The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a family of Christian believers who are united in mission, purpose and belief. Regardless of which part of the world you’re in, you can find Adventists seeking to follow biblical principles of Christ-like living, communicating, discipling, teaching, healing, and serving.
Guided by the words of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 4:12, the Seventh-day Adventist Church strives to operate as one unified body. This body has many members, all filling different roles, but working together toward the same goal: building up the body of Christ and preparing others for His soon return (John 14:3).
We’ll look at:
- The Seventh-day Adventist Church as a global family
- How the Seventh-day Adventist Church operates on each level
- Divisions of the General Conference
- Our Division profile – SOUTHERN AFRICA-INDIAN OCEAN (SID)
- Attached Fields and Union Missions
- The Church’s united mission to make disciples of Christ
THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH IS A GLOBAL FAMILY
With a membership of over 21 million in 13 regions of the world, you’re sure to find an Adventist congregation, school, hospital, ministry or administrative office nearby.
The denomination is organized in such a way that members around the globe can efficiently work together and empower each other for united ministry.
Let’s explore this a bit further.
HOW DOES THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH OPERATE AT EACH LEVEL?
Have you ever thrown a stone into water and watched ripples expand as they move outward? Similar to the ripples in the water, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has concentric circles of organization to support its membership, beginning with the local church.
A local Adventist congregation is made up of members who love Jesus and desire to follow His example of loving service by using the talents and gifts God has given them (1 Cor. 12:4-11). Typically, each congregation gathers for worship and study each Sabbath, as well as any additional social or ministry activities during the week.
Sometimes local congregations have their own church building, sometimes it’s a rented space, or sometimes the meeting place is rotated between homes, public spaces, or other types of locations.
Led by an appointed pastor, local elders, and a locally-elected church board, these congregations don’t operate in isolation but share financial resources, identity, and mission with other congregations in their region. This representative form of church organization means that authority in the Church comes from local church members who choose local leaders, and have a voice in decisions made at other levels of denominational structure.
All of the churches within a specific area, often a state, province or territory, are organized into conferences. Conferences help provide administrative support and representation to the churches in their respective regions.
Conference constituents from those local congregations meet periodically to elect conference officers, departmental directors and trustees to provide administrative support for the region. Other leaders are chosen to support local church ministries and provide resources, information and encouragement to local church ministry leaders.
Conferences within a larger territory, such as multiple regions or even borders of a country, are organized into union conferences. Constituents elect union officers to provide support, communication and a basis for collaboration across large territories.
Union conferences share resources for things like mission objectives, Adventist education, and special projects that may go beyond conference lines. Union leadership facilitates communication and representation between different levels of church leadership and local territories.
All of the previously mentioned entities are part of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, the coordinative hub of ministries, activities and initiatives for the world-wide Church.
GENERAL CONFERENCE AND ITS DIVISIONS
The General Conference (GC) is overseen by an administrative team and governing body, all of which are elected at General Conference Sessions which occur every five years. The GC coordinates the work the denomination does collectively on a global scale, interfacing with division leaders who coordinate activities in their parts of the world.
The world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, located in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, [HB1] houses a number of departments and services that support the global denomination and its needs. All of these entities exist to uphold the Adventist promise to help others understand the Bible and find freedom, healing and hope in Jesus.
DIVISIONS OF THE GENERAL CONFERENCE
To facilitate its worldwide activity, the GC established regional offices, known as divisions, who have administrative and supervisory responsibilities for groups of unions and other church units within specific geographic areas of the world.
Here is a brief overview of OUR division:
This division covers Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Eswatini (new name for Swaziland – 2018), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mozambique, Namibia, Reunion, Saint Helena (including Ascension, and Tristan da Cunha), Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, South Africa, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Over 4.3 million members worship in nearly 12,800 congregations across the territory.
Botswana Union conference Coordinates the Adventist Global Ministry in Botswana, with two Conferences;
South Botswana Conference in the Southern part of Botswana and North Botswana Conference in the Northern Part of the country. As of the third quarter 2019, there are 159 Adventist churhes, 80 Companies and a total of 47,147 Adventist membership – with South Botswana Conference with 70 Churches, 24 Companies and a membership of 21,764 while North Botswana Conference has 89 Churches, 56 Companies and 25,383 Members.
Here are names of other divisions:
The South American division serves Argentina, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay, with adjacent islands in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. There are nearly 14,400 churches to serve the 2.5 million members in this region.
The Adventist Church in this region supports nearly 586,000 members and 2,200 churches across American Samoa, Australia, Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Pitcairn, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Wallis and Futuna Islands.
ATTACHED FIELDS AND UNION MISSIONS
An “attached field” or “mission” refers to a region where the Adventist Church has a presence but limited resources to support outreach initiatives. These territories are assigned directly to another larger organization to temporarily assist with oversight, finances and leadership.
UNITED IN MISSION TO MAKE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST
The Seventh-day Adventist Church’s official mission statement is to “make disciples of Jesus Christ who live as His loving witnesses and proclaim to all people the everlasting gospel of the Three Angels’ Messages in preparation for His soon return (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, Revelation 14:6-12).”
The organizational structure of the Church has been developed with this primary objective in mind. In order to successfully accomplish the mission laid out by Jesus in Matthew 28: 18-20, members, ministries, and institutions serve within their calling, collaborate together, and share their resources so no part of the world has to be without help and support.
In the spirit of the Early Church (Acts 15:2, 6), challenges and decisions are addressed as a family of representative leaders—from the local church board to administrative councils composed of church representatives from across the globe.
This well-organized internal structure helps ensure—though only with the blessing and guidance of the Holy Spirit—that Seventh-day Adventist Church members can effectively proclaim the Gospel message of our Savior Jesus, who gives us freedom, healing and hope, in their communities and throughout the world.