It is clear that only the blessing and guidance of God could have taken the small, humble beginnings of this prophetic, end-time movement and transformed it into what it is today!
The city of Battle Creek, Michigan, is a significant place in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, for it was there that this movement was officially organized and where it grew dramatically.
Imagine what it must have been like for those faith-filled, forward-looking Adventists to gather together 155 years ago to officially organize the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Representatives from five other states joined with Michigan delegates in Battle Creek from May 20 to 23, 1863, to organize, adopt a constitution, and elect officers for the General Conference.
At the time, there were an estimated 3,500 members scattered across the northern United States, with no more than 30 ministers to shepherd this scattered flock. Seventh-day Adventists were only a tiny minority among American Christians.
Hardly could have the pioneers of this movement, those who were willing to follow wherever Bible truth would lead, imagine what would be the results of their faithfulness. Many had left the churches of their childhood, either voluntarily or by being disfellowshipped, to join a movement that proclaimed the soon coming of Christ. After the Great Disappointment of October 22, 1844, the vast majority of Advent believers left, some returning to their former churches.
But in spite of ridicule and contempt, a small group pressed on, with open Bibles in their hands and prayers on their lips, to learn God’s will and truth as revealed through His Word. And it was thus that the Seventh-day Adventist Church was born.
Today, this worldwide movement includes more than 20 million members living in nearly every country on earth. We have a denominational workforce of more than 300,000, including nearly 20,000 ordained ministers.
It is clear that only the blessing and guidance of God could have taken the small, humble beginnings of this prophetic, end-time movement and transformed it into what it is today! And all along the way, He has worked through countless lay members and leaders, missionaries and mothers, pastors and retirees, men and women, young people and children—to bless this movement in such a tremendous way.
As Seventh-day Adventist ministers today, what tremendous encouragement we have through the examples of our faith-filled, fearless, yet humble, leaders from the past who followed divine leading, no matter the cost. What wisdom and courage we can gain from them to move forward in our God-given mission today as we look forward to our precious Savior’s soon return.
As ministers, are we dedicating all of our talents, gifts, and influence to the cause and service of God? Are we focused on our God-given mission to seek and to save the lost? Do we recognize and utilize the simplicity and power of the three angels’ messages with Christ’s righteousness as the core message, as did our pioneers? Do we teach and preach the Bible, or do we just talk philosophically about the Bible? Do we listen to, and follow, the counsel given to us through the Spirit of Prophecy? Are we responsibly frugal with the means God has entrusted us to do His work? What is the most important thing, the most important goal in your life; in my life; right now?
As a minister, I invite you to prayerfully incorporate the energy, the enthusiasm, the biblical faithfulness, the pleading for the latter rain of the Holy Spirit, the joy of the early pioneers into your God-given ministry today and watch with amazement how God will bless beyond what we can imagine as we lift up Christ, His righteousness, His salvation, His sanctuary message, His health message, and His soon coming.
“Lift up the trumpet, and loud let it ring; Jesus is coming again!” Maranatha!*
Ted N. C. Wilson, PhD,is the president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.