The Seventh-day Adventist Church was organized in 1863 in the United States. Originally, its first members did not want to carry a denominational name – their wish was to be recognized only as those who studied and followed the Bible. But their rapid growth and desire to serve the community demanded organization and registration with the government. This move allowed the church to grow outside the borders of North America, first Switzerland in 1874, then in Russia, Ghana, South Africa, Argentina, and Japan. Today, the Adventist Church is the fastest growing Christian Protestant church in the world with 17 million baptised Seventh-day Adventist members living in 205 countries.
A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING
In the 1840s, before the church was formed, William Miller, a baptist preacher, began sharing his discoveries on Bible prophecies. This was a time of spiritual awakening in North America. Hundreds of thousands of Christians from different denominations became convinced from their study of the biblical prophecies that Christ would soon return. These believers became known as “Millerites”.
THE “GREAT DISAPPOINTMENT” OF 1844
This re-awakening of a neglected Biblical belief occurred in many countries, with a major focus in North America. But Christ did not come and all those Millerites were greatly disappointed, in what was called the “Great Disappointment” of 1844. Most of these people either returned to their original churches or abandoned the Christian faith completely. However, a small group of believers decided to continue studying together to find out in the Bible the reasons for their disappointment. And they did find answers. It was never intended that Jesus would come back at that time. They realized that the prophecy pointed to a change in Jesus’s ministry in heaven.
WHO IS RIGHT?
That small group was composed of believers from different backgrounds including Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Millerites, Presbyterian, etc. In prayer and devotion they studied the different themes of the Bible, comparing the similarities and differences of doctrines from each of their churches. For example, they would say: “Baptists teach baptism by immersion but Lutherans perform sprinkle baptism. Who is right according to the Bible?” In the Bible they confirmed that baptism must be by immersion. Another example is when Rachel Oakes, a Seventh-day Baptist, persuaded the group that Sabbath should be kept on Saturday and not on Sunday. Once again, they researched the Bible avidly and discovered that indeed the Bible points to the seventh-day as the day of worship.
SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH IS BORN
This church was born out of a burning desired to follow Jesus Christ and His Word. Adventist doctrines have been formed progressively throughout the history of the church as we learn from and are open to be guided by God in His Word, the Bible.
The name Seventh-day Adventist Church was chosen when the church was organized in 1863. “Seventh-day” refers to the biblical Sabbath, Saturday, ordained by God at Creation. “Adventist” means we’re looking for the return of Jesus Christ.
Today the Adventist Church continues to grow, with more than 1 million people joining the church every year, and you are welcomed to join us too!
If you would like to learn more about our world church history, please visit this link: http://www.adventist.org/world-church/facts-and-figures/history/