Craddock, Thomas H.
1899 - 1900
In January 1894 Adventists in Melbourne convened their first camp meeting at New Brighton, one of Melbourne’s bayside suburbs. Due to extensive advertising in the church’s magazine, the Bible Echo, almost five hundred persons occupied the 102 tents pitched on the camp-ground. Local baker, Thomas Craddock, was approached by Arthur G Daniells to provide the campers with a daily supply of bread. Craddock had not previously heard of Seventh-day Adventists so, in addition to effecting a business transaction, Daniells explained the purpose of the camp and invited Thomas Craddock and his wife to attend the meetings. This invitation was accepted. Subsequently, the Craddocks espoused this new denomination.
So enthusiastic were the Craddocks with their spiritual awakening, they sold their business and decided to devote their lives to working for their new church. Thomas Craddock was aged thirty-four when he made this career change. In 1897 we find him engaged in door-to-door selling of Adventist books and literature. In 1898 he was appointed to Western Australia for ministerial work. According to his “Obituary” (Australasian Record, 17 January 1938) he served a period as superintendent of the West Australian mission before that district was organised into a Conference in 1902.
It is not clear whether Craddock received any formal theological training. What is clear is that he gave early evidence of an aptitude for ministry and for administration. In 1903 the Craddocks were in South Australia and it was there that Thomas was ordained to the gospel ministry. When formed in 1899, the Queensland Conference included all of the Colony of Queensland. Distance, however, proved a problem and in 1904 the North Queensland Mission was formed with Gustav Wantzlick as its superintendent. In 1906 Wantzlick was invited to serve as a missionary in the East Indies (now Indonesia) and Thomas Craddock was appointed as his successor.
In 1907 it was decided to re-attach the North Queensland Mission to the Queensland Conference. This decision coincided with Sylvester Nellis’s decision to return to the United States for health reasons. Thus the unified Queensland Conference was pleased to elect Thomas Craddock as its sixth president. Although Nellis had been born in Australia, Craddock was the first ‘home grown’ Australian to serve as the Queensland Conference president. His appointment illustrated that after twenty-two years the Adventist church in Australia had nurtured its local talent to the point where it was less dependent on American expatriates for leadership. Craddock served as president for four years.
Thomas Craddock did not enjoy robust health and he found the pressures of leadership particularly demanding. Following his service in Queensland he was therefore content to serve as a church pastor in Victoria for the remainder of his life. He died 12 December 1937.