An Introduction to Seventh-day Adventists
|Seventh-day Adventists are Christians who believe they should make a positive difference in their world and their community. Seventh-day Adventists base their beliefs and their mission in direct teachings from the Bible.
Seventh-day Adventists are people of hope who are committed to promoting the biblical message of quality of life for the present and the future. In keeping with that principle, Seventh-day Adventists believe the Bible teaches a weekly seventh-day Sabbath day of rest and worship and the promise of Christ’s second coming or “Advent.” Each Saturday, Adventist enjoy a 24-hour Sabbath rest from work and school to join family and fellow believers in worship, fellowship, prayer, and communion with God.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church was born out of the Millerite movement of the 1840s when thousands of Christians searched for greater understanding of biblical prophecy. Among these believers was a group in New England that rediscovered the seventh-day Sabbath. They chose the name “Seventh-day” which refers to the biblical Sabbath, Saturday, ordained by God at Creation. “Adventist” means we’re looking for the return of Jesus Christ.
In 1863, the new Sabbath keepers officially organized into a denomination with 3,500 members worshipping in 125 churches. They soon began sharing their faith outside of North America, first Switzerland in 1874, then in Russia, Ghana, South Africa, Argentina, and Japan. Today the Adventist Church is one of the fastest growing Christian Protestant churches in the world with 14 million baptized Seventh-day Adventist members living in 204 countries.
Seventh-day Adventists strive daily to develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ to become more like Him. The heart of the church’s mission is to help others realize the hope found in experiencing a personal relationship with a living God and loving Saviour, and nurturing them in preparation for His soon return.
In the United States, there are 5,400 congregations comprised of a million members. Beyond running a strong parish ministry, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a mainstream Protestant church, also emphasizes education, health care, media ministry, and humanitarian services.
The Seventh-day Adventist K-16 school system is the largest Protestant education system in the world with 6,845 parochial school, from the elementary to university level. More than 85 percent of Adventist academy (or high school) graduates attend college compared to 66 percent of public school graduates, and academy graduates are more than 80 percent likely to successfully complete college degrees compared to 14 percent of public high school graduates.
To spread the good news and hope that comes from knowing Christ, the Seventh-day Adventist Church operates 57 publishing houses and branches (including a publisher for the blind and visually impaired), 167 hospitals and sanitariums, 124 nursing homes and retirement centers, 407 clinics and dispensaries, 34 orphanages and children’s homes, 10 airplanes and medical
launches, 28 food industries, 10 multimedia centers, and numerous Christian radio stations around the world.
Community service is another way Adventists work to raise quality of life. The Seventh-day Adventist Church operates Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), which provides humanitarian and development aid in more than 125 countries, and Adventist Community Services (ACS), which meets people’s immediate needs through social services such as tutoring and mentoring programs, youth volunteer corps, health screening, education and assistance, inner city missions, and disaster response.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is organized with a representative form of church government. This means authority in the Church comes from the membership of local churches.
The worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church headquarters, called the General Conference, is located in Silver Spring, Maryland. The world church is split into 13 Divisions.
The North American Division consists of Bermuda, Canada, the French territory of St. Pierre and Miquelon, the United States of America, Johnson Island, Midway Islands, and all other islands of the Pacific not attached to other divisions and bounded by the date line on the west, by the equator on the south, and by longitude 120 on the east.
Within the Division are nine Unions or regions. The Southwestern Union Conference, headquartered in Burleson, Texas, provides resources to church members and the general public throughout the Southwest (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas) to help promote and practice the principles of quality of life as found in the Bible. Arkansas-Louisiana Conference, located in Shreveport, LA, serves as church headquarters for those two states.
Acceptance of People
Seventh-day Adventists believe in the universal fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man, and are dedicated to the proclamation of the message of Revelation 14:6-12 to all peoples of the earth. This philosophy and its resultant course of action has made the Church both multiracial and multi-ethnic.
One of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s greatest assets resides in the diversity of the cultural, national, and ethnic origin of its membership. Its varied races, nationalities, and cultures have the potential to offer enrichment to each other as well as to the mission of the Church. They also bring the risk of misunderstandings and of possible injustice.
As a Church with a multi-cultural heritage, the principle of unity within diversity is strongly promoted. This involves cherishing the differences among us while working toward a harmonious blending of the diverse in the total life of the Church.
For more information, contact the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference at (318) 631-6240 or visit http://www.arklacsda.org/index.php or contact the local Pine Bluff congregation