“The last tribute of his brethren will not be paid to the memory of Elder Haskell until the work is finished. His message of faith and trust in God and in the triumph of the work of God will live with us to the end.” —William A. Spicer
Those words, written shortly after Stephen N. Haskell’s death seemed highly improbable when, at the age of 17 to honor the request of his dying employer, Haskell married Mary Howe—a woman 21 years his senior who was considered a hopeless invalid—a decision that might have destroyed his future. Yet he would go on to make substantial contributions to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, shaping its structure and outreach for more than half a century. Haskell was a self-made man in the truest sense of the word.
Couched in the social, political, economic, and religious culture of the day, author Gerald Wheeler paints a picture of Haskell as a formidable force in the early Adventist Church. In early manhood, he recognized the call of God and he responded to that call with all his heart, particularly giving himself to the study of God’s Word. Through the years he grew with the Adventist movement serving as” preacher, organizer, executive, author, publisher, world traveler; but above all as a leader of the lay forces of the church in literature, correspondence, and personal missionary work.” Ultimately he led hundreds, if not thousands, to Jesus Christ.
As Haskell taught throughout his life, Adventism must never forget that the Word of God is central to its mission—and His kingdom is its goal. The Word must retain its primacy. Above any historical or doctrinal tradition, Scripture must always be first. If Haskell were alive today, that would still be his overriding theme. And it must remain the focus of the church he helped pioneer.