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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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Shenandoah Valley Academy (SVA) is one of the flagship high schools or "academies" of Seventh-day Adventist schools in the United States. It is located in New Market, Virginia and is a co-educational, boarding, high school. SVA offers both boarding and day school programs and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Accrediting Association of Seventh-day Adventist Schools. It is a member of the Virginia Council for Private Education. It is known for its strong athletic and fine arts program as well as the number of its graduates who move on to highly selective schools.


In 1905 while on his death bed, Charles D. Zirkle donated 45 acres of his property to the Virginia Conference to build a school. In 1907, construction began on the main building of what was known as New Market Academy. The first students enrolled in 1908. In January 1908 New Market Academy assumed its current name, Shenandoah Valley Academy. The name was changed because New Market Academy duplicated an old private school in New Market, ironically, the new name was shared with another, now defunct, military school in Winchester, Virginia. In 1911 SVA graduated its first four students. SVA attracts students primarily from Virginia and Maryland but students attend from across the United States to New York, Florida, or California and across national borders from places such as South Korea, Angola, the United Kingdom, and South America. By the time of its centennial in 2008 SVA had graduated over 6,000 students. During the 2009-2010 school year, SVA had an enrollment of two hundred and forty four students.

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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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James Springer White, pioneer of the Seventh-day Adventist Church

James Springer White (August 4, 1821, Palmyra, Maine - August 6, 1881, Battle Creek, Michigan), also known as Elder White was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and husband of Ellen G. White. White's contributions to the denomination were rather notable, in 1849 he started the first Sabbatarian Adventist periodical entitled "The Present Truth" (now the Adventist Review) in 1855 he relocated the fledgling center of the movement to Battle Creek, Michigan, and in 1863 played a pivotal role in the formal organization of the denomination. He later played a pivotal role in the development of the Adventist educational structure beginning in 1874 with the formation of Battle Creek College (which is now Andrews University).

James White was born on August 4, 1821 in the township of Palmyra in Maine. The fifth of nine children, James was a sickly child who suffered fits or seizures. Poor eyesight prevented him from obtaining much of an education and he was required to work on the family farm. At age 19 his eyesight improved and he enrolled at a local academy. He earned a teaching certificate and briefly taught at an elementary school. He was baptized into the Christian Connexion at age 16. He learned of the Millerite message from his parents and after hearing powerful preaching at an advent camp meeting in Exeter, Maine, White decided to leave teaching and become a preacher. Consequently, he was ordained a minister of the Christian Connexion in 1843. White was a powerful preacher and it is recorded that during the winter of 1843, 1000 people were accepted the Millerite message owing to his preaching. At times however, White was met with angry mobs who hurled snowballs at him. During these early travels he met Ellen G. Harmon whom he married on August 30, 1846. James and Ellen had four boys, Henry Nichols (b. 26 Aug 1847, d. 8 Dec 1863), James Edson (b. 28 Jul 1849, d. 3 Jun 1928), William Clarence (b. 29 Aug 1854, d. 31 Aug 1937) and John Herbert (b. 20 Sep 1860, d. 14 Dec 1860).

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