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Seventh-day Adventist Church Marks 150th Anniversary

posted on May 23, 2013, under Church, Conference, Education, Hospital, Video Report by

This week marks 150 years since the May 21, 1863, founding of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Today, the international Protestant denomination has a membership of more than 17 million.

Commenting on the anniversary, General Conference President Ted N.C. Wilson, said, “This milestone reminds us the Church was founded to serve God and share His love with others. We are celebrating because we don’t want to forget who we are, where we came from, and what God has in store for us.”

Founded in Battle Creek, Michigan, the Adventist Church promotes a personal relationship with God, healthful living, education, and service. During the formative years of the Advent movement, its leaders were mostly in their late teens, 20s, and 30s. Yet, it was these young men and women who led the Bible conferences during which the fundamental beliefs for the Church were discussed, debated, and agreed upon.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is well known for its world-wide network of schools, its leadership as defenders of religious freedom, its disaster relief and community development projects around the globe through ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency), and its promotion of healthful living.

The November 2005 National Geographic and a book, The Blue Zones (2008), profiled how Adventists are the longest-living people in the United States. In 2011, USA Today reported the Seventh-day Adventist Church was the fastest-growing denomination in this country with approximately 1.1 million members.

Florida Conference Organized
Thirty years after the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists was formed, Florida Conference was organized September 22, 1893, with 139 members. Although more congregations existed, delegates from six churches were represented during the weekend meetings in the town of Barberville. Prior to the Florida territory’s first church plant, A W. Bartlett wrote, “Florida seems to be a very important field for labor, especially in the winter when thousands flock here from the North and Europe for health and pleasure.”

In a special 1993 Centennial Edition of Florida Focus, the official Florida Conference magazine, Editor Cindy Kurtzhals featured the Conference’s early beginnings, including the first church in Terra Ceia that was organized in 1885 as forerunner to the current Palmetto Church some 40 miles south of Tampa.

Now, 61,279 members strong and celebrating 120 years of service in their communities, Florida Conference congregations meet on Saturdays in 198 churches, 51 companies, and 32 mission groups.

Many of these members serve on the 24 Florida Hospital campuses located primarily across the Interstate 4 corridor. Today’s flagship campus in Orlando was referenced on July 23, 1908, when Florida Conference President R.W. Parmele wrote to W.C. White of the California Sanitarium, saying, “When we decided that we must let this property go because we did not have the funds in hand to secure it, one of our brethren voluntarily purchased the property to save it for us. The property is located at Clarence Crisler’s old home in Orlando.”

In addition to providing quality health care, Adventists of Florida are known for providing quality education. Adventist University of Health Sciences, adjacent the Florida Hospital Orlando campus, is among them. Throughout the state, Florida Conference members and the community are benefitted by 26 early childhood programs, 28 elementary and junior academies (which include grades 9 and 10), and two senior high schools.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is committed to the development of minds and characters through education which explains why the denomination operates the largest integrated Protestant network of schools worldwide.

As 17 million Adventist members worldwide celebrate 150 years since their denomination was organized, 61,279 of them in Florida celebrate 120 years of God’s leading in mission outreach throughout their state. With a vision for Florida and the world in this anniversary year, President Wilson challenged members to “move forward on that great journey on that narrow pathway, allowing God to make revival and reformation real and actual in our lives and in the church.”

Watch President Wilson’s anniversary message in the video below.

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