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6-26-13 Death of Pastor Joseph Melashenko
January 10, 1922 - June 21, 2013
During the I940s Canadian radio broadcasters dubbed Joe “The Voice of the Deep” as audiences nationwide thrilled to hear his unique bass voice during live call-in shows raising money for Tuberculosis during World War II. Raised on a farm in Saskatchewan Joe recalls milking a dozen cows and keeping time in ¾ or 4/4 rhythm as he sang. “The cows seemed to produce more milk as a result of my singing.”
From 1948 to 1950 Joe sang bass with the King’s Heralds Quartet on the “Voice of Prophecy” international radio broadcast in Glendale, California. Throat surgery forced him to make a difficult decision and move his growing family of five sons back to Saskatchewan where he taught public school and farmed his parents’ homestead and wheat farm. However, in 1957 Joe was called into singing evangelism ministry in Massachusetts. He was ordained in 1961 in Bermuda, after which he pastored in Hagerstown, Maryland and Rialto, California. In the 1970s after serving with Evangelist Byron Spears as singing evangelist for Voice of Prophecy, Joe and his wife Anne formed their own evangelistic team for VOP and for a dozen years traveled extensively throughout the western hemisphere conducting evangelistic campaigns in Joe’s unique, inimitable way: sermons-in-song. As often as he could, he and Anne featured their five sons in their family’s septet which included Lonnie, Joedy, Dallas, Eugene and Rudy.
Joe Melashenko, always proud of his Canadian heritage and passport, arranged for many of his evangelistic campaigns to be conducted in Canada, with Ebenezers stretching from British Columbia across all the provinces to the Maritimes.
Joe’s teaching career began following matriculation at Canadian Union College and Saskatoon Teacher’s Institute at the University of Saskatchewan. Besides teaching in Regina public schools, he taught in a number of small one-room schools in the farmlands west of Saskatoon as well as Rosthern and Arelee.
Joe and Anne together with their five sons emigrated to the United States and moved to the Atlantic Union Conference in the summer of 1957 when Joe was called by Merle L. Mills of the Southern New England Conference to be a singing evangelist for Elder Dan Sherman Harris. They settled in Springfield, Massachusetts for two years while Joe traveled Conference-wide with a number of outstanding evangelists including Walter Schubert, Elman J. Folkenberg and Garnet Williams.
They moved to Taunton in 1959 to be closer to a major campaign in Providence, Rhode Island during which Joe served as pastor of the Foxboro-Brockton district. In 1960 the Bermuda Mission requested that Joe and his family move to Hamilton for major campaigns with George E. Vandeman, Roland K. Cemer and other evangelists. Conference President H. Reese Jenkins subsequently asked him to pastor the St. George church, during which time he was ordained to the ministry in 1962 – the very first Seventh-day Adventist pastor to be ordained in the islands of Bermuda because of British law and the state church’s (Anglican) historic policy. Joe developed radio and television programs as “The Bermuda Gospel Singer” heard island-wide every Sunday evening during live broadcasts.
Chesapeake Conference A.B. Butler invited Joe to move to Hagerstown, Maryland in 1963 to serve as senior pastor of the Hagerstown district which included the Pondsville and Smithsburg churches. For the next year Joe tirelessly launched several evangelistic campaigns in his three churches, while also assisting in other evangelistic endeavors throughout the conference. His family performed numerous times at musical concerts, evangelistic campaigns, programs at the Union office and world headquarters in Washington D.C.
In the summer of 1964 Elder John Osborn, President of Southeastern California Conference called Joe to join Elder Don Gray as a newly formed evangelistic team located near Loma Linda. Together they worked with Elder Lloyd Wyman at the newly purchased Azure Hills Country Club to conduct meetings and plant a brand new church in the Inland Empire. Subsequent campaigns throughout the conference resulted in thrilling experiences until Joe was asked to pastor the Rialto Church. Membership zoomed as Joe’s magnetic personality and giant Russian bear hugs charmed people into the church. Joe thought of innovative ways to involve church members in drama presentations and creative expressions of worship. He once climbed aboard an 18-wheeler to accompany a truck driver Bible study “interest” who was having difficulty kicking the smoking habit. Joe rode to the East coast and back in order to assist him in a personalized 5-Day Stop Smoking clinic – and baptized him when they returned from the East Coast.
Following a dozen years as evangelist for the Voice of Prophecy Joe served in the Central California Conference as an evangelist until his retirement when Joe and Anne moved to Paradise, California where they lived until Anne’s death in 2009. Declining in physical health due to cancer, Joe enjoyed his final four years living with full-time care provided by his youngest son Rudy. He leaves to mourn his loss his five sons and their families, including a host of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
The memorial service for Pastor Joe Melashenko will be held on Sunday, July 21, at 4 p.m. (PDT) at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 5720 Academy Drive, Paradise, CA. The service will be available by live streaming video at that time on http://www.ustream.tv/channel/paradiseadventist. MORE
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