Blunden, Harold Murray (1885–1974) & Nellie Mountain (1887-1982)
Bruce W. Lo, December 2021
Basic Biographical Data
Born on May 2, 1885 in Colac, Victoria, Australia.
Parents: Godfrey and Alice Blunden.
Siblings: Randolph Godfrey (1878-1888), Alma Gladys (b. 1879), Clarice Essie (b. 1881), Verge Cyril (b. 1884), Harold Murray and Doris Dulce (b. 1889).
Marriage: Harold married Nellie Mountain on March 18, 1907 in Adelaide, South Australia.
Children: Erie, Vivienne and Dulcie Blunden.
Harold passed away on July 23, 1974, and Nellie on May 6, 1982 in St. Helena, California, USA.
Harold M. Blunden
Harold Murray Blunden was an Australian missionary to China from 1914 to 1919 serving as a church administrator, field secretary of literature evangelism for the Asiatic Division, before returning to his home country due to health reasons.
The Early Years
Harold Murray Blunden was born on May 2, 1885 in Colac, Victoria, Australia, to parents, Godfrey and Alice Blunden. As a child he was christened in Christ Church Anglican (Episcopalian), South Yarra, Melbourne, in 1890. There were six children in his family: Randolph Godfrey (1878-1888), Alma Gladys (b. 1879), Clarice Essie (b. 1881), Verge Cyril (b. 1884), Harold Murray (b. 1885) and Doris Dulce (b. 1889).
As a youth, beginning in Warburton, Victoria in 1902 Harold demonstrated his exceptional colporteur skills in country communities. During the next few years he was equally successful in Gosford, New South Wales and Timaru, New Zealand. In 1905 he went to the Avondale School for Christian Workers, to train as an elementary school teacher graduating from the Normal Course in 1906. Instead in 1907, his book-selling successes led him to be appointed as the Publishing Secretary in the South Australian Conference, establishing the direction of his subsequent career path. While at Avondale, Harold met Nellie Mountain who graduated in the 1905 class and went to teach in the Prospect elementary school in suburban Adelaide, South Australia. They married on March 18, 1907 in Adelaide. The following year, 1908, Harold accepted a teaching role at the infant Darling Range School in Western Australia. That was the only year when he actually made use of his formal teacher training studies. In 1909 he joined the New South Wales Conference in supervising and training the colporteur team. Over the next five years he shared his expertise in publishing a long-running series of articles titled “Gospel Salesmanship.”
Mission Service in China
His aptitude and expertise with canvassing attracted the attention of church leaders and prompted an appointment to transfer from Australia to the Asiatic Division as Field Missionary Agent. On July 29, 1914, Harold and Nellie together with his brother-in-law, Arthur Mountain, and sister-in-law, Leila Mountain, set sail for China aboard the “St. Albans.” At Townsville, Queensland, maritime authorities advised them to change to the “Tango Maru,” a Japanese registered ship because of war-time conditions, which took two months to get to Shanghai.
In 1914, Harold began his service in China by assisting through interpreters with general meetings for workers and believers in the central provinces of Hunan, Hupeh (now Hubei), and Honan (now Henan). In 1915 he was nominated for the role of General Field Secretary and Home Missions Secretary for the Asiatic Division. He began training of Chinese canvassers from his base in Shanghai. The canvassers were initially trained to sell annual fifty cent subscriptions for the Chinese Signs of the Times. Later, they were trained to sell books, the Chinese version of Health and Longevity. These training institutes were eventually extended to places such as Seoul in South Korea and Sunan in North Korea, Mukden (Shenyang) in Manchuria as well as the South China provinces of Fukien, Guangxi and Guangdong.
In 1917, Harold was appointed Publishing Secretary of the North China Union Conference. It was a difficult period for canvassers because the region was suffering under local warlords who were fighting for control of the territories. In February 1919 Harold was elected as the superintendent of the North China Union Mission and was ordained at the same time. But the stress of work had a toll on his health and within a few months before it became necessary for he and his family to return to Australia.
Back in Home Country
Harold recovered his health in Australia and in 1920 was appointed the Home Missions Secretary for the Australasian Union Conference. In the next few years, he had a series of short appointments becoming at various times, Pacific Island Missions Secretary, President of North New Zealand Conference, and Australian Union Conference Home Missions Secretary again.
Call to USA
At the 1926 General Conference Session in Milwaukie, Wisconsin, Harold was called to take up work in the Pacific Union Conference. From 1926 to 1936, he served in there in pastoral roles. cation with a home that was not frequently changing location. Nellie worked as head of the occupational and heliotherapy departments in Glendale Adventist Hospital. In 1937 Harold became the first manager and the associate speaker for the Voice of Prophecy radio broadcasts. This twelve month assignment was followed by a term as president of the Antillian Union Mission in Cuba, Inter-America. At the 1941 General Conference Session in San Francisco, Harold was elected the General Conference Publishing Department Secretary, a post he held for five years. Thereafter, he served five years as one of ten General Field secretaries for the General Conference.
Harold and Nellie formally retired in 1950 to California. But he continued to work as a district pastor and sometimes Field Secretary for the Northern California Conference unit his second and final retirement in 1963. In all he had given almost sixty years of service. Harold passed away on July 23, 1974, and was interned in the St. Helena Cemetery while Nellie was buried alongside him when she passed away on May 6, 1982.
Hook, Milton, "Blunden, Harold Murray (1885–1974)", in Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, accessed December 20, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8IJ3&highlight=Harold|Murray|Blunden .
Johanson, Eric J. “Life Sketch of Pastor H.M. Blunden,” Australasian Record and Advent World Survey, September 23, 1974, 13.
“Nominations for Asiatic Division,” Asiatic Division Outlook, July 1, 1915, 17-18.
Last updated March 13, 2022 by B. Lo