Australian Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

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The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia is formally organised as the Australian Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists (often abbreviated by Australians as "the Union"), a subentity of the South Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists. As of 31 December 2008, church membership stands at 54,173.[1] Despite its small size, the Australian church has made a significant impact on the worldwide Adventist church.

Controversy surrounded Robert Brinsmead and Desmond Ford. Apart from Ford, other respected theologians include Norm Young, Arthur Patrick and others.


The first Seventh-day Adventist church in Australia was the Melbourne Seventh-day Adventist Church, which formed on 10 January 1886 with 29 members.[2] Ellen White, one of the church's founders, spent nine years ministering to the Australian Adventist community from 1891 to 1900.

According to one article,

"Australia has supplied the Adventist church in North America with many very able college teachers, theologians, and other professionals who have contributed ideas and insights that have become part of the church heritage. Some of those 'Aussies' have also been disturbing and have contributed to tensions within the church."[3]

Outreach to the Australian Aborigines has occurred since the 1890s.[4]

Robert Brinsmead was a controversial figure in the 1960s and 70s.

The 1980 Glacier View controversy regarding Desmond Ford's rejection of the investigative judgement, a fundamental belief of the church, was particularly devastating for the Adventist church in Australia. Ford had been a prominent lecturer at Avondale College, the church's tertiary educational institution. Within eight years of his expulsion from the church, 182 ministers in Australia either resigned or were dismissed (there were also other causes), many teachers lost their jobs, and many members either chose to leave the church or were asked to.[5]

Arthur Patrick's research regarding church cofounder Ellen White has been influential in the scholarship of the world church adopting a more progressive position regarding her inspiration since the 1970s and 80s.

Norman Young is another well respected scholar who wrote a supplement to Anglican John Wenham's book on biblical Greek. Both Ford and Young completed doctorates under the highly respected scholar F. F. Bruce.

The Australian Stories series of books have included numerous short stories by the following Adventist authors: Nathan Brown, editor at Signs Publishing Company; Grenville Kent, a pastor, lecturer, and filmmaker; and Brad Watson, a lecturer at Avondale College.

For a representative sample of Adventist theology as taught by Australian lecturers and church leaders see the textbook Meaning for the New Millennium: The Christian Faith from a Seventh-day Adventist Perspective. It is not an "official" statement of belief (the 28 Fundamentals play this role), but rather "constitute[s] how a representative group of Australian teachers explain their beliefs."[6]


The number of people who consider themselves Seventh-day Adventists is:

  • 1911. 6095
  • 1922. 13965
  • 1947. 17550
  • 1961. 31633
  • 1971. 41617
  • 1981. 47474
  • 1991. 48341
  • 1996. 52655
  • 2006. 55257[7]

The 1996 National Church Life Survey revealed that of all churches in Australia, Seventh-day Adventists have the highest level of church attendance, highest proportion of members with post-graduate degrees, and the highest proportion who regularly contribute financially to their church.

According to the 2001 Australian census, 53844 people identified as Seventh-day Adventist. The National Church Life Survey estimated average weekly attendance at church is 36600, which is 68% of the first figure.[8]


The church's main tertiary educational institution is Avondale College in the Lake Macquarie region in New South Wales. It offers numerous degrees including nursing, teaching and theology.

Despite being one of the smaller churches in Australia, the Seventh-day Adventist church in Australia operates one of the largest school educational systems of any religious group.[9]

The Signs Publishing Company which serves the division, is based in Victoria and prints the Signs magazine. There are also two other magazine's printed by the Signs Publishing Company for the church. The first is the internal church magazine called The Record. The second is a youth focused magazine called The Edge. The church also operates the Sydney Adventist Hospital and the Sanitarium Health Food Company based in Australia and New Zealand.

The Seventh-day Adventist church in Australia is a senior member of the Australian Christian Research Association.[10]

Local Conferences[edit]

The Australian Union Conference comprises nine smaller subdivisions of "local Conferences".

Greater Sydney[edit]

The Greater Sydney Conference (website) covers the city of Sydney and its surrounds, in the state of New South Wales.

North New South Wales[edit]

The North New South Wales Conference (website) covers the region of New South Wales north of Sydney.

Northern Australia[edit]

The Northern Australia Conference (website) covers the northern part of the state of Queensland as well as the adjacent Northern Territory.

South Australia[edit]

The South Australia Conference (website) covers the state of South Australia.

South New South Wales[edit]

The South New South Wales Conference (website) covers the region of New South Wales south and west of Sydney including the Australian Capital Territory.[11]

South Queensland[edit]

The South Queensland Conference (website) covers the southern part of the state of Queensland.


The Tasmanian Conference (website) covers the island state of Tasmania.


The Victorian Conference (website) covers the state of Victoria. The Adventist church in Victoria is likely best known to the community for its annual production "Road to Bethlehem" (website), a dramatic reenactment of events leading up to the birth of Jesus.[12]

Western Australia[edit]

The Western Australia Conference (website) covers the state of Western Australia.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia, "Australia", esp. 135-40
  • S. Ross Goldstone. The Angel Said Australia (Warburton, Victoria, Australia: Signs, 1980)
  • Alwyn Salom, ed. The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia. Kew, Victoria: Christian Research Association, 2002 (publisher's page)
  • Brown, Reginald K. (2005). Beginnings Down Under: The Story of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Australia New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. Victoria, Australia: Signs Publishing Company. ISBN 0-646-44928-1. 
  • Arthur Patrick. Christianity and Culture in Colonial Australia: Selected Catholic, Anglican, Wesleyan and Adventist Perspectives, 1981-1900 (Sydney: Fast Books, 1993). PhD dissertation
  • Geoffrey Paxton, The Shaking of Adventism. Regarding the history of justification by faith in the Adventist church, with an Australian emphasis
  • Milton Frederick Krause, The Seventh Day Adventist Church in Australia, 1885–1900. MA Thesis, University of Sydney, 1969


  1. ^ SPD Statistical Report 2008
  2. ^ Seventh-day Adventist Church South Pacific | Australia
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 September 2009. Retrieved 2007-10-27.  by James Stirling
  4. ^ Milton Hook, "Descendants of the Dreamtime: The Adventist Mission to the Australian Aborigines". Department of Education (South Pacific Division): Seventh-day Adventist Heritage Series. as cited by Brown. Nathan G. Brown, Pastor George: The Story of the First Aboriginal Adventist Pastor (Australia: Australian Union Conference, 2010), p21–24 and elsewhere; ISBN 978-0-646-53284-4
  5. ^ 25 Years After Glacier View by Arthur Patrick
  6. ^ Meaning for the New Millennium: The Christian Faith from a Seventh-day Adventist Perspective, p.iii
  7. ^ Australian Census 2006
  8. ^ "Census vs Attendance (2001)". National Church Life Survey. Accessed 17 December 2007
  9. ^ Australian Bureau of Statistics,!OpenDocument
  10. ^ Adventist pastor Bob Steed was voted its president in 2007. See Record 112:44 (17 November 2007), p5
  11. ^ SNSW Conference Church Locations. See
  12. ^ See for instance

External links[edit]