Halbert Marshall Jenkins Richards

Arkansas Conference President, 1922-1926

His Early Years

L to R: Margaret, John, Halbert, and William Richards ca. 1892

Halbert Marshall Jenkins Richards was born at Mineral Point, Wisconsin, on May 5, 1869. He was the oldest son of William and Margaret Oliver Jenkins (Ancestry, 2021). In 1876, when Halbert was seven years of age, he accompanied his parents to their former home in Cornwall, England. When he was nine, his baby brother, John Charles Norman was born. Halbert developed tuberculosis so the family moved south to Exeter, Devonshire, in order to live in a warmer climate. While there, he heard a sermon on the Sabbath and began to observe the seventh day.

H. M. J. and Berta Richards in 1917

As a teenager Halbert learned the jewelry trade, specializing in watch-making and repairs. At the age of 17, he returned to the United States and after a time, found work in Atlantic, Iowa. A Seventh-day Adventist tent meeting was held there, which he attended. A company was raised up, with young Halbert Richards appointed as the leader. His baptism was delayed until spring. The day appointed was cold, the creek waters were icy, and Halbert was sick, but as he followed his Lord in baptism, he was miraculously healed of his tuberculosis (Recorder, 1956). He helped his parents return to America, and soon after entered the colporteur work (Review, 1956). In 1893, he married Berta Capitola Sylvester in Decatur County, Iowa (Ancestry, 2021). They had two sons, Harold Marshall Sylvester, (better known as H. M. S. Richards, Sr.), born August 28, 1894, and Kenneth David Newton born August 14, 1896. On May 30, 1897, Halbert Richards was ordained to the gospel ministry.

Years of Ministry

Elder H. M. J. Richards in 1922

In 1899, Elder H. M. J. Richards was transferred to the Colorado Conference, where he became vice-president and was the main advocate and fund raiser for establishing Eastern Colorado Academy, which later became Campion Academy. In 1912, he was called to the presidency of the East Pennsylvania Conference. In 1917 and 1918, Elder Richards served as the president of the Ontario Conference. While there, he appeared before parliamentary committees to make the way easier for Adventist men serving in the Canadian Army. He served as the president of the Texico Conference from 1918 to 1922, then moved to Little Rock as the Arkansas Conference president from 1922 to 1926. Following this, Elder Richards served as chaplain of the St. Helena Sanitarium. For a number of years he was pastor at Mountain View, California, and his last pastorate was in the East Long Beach church (Review, 1956).

H. M. J. Richards with his son, H. M. S. Richards, director of the Voice of Prophecy ca. 1954.

His Final Years

Elder H. M. J. Richards served briefly as chaplain of the Glendale Sanitarium, then joined the Voice of Prophecy staff, doing Bible research and special correspondence (Review, 1956). Elder Richards died at Glendale, California, on May 25, 1956, at the age of 87. He is buried in Montecito Memorial Park in Loma Linda, California. Bertie passed away on June 15, 1966, at age 96. She is also in the family plot at Montecito Memorial Park (Ancestry, 2021).


(1956, Jun 18). Pacific Union Recorder, p. 13.

(1956, Jul 26). Review and Herald, p. 27.

Ancestry Family Trees. (2021). Halbert Marshall Jenkins Richards. Retrieved from ancestry.com.

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