A Brief Introduction to the Seventh-day Adventist Church
(For a detailed description of this worldwide church, please see the Seventh-day Adventist Official Website)
|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.
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 over 20 million baptized Seventh-day Adventist members living in 215 countries.
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
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 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 Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD) includes the countries of China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.The NSD is the largest division in the world by population. About one fourth of the world’s population – roughly 1.5 billion – reside in the territory. Among them, about 3 percent are Christian. The other 97 percent are Buddhists, Shintoists, Muslims, Shamans and Atheists.
The Japan Union Conference (JUC) is comprised of two conferences, East Japan Conference and West Japan Conference, along with the Okinawa Mission.
Acceptance of People
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.
(This introduction was adapted from the Forest Park Seventh-day Adventist Church’s website, with updated information from official Adventist sources)