The Seventh-day Adventist Church (abbreviated "Adventist") is a ProtestantChristiandenomination which is distinguished mainly by its observance of the period between Friday sunset and Saturday sunset, the "seventh day" of the week, as the Sabbath; along with the soon Second Coming of Jesus Christ. 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, whom Adventists consider a prophet, and whose numerous writings are still held in high regard by the church.
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.
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 MilleriteGreat 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, Christianlifestyle, 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. Among her more popular books are, Steps to Christ, The Desire of Ages, and The Great Controversy. Some Adventists believe she experienced over 2,000 visions.