Adventist Amateur Radio Association International

In the early 1960's, and quite by accident, Barney McLarty, M.D., W4STU, Memphis, Tennessee, met on a ham band with some of his Adventist friends. During their QSO the suggestion was made to organize a net for both the United States and Canada for the purpose of communicating with the widespread missionary family of Seventh-day Adventists throughout the world. It was discovered at this time that an Adventist radio amateur in the area of the General Conference, the governing body of the worldwide church, had just earned his ham license for just this purpose. That person was Ed Peterson, K3LJP. Soon after this QSO, a net began operating with Barney, W4STU, as net control. From that small beginning, the nets, sponsored by the Adventist Amateur Radio Association International, have grown to several, as listed on the AARAI Web site. 


The nets are divided into three main groups: Worldwide, Regional, and North American. The worldwide net has two nets on Sunday and a third net meets Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

The regional nets are all managed by hams outside the United States. From South Africa, the Caribbean, and the Far East, Adventists communicate with others. Never are the nets exclusively for only Seventh-day Adventists; all other licensed radio amateurs are welcome. 

The North American nets operate by geographical regions and/or time zones. Three of these nets are Bible Study nets, and meet each early morning, seven days a week. Some of the other nets meet only on a certain day of the week. 


There are over 2,500 licensed amateurs listed in the Association's directory, including hams licensed outside the United States. It is probable that some Adventist church member-hams are not listed. Who are the people who make up the membership of the Adventist Amateur Radio Association International? Physicians, college and university professors, contractors, engineers, pastors, business owners, nurses, radio and television evangelists, administrative assistants, homemakers, retirees—people from all "walks of life." 


The Adventist Amateur Radio Association International officers are elected for a five-year term. Currently, the elected officers are president, secretary/treasurer, and PR secretary. There is a group of people listed as "special representatives," and they include the AARAI news editor, an ambassador-at-large, the QSO party coordinator, the Don F. Neufeld Award coordinator, e-mail directory editor, disaster preparedness committee, and others. 


In February each year, the AARAI conducts a QSO Party, a contest to work as many different Adventist operated stations in the U.S., Canada, and throughout the world. The coordinator is Dick Sowler, W8FEM. Contacts made with stations outside of North America give more points, and using low power (under 200 watts) also gives a multiplier. The rules specify that contacts count only if the contacts are with Adventists or people who routinely check into any Bible study net. 

The Don F. Neufeld Award originated in 1988. It is named after the late Don F. Neufeld, W3ZS, avid pioneer Adventist ham and denominational worker. It is given to an amateur radio operator who is deemed to have made a significant contribution to the cause of Adventist amateur radio. The first award recipient was Ed Peterson, K3LJP. Other recipients have been Guy Welsh, W6ZTY; Mel Northrup, KA0CBZ; Harold Richards, WD6BDZ; Don Starkey, K7NHR; Al Rhodes, KR7P; David Martin, W7TP; Barbara, WB6QDK & Rodney, WB6QDN Benson; and Sid Kettner, VE7LLU. Al Liske, KA7Z, is the award coordinator.

Silent key Pastor Harold Richards, WD6BDZ, of Glendale, California, was one of the ambassadors-at-large. A former director/speaker for the Voice of Prophecy radio broadcast before his retirement, Harold was well known among ham circles worldwide. His travels took him to many areas of the world where he met with local hams and encouraged them to become active in the nets operated by the Adventist Amateur Radio Association. Harold's family has many hams, including his wife, Mary, KA6DOE, and other family members. 

Walt Bolinger, N6UX, from Texas, a retired college teacher and also registrar at Loma Linda University, has helped to set up broadcast transmitters and antennas in Italy, Central America, and KSDA, the high-power, shortwave station on Guam. He did all this after he retired. 

Silent key Guy Welch, W6ZTY, of Visalia, California, was one of the founders of the West Coast Bible Study Group, which has been continuously on the air each day at 6 a.m. for over 40 years. He was the moderator for the Bible study group almost since its beginning. 

A Unifying Media 

In preparation for disaster service, each geographic area of the church has the Adventist Community Services (ACS), an organization registered with FEMA and the American Red Cross, for working to aid the victims of disasters, whether earthquake, fire, flood, hurricane, or tornado. Ham radio is included as an important function for emergency communication and coordination of activities. When Hurricane Andrew hit several communities in southern Florida in August of 1992, the Greater Collegedale Adventist Radio Club was contacted for help. Ten club members spent a week in Florida assisting with communication at four Adventist churches. 

The AARAI and its many radio nets that operate from stations around the world is a unifying media and also keeps overseas families in contact with their loved ones at home.