Daniel Elvin Venden

1899 - 1973

Dan Venden, a pastor, teacher, singing evangelist, and conference president, was widely known for his dedication and effectiveness as a Seventh-day Adventist administrator and evangelist.

Dan was born in Stanford, Wisconsin, on February 6, 1899, the fifth of eight children of Nels, an immigrant from Norway, and Christine Knutson Venden. Shortly after the turn of the century, the family moved to the state of Washington. When Dan was eleven, his father died and Christine moved near an academy and cared for the children with the help of Joseph, her oldest son. Dan attended nearby Columbia and Laurelwood academies in Washington and Oregon, respectively, and then graduated from Walla Walla College, now University, in 1923. While at WWC, he and his brother, Melvin were active musically, singing as soloists and in the Male Glee Club, a select ensemble.

Following Dan's marriage to Nellie Edna Schnepper on September 5, 1923, they accepted teaching positions at Columbia Academy, now Columbia Adventist Academy, where he served as boy's dean and principal in his second year there.  He then served from 1926 to 1930 as Missionary Volunteer Secretary of the Oregon Conference.

In 1930 the Oregon Conference invited Dan and his brother Melvin to serve as an evangelist team, initially called the Venden Brothers, Gospel Singers, Bible Prophecy Lecturers and Evangelists and later known as the Venden Brothers, Gospel Singers and Evangelists. They held meetings in the late 1930s in Oregon and larger cities in Michigan and the eastern United States, moving every year with their families from one city to another, giving a six-month series of meetings, usually in an auditorium, five nights a week, along with weekend church services and radio broadcasts. They took turns, speaking and leading the music on alternate nights. They were known in SDA circles for their their singing and success in evangelism and  and were chosen as a team to serve as two of the choristers at the 1936 General Conference Session in San Fancisco.

Dan became pastor of the College View Church in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1943 and, a year later became president of the Nebraska Conference, a position he held until 1950. He and Melvin did some evangelistic work in the late 1940s and then from 1950 to 1955 held meetings in California and Arizona until he became president of the Central California Conference.

Although he retired after a decade in that position, in the next eight years he continued to give Bible studies on Daniel and Revelation on an ongoing basis while pastoring the St. Helena and Fairfax churches briefly and teaching Bible and pastoring the church at Southeast Asia Union College Church in Singapore for a year.

After several years of being apart, the two brothers and their wives lived a block apart in St. Helena, California, until Dan's health failed and he died on June 30, 1973, at age 74. Nellie was living in Portland, Oregon, when she died on June 5, 1981.  They were survived by their three daughters, Reatha Ekvall, Doris Sharp, and Jean Smith.


Sources: Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Volume 11, Second Revised Edition, 1996, (Review and Herald Publishing Association) 831; Unpublished Venden Family Tree; 1920 U.S. Census Records; Dan Shultz, A Great Tradition; Music at Walla Walla College 1892-1992, 43; obituary, Review and Herald, 26 October 1973, 23.