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The church has two professional organizations for Adventist theologians who are affiliated with the denomination. During the s the Adventist Theological Society was formed to provide a forum for more conservative theologians to meet and is held in conjunction with the Evangelical Theological Society.
Part of Friday might be spent in preparation for the Sabbath; for example, preparing meals and tidying homes. Adventists may gather for Friday evening worship to welcome in the Sabbath, a practice often known as Vespers.
Adventists abstain from secular work on Saturday. They will also usually refrain from purely secular forms of recreation, such as competitive sport and watching non-religious programs on television. However, nature walks, family-oriented activities, charitable work and other activities that are compassionate in nature are encouraged. Saturday afternoon activities vary widely depending on the cultural, ethnic and social background.
In some churches, members and visitors will participate in a fellowship or " potluck " lunch and AYS Adventist Youth Service. The major weekly worship service occurs on Saturday, typically commencing with Sabbath School which is a structured time of small-group study at church.
Adventists make use of an officially produced "Sabbath School Lesson", which deals with a particular biblical text or doctrine every quarter. After a brief break, the community joins together again for a church service that follows a typical evangelical format, with a sermon as a central feature. Corporate singing, Scripture readings, prayers and an offering, including tithing or money collection , are other standard features.
The instruments and forms of worship music vary greatly throughout the worldwide church. Worship is known to be generally restrained. Adventist churches usually practice communion four times a year. It commences with a foot washing ceremony, known as the "Ordinance of Humility", based on the Gospel account of John The Ordinance of Humility is meant to symbolize Christ's washing of his disciples' feet at the Last Supper and to remind participants of the need to humbly serve one another.
Participants segregate by gender to separate rooms to conduct this ritual, although some congregations allow married couples to perform the ordinance on each other and families are often encouraged to participate together.
After its completion, participants return to the main sanctuary for consumption of the Lord's Supper , which consists of unleavened bread and unfermented grape juice. Since the s when the church began, wholeness and health have been an emphasis of the Adventist church.
The church discourages its members from consuming alcoholic beverages , tobacco or illegal drugs compare Christianity and alcohol. In addition, some Adventists avoid coffee , tea , cola , and other beverages containing caffeine. The pioneers of the Adventist Church had much to do with the common acceptance of breakfast cereals into the Western diet, and the "modern commercial concept of cereal food" originated among Adventists.
His development of breakfast cereals as a health food led to the founding of Kellogg's by his brother William. In both Australia and New Zealand , the church-owned Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing Company is a leading manufacturer of health and vegetarian-related products, most prominently Weet-Bix. Research funded by the U. National Institutes of Health has shown that the average Adventist in California lives 4 to 10 years longer than the average Californian.
The research , as cited by the cover story of the November issue of National Geographic , asserts that Adventists live longer because they do not smoke or drink alcohol, have a day of rest every week, and maintain a healthy, low-fat vegetarian diet that is rich in nuts and beans. He cites the Adventist emphasis on health, diet, and Sabbath-keeping as primary factors for Adventist longevity. Adventists' clean lifestyles were recognized by the U. The first task for the scientists was to find people willing to be infected by pathogens that could make them very sick.
They found them in the followers of the Seventh-day Adventist faith. Although willing to serve their country when drafted, the Adventists refused to bear arms.
As a result many of them became medics. When contacted in late , the Adventist hierarchy readily agreed to this plan. For Camp Detrick scientists, church members were a model test population, since most of them were in excellent health and they neither drank, smoked, nor used caffeine. From the perspective of the volunteers, the tests gave them a way to fulfill their patriotic duty while remaining true to their beliefs. The Adventist understanding of marriage is a lawfully binding lifelong commitment of a man and a woman.
The Church Manual refers to the origination of the marriage institution in Eden and points to the union between Adam and Eve as the pattern for all future marriages. Adventists hold that marriage is a divine institution established by God Himself before the fall.
They hold that God celebrated the first marriage and the institution has as its origin the Creator of the universe and was one of the first gifts of God to man, and it is "one of the two institutions that, after the fall, Adam brought with him beyond the gates of Paradise.
The Old and New Testament texts are interpreted by some Adventists to teach that wives should submit to their husbands in marriage. Adventists hold that heterosexual marriages are the only biblically ordained grounds for sexual intimacy. Adventists do not perform same-sex marriages , and individuals who are openly homosexual but not "practicing" cannot be ordained, but may hold church office and membership.
Current church policy states that openly homosexual and "practicing" persons are to be welcomed into the church services and treated with the love and kindness afforded any human being. The official Adventist position on abortion is that "abortions for reasons of birth control , gender selection , or convenience are not condoned.
Adventists believe in and encourage abstinence for both men and women before marriage. The church disagrees with extra-marital cohabitation. The Adventist church has released official statements in relation to other ethical issues such as euthanasia against active euthanasia but permissive of passive withdrawal of medical support to allow death to occur ,  birth control in favor of it for married couples if used correctly, but against abortion as birth control and premarital sex in any case  and human cloning against it while the technology is unsafe and would result in defective births or abortions.
Adventists have traditionally held socially conservative attitudes regarding dress and entertainment. These attitudes are reflected in one of the church's fundamental beliefs:. For the Spirit to recreate in us the character of our Lord we involve ourselves only in those things which will produce Christlike purity, health, and joy in our lives.
This means that our amusement and entertainment should meet the highest standards of Christian taste and beauty.
While recognizing cultural differences, our dress is to be simple, modest, and neat, befitting those whose true beauty does not consist of outward adornment but in the imperishable ornament of a gentle and quiet spirit. Accordingly, many Adventists are opposed to practices such as body piercing and tattoos and refrain from the wearing of jewelry, including such items as earrings and bracelets. Some also oppose the displaying of wedding bands, although banning wedding bands is not the position of the General Conference.
Though it seems unbelievable to some, I'm thankful that when I grew up in the church [in the s and s] I was taught not to go to the movie theater, dance, listen to popular music, read novels, wear jewelry, play cards, bowl, play pool, or even be fascinated by professional sports. Adventists often cite the writings of Ellen White, especially her books, Counsels on Diet and Foods , Counsels to Parents, Teachers and Students , and Education as inspired sources for Christian deportment.
The Adventist church officially opposes the practice of gambling. The Youth Department of the Adventist church runs age specific clubs for children and youth worldwide. Pathfinders is a club for 5th to 10th grade up to 12th in Florida Conference boys and girls. It is similar to and based partly on the Scouting movement. Pathfinders exposes young people to such activities as camping, community service, personal mentorship, and skills-based education, and trains them for leadership in the church.
Yearly "Camporees" are held in individual Conferences, where Pathfinders from the region gather and participate in events similar to Boy Scouts' Jamborees. After a person enters 9th grade, he or she is eligible to join Teen Leadership Training within Pathfinders. In the 11th grade, typically after being a member of a club, they can become a Pathfinder or Adventurer staff member and begin the "Master Guide" program similar to Scout Master which develops leaders for both Adventurers and Pathfinders.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church operates youth camps all over North America and many other parts of the world. Each camp varies in the activities they offer but most have archery, swimming, horses, arts and crafts, nature, high ropes challenge course, and many other common camp activities. The Seventh-day Adventist church is governed by a form of representation which resembles the presbyterian system of church organization. Four levels of organization exist within the world church.
Each organization is governed by a general "session" which occurs at certain intervals. This is usually when administrative decisions are made. The president of the General Conference, for instance, is elected at the General Conference Session every five years. Delegates to a session are appointed by organizations at a lower level. For example, each local church appoints delegates to a conference session. Within a geographic region, ministers receive roughly equal pay irrespective of the size of their church.
The Church Manual  gives provisions for each level of government to create educational, healthcare, publishing, and other institutions that are seen within the call of the Great Commission. The ordained clergy of the Adventist church are known as ministers or pastors. Ministers are neither elected nor employed by the local churches, but instead are appointed by the local Conferences, which assign them responsibility over a single church or group of churches.
Ordination is a formal recognition bestowed upon pastors and elders after usually a number of years of service. In most parts of the world, women may not be given the title "ordained", although some are employed in ministry, and may be "commissioned" or "ordained-commissioned".
A number of lay offices exist within the local church, including the ordained positions of elder and deacon. Elders serve a mainly administrative and pastoral role, but must also be capable of providing religious leadership particularly in the absence of an ordained minister.
The role of deacons is to assist in the smooth functioning of a local church and to maintain church property. Although the church has no written policy forbidding the ordination of women, it has traditionally ordained only men. In recent years the ordination of women has been the subject of heated debate, especially in North America and Europe. In the Adventist church, candidates for ordination are chosen by local conferences which usually administer about 50— local congregations and approved by unions which serve about 6—12 conferences.
The General Conference, the church's world headquarters, claims the right to declare the worldwide qualifications for ordination, including gender requirements. The General Conference has never stated that ordination of women contravenes the Bible, but the General Conference has requested that no local conference ordain women until all parts of the world church accept the practice.
The primary prerequisite for membership in the Adventist church is baptism by immersion. This, according to the church manual, should occur only after the candidate has undergone proper instruction on what the church believes. As of December 31, , the church has 20,, baptized members.
Depending on how the data was measured, it is reported that church membership reached 1 million between and , and grew to five million in At the turn of the 21st century the church had over 10 million members, which grew to over 14 million in , 16 million in , and 19 million in Jeffrey MacDonald, an award-winning religion reporter, and author of Thieves in the Temple, reports that the SDA church is the fastest-growing church in the United States.
The church has been described as "something of an extended family",  enjoying close, "two- degrees-of-separation social networks ". The Biblical Research Institute is the theological research center of the church. White Estate was established in at the death of Ellen White, as specified in her legal will.
Its purpose is to act as custodian of her writings, and as of it has 15 board members. White Estate also hosts the official Ellen White website whiteestate. The Geoscience Research Institute , based at Loma Linda University , was founded in to investigate the scientific evidence concerning origins.
Started in the late 19th century, Adventist mission work today reaches people in over countries and territories. Missionary outreach of the Seventh-day Adventist Church is aimed not only at non-Christians but also at Christians from other denominations. Adventists believe that Christ has called his followers in the Great Commission to reach the whole world. Adventists are cautious, however, to ensure that evangelism does not impede or intrude on the basic rights of the individual.
Religious liberty is a stance that the Adventist Church supports and promotes. Globally, the Adventist Church operates 7, schools, colleges and universities, with a total enrollment of more than 1,, and a total teaching staff of approximately 80, The largest in terms of population Seventh-day Adventist university in the world is Northern Caribbean University , located in Mandeville, Jamaica.
Adventists run a large number of hospitals and health-related institutions. Throughout the world, the church runs a wide network of hospitals, clinics, lifestyle centers, and sanitariums. These play a role in the church's health message and worldwide missions outreach. Adventist Health System is the largest not-for-profit multi-institutional Protestant healthcare system in the United States.
It is sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and cares for over 4 million patients yearly. ADRA works as a non-sectarian relief agency in countries and areas of the world. Worldwide, ADRA employs over 4, people to help provide relief in crises as well as development in situations of poverty. The church embraces an official commitment to the protection and care of the environment  as well as taking action to avoid the dangers of climate change: A reformation of lifestyle is called for, based on respect for nature, restraint in the use of the world's resources, reevaluation of one's needs, and reaffirmation of the dignity of created life.
The Adventist church has been active for over years in promoting freedom of religion for all people regardless of faith. In its leaders founded the International Religious Liberty Association , which is universal and non-sectarian. The Seventh-day Adventist Church State Council serves, primarily through advocacy, to seek protection for religious groups from legislation that may affect their religious practices. In May , for example, the organization fought to pass legislation that would protect Adventist employees who wish to keep the Sabbath.
According to Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has, throughout its history, aggressively advocated for the separation of church and state. Adventists have long been proponents of media-based ministries. Traditional Adventist evangelistic efforts consisted of street missions and the distribution of tracts such as The Present Truth , which was published by James White as early as Andrews was sent to Switzerland in , Adventist global efforts consisted entirely of the posting of tracts such as White's to various locations.
In the last century, these efforts have also made use of emerging media such as radio and television. The first of these was H. Richards ' radio show Voice of Prophecy , which was initially broadcast in Los Angeles in Since then Adventists have been on the forefront of media evangelism; It Is Written , founded by George Vandeman , was the first religious program to air on color television and the first major Christian ministry to utilize satellite uplink technology.
Today the Hope Channel , the official television network of the church, operates 8 international channels broadcasting 24 hours a day on cable, satellite, and the Web.
Adventist World Radio was founded in  and is the "radio mission arm" of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. A large portion of the ministry's income is derived from membership gifts. SDA evangelists such as Doug Batchelor, Mark Finley and Dwight Nelson have undertaken a number of international satellite-broadcast live evangelistic events, addressing audiences in up to 40 languages simultaneously.
Additionally, there exists a range of privately owned media entities representing Adventist beliefs. In , the Church released their film, Tell the World that churches and institutions to show the film to the public, and for home viewing available on DVD as well as on social media like YouTube.
The Adventist Church owns and operates many publishing companies around the world. Two of the largest are the Pacific Press and Review and Herald publishing associations, both located in the United States. The Review and Herald is headquartered in Hagerstown, Maryland. The official church magazine is the Adventist Review , which has a North American focus.
It has a sister magazine Adventist World , which has an international perspective. Another major magazine published by the church is the bimonthly Liberty magazine, which addresses issues pertaining to religious freedom. The Adventist Church generally opposes the ecumenical movement , although it supports some of the other goals of ecumenism.
The General Conference has released an official statement concerning the Adventist position with respect to the ecumenical movement, which contains the following paragraph:. While not being a member of the World Council of Churches , the Adventist Church has participated in its assemblies in an observer capacity.
The Adventist Church has received criticism along several lines, including what some claim are heterodox doctrines, and in relation to Ellen G. White and her status within the church, and in relation to alleged exclusivist issues. Critics such as evangelical Anthony Hoekema who felt that Adventists were more in agreement with Arminianism argue that some Adventist doctrines are heterodox.
Several teachings which have come under scrutiny are the annihilationist view of hell , the investigative judgment and a related view of the atonement , and the Sabbath; in addition, Hoekema also claims that Adventist doctrine suffers from legalism.
While critics such as Hoekema have classified Adventism as a sectarian group on the basis of its atypical doctrines,   it has been accepted as more mainstream by Protestant evangelicals since its meetings and discussions with evangelicals in the s. Later on Martin planned to write a new book on Seventh-day Adventism, with the assistance of Kenneth R. An Updated Assessment of Seventh-day Adventism", which upholds Martin's view "for that segment of Adventism which holds to the position stated in QOD , and further expressed in the Evangelical Adventist movement of the last few decades.
White 's status as a modern-day prophet has also been criticized. In the Questions on Doctrine era, evangelicals expressed concern about Adventism's understanding of the relationship of White's writings to the inspired canon of Scripture.
A common criticism of Ellen White, widely popularized by Walter T. Rea , Ronald Numbers and others, is the claim of plagiarism from other authors. Ramik, was engaged to undertake a study of Ellen G.
White's writings during the early s, and concluded that they were "conclusively unplagiaristic". The ensuing project became known as the " 'Life of Christ' Research Project". The results are available at the General Conference Archives.
Coon,  David J. Denis Fortin,   King and Morgan,  and Morgan,  among others, undertook the refutation of the accusations of plagiarism. At the conclusion of his report, Ramik states:. It is impossible to imagine that the intention of Ellen G.
White, as reflected in her writings and the unquestionably prodigious efforts involved therein, was anything other than a sincerely motivated and unselfish effort to place the understandings of Biblical truths in a coherent form for all to see and comprehend. Most certainly, the nature and content of her writings had but one hope and intent, namely, the furthering of mankind's understanding of the word of God.
Considering all factors necessary in reaching a just conclusion on this issue, it is submitted that the writings of Ellen G. White were conclusively unplagiaristic. Finally, critics have alleged that certain Adventist beliefs and practices are exclusivist in nature and point to the Adventist claim to be the " remnant church ", and the traditional Protestant association of Roman Catholicism as " Babylon ".
In response to such criticisms, Adventist theologians have stated that the doctrine of the remnant does not preclude the existence of genuine Christians in other denominations, but is concerned with institutions. We fully recognize the heartening fact that a host of true followers of Christ are scattered all through the various churches of Christendom, including the Roman Catholic communion. These God clearly recognizes as His own.
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