How Seventh-day Adventists Began
Though we did not officially organize as a church - a denomination - until 1863, our roots go back at least to the early 1800's. As the new century began, a great wave of interest in the Bible swept over America. This interest focused especially on the Bible prophecies concerning the second advent - the return to this world - of Jesus Christ.
Between 1831 and 1844, William Miller - a Baptist preacher and former army captain in the War of 1812 - launched the "great second advent awakening," which eventually spread throughout most of the Christian world. Based on his study of the prophecy of Daniel 8:14, Miller calculated that Jesus would return to earth on October 22, 1844. When Jesus did not appear, Miller's followers experienced what came to be called "the great disappointment."
Most of the thousands who had joined the "great second advent awakening" left it, in deep disillusionment. A few, however, went back to their Bibles to find why they had been disappointed. Soon they concluded that the October 22 date had indeed been correct, but that Miller had predicted the wrong event for that day. They became convinced that the Bible prophecy predicted not that Jesus would return to earth in 1844, but that He would begin at that time a special ministry in heaven for His followers. They still looked for Jesus to come soon, however, as do Seventh-day Adventists yet today.
From this small group who refused to give up after the "great disappointment" arose several leaders who built the foundation of what would become the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Standing out among these leaders were a young couple - James and Ellen White - and a retired sea captain named Joseph Bates.
This small nucleus of "Adventists" began to grow - mainly in the New England states of America, where Miller's movement had begun. Ellen White, a mere teenager at the time of the "great disappointment," grew into a gifted author, speaker, and administrator, who would become and remain the trusted spiritual counsellor of the Adventist family for more than seventy years until her death in 1915. Early Adventists came to believe - as have Adventists ever since - that she enjoyed God's special guidance as she wrote her counsels to the growing body of believers.
In 1860, at Battle Creek, Michigan, the loosely knit congregations of Adventists chose the name Seventh-day Adventist and in 1863 formally organized a church body with a membership of 3,500 - all in North America. By 1900 our membership had spread abroad and stood at 75,000. By the mid-1960's it had swelled to over 1.5 million. (Excerpt from "Let's Get Acquainted!" Pgs 6-8) As we enter a new millennium, our membership has blossomed to 10 million.
History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church
in Marystown, Newfoundland, Canada
The community of Marystown is located on the Burin Peninsula, in the province of Newfoundland. There were Seventh-day Adventist believers in Placentia Bay and on the Burin Peninsula as early as the 1920's. Several families have traced their first knowledge of the Church to the work of George Russell, a self-supporting literature evangelist who sold religious books in that area in the 1930's. However, the organized work did not begin until around 1970 when Dr. Tim Neufold and Dr. John Rodomsky opened a practise in Marystown. The two doctors asked the Newfoundland Conference if they would build them a clinic in the area of Marystown and they would in turn start the work there.
In 1971, Pastor Victor Gill with his wife Nettie and three children moved to Newfoundland with the intent to open up the work in a new area where there were no Seventh-day Adventists. Originally, they had plans to begin in northern Newfoundland and Labrador. At the same time the Newfoundland Conference was considering the application from the two doctors in Marystown. As a result, Pastor Gill (a skilled builder) was asked if he would move to Marystown to begin construction of the medical clinic for the two doctors. He agreed and the Gill family moved to Marystown to begin the work.
As the construction progressed, friendships were made with people in the surrounding communities. Programs such as Vacation Bible School, Five Day Plan to Stop Smoking, and Children's Story Hour were implemented and church services began in the Gill's living room until construction of the medical building was completed in 1972. The doctors opened up their practise in the new building and the basement was used for church meetings by the small group of believers Pastor Gill and his wife Nettie were nurturing.
In 1974, as the group of Seventh-day Adventists grew in number, a small building was constructed by Pastor Gill which served as a church and school. Eric and Roseanne Buckley were the first teachers in the school.
In 1977, Pastor Lawton Lowe came to Marystown to hold a series of meetings at the Glendon Room in the motel. From these meetings 20 people joined the church and within a year they organized into a church body. Present at the organization were Elder Howe from the Canadian Union and Elder Jim Campbell from the Newfoundland Conference.
In 1985, the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Newfoundland arranged for a group known as the Maranatha Flights to build a new church and a school for the congregation in Marystown. First, the local members had to have the concrete foundations ready. Then, the Maranatha group arrived in their personal aircraft and rolled up their sleeves. All of them were practical builders as well as airplane pilots and owners. They hammered, sawed and plastered for two weeks until the building was completed and ready for the painters.
In the spring of 1987, the official opening of the Maranatha buildings was held, with representatives of the clergy and town officials present. The Marystown Seventh-day Adventist School was closed due to declining enrollment, but the church continues to serve the Marystown area well to the present day.