Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement

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Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement
SDARM Church Katowice 02.jpg
Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement Church in Ruda Śląska, Poland
Classification Protestant
Orientation Adventist; Arminian; Christian pacifist
Polity Modified presbyterian polity
Region Worldwide (132 countries)
Founder Groups of Seventh-day Adventist in different countries
Origin 1925
Gotha, Germany
Separated from Seventh-day Adventist Church
Members 35 000
Other name(s) Reformed Adventist Church (informal)

The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement is a Protestant Christian denomination, part of the Sabbatarian adventist movement, and formed as the result of a schism within the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Europe during World War I over the position its leadership took on Sabbath observance and in committing Seventh-day Adventist Church members to the bearing of arms in military service.[1]

The movement was formerly organised on an international level in 1925 at Gotha, Germany and adopted the name "Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement". It was first registered as a General Conference association in 1929 in Burgwedel, near Hanover, Germany. Following the General Conference association's dissolution by the Gestapo in 1936 it was re-registered in Sacramento, California, USA in 1949. Its present world headquarters are in Roanoke, Virginia, USA.[2]

The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement is governed by a General Conference, a worldwide association of constituent territorial Units consisting of Union Conferences, State/Field Conferences, Mission Fields and Missions not attached to any other unit. Through its local church congregations and groups of adherents, affiliated publishing houses, schools, health clinics and hospitals, the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement is active in over 132 countries of the world.

The movement's beliefs largely reflect its distinctive Seventh-day Adventist Church heritage and foundational pillars, with some small divergences. See on "Beliefs" below.

History[edit]

1914-1918 Seventh-day Adventist Church Schism (Europe)[edit]

The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement came about as a result of the actions of L. R. Conradi and certain European church leaders during the war, who decided that it was acceptable for Adventists to take part in war, which was in clear opposition to the historical position of the church that had always upheld the non-combative position. Since the American Civil War, Adventists were known as non-combatants, and had done work in hospitals or to give medical care rather than combat roles.[3] The Seventh-day Adventist leaders in Europe when the war began, determined on their own that it was permissible for Adventists to bear arms and serve in the military and other changes which went against traditional Adventist beliefs.

The General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists sent Seventh-day Adventist minister and General Conference Secretary William Ambrose Spicer to investigate the changes these leaders had instituted, but was unable to undo what L. R. Conradi and the others had done during the war.[4][5][6] After the war, the Seventh-day Adventist church sent a delegation of four brethren from the General Conference (Arthur G. Daniells who was president of General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, L. H. Christian, F. M. Wilcox, M. E. Kern) in July 1920, who came to a Ministerial Meeting in Friedensau with the hope of a reconciliation. Before the 200 Pastors and the Brethren from the General Conference present at this meeting, G. Dail, L. R. Conradi, H. F. Schuberth, and P. Drinhaus withdrew their statement about military service and apologized for what they had done. The Reformers were informed of this and the next day saw a meeting by the Adventist brethren with the Reform-Adventists. A. G. Daniells urged them to return to the Seventh-day Adventist church, but the Reform-Adventists maintained that the church leaders had forsaken the truth and the reconciliation failed.[7] Soon after they began to form a separate group from the official Adventist church. A related group which also came about for the same reasons was the True and Free Seventh-day Adventists (TFSDA) which formed in the Soviet Union at this time, whose most well known leader was Vladimir Shelkov.

The 1951 Schism - SDARM General Conference Session Zeist, Netherlands and its Aftermath[edit]

A major division then took place within the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement itself at its General Conference session held at Zeist, Utrecht (province), Netherlands in 1951. The cause for the division involved tensions that had arisen over unresolved issues of the preceding years. Charges of arbitrariness and authoritarianism by the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement leader and on the part of the General Conference administration towards member Units, failures by the General Conference committee to adequately resolve moral failings among leaders, issues concerning mal-administration of Church finances, and procedural and organisational irregularities prior to and during the Session itself are cited by the present organisation as significant contributing factors.[8][9]

After two weeks of deliberations within the Session trying to resolve some of these tensions, a move was made by a number of delegates to read a declaration enumerating the main problems involved and requesting that a committee to address the entire situation be established. The motion carried on the first vote but was overturned by the chairman. To signify their protest at what was held to be an arbitrary decision of the chair, 45% of delegates present, led by the then Secretary of the General Conference, left the Session room. The Session's proceedings faltered at this point. Efforts to reconcile the situation while all delegates were still present in Netherlands failed.[10][11]

It should be noted that another factor affecting the administration of the Session at the time was the international situation behind the iron curtain.[12] Many of the units attached to the General Conference were unable to send delegates to the Zeist session due to restrictions on religious bodies in communist lands.[13] Proxy letters from a number of Union Conferences were held by the General Conference Secretary[14] enabling the session to convene legally (a provision enabled in the 1949 corporate registration), though the proxy holder still only had one vote regardless of the number of proxies held. Those Units not represented directly accounted for approximately 60% of the organization's membership. Consequently, neither of the two factions that became evident at the Zeist session were in a position to make any unilateral decisions.[15]

Over the course of the next year, steps were taken by both parties to explain the situation to their respective member bodies (Union Conferences) that were affiliated up until this time to the one worldwide church administration. Both factions re-organised themselves as General Conference committees independently of each other and proceeded to take the oversight of the SDARM General Conference affairs.

SDARM General Conference Headquarters in Roanoke, Virginia, USA[edit]

The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement had been first registered as a general conference association in Burgwedel, near Hanover, Germany in 1929. Though never approved by the inaugural 1925 Gotha SDARM General Conference Session, the designation "International Missionary Society" was added to the beginning of the name. The full registered name at that time took the form "International Missionary Society, Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement, General Conference". The reasons for adding the designation to the beginning of the name were purely pragmatic, and done in the interests of securing General Conference finances on loan to one of its member Units, namely the German Union Conference. The SDARM General Conference operated under this German registration until 1936 when the association was dissolved by the Gestapo.[16]

From 1936 until the conclusion of the second World War, there was no legally registered SDARM General Conference entity anywhere in the world, and would not be until 1949. The international situation during those years prevented the convening of a General Conference Session. It was not until 1948, when the first post-war General Conference session was held, that the delegates agreed to re-register the world-wide interests of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement by incorporating the SDARM General Conference as an association in the USA. They also agreed to do this "under the name that was adopted by the General Conference delegation in session in 1925". This decision was carried out in 1949.[17] The registered name was now correctly, "Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement General Conference." It was under the By-Laws of this newly incorporated body that the 1951 Zeist General Conference Session was convened.[18]

By 1951 the SDARM General Conference affairs and financial interests were formally associated with the USA registered entity. Consequently, in the aftermath of the Zeist session, legal proceedings to establish the recognized administrators of the registered General Conference corporate entity commenced. These proceedings were finalised in May 1952 in an out-of-court agreement between the two factions. Representatives of the faction that had engaged in the protest walk-out in 1951 were left in control of the registered SDARM General Conference association.[19][20]

By 1955, when the next Session of Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement General Conference convened under the auspices the USA registered association, delegates present represented "9000 members (1000 less than in 1951)". This was a representation of 90% of the world-wide church membership recorded prior to the 1951 division.[21]

International Missionary Society (IMS)[edit]

Following the 1952 legal proceedings, in June of that year, representatives of the faction that had been the subject of the protest at Zeist conducted a second re-organisation. To distinguish themselves from their opposing faction, they adopted the name "International Missionary Society, Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement, General Conference" with headquarters in Mosbach, Baden in Germany.[22] As mentioned previously, the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement, as a general conference association, had been registered under this name in Germany in 1929 and operated under that name until 1936 when the association was dissolved by the Gestapo.[23] "International Missionary Society" was a name that had been associated with the German Union Conference of the Seventh-Day Adventist Reform Movement from its inception in 1919. As the inaugural 1925 SDARM General Conference session did not agree to use this designation in its official name, the 1949 registered entity did not use it. With the opposing faction now adopting this designation and adding it to the 1925 agreed name, the designation "International Missionary Society" thereafter became associated exclusively with those affiliated with the interests of that faction.

Post 1952 Re-Unification Attempts - IMS and SDARM General Conference[edit]

With both factions formally organized, affiliations of Union and Field Conferences associated under one or the other of the two corporate administrations. Though they remained separate both in administration and worship, the theological beliefs espoused by each entity's adherents were common to both.[24] Despite this common platform of belief, tensions from the 1951 schism continued to remain high. Consequently, official efforts in 1967 and again in 1993 to reconcile both administrations at a General Conference level were unsuccessful.[25][26]

Post War World II relations with Seventh-day Adventist Church[edit]

In 2005, the mainstream Seventh-day Adventist church tried to make amends and apologized for its failures during World War II, as the issue from the actions of L. R. Conradi continued during that war also.[27] Some members see it as the first attempts to reconcile the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement with the mainstream Seventh-day Adventist church. However, the actions of the SDA Church towards those who took a conscientious stand against all military service during World War I, were not acknowledged in the apology. The position of the SDA Church towards those engaged in military service, particularly combatants, remains an unresolved issue today.[28]

Name of Church Congregations[edit]

While local church congregations use the name Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement, those affiliated with the International Missionary Society General Conference also combine the designation "International Missionary Society" into their name to distinguish themselves from SDARM General Conference Units.

Beliefs[edit]

The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement (SDARM General Conference) identifies itself with a conservative Seventh-day Adventist theological and eschatological heritage. While it holds to the basic tenets of the Seventh-day Adventist faith, commonly referred to as the pillars or landmarks of the faith for these landmark teachings), there is a divergence in degree on some post-1914 doctrinal positions taken by L. R. Conradi and some of the European church leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in both interpretation and application.

The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement's official position as conscientious objectors[29] in relation to war and military service reflects the pacifist position of the Seventh-day Adventist Church during the 1861-1865 American Civil War. This is in direct response to what L. R. Conradi and others presented to the members and distinct from the official Seventh-day Adventist Church position which is one of non-combatancy, though in practice Seventh-day Adventist members have served in combatant roles in the military services.[30]

Other divergences include the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement's positions on divorce and remarriage, closed communion, the sealing work of Revelation 7 (the SDARM holding to a pre-1914 view of its literal and number-limited nature), and the remnant church of Revelation 12:17.[31]

The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement, as does the official Seventh-day Adventist Church, maintains the belief that Ellen G. White, a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, manifested the New Testament "Gift of Prophecy". Though she had died before the formation of the SDA Reform Movement, her inspired writings, commonly referred to as testimonies, are held in the highest regard by the movement as a whole. Consistent with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the SDA Reform Movement believes her inspired works do not take the place of the Bible. Rather they are considered a help to the believing church in bringing men and women back to the neglected truths of the Bible, with an emphasis on the need for professed believers to be faithful in the practice of its principles.[32]

Whereas the Seventh-day Adventist church emphasises the message of the three angels of Revelation 14:6-12, the Reform Movement places a distinct emphasis on a fourth angelic message based on Revelation 18:1-4.[33] The movement claims that the message of this other angel was first given at 1888 Minneapolis General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. This claim is maintained by the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement as the unique purpose for its existence as a distinct organisation separate to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.[34] The message is captured in the expression "Christ our Righteousness", the foundation for "Justification by Faith".

Aside from the divergences, an examination of the SDA Reform Movement's published beliefs, indicate many similarities in theology with the traditional Seventh-day Adventist beliefs and also the more conservative Historic Adventism and Last Generation Theology wings of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.[35]

A list of beliefs, along with an expanded explanation, may be viewed online.

Officers[edit]

President

Term President Nationality
1925–1934 Otto Welp Germany
1934–1942 Willi Maas Germany
1942–1948 Albert Mueller Germany
1948–1951 Carlos Kozel Argentina
1951–1959 Dumitru Nicolici Romania
1959–1963 Andre Lavrik Brazil
1963–1967 Clyde T. Stewart Australia
1967–1979 Francisco Devai Brazil
1979–1983 Wilhelm Volpp Germany
1983–1991 João Moreno Germany
1991–1995 Neville S. Brittain Australia
1995–2003 Alfredo Carlos Sas Brazil
2003–2011 Duraisamy Sureshkumar India
2011–present Davi Paes Silva Brazil

Vice-President

Term Name Nationality
1928–1931 Wilhelm Maas Germany
1931–1948 vacant
1948–1951 Albert Mueller Germany
1951–1959 Andre Lavrik Brazil
1959–1963 Dumitru Nicolici USA
1963–1967 Emmerich Kanyo Benedek Brazil
1967–1971 Ivan W. Smith Australia
1971–1979 Wilhelm Volpp Germany
1979–1987 Francisco Devai Lucacin Brazil
1987–1995 Daniel Dumitru USA
1995–1997 Neville S. Brittain - First Vice-President Australia
1995–1999 Duraisamy Sureshkumar - Second Vice-President India
1999–2003 Duraisamy Sureshkumar - First Vice-President India
1999–2007 Branislav Jaksic - Second Vice President Australia
2003–2011 Davi Paes Silva - First Vice-President Brazil
2007–present Peter Daniel Lausevic - Second Vice-President USA
2011–present Duraisamy Sureshkumar - First Vice-President India

Secretary

Term Secretary Nationality
1925–1934 Willi Maas Germany
1934–1948 A. Rieck Germany
1948–1951 Dumitru Nicolici Romania
1951–1955 Clyde T. Stewart Australia
1955–1963 Ivan W. Smith USA
1963–1967 Alfons Balbach Brazil
1967–1971 Alex Norman Macdonald USA
1971–1980 Alfons Balbach Brazil
1980–1987 Alex Norman Macdonald USA
1987–1995 Alfredo Carlos Sas Brazil
1995–1999 Davi Paes Silva Brazil
1999–2001 John Garbi USA
2001–2003 Benjamin Burec USA
2003–2007 David Zic Canada
2007–2011 Paul Balbach USA
2011–present Eli Tenorio Brazil

General Conference Sessions[edit]

Year City Country
1. 1925 Gotha Germany
2. 1928 Isernhagen Germany
3. 1931 Isernhagen Germany
4. 1934 Budapest Hungary
5. 1948 The Hague Netherlands
6. 1951 Zeist Netherlands
7. 1955 Sao Paulo Brazil
8. 1959 Sao Paulo Brazil
9. 1963 Gross Gerau Germany
10. 1967 Sao Paulo Brazil
11. 1971 Brasilia Brazil
12. 1975 Brasilia Brazil
13. 1979 Bushkill Falls USA
14. 1983 Puslinch, Ontario Canada
15. 1987 Braganca Paulista Brazil
16. 1991 Breuberg Germany
17. 1995 Voineasa Romania
18. 1999 Itu Brazil
19. 2003 Itu Brazil
20. 2007 Jeju South Korea
21. 2011 Sibiu [1] Romania

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Holger Teubert, “The History of the So called ‘Reform Movement’ of the Seventh-day Adventists,” unpublished Manuscript, 9.
  2. ^ See on "The Name of Our Church", official SDARM Website, http://www.sdarm.org/origin/his_12_name.html
  3. ^ http://www.sidadventist.org/lead/index.php/resources/essent/89-leadership
  4. ^ http://www.imssdarm-bg.org/content/view/185/66/
  5. ^ http://www.sdarm.org/origin/his_05_crisis.html
  6. ^ Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald. 1996. pp. 266–267. ISBN 0-8280-0918-X. 
  7. ^ http://www.sidadventist.org/lead/index.php/resources/essent/89-leadership
  8. ^ Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement General Conference, "Our GC Delegation Sessions" 1948, http://www.sdarm.org/origin/his_11_sessions_III.html#1948 Accessed April 1,Zeist 2011.
  9. ^ Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement General Conference, "Our GC Delegation Sessions" 1951, http://www.sdarm.org/origin/his_11_sessions_IV.html Accessed April 1, 2011.
  10. ^ Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement General Conference, "Our GC Delegation Sessions" 1951, http://www.sdarm.org/origin/his_11_sessions_IV.html Accessed April 1, 2011.
  11. ^ "International Missionary Society Seventh-day Adventist Church Reform Movement - About IMS" http://www.imssdarm-bg.org/content/view/812/111/ Accessed: April 1, 2011.
  12. ^ Ward R & Humphreys R, "Religious Bodies In Australia" 3rd Edition. New Melbourne Press, Victoria, Australia. p.171. 1995.
  13. ^ Alfons Balbach, "History of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement", Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Virginia, USA, 1999, pp97-98.
  14. ^ Ward R & Humphreys R, "Religious Bodies In Australia" 3rd Edition. New Melbourne Press, Victoria, Australia. p.171. 1995.
  15. ^ Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement General Conference, "Our GC Delegation Sessions" 1951, http://www.sdarm.org/origin/his_11_sessions_IV.html Accessed April 1, 2011.
  16. ^ Alfons Balbach, "History of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement", Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Virginia, USA, 1999, pp.129-130.
  17. ^ Balbach, p.130.
  18. ^ Balbach, pp. 130-131
  19. ^ Newspaper Article: Adventist Suit Over Control is Withdrawn, The Sacramento Union, May 8, 1952.
  20. ^ Kramer, Helmut H., "The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement (German Reform)", Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. p.23. 1988.
  21. ^ Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement General Conference, "Our GC Delegation Sessions" 1955, http://www.sdarm.org/origin/his_11_sessions_IV.html#1955 Accessed April 1, 2011.
  22. ^ Kramer, Helmut H., "The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement (German Reform)", Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. p.23. 1988.
  23. ^ Alfons Balbach, "History of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement", Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Virginia, USA, 1999, pp.129-130.
  24. ^ Kramer, Helmut H., "The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement (German Reform)", Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. p.23. 1988.
  25. ^ "International Missionary Society Seventh-day Adventist Church Reform Movement - About IMS" http://www.imssdarm-bg.org/content/view/812/111/ Accessed: April 1, 2011.
  26. ^ Kramer, Helmut H., "The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement (German Reform)", Biblical Research Institute, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. p.23. 1988.
  27. ^ http://www.adventistreview.org/article.php?id=92
  28. ^ For a discussion of the present dilemma of the Seventh-day Adventist Church's position on Military Service, see Phillips, K. & Tstalbasidis, K., "I Pledge Allegiance - The Role of the Seventh Day Adventist Church in the Military". Keith Phillips-Karl Tsatalbasidis. pp.35-36. 2009. (ISBN 978-0-9799402-0-0)
  29. ^ "Our Attitude Toward Civil Authorities", "This We Believe (Expanded)", Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement Website, http://www.sdarm.org/beliefs/bible_doctrines2.php?doc=19 Accessed 25 December 2010.
  30. ^ Ronald Osborn, "A Brief History of Seventh-day Adventists in Times of War", November 2003, Adventist Today Magazine [Online] http://www.atoday.com/magazine/2003/11/brief-history-seventh-day-adventists-times-war Accessed 25 December 2010.
  31. ^ Gerhard Pfandl, "Information on the Seventh-day Adventist Reform Movement", Adventist Biblical Research Institute, [Online] http://www.adventistbiblicalresearch.org/Independent%20Ministries/SDA%20Reform%20movement.htm Accessed 25 December 2010.
  32. ^ http://www.sdarm.org/beliefs/bible_doctrines1.php?doc=16
  33. ^ Ward R & Humphreys R, 1995, "Religious Bodies In Australia" 3rd Edition. New Melbourne Press, p.171.
  34. ^ That Other Angel: http://www.sdarm.org/beliefs/bible_doctrines1.php?doc=15
  35. ^ http://www.sdarm.org/beliefs.php. Compare SDARM Beliefs with Seventh-day Adventist theology on Eschatological, Christological and Soteriological views (see hyperlinked 'Expanded edition' of these doctrines "The Investigative Judgment", "The Present Truth", "The Son of God", "The Gift of Prophecy" on the referenced SDARM web page.)
  • The Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, Review & Herald Publishing Association
  • History of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement, Alfons Balbach, Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 1999.
  • Tarling, Lowell R. (1981). "The Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement". The Edges of Seventh-day Adventism: A Study of Separatist Groups Emerging from the Seventh-day Adventist Church (1844–1980). Barragga Bay, Bermagui South, NSW: Galilee Publications. pp. 100–12. ISBN 0-9593457-0-1. 

External links[edit]

SDARM Sites:

Sites Criticizing: