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Seventh-day Adventist Church

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The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a Protestant Christian denomination which is distinguished by its observance of Saturday, the seventh day of the week in Christian and Jewish calendars, as the Sabbath, and its emphasis on the imminent Second Coming (advent) of Jesus Christ. The denomination grew out of the Millerite movement in the United States during the mid-19th century and it was formally established in 1863. Among its founders was Ellen G. White, whose extensive writings are still held in high regard by the church.

Much of the theology of the Seventh-day Adventist Church corresponds to common Protestant Christian teachings, such as the Trinity and the infallibility of Scripture. Distinctive teachings include the unconscious state of the dead and the doctrine of an investigative judgment. The church is known for its emphasis on diet and health, its "holistic" understanding of the person, its promotion of religious liberty, and its conservative principles and lifestyle.

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 baptized membership of over 20 million people, and 25 million adherents. As of May 2007, it was the twelfth-largest religious body in the world, and the sixth-largest highly international religious body. It is ethnically and culturally diverse, and maintains a missionary presence in over 215 countries and territories. The church operates over 7,500 schools including over 100 post-secondary institutions, numerous hospitals, and publishing houses worldwide, as well as a 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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Selected biography

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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