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The church was formally established in Battle Creek, Michigan , on May 21, , with a membership of 3, The denomination in the s turned to missionary work and revivals, tripling its membership to 16, by and establishing a presence beyond North America during the late 19th century.
Rapid growth continued, with 75, members in By this time the denomination operated two colleges, a medical school, a dozen academies, 27 hospitals, and 13 publishing houses. The church's beliefs and doctrines were first published in in Battle Creek Michigan as a brief statement called "A Synopsis of our Faith". White was not one of them. The Adventist Church adopted Trinitarian theology early in the 20th century and began to dialogue with other Protestant groups toward the middle of the century, eventually gaining wide recognition as a Protestant church.
Christianity Today recognized the Seventh-day Adventist church as " the fifth-largest Christian communion worldwide" in its January 22, issue. The official teachings of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination are expressed in its 28 Fundamental Beliefs. This statement of beliefs was originally adopted by the General Conference in , with an additional belief number 11 being added in Adventist doctrine resembles trinitarian Protestant theology, with premillennial and Arminian emphases.
Adventists uphold teachings such as the infallibility of Scripture , the substitutionary atonement , the resurrection of the dead and justification by faith alone , and are therefore often considered evangelical. There is a generally recognized set of "distinctive" doctrines which distinguish Adventism from the rest of the Christian world, although not all of these teachings are wholly unique to Adventism: As with any religious movement, a theological spectrum exists within Adventism comparable to the fundamentalist -moderate- liberal spectrum in the wider Christian church and in other religions.
A variety of groups, movements or subcultures within the church present differing views on beliefs and lifestyle. The conservative end of the theological spectrum is represented by historic Adventists , who are characterized by their opposition to theological trends within the denomination, beginning in the s.
The most liberal elements in the church are typically known as progressive Adventists progressive Adventists generally do not identify with liberal Christianity. They tend to disagree with the traditional views concerning the inspiration of Ellen White , the Sabbath , a seven-day Creation , the doctrine of the remnant and the investigative judgment. The Biblical Research Institute is the official theological research center of the church.
The church has two professional organizations for Adventist theologians who are affiliated with the denomination. During the s the Adventist Theological Society was formed to provide a forum for more conservative theologians to meet and is held in conjunction with the Evangelical Theological Society.
Part of Friday might be spent in preparation for the Sabbath; for example, preparing meals and tidying homes. Adventists may gather for Friday evening worship to welcome in the Sabbath, a practice often known as Vespers. Adventists abstain from secular work on Saturday. They will also usually refrain from purely secular forms of recreation, such as competitive sport and watching non-religious programs on television.
However, nature walks, family-oriented activities, charitable work and other activities that are compassionate in nature are encouraged. Saturday afternoon activities vary widely depending on the cultural, ethnic and social background. In some churches, members and visitors will participate in a fellowship or " potluck " lunch and AYS Adventist Youth Service. The major weekly worship service occurs on Saturday, typically commencing with Sabbath School which is a structured time of small-group study at church.
Adventists make use of an officially produced "Sabbath School Lesson", which deals with a particular biblical text or doctrine every quarter. After a brief break, the community joins together again for a church service that follows a typical evangelical format, with a sermon as a central feature. Corporate singing, Scripture readings, prayers and an offering, including tithing or money collection , are other standard features.
The instruments and forms of worship music vary greatly throughout the worldwide church. Worship is known to be generally restrained. Adventist churches usually practice communion four times a year. It commences with a foot washing ceremony, known as the "Ordinance of Humility", based on the Gospel account of John The Ordinance of Humility is meant to symbolize Christ's washing of his disciples' feet at the Last Supper and to remind participants of the need to humbly serve one another.
Participants segregate by gender to separate rooms to conduct this ritual, although some congregations allow married couples to perform the ordinance on each other and families are often encouraged to participate together. After its completion, participants return to the main sanctuary for consumption of the Lord's Supper , which consists of unleavened bread and unfermented grape juice. Since the s when the church began, wholeness and health have been an emphasis of the Adventist church.
The church discourages its members from consuming alcoholic beverages , tobacco or illegal drugs compare Christianity and alcohol.
In addition, some Adventists avoid coffee , tea , cola , and other beverages containing caffeine. The pioneers of the Adventist Church had much to do with the common acceptance of breakfast cereals into the Western diet, and the "modern commercial concept of cereal food" originated among Adventists.
His development of breakfast cereals as a health food led to the founding of Kellogg's by his brother William. In both Australia and New Zealand , the church-owned Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing Company is a leading manufacturer of health and vegetarian-related products, most prominently Weet-Bix.
Research funded by the U. National Institutes of Health has shown that the average Adventist in California lives 4 to 10 years longer than the average Californian. The research , as cited by the cover story of the November issue of National Geographic , asserts that Adventists live longer because they do not smoke or drink alcohol, have a day of rest every week, and maintain a healthy, low-fat vegetarian diet that is rich in nuts and beans.
He cites the Adventist emphasis on health, diet, and Sabbath-keeping as primary factors for Adventist longevity. Adventists' clean lifestyles were recognized by the U. The first task for the scientists was to find people willing to be infected by pathogens that could make them very sick.
They found them in the followers of the Seventh-day Adventist faith. Although willing to serve their country when drafted, the Adventists refused to bear arms. As a result many of them became medics. When contacted in late , the Adventist hierarchy readily agreed to this plan. For Camp Detrick scientists, church members were a model test population, since most of them were in excellent health and they neither drank, smoked, nor used caffeine.
From the perspective of the volunteers, the tests gave them a way to fulfill their patriotic duty while remaining true to their beliefs. The Adventist understanding of marriage is a lawfully binding lifelong commitment of a man and a woman. The Church Manual refers to the origination of the marriage institution in Eden and points to the union between Adam and Eve as the pattern for all future marriages. Adventists hold that marriage is a divine institution established by God Himself before the fall.
They hold that God celebrated the first marriage and the institution has as its origin the Creator of the universe and was one of the first gifts of God to man, and it is "one of the two institutions that, after the fall, Adam brought with him beyond the gates of Paradise. The Old and New Testament texts are interpreted by some Adventists to teach that wives should submit to their husbands in marriage. Adventists hold that heterosexual marriages are the only biblically ordained grounds for sexual intimacy.
Adventists do not perform same-sex marriages , and individuals who are openly homosexual but not "practicing" cannot be ordained, but may hold church office and membership. Current church policy states that openly homosexual and "practicing" persons are to be welcomed into the church services and treated with the love and kindness afforded any human being. The official Adventist position on abortion is that "abortions for reasons of birth control , gender selection , or convenience are not condoned.
Adventists believe in and encourage abstinence for both men and women before marriage. The church disagrees with extra-marital cohabitation. The Adventist church has released official statements in relation to other ethical issues such as euthanasia against active euthanasia but permissive of passive withdrawal of medical support to allow death to occur ,  birth control in favor of it for married couples if used correctly, but against abortion as birth control and premarital sex in any case  and human cloning against it while the technology is unsafe and would result in defective births or abortions.
Adventists have traditionally held socially conservative attitudes regarding dress and entertainment. These attitudes are reflected in one of the church's fundamental beliefs:.
For the Spirit to recreate in us the character of our Lord we involve ourselves only in those things which will produce Christlike purity, health, and joy in our lives. This means that our amusement and entertainment should meet the highest standards of Christian taste and beauty.
While recognizing cultural differences, our dress is to be simple, modest, and neat, befitting those whose true beauty does not consist of outward adornment but in the imperishable ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit. Accordingly, many Adventists are opposed to practices such as body piercing and tattoos and refrain from the wearing of jewelry, including such items as earrings and bracelets. Some also oppose the displaying of wedding bands, although banning wedding bands is not the position of the General Conference.
Though it seems unbelievable to some, I'm thankful that when I grew up in the church [in the s and s] I was taught not to go to the movie theater, dance, listen to popular music, read novels, wear jewelry, play cards, bowl, play pool, or even be fascinated by professional sports. Adventists often cite the writings of Ellen White, especially her books, Counsels on Diet and Foods , Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students , and Education as inspired sources for Christian deportment.
The Adventist church officially opposes the practice of gambling. The Youth Department of the Adventist church runs age specific clubs for children and youth worldwide. Pathfinders is a club for 5th to 10th grade up to 12th in Florida Conference boys and girls. It is similar to and based partly on the Scouting movement. Pathfinders exposes young people to such activities as camping, community service, personal mentorship, and skills-based education, and trains them for leadership in the church.
Yearly "Camporees" are held in individual Conferences, where Pathfinders from the region gather and participate in events similar to Boy Scouts' Jamborees.
After a person enters 9th grade, he or she is eligible to join Teen Leadership Training within Pathfinders. In the 11th grade, typically after being a member of a club, they can become a Pathfinder or Adventurer staff member and begin the "Master Guide" program similar to Scout Master which develops leaders for both Adventurers and Pathfinders.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church operates youth camps all over North America and many other parts of the world. Each camp varies in the activities they offer but most have archery, swimming, horses, arts and crafts, nature, high ropes challenge course, and many other common camp activities. The Seventh-day Adventist church is governed by a form of representation which resembles the presbyterian system of church organization. Four levels of organization exist within the world church.
Each organization is governed by a general "session" which occurs at certain intervals. This is usually when administrative decisions are made. The president of the General Conference, for instance, is elected at the General Conference Session every five years.
Delegates to a session are appointed by organizations at a lower level. For example, each local church appoints delegates to a conference session. Within a geographic region, ministers receive roughly equal pay irrespective of the size of their church. The Church Manual  gives provisions for each level of government to create educational, healthcare, publishing, and other institutions that are seen within the call of the Great Commission. The ordained clergy of the Adventist church are known as ministers or pastors.
Ministers are neither elected nor employed by the local churches, but instead are appointed by the local Conferences, which assign them responsibility over a single church or group of churches. Ordination is a formal recognition bestowed upon pastors and elders after usually a number of years of service. In most parts of the world, women may not be given the title "ordained", although some are employed in ministry, and may be "commissioned" or "ordained-commissioned".
A number of lay offices exist within the local church, including the ordained positions of elder and deacon. Elders serve a mainly administrative and pastoral role, but must also be capable of providing religious leadership particularly in the absence of an ordained minister. The role of deacons is to assist in the smooth functioning of a local church and to maintain church property.
Although the church has no written policy forbidding the ordination of women, it has traditionally ordained only men. In recent years the ordination of women has been the subject of heated debate, especially in North America and Europe. In the Adventist church, candidates for ordination are chosen by local conferences which usually administer about 50— local congregations and approved by unions which serve about 6—12 conferences.
The General Conference, the church's world headquarters, claims the right to declare the worldwide qualifications for ordination, including gender requirements. The General Conference has never stated that ordination of women contravenes the Bible, but the General Conference has requested that no local conference ordain women until all parts of the world church accept the practice. The primary prerequisite for membership in the Adventist church is baptism by immersion. This, according to the church manual, should occur only after the candidate has undergone proper instruction on what the church believes.
As of December 31, , the church has 20,, baptized members. Depending on how the data was measured, it is reported that church membership reached 1 million between and , and grew to five million in