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Seventh-day Adventist Church

James and Ellen G. White, founders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church (abbreviated "Adventist") is a Protestant Christian denomination which is distinguished mainly by its observance of Saturday, the "seventh day" of the week, as the Sabbath. The denomination grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States during the middle part of the 19th century and was formally established in 1863. Among its founders was Ellen G. White, who is considered a prophet and whose numerous writings are still held in high regard by the church today.

Much of the theology of the contemporary Seventh-day Adventist Church corresponds to key evangelical teachings such as the Trinity and the infallibility of Scripture. Distinctive teachings include its Great Controversy theme, the unconscious state of the dead, and the doctrine of an investigative judgment that began in 1844. The church is also known for its emphasis on diet and health, for its promotion of religious liberty, and for its culturally conservative principles.

The world church is governed by a General Conference, with smaller regions administered by divisions, union conferences, and local conferences. It currently has a worldwide membership of over 17 million people, has a missionary presence in over 200 countries and is ethnically and culturally diverse. The church operates numerous schools, hospitals and publishing houses worldwide, as well as a prominent humanitarian aid organization known as the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).

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William Miller

The Great Disappointment was a major event in the history of the Millerites, a Christian denomination, in the United States. Around 50,000 people joined the movement that was to receive Jesus on October 22, 1844. Based on an interpretation of the event portrayed in Daniel 8:14, they waited to see the Second Coming as the event that was to be fulfilled on the appointed day. The specific passage reads, in the (King James Bible), as: And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. (Daniel 8:14)

Between 1831 and 1844, William Miller, a Baptist preacher, played a notable role in what historians have called the Second Great Awakening. The Millerite movement, named for William Miller, had significant influence on popular views of biblical prophecy, including upon the movement that later consolidated as the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Miller preached a set of fourteen rules for the interpretation of the Bible. Based on his study of the prophecy of Daniel 8:14, Miller calculated that Jesus would return to Earth sometime between 21 March 1843 and 21 March 1844. After the latter date came and went, the date was revised and set as October 22, 1844 based on the yearly Day of Atonement in Karaite Judaism.

When Jesus did not appear, Miller's followers experienced what came to be called "the Great Disappointment". Most of the thousands of followers left the movement. A group of the remaining followers concluded after biblical study that the prophecy predicted not that Jesus would return in 1844, but that the investigative judgment in heaven would begin in that year.

Miller recorded his personal disappointment in his memoirs: "Were I to live my life over again, with the same evidence that I then had, to be honest with God and man, I should have to do as I have done. I confess my error, and acknowledge my disappointment." Miller continued to wait for the second coming until his death in 1849.

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James Springer White.jpg

James Springer White, husband of Ellen G. White and cofounder of the church

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Ellen White in 1899

Ellen Gould White (née Harmon) (November 26, 1827 – July 16, 1915) born to Robert and Eunice Harmon, was an American Christian leader whose alleged prophetic ministry was instrumental in founding the Sabbatarian Adventist movement that led to the rise of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Supporters of Ellen G. White regard her as a modern-day prophet, usually expressed in the language that she exhibited the spiritual gift of prophecy as outlined in the New Testament. They do not consider this to conflict with the Reformation principle Sola Scriptura ("by scripture alone"), because the Bible is believed to be superior to her writings. Her restorationist writings are said to showcase the hand of God in Seventh-day Adventist history. This cosmic conflict, referred to as the "great controversy theme", is foundational to the development of early Seventh-day Adventist theology. Her involvement with other Sabbatarian Adventist leaders such as Joseph Bates and her husband James White would create a nucleus of believers around which a core group of shared beliefs would emerge. Ellen White believed that at the close of earth's history Jesus Christ would return to this earth to gather His people and take them to heaven.

White was a controversial figure even within her own lifetime. She claimed to have received a vision soon after the Millerite Great Disappointment. In the context of many other visionaries, she was known for her conviction and fervent faith. White is the most translated female non-fiction author in the history of literature as well as the most translated American non-fiction author of either gender. Her writings covered topics of theology, evangelism, Christian lifestyle, education and health (she also advocated vegetarianism). She was a leader who emphasized education and health and promoted establishment of schools and medical centers. During her lifetime she wrote more than 5,000 periodical articles and 40 books; but today, including compilations from her 50,000 pages of manuscript, more than 100 titles are available in English. Some of her more popular books include, Steps to Christ, The Desire of Ages, and The Great Controversy. Some Adventists believe she experienced over 2,000 visions.

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