Influential Educator Passed Away at 86: Dr. Patricia Habada
By AT News Team, June 24, 2015: The educator who oversaw the production of many of the textbooks used in Adventist schools in North America and coordinated the development of the current children’s Sabbath School curriculum for the denomination died last week (June 18). Dr. Patricia A. B. Habada was 86.
Habada was a teacher and principal in Adventist elementary schools, and then earned a Ph.D. in elementary education, curriculum and supervision at the University of Pittsburgh. She was one of the first women in the later part of the 20th century to become a conference superintendent of education, serving in the denomination’s Pennsylvania Conference.
She directed the development of textbooks published for Adventist elementary schools in North America, negotiating with major textbook suppliers and eventually arranging for a number of books to be published by Adventist publishing houses. She was the author or primary editor of at least 27 books still in print and being used by schools. This number does not include translations into several other languages.
In the 1990s she joined the General Conference Sabbath School staff and was the primary coordinator and general editor for the GraceLink curriculum for children which is now used worldwide in many languages. It was the first complete refreshing of the materials for children’s Sabbath School in many decades, and a very complicated task involving large numbers of writers, illustrators and designers along with a wide range of considerations and concerns about the needs of children at various age levels, learning styles, theology and methods of instruction.
“The GraceLink curriculum was a monumental achievement,” a retired church administrator familiar with the project told Adventist Today. “She had the patience and the depth of understanding to bring it together and see it through. It has given the denomination a very high quality religious education framework.”
In 1988, Habada took on the issue of ordination for women serving in the Adventist clergy. She launched an independent educational organization named Time for Equality in Adventist Ministry (TEAM) which has provided significant research in Adventist history and theology, as well as raised funds to assist many young women in pursuing ministerial training in Adventist colleges and universities around the globe.
In 1995, TEAM published The Welcome Table: Setting a Place for Ordained Women, which included papers from 14 Adventist historians, Bible scholars and administrators. It was later translated into Spanish and distributed throughout Latin America. Habada was the coeditor of the volume along with Pastor Rebecca Brillhart.
Habada “modeled the humility, courage and personal sacrifice it takes to initiate and sustain systemic institutional change,” Brillhart said, reflecting on the many years they worked together. Brillhart has been a pastor at Sligo Church on the campus of Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland, and at the campus church at Pacific Union College in Angwin, California. She is currently a consultant to nonprofit organizations and based in Sacramento, California.
Habada is survived by Paul, her husband of 66 years; two daughters, Shirley Harvey and husband Donald of Nashville (Tennessee) and Beverly Habada of Adelphi, Maryland; three grandchildren, six great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. She is mourned by many, many friends throughout the global Adventist community.
The family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to TEAM. These are tax-deductible in the United States and can be mailed to Box 7816, Langley Park, Maryland 20787.