Our History

The early Seventh-day Adventists experienced many difficulties and disappointments, but they trusted in the truth and the teachings of the Bible.

From humble beginnings and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we have grown into a worldwide church recognised for its mission, health message, education programs and aid and relief activities.

> Our beginnings
> What helped us grow?
> Who are we today?

Did you know...
...J N Andrews was the first Seventh-day Adventist missionary?

> He went to Switzerland in 1874 where he organised the various companies of believers who worshipped on Sabbath, or Saturday, into a more unified community.

> Andrews was a respected theologian, a visionary church leader and a skilled businessman.

> He died at the age of 54 from tuberculosis.

How did the Seventh-day Adventist movement begin?

It began humbly.

William Miller, a Baptist and former army captain in the American Revolution, preached between 1831 and 1844 about the soon return of Jesus. Miller called it the "Second Advent." He predicted, based on his study of the Bible prophecy of Daniel 8:14, that Jesus would return to earth sometime between 1843 and 1844. Others within the movement named a date, October 22, 1844. (View Prophecy section)
William Miller preaching
The early Adventists met regularly for prayer and Bible Study. These meetings, over time, helped them move past
the Great Disappointment and find new truths in the Bible.

It began disappointingly.

Miller's followers were bitterly disappointed when Jesus did not appear. The church now calls this time of its history as the "great disappointment." Most of the thousands who had joined the movement left, but a few re-studied their Bibles. They discovered the date was correct, but they had misinterpreted what was to take place. The Bible prophecy did not predict Jesus would return to earth, but that He would begin a special ministry in heaven for His followers.
But it survived.
The small group of Adventists began to grow, mainly in the New England states of the United States of America where Miller's movement began. Ellen White, a teenager at the time of the "great disappointment," became a gifted author, speaker and leader. She served as a spiritual counsellor for the Adventist community for more than 70 years until her death in 1915. (Read Ellen G White's biography) Adventists believe God blessed her with the gift of prophecy as she wrote to the growing number of Adventists.
Six Sabbath Conferences were held in New England and New York between April and November in 1848.
These clarified the understanding of the diverse group of Sabbath keepers and also united them. Here, Joseph Bates is making a presentation.
In 1860, at Battle Creek in Michigan, the many congregations of Adventists chose the name "Seventh-day Adventist" and, in 1863, formally organised a church community with a membership of 3500.

What helped us grow?

Going abroad

The church confined its work to North America at first. That changed in 1874 when the church's first missionary, J N Andrews, visited Switzerland. In 1879, Dr H P Ribton, a new Adventist living in Italy, moved to Egypt and opened a school. However, he closed it when riots broke out in the vicinity. Russia was the first non-Protestant Christian country where the church introduced its message. An Adventist minister went there in 1886. On October 20, 1890, the church launched the schooner, Pitcairn, from San Francisco. It soon carried missionaries to the Pacific islands. Adventists first visited non-Christian countries, including Gold Coast (now Ghana), West Africa and Matabeleland, South Africa-in 1894. Missionaries visited South America the same year and Japan in 1896.
JN Andrews, the first Adventist missionary

Putting pen to paper
The publication and distribution of literature were strong factors in the growth of the Adventist movement. The church launched its The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald in Paris, Maine, in 1850; the Youth's Instructor in Rochester, New York, in 1852; and the Signs of the Times in Oakland, California, in 1874. The first denominational publishing house at Battle Creek, Michigan, began operating in 1855.
Early Adventist Publishing Houses

Review and Herald Publishing Association, Takoma Park, Washington D.C

Bible Echo Publishing House, 1886.

Pacific Press, Oakland, California, 1874

Helping out
The Health Reform Institute, later known as the Battle Creek Sanitarium, opened in 1866, and we organised missionary society work in 1870. We established the first of our worldwide network of schools in 1872. In 1903, the worldwide headquarters of the church moved from Battle Creek, Michigan, to Washington, D.C., and in 1989 to Silver Spring, Maryland.
The Health Reform Institute was the first medical institution owned and operated by the Adventist Church. It was one of the largest hospitals in the world, with 3200 beds.
Battle Creek Sanitarium - a contemporary view of the former hospital complex. Today it is a United States Federal Government building.
Who are we today?
We are Christians who want to know God better and experience Him more in our lives. We would like to share our hope in Jesus with you-a hope that gives life meaning and direction. It is this hope that gives us reason to believe, motivation to teach and a desire to help others.
We are mainstream worldwide Christians
There are more than 16 million Adventists around the world. View statistics.
The church currently works in 205 countries around the world. Nine out of 10 of its members live outside of North America, the church's birthplace. Membership is growing at a rate of almost one million every year, with new members joining the church at the rate of one every 35 seconds.

Caring Christians
We believe in caring not only for a person's spiritual needs, but also for their physical and social needs. We operate more than 165 hospitals and 370 clinics and more than 5800 schools and training colleges around the world. Through the Adventist Development and Relief Agency, we provide food aid, medical supplies, education programs, drug awareness and much more. Our different ministries also run many local programs to educate and help communities.

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