The Seventh Day Adventist Church is one of the main Protestant denominations within the religion of Christianity and is known by its distinguished observance of the seventh day of the week, Saturday as the Sabbath within the Christian and the Jewish calendar. Their emphasis on the observance of Saturday as the Sabbath comes from the imminent belief on the second coming or advent of Jesus Christ and has been observed within their denomination since its conception (Balbach 42). The basis of these beliefs and observance came from the teaching of William Miller, who was a farmer settling within the state of New York after the war of 1812. Many believe that the emergence of the denomination was based on the Millerite movement, which was established in the 19th century, and as mentioned above, are driven by the devotion and belief of what is considered as the Great Second Advent Awakening (The Seventh-Day Adventist Church). The Seventh Day Adventist is considered to have begun in 1844 and was started in Washington, New Hampshire by William Miller. The teachings based on the Millerite teachings came as a predecessor of the whole movement and religion.
The seventh day Adventist organizational structure consists of four levels, which are similar to those found in the Presbyterian system. The local church is found at the bottom of the hierarchy and acts as the foundation level within the chain of command. It consists of local churches within the various regions all over the world (Hoschele 63). Above the local church, is the local mission or conference, and comprises of organizations of churches within a specific region. It is responsible for the appointment of ministers, the organization of assets, and responsible for the payment structures that are relevant to ministers within the church. The union conference or mission is above the local conference and comprises of numerous local conferences within a larger region. Finally, the general conference is known to be at the top of the hierarchy and consists of 13 divisions allocated to various geographical territories within the world (The Seventh-Day Adventist Church). They have the overall authority and are responsible for all administrative and conjecture matters pertaining the church. It is headed by a president, and their head offices are located Silver Spring, Maryland, within the United States.
The Seventh Day Adventist in Todays World
Ever since the establishment of the church in 1863, the Seventh Day Adventists have seen a significant growth within their denomination regarding influence and followers over the last century. Despite the fact that the denomination is still considered as one comprising of loosely knit groups all over the world, which are small, the following has seen a significant growth, from a mere 3500 worshipers within the onset of the church in Battle Creek, Michigan, to over 200,000 members in 1945. With the presence of such a following within the church, there are various prominent figures within the seventh day Adventist denomination (Hoschele 65). From the influence brought about by the Millerient teachings, figures such as Joseph Bates, James and Ellen White among others can be considered as some of the figures that have had a great influence within the establishment and providence of teachings and doctrines in the church. They are still applicable to todays religious teaching and practices within the church.
Some of the significant milestones the church has achieved within the past century show the extent of prosperity and influence the seventh day Adventist have had within the field of religion and society. With the onset of the 2000s, the church had already registered over 10 million baptized members worldwide, who were considered to have attained the required age or had the official roles within the church (The Seventh-Day Adventist Church). It is considered that this is not an exact number of how many followers the church has, and is said to be double, with the presence of a growth rate of about 11% every year. The members of the Adventist church can be found in over 200 of the 119 countries around the world, as well as areas, recognized by the United Nations and most of these members are considered to live outside of North America.
In addition to the above, the some of the main churches in the 13 world regions are considered to have a following of over one million followers each. They can be found in the regions of South America, Inter-America, East and Central Africa, Southern African and the Indian Ocean region, North America and finally, the Southern Asia Pacific regions (Hoschele 70). Other major attributes that are associated with the Seventh Day Adventist church in todays world is the SDALink, which is a social networking platform for the Adventists all over the world, and which was introduced in 2008 by Biggy TV.
Beliefs Within the Seventh Day Adventist
There are various cultural activities and practices, which are carried out by the seventh day Adventists as a church within todays society. Most of these activities tend to be attributed to the various beliefs that are followed by the Adventist, practically all over the world. It is important to note that throughout the years, the various teaching that are considered official within the Seventh Day Adventist church have come up and developed within the years. These teachings are seen to be represented by what are known as the 28 fundamental beliefs, that are practiced and which influence majority of the activities and cultural practices presented within the church today (The Seventh-Day Adventist Church). Most of these beliefs within the Adventist doctrine have a close resemblance to Trinitarian Protestant theology, which is considered as the doctrine of the trinity common within the Christina doctrine. Their belief is more similar to the Christian religion since they also take recognition to teachings emphasized within the scriptures, and other fundamental attributes such as the resurrection of the dead and justification brought about by faith alone (The Seventh-Day Adventist Church). It is because of such attributes within the Adventists beliefs that the Seventh Day Adventists are considered evangelical.
Some of the main set of distinctive features within the Adventist doctrines, which make the Seventh Day Adventist more unique compared to the conventional Christian religion and belief is the presence f various teachings, which are considered unique within Adventism (schele 43). For instance, the Sabbath within the Adventist belief is considered holy, and should be observed by all Adventists on the seventh day of an ever week. Another major belief within their belief is the second coming or the end of times, which they believe the return of the savior will be visible and after a time of great trouble, and, which will test the Sabbath. All these come from interpretations from the scriptures within the Bible, thus making Adventism different from all other forms of Christian religion groups. Other popular beliefs followed by the church include aspects or teachings involving investigative judgment, remand, the spirit of prophecy, heavenly sanctuary among others.
Cultural Activities and Practices
It is through the presence of the profound theological spectrum within the Seventh Day Adventists church, and the influence brought about by the beliefs and teachings, that the presence of cultural activities and practices within the Adventist Church are practiced in todays world (schele 43). The seventh day Adventist church is known to have activities being carried out on the Sabbath. Vespers, which are considered prayer practices carried out on Friday evenings within worshipers houses, are common. They include preparation of food and fellowship services during most Friday evenings (The Seventh-Day Adventist Church). In most cases, Adventism prohibits working on Saturdays, and also refrain from engaging in secular recreational activities on Saturdays. However, activities such as charitable work, family-related activities among others are always encouraged during Sabbath.
Worship services and practices such as holy communions are present within the religious activities and practices held by the Seventh Day Adventist church. Worship services are always held on the Sabbath and entail worship services held in the church and which follow an evangelical format consisting of praise and worship activities and sermons (Hoschele 72). The practice of the only communion is also present within the Sabbath activities and is considered as the Ordinance of Humility, which is based upon the scripture found in the gospel account of John. It comprises of rituals within the congregation, which comprise of them performing the ordinance ritual, and then congregating to share the Holy Communion.
Other activities practiced within the seventh day Adventist include the emphasis and creation of awareness of health and diet towards the congregations, as well as, the society. Marriage is also another practice that is practiced by the Adventist church, placing an emphasis on its divinity. They do not condone same-sex marriage, as it is considered unworthy within the laws of religion (Schele 45). Aspects such as ethics and sexuality are also some of the major aspects in which the church takes into account. Adventists believe and encourage abstinence for all their members, especially before marriage. Ethical issues such as euthanasia, birth control, cloning among other trending issues within the world today, are also some of the debates that the church has a strong opinion over, taking into account all the ethical considerations, which are influenced by the doctrines of the church (Hoschele 72). Activities such as youth camps and Pathfinders are also present within the Seventh Day Adventist and are responsible for the teachings and development of the youth within the congregation based on the accepted teachings and religion.
BIBLIOGRAPHY \l 1033 Balbach, Alfons. The history of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement. Roanoke, VA: Reformation Herald Pub. Association, 2000.
Hoschele, Stefan. "Interchurch and Interfaith Relations." Forschungen zur Geschichte und Theologie der Siebenten-Tags-Adventisten / Studies in Seventh-day Adventist History and Theology Adventistica (2011).
schele, Stefan. Interchurch and interfaith relations seventh-day adventist statements and documents. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2010.
"The Seventh-Day Adventist Church." The Ecumenical Review (2015).
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