South Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists

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Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific
Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific logo
Governing body: General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Countries: Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the islands of the South Pacific
Organisational style: Representative
Headquarters: Australia Wahroonga, Australia
President: Barry D Oliver
Membership: About 450,000
Church groups: Over 5300 (in 2010)
Employed workers: 1208 ministers. 9,591 total employees (in 2010)
Schools, colleges and universities: 378 schools, colleges and universities; 2,971 teachers and 67307 students (in 2011)
Website: adventist.org.au

The South Pacific Division of Seventh-day Adventists is a sub-entity of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, which coordinates the Church's activities in the South Pacific nations of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the islands of the South Pacific.[1] Its headquarters is in Wahroonga, Australia.

It is made up of four regional offices. They are the Australian Union Conference (headquarters in Melbourne), New Zealand Pacific Union Conference (headquarters in Auckland), Papua New Guinea Union Mission (headquarters in Lae) and Trans-Pacific Union Mission (headquarters in Suva, Fiji).

The vision statement of the church[2] in this region is:


"Our vision is to know, experience and share our hope in Jesus Christ!"

History[edit]

See also Adventism in the South Pacific.

From left-to-right: Israel, Haskell and Corliss. Some of the first pioneers of the Adventist Church in the South Pacific

Australia[edit]

On May 10, 1885, eleven Americans set sail on the Australia from San Francisco with hopes to “open up a mission in Australia.”

The following people became the pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific -

  • Pastor Stephen Haskell
  • Pastor Mendel Israel, accompanied by his wife and two daughters
  • Pastor John Corliss, accompanied by his wife and two children
  • Henry Scott, a printer from Pacific Press
  • William Arnold, an Adventist bookseller

They arrived in Sydney on June 6, 1885. While Haskell and Israel stayed in Sydney, the others went on a three day ride in a small coastal steamer to Melbourne, the city selected to be the base for the church’s Australian activities.

The first Seventh-day Adventist church in Australia was the Melbourne Seventh-day Adventist Church, which formed on January 10, 1886 with 29 members.[3]

New Zealand[edit]

Pastor Stephen Haskell, one of the pioneer missionaries to Australia, was also keen to spread the message throughout New Zealand, which he had visited briefly on his initial voyage to Australia. He returned to Auckland four months later to begin marketing the soon-to-be-released religious paper, The Bible Echo and Signs of the Times, now the Signs of the Times (Australian version).

Reports of Haskell's early success in New Zealand, caused the leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in America to delegate A. G. Daniells, an evangelist and former school teacher, along with his wife to travel to New Zealand to develop the work further in that country.

Daniells had astounding success through his dynamic preaching and on October 15, 1887, he opened the first Seventh-day Adventist church in New Zealand at Ponsonby. Daniells would eventually go on to become the world president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.[4]

See In and Out of the World: Seventh-day Adventists in New Zealand, ed. Harry Ballis, 1985

Cook Islands[edit]

John Tay, an American, was the first Seventh-day Adventist to visit the Cook Islands. During his visit in 1886 Tay sold Adventist literature to the people there.

Another missionary voyage to the Pitcairn Islands provided a second opportunity to sell literature and offer medical services to the Cook Islanders. Dr Joseph and his wife Julia accepted a request to stay on the island as permanent doctor. Julia, a schoolteacher, opened an English-language school. Along with them remained Dudley and Sarah Owen and Maud Young, a Pitcairner who came as a student nurse.

The five Adventists worshipped regularly with the London Missionary Society believers in their church in Avarua. The services were conducted in English, but many islanders attended as well.[5]

Fiji[edit]

The first Adventist contact in Fiji was the arrival of the ship the Pitcairn in 1891. The Pitcairn missionaries began to conduct meetings for the Fijians. Two of the missionaries, John and Hannah Tay remained in Suva while the others journeyed to neighbouring islands to sell books to the Fijians.[6] After six months in Fiji, John Tay died; bringing his contribution to Adventist evangelism in the Pacific to a premature end.

By 1895, more Adventist missionaries arrived to deliver the Advent message, these included John Fulton and family, and Pastor John Cole and his wife.[6] During John Fulton's effort to translate books into Fijian, Pauliasi (a Methodist minister) became convinced of the accuracy of the Seventh-day Sabbath, and later became the first ordained Adventist Minister. In those days, Seventh-day Adventist were often referred by Fijian locals to as "lotu savasava" or the "clean church".[7] This was based on the Adventist doctrine emphasizing healthy living which includes a ban on the consumption of pork, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, etc.

Four Adventist schools were established to reach the different ethnic and religious divisions of Fiji. Fulton College was founded when three of these schools combined. Its mission was to provide "pastoral training, teacher training and technical instruction, it also included Indian and Fijian primary schools".[8]

According to the 1996 census around 2.9% of Fijians identify themselves as Adventist.

Papua New Guinea[edit]

Seventh-day Adventists first sent religious literature to Papua New Guinea in 1891 on the London Missionary Society boat. In 1895 church leaders decided to send a missionary family to New Guinea, a decision they abandoned when they heard news of cannibals murdering and eating several missionaries of the London Missionary Society.

A few Adventist church leaders made short visits to safe native villages of New Guinea from 1902 to 1905. These visits further convinced them of the need to send missionaries to live on the island. They thought Fijian missionary trainees would adapt more easily to the steamy climate, local food and leafy houses of New Guinea. Septimus and Edith Carr, who had previously worked in Fiji, and their Fijian assistant, Benisimani (Beni) Tavondi arrived at Port Moresby on June 25, 1908.

The missionaries rented a house and began making contact with the government officials, other European and national missionaries and planters. They became familiar with the local area, visited native feasts and gave out salt to befriend the villagers.

The new site was used as a plantation. Soon more missionaries came to help. The missionaries officially started a church on the island on July 11, 1910.[9]

Tonga[edit]

In June 1891, E. H. Gates and A. J. Read visit Tonga (Friendly Islands) on the fourth journey of the ship Pitcairn, and left without any new Adventist converts.[10] By August 30, 1895, Edward Hilliard, his wife Ida, and daughter Alta arrived in Tonga as the first Seventh-day Adventist missionaries. The Hilliards established the first Adventist school in the Kingdom at their home, and later was closed due to little assistance.

In 1896, more Adventist missionaries arrived in Tonga, which includes, Sarah and Maria Young (two nursing trainees), and Edwin and Florence Butz and daughter Alma.[11] Maria Young was also known to participate in assisting Queen Lavinia in giving birth to Salote (the 3rd King of Tonga).[12] She (Maria) was later married to the first Adventist convert in Tonga (an English man), Charles Edwards;[13] whereas, Timote Mafi was the first Tongan Adventist convert.[13]

In 1904, Miss Ella Boyd reopened the Adventist primary school at Nukuʻalofa (now known as Mangaia or Hilliard). Adventist school began to grow in size and twenty year's later; secondary school grades were introduced to Beulah. Until 1937, this school was finally recognized as 'Beulah Adventist College' after a great success in Government public exams.[10]

Today, the Seventh-day Adventist in Tonga has a small amount of members in comparison to other dominant Christian churches in Tonga. There are a total of four Seventh-day Adventist school in Tonga, which is, one primary school (Beulah Primary School), two integrated primary and middle school (Hilliard and Mizpah), and one secondary school (Beulah Adventist College). Out of these Adventist schools, Beulah College has a known and recognized Brass Band in the Kingdom and throughout the Pacific.

Organisational history[edit]

The South Pacific Division was organized in 1894 as the Australasian Union Conference, and consisted of just Australia and New Zealand. In 1901 the South Pacific islands were added to the structure. In 1905 Singapore and Sumatra were added, with Java and the Philippines added in 1906. New Guinea was added in 1908. In 1910 Singapore and the Philippines were moved to the Asiatic Division, followed by Java and Sumatra in 1911.[1]

In 1915 the Australasian Union Conference joined the Asiatic Division, but separated again in 1919 as the Australasia Union. In 1922 it was organised as the Australasian Division, although it also retained its former name, Australasian Union Conference.[1]

In 1949 it became the Australasian Inter-Union Conference, after splitting into two union conferences and two union missions. In 1956 the name was changed to Australasian Division, and in 1958 to Australasian Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.[1]

In 1953 the Bismarck-Solomons Union Mission split off from the Coral Sea Union Mission, due to rapidly increasing membership. However in 1972 these were recombined as the Papua New Guinea Union Mission. The remaining territories became the Western Pacific Union Mission. Later Tuvalu rejoined the Central Pacific Union.[1]

In 1985 the Australasian Division became known as the South Pacific Division.[1]

Institutions[edit]

Seventh-day Adventists in the South Pacific believe in communicating their faith through programs and events that meet spiritual, physical and social needs.

This can be seen through their involvement in various areas.

Education[edit]

The Adventist church runs one of the largest Protestant education systems in the world. In the South Pacific, the Adventist Church operates four tertiary colleges and universities (Avondale College in Australia, Fulton College in Fiji, and Pacific Adventist University and Sonoma Adventist College in Papua New Guinea), and more than 250 primary and secondary schools, with a total enrollment of about 35,000. The Adventist educational program is comprehensive, encompassing "mental, physical, social, and spiritual health" with "intellectual growth and service to humanity" its goal.

See also Education in the South Pacific.

Health and lifestyle[edit]

Throughout the world, the church runs a wide network of hospitals, clinics, and sanitariums. These play a role in the church's health message and worldwide missions outreach.

The Adventist Church operates two hospitals, Sydney Adventist Hospital and Atoifi Adventist Hospital in the South Pacific and more than 80 clinics in remote communities. Sydney Adventist Hospital or better known as the SAN is one of the largest and most comprehensive private hospitals in Australia.

Adventists also run the Heel'n'Toe walking club, vegetarian-cooking demonstrations and stop smoking programs to help people achieve a better sense of wellbeing. See their community health projects.

Established in 1898 by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Sanitarium Health Food Company is now the leading health food manufacturer in Australia and New Zealand. Sanitarium offers a wide range of healthy food and nutritional advice.

The church also operates 18 aged-care facilities called Adventist Retirement Villages in Australia and New Zealand.

Social and community issues[edit]

The Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific operates a number of counselling services such as the Bridge Street Centre in Lake Macquarie and Adventist Counselling Services in Sydney.

Christian Services for the Blind and Hearing Impaired (CSFBHI) has been set up by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South Pacific to address the needs of those who are aurally or visually impaired. Their audio library has over 1,000 audio books available for loan. There are over 400 members registered in our Audio Library.[14]

Free correspondence courses on topic such as health and spirituality and free home viewing of videos such as Who is Jesus?, Eating Smart and The Search are also available through the Adventist Discovery Centre.

Humanitarian aid and development[edit]

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is the international charity of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. ADRA works as a non-sectarian relief agency in 125 countries and areas of the world. Its primary aim is to develop communities to be economically independent and self-sufficient through community- owned projects both nationally and internationally including disaster relief. ADRA Australia’s domestic organisation operates op-shops, drop-ins centres and numerous other local community projects.

Adventist Media Network headquarters

Media[edit]

Adventist Media Network began operations in Australia on 1 July 2006 and is the first communication and media network of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

It is responsible for all communication and media needs of the Adventist Church in the South Pacific. These include media ministries, public relations, marketing, design, news dissemination and the production of resources such as books and DVDs.

The Adventist Media Network is the result of a merger of the Adventist Media Centre, the communication and public relations department of the church in the South Pacific and Signs Publishing Company. It is situated at two locations, Warburton, Victoria (Signs Publishing Company) and Wahroonga, New South Wales (Adventist Media Network headquarters)

Adventist Media Network publishes a weekly news-magazine called the Record for church members, a bi-monthly magazine called Edge targeted towards the youth and a monthly lifestyle magazine, Signs of the Times (Australian version).[15]

President[edit]

List of presidents:

Australasian Union Conference:

Australasian Division:

South Pacific Division:

Further reading[edit]

  • Gary Krause (1990). "White, Ellen Gould (1827 - 1915)". Australian Dictionary of Biography 12. Melbourne University Press. pp. 465–466. 
  • M. F. Krause, The Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Australia 1885-1900 (M.A. thesis, University of Sydney, 1968)
  • Arthur J. Ferch, ed., Symposium on Adventist History in the South Pacific: 1885–1918. Sydney: South Pacific Division, 1986. One review is Jonathan M. Butler, Church History 58:4 (1989), p545–546
  • Arthur Patrick, Ellen Gould White and the Australian Women, 1891-1900 (M.Litt. thesis, University of New England, 1984)
  • Clapham, Noel et al. "Seventh-day Adventists in the South Pacific 1885-1985" Signs Publishing, Warburton, Victoria, Australia, 1985
  • General Conference Archives - For official church publications
  • "Seventh-day Adventists in the South Pacific: A Review of Sources" by Arthur Patrick. Journal of Religious History 14 (June 1987): 307–26.
  • Hilary M. Carey (February 2000). "Introduction: Millennium: A View from Australia". Journal of Religious History 24 (1): 1. doi:10.1111/1467-9809.00097. 
  • http://adventist.org.au/about_adventists/history/adventism_in_the_south_pacific/australia
  • Journal of Pacific Adventist History, also known as Pacific Adventist Heritage, ed. David Hay. Published twice yearly, it began in 1991. Covers mission in the South Pacific Islands. Available freely online.
  • "Church — and how it works" by Barry Oliver. Record 114:8 (March 7, 2009), p10–11; first in a series of articles on Adventist church structure in the South Pacific Division

References[edit]

External links[edit]