1893 General Conference meetings which ran from late January to early March. In his report on Australasia, Tenney made but brief reference to Queensland. He reported that a colporteur had spent several winters selling Adventist literature in Queensland and that the Jacobson family had become Adventist members as a result of reading an Adventist magazine printed in Scandinavia.
Following the General Conference meetings, Tenney was appointed Bible teacher and chaplain at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. He also edited the Medical Missionary Magazine, and from 1895-1897 co-edited with Uriah Smith the Adventist weekly, the Review and Herald. In 1897 he served on a committee of three that re-organised the academic program at Battle Creek College. Sometime 1898, however, George Tenney was asked to return to Australia.
The Tenney family arrived in Sydney 14 December 1898. The early weeks of 1899 were spent in Sydney assisting the Church’s administrators and then the Tenneys relocated to Brisbane where George Tenney assumed responsibility for the Queensland Mission. Tenney urged church leaders to acquiesce to a request from the Toowoomba church to convene a Camp Meeting in that city. The Camp Meeting was approved and met October 13-23, 1899. On 18 October church members were advised of a recommendation, at the instigation of Pastor Arthur G Daniells, to change the status of Queensland from a ‘mission’ to a ‘conference’. (A mission is financially dependent, whereas a conference is financially self-supporting.) After several days of discussion and the development of articles of association, the Queensland Conference was voted on 20 October 1899. Furthermore, Pastor George C Tenney was voted in as the new organisation’s first president.
Tenney served in this capacity for just over one year before relocating to the presidency of the New South Wales Conference. While his leadership in Queensland was brief, his administrative and organisational skills proved invaluable in setting the direction for the Adventist church in Queensland. Given his background in writing and editing, it is not surprising that Tenney recognised the need for communicating with his scattered members in a geographically large and diverse conference. He inaugurated a monthly newsletter, The Welcome Visitor, as a means of keeping the membership informed. The newsletter was typed and duplicated, with corrections and amendments written in by hand. The Bible Echo, the Adventist Church’s national periodical, frequently shared items of interest drawn from The Welcome Visitor with the wider church family.
The Tenney family returned to the United States at the end of 1903. George Tenney resumed his association with the Battle Creek Sanitarium where he worked until his death in 1921.