The Adventist Church developed in the 1840s in the Northeast as part of a movement led by William Miller, who believed that the second coming, or advent, of Christ was imminent and that the date for Christ's return could be determined. After Miller and his adherents failed at several attempts to set this date, Miller's followers splintered into different groups.
The largest and most significant group to emerge, the Seventh-Day Adventists, formed on the basis of three major beliefs. The first concerns what is known as the Sanctuary Doctrine, which construes
The second belief is celebrating the Sabbath on the seventh day (Saturday), as prescribed by the Ten Commandments. Finally, and most important, is the belief that a former Millerite named Ellen G. White was receiving direct revelation from God, which gave her prophetic authority.
The new church formed in 1860 and continued the movement's original emphasis on the imminent physical return of Christ. The Seventh-Day Adventists developed distinctive beliefs about events that would occur at the end of the world, including a 1,000-year reign of Christ, the righteous ascending to heaven, and the final annihilation of the wicked.
African American Adventists
The African American Adventist churches in Georgia experienced similar growth after the initial work of C. O. Taylor. Their earliest activities involved the opening of schools and quickly developed into the establishment of health care facilities and a Young Women's Christian Association in Atlanta. These efforts occurred under the guidance of leaders like Anna Knight, L. C. Sheafe, and M. C. Sturdevant. When the South Atlantic Conference was organized in 1946, African American churches numbered 62, with a membership of 3,614.
Adventist churches of all varieties have continued to develop in Georgia and are presently part of a denomination with 13 worldwide divisions comprising 203 countries and areas, more than 5,000 schools, more than 700 health care facilities, and a membership in excess of 12 million.
Adventists in the state sponsor health care facilities, hospitals, a youth campground, and thirty-three educational institutions, most of which are K-8 schools. Two secondary schools in Georgia are affiliated with the church: Atlanta Adventist Academy and Georgia-Cumberland Academy in Calhoun.
Edwin S. Gaustad, ed., The Rise of Adventism: Religion and Society in Mid-Nineteenth-Century America (New York: Harper and Row, 1974).
Gary Land, ed., Adventism in America: A History, rev. ed. (Berrien Springs, Mich.: Andrews University Press, 1998).
Don F. Neufeld, ed., Seventh-Day Adventist Encyclopedia (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing, 1966).
David S. Williams, From Mounds to Megachurches: Georgia’s Religious Heritage (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2008).
Brad E. Kelle, Emory University
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