Conference President

Watson, Charles Henry

1912 - 1914

Born in the Port Fairy district of Victoria on 8 October 1877, Charles Watson became a successful wool-buyer businessman. In 1898 he married his childhood sweetheart, Elizabeth Mary Shanks. Although initially opposed to Adventist doctrine, some intensive study convinced him and he became an Adventist in 1902. By 1906 he sold his business interests and with his young family spent 1907-1908 at the Avondale School for Christian Workers. In 1909 he began evangelistic work in New South Wales, but upon learning that Robert Hare had been appointed Bible teacher for 1910, he returned to Avondale for further study.

Watson returned to evangelism in 1911 and was ordained as a minister in September 1912. Immediately following his ordination he was elected president of the Queensland Conference. Watson’s leadership and administrative abilities, his strong spirituality, and his outstanding communication skills impressed his contemporaries. Queensland was not able to hold this talented man and in the latter part of 1914 he was appointed vice-president of the Australasian Union Conference. Late 1915 he became president of the AUC.

Watson’s abilities were recognised beyond Australia and in 1922 he was appointed vice-president and associate treasurer of the General Conference and relocated to Washington, D.C., USA.  In 1926 Watson was enticed back to Australia and he resumed the presidency of the AUC. Australasia benefited from his leadership for four years before he was called back to Washington, this time as president of the General Conference. Watson used his financial management skills to steer the Adventist church through the worst years of the Great Depression. He did this successfully, but at a cost to his health. At his request he returned to Australia in 1936 and again served as president of the AUC until his retirement in 1944. Charles Watson died 24 December 1962. The South Queensland Conference has honoured the memory of this outstanding leader by naming its convention centre Watson Park.

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