Melvin Louis Venden

1901 - 1988

Melvin Venden was a Seventh-day Adventist pastor and singing evangelist. He worked with his brother Daniel as an evangelistic team at the beginning of their careers and later worked in evangelism with his sons Louis and Morris.

Melvin was born in Trout Lake, Washington, on August 15, 1901, the sixth of eight children of Nels, an immigrant from Norway, and Christine Knutson Hovrud Venden. Following his father's death in 1911, when Melvin was nine, his mother moved so that her children could attend SDA schools. He attended Columbia and Laurelwood academies and Walla Walla College, now University. While in college both Melvin and Daniel actively participated in music, singing as soloists and in the Male Glee Club.

He married Ivy Ruth Blackenburg, a nursing graduate from Loma Linda Medical College, on August 20, 1925, and taught for a year in Salem, Oregon, before returning to WWC to complete ministerial training.  He served as president of the Associated Students in his senior year and graduated in 1929.  They would have two sons, Louis and Morris.

In 1930, the Oregon Conference invited Melvin and Dan to serve as an evangelistic team, initially called the Venden Brothers, Gospel Singers, Bible Prophecy Lecturers and Evangelists, later the Venden Brothers, Gospel Singers and Evangelists. They held meetings in cities in Oregon, New York, Philadelphia, and larger cities on the east coast, 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 became well-known for their success in SDA circles and were chosen as a team to serve as two of the choristers at the 1936 General Conference Session in San Francisco.

They continued as an evangelistic team until 1943, when Daniel became pastor of the College View Church in Lincoln, Nebraska and a year later president of the Nebraska Conference. 

They again did evangelistic work in the late 1940s and from 1950 to 1955 held meetings in California and Arizona, at which time Melvin became a pastor in California and Daniel became president of the Central California Conference. Melvin pastored the Grass Valley, California, church and occasionally did evangelistic work with his two sons, before retiring.

An example of Melvin's clarity in presenting doctrines in evangelism, and a foreshadowing of the extensive writings his son Morris would do is perhaps found in an article by him published in a 1959 Australian Signs of the Times article, "What Would Peter Preach?" Through use of a series of question, after dealing with the primary one, "Peter, are you the rock on which Christ built His church?" he then proceeded to use verses in I and II Peter to answer additional questions related to some of the basic doctrinal views of the SDA church.

After several years of being apart the two brothers and their wives lived a block apart in St. Helena, California, until Dan died in 1973.  Melvin died fifteen years later, on May 12, 1988, at age 86.  Ivy Ruth was living there when she died the following year on December 18, at age 91.


Sources: Obituary, Adventist Review, 27 October 1988, 30; Unpublished Venden Family Tree, 1920 U.S. Census Records; A Great Tradition; Music at Walla Walla College 1892-1992, Dan Shultz, 43; Melvin Louis Venden obituary, Adventist Review, October 27, 1988, 30; Daniel E. Venden obituary, Review and Herald, October 25,1973, 23.