Joseph (Joe) and Anne Koleada Melashenko
1922 - 2013 1919 - 2009
Joseph (Joe) Melashenko and his wife, Anne, both musicians, served in evangelism and pastoral work for the Seventh-day Adventist Church for over forty years. The and their five sons, became internationally known in the SDA Church for their singing in the last half of the twentieth century, creating a legacy in music that has continued in the opening years of the 21st century.
Joe was born in Saskatchewan, Canada, on January 10, 1922, the third of nine children of Russian-born Peter Zacker and Katie Familinow Melashenko. Before he was twenty, he was winning amateur and talent show awards and was known nationally on Canadian radio as the “Voice of the Deep.”
He attended public schools in Arlee, Saskatchewan, and then attended Canadian Junior College, now Burman University, in Alberta, where he completed the Junior Theology course in 1942, before receiving a teaching certificate at Saskatoon Teachers College at the University of Saskatchewan, graduating as valedictorian of his class. He taught in the public schools of Arlee, Saskatchewan, for two years before joining the Voice of Prophecy’s King’s Heralds quartet in 1948.
He had married Anne Koleada, a musician and singer, on April 15, 1945. She had been born in Perdue, Saskatchewan, Canada, on December 1, 1919, one of eleven children of Peter Andrew and Kelina Rabuka Koleada, Russian-Ukrainian immigrants who had fled Russia prior to the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. From 1947 to 1951 Joe and Anne would have five sons, Lonnie, Joedy, Dallas, Eugene, and Rudy.
Joe sang bass in the VOP quartet and worked as an instructor in the broadcast's Bible school from 1948 to 1949, until throat surgery forced a return to Canada, where he farmed his parents’ homestead and wheat farm and resumed teaching. From their children's earliest years, the close-knit Melashenko family followed their Russian-Ukrainian musical heritage by singing as they celebrated their Christian faith with singing and harmonizing hymns and gospel songs.
Joe and Anne moved with their family to Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1957, where he assisted in evangelism with music, singing conference-wide in New England. Two years later they moved to Taunton, Massachusetts, where he assisted with a major campaign in nearby Providence, Rhode Island, and pastored in the Foxboro-Brockton district.
In 1960, the Bermuda Conference invited the family to move to that island and assist in major campaigns being conducted by George Vandeman, Roland Cemer, and others in Hamilton. He was then asked to pastor the St. George church and was ordained as an SDA minister on December 1, 1962, in the Southampton Church, the first SDA ordination to be held in that country. He developed radio and television outreach programs as “The Bermuda Gospel Singer” heard every Sunday evening as live broadcasts. On his return to the U.S. he was advertised as “The Gospel Singer.”
In 1963 Joe was invited to serve as senior pastor of the Hagerstown, Maryland, district. During his year in that position, he preached, and his family sang frequently in evangelistic campaigns held in the three-church district and elsewhere, as well as in many programs at the district office and world headquarters of the church.
The Melashenkos returned to California in 1964, where Joe worked as part of an evangelistic team with Don Gray in the Loma Linda area. Working with pastor Lloyd Wyman, they established the Azure Hills SDA church. Joe then pastored the Rialto Church while continuing to be involved in evangelism in Central California. In 1963, Joe had recorded an album, in Ukrainian at Chapel Records, How Great Thou Art, that included fourteen hymns. On their return to California in 1964, the family recorded their first family album at Chapel Records.
Joe and Anne eventually worked for the VOP evangelistic association from 1971 to 1982, traveling thousands of miles a year conducting evangelistic meetings. After their son Lonnie became Director-Speaker of the VOP, they traveled with him and his wife, Jeannie, to conduct evangelistic meetings at Borislav, Ukraine, near the ancestral home of the Melashenkos, and at Perm, Russia, in April and May 1972. They retired to Paradise, California, where they were living when Anne died August 8, 2009, at age 89, and Joe died on June 21, 2013 at age 91.
Their sons graduated with degrees from La Sierra College, now University. While none of them pursued a degree in music, they and their families have continued to be active as singers and played important roles in the church’s ministry. In the first decade of this century, members of the family perfromed 30 “Music with a Mission” concerts to benefit mission projects annually, sponsored by Quiet Hour Ministries. Additionally, in those years they were featured in numerous camp meetings around the world, staying in South Australia for ten days, preaching and filling guest musician roles.
The family became internationally known for its singing and presented countless concerts of gospel, inspirational, and traditional music throughout the U.S., Canada, Bermuda, and elsewhere as well as the releasing of numerous records, CDs, Videos, and DVDs. Their first record, The Happy Home, released in 1964, was followed by another, The Melashenko Family Sings, in 1974. They would later record other CDs, the first being Generations, Step into the Water, and Brothers in Song. The latter features the two oldest of their five sons, Lonnie and Joedy.
Their first video release, Melashenko Family Singers - Live from Arizona Camp Meeting, included all 23 members of the family, which had grown through marriage and the addition of another generation. A second video, How Great Our Joy, was a 2003 Christmas release.
A third video, God's Leading Through the Generations, told the Melashenko story by recreating experiences of the family's journey from the wheat fields of Canada to playing critical roles in the SDA church's ministry. It received the prestigious Golden Star Halo Award from the Southern California Motion Picture Council.
Sources: Merle L. Mills, “Music Leader Joins Springfield Evangelistic Team,” Atlantic Union Gleaner, August 212, 1957, 5, 8; Jim Evans, “The Melashenko Family to Arrive this Week,” Pacific Union Recorder, August 24, 1964, 1; Adventist Today, Singer and Evangelist Joe Melashenko is Dead at 91,” https://atoday.org/singer-and-evangelist-joe-melashenko-is-dead-at-91/; Vaughn Family Tree, (jemvaughn) Peter Zacker Melashenko-Facts, Ancestry.com.; “Tribute to Joe Melashenko“ (Seventh-day Adventist Church, North American Division); also “The Footprint of Joe Melashenko,” (July 21, 2013 Memorial service of Joe Melashenko), both at http://www.loniemelashenko.com/joe_melashenko; Anne Koleada Melashanko obituary, Paradise Post, Paradise, California. August 14, 2009; Listing of King’s Heralds Quartet members, Kings Herald’s 40th Anniversary Concert, Vallejo Drive Church, Glendale and Loma Linda University Church, November 18 and 19, respectively, 1978; Robert E. Edwards, H.M.S. Richards, (Hagerstown, Maryland, Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1998), 222,225-227; Joedy Peter Melashenko, International Adventist Musicians Association (IAMA) Website Biography Information Sheet, July 9, 2011; Emma Kirk, Atlantic Union, Review and Herald, February 14, 1963, 21; “Ukrainian Records,” Canadian Union Messenger, April 10, 1963, 114.
The Happy Home The Melashenko Family Singers, Chapel Records, 1964
The Melashenko Family Sings Chapel Records, 1974
Step into the Water The Melashenko Family Singers, 1999
Think About His Love (Brothers in Song) Joedy and Lonnie Melashenko, 1999
Because of Him Joedy Melashenko,soloist 1999
Reflections (Through the Years with Joe Melashenko), 2000
Generations The Melashenko Family Singers, 2002
How Great Our Joy A Christmas CD by The Melashenko Family Singers, 2003
I Believe Matt Melashenko, 2004
Smooth Southern Gospel The Joedy Melashenko Five, 2004
Keep holding On The Melashenko Four quartet, 2006
Live! From Arizona Camp Meeting The Melashenko Family Singers, 2000
God's Leading Through the Generations The Melashenko Family Singers, Part I (Back home with the Melashenkos) 2003
God's Leading Through the Generations The Melashenko Family Singers, Part II (The Legacy Continues) 2003
How Great Our Joy A Christmas Video by The Melashenko Family Singers, 2003
Jesus, Our Cornerstone! The Melashenko Family Singers, 2006