LECTURE 6: Geographical Expansion I – National & Global Adventism.
From the 1860’s to the 1880’s, the newly named Seventh-day Adventist Church in America expanded westward into the Great Plains, the Northwest, and California. Such expansion followed the general pattern of the westward settlement of the time.
Effort was concentrated in these newly settled western regions “because the people in the older East generally wanted to hear nothing more of an imminent Advent of Christ, whereas those in the newer West, torn from their traditional relationships, wanted to attend all meetings possible—of whatever sort.” Emmett K. Vandevere “Years of Expansion 1865-1885,” 58-59.
Washington Morse and his family migrated from Vermont to Deerfield in Minnesota in 1856. Morse was postmaster, farmed and also preached. In 1851, he was the first minister ordained by the group that would become the Seventh-day Adventist Church. In 1862 he recorded that “Some became so interested [in our faith] that we made appointments to come and hold meetings in their houses, and in the coming winter we walked long distances to fill such appointments with marked success.” In Emmett K. Vandevere “Years of expansion 1865-1885,” 58-59.
By 1863, there were over 150 members in Minnesota and a Conference was organized under Morse’s leadership. Washington Morse
In 1859, Merritt G. Kellogg (brother to the better known John Harvey Kellogg and Will Kellogg) loaded an oxcart with his belongings and headed west with his family to settle in San Francisco—California. He worked as a carpenter in the city and made good wages. An avid Bible student, he shared his faith with friends and co-workers and helped establish the first Seventh-day Adventist congregation in San Francisco.
It is believed that a gold miner, B. G. St John, was Merritt G. Kellogg’s very first convert. St. John had been a Millerite and had retained his belief in the Second Advent following the Great Disappointment of 1844.
After working for several years in San Francisco, he sold his home and business and enrolled in Dr. Trall’s Hygieo-Therapeutic College in New Jersey. Six months later he graduated as a physician and returned to the West Coast to practice medicine. At the 1868 General Conference session, he convinced early Adventist church leaders J.N. Loughborough and D. T. Bourdeau that they should come to California to help spread the gospel.
Bourdeau and Loughborough arrived in San Francisco on July 18, 1868, and immediately found lodging with B. G. St. John. There was a church in a small town called Petaluma about 50 miles north of San Francisco, which was known as an Independent church. Members had seen a notice in an Eastern newspaper that two men were travelling west with a tent to hold evangelistic meetings. They made contact with Bourdeau and Loughborough in San Francisco and invited them to Petaluma to hold meetings. On August 13, about a month after having arrived in California, Bourdeau and Loughborough—assisted by Kellogg, launched their series of tent meetings in Petaluma at the Independent church.
Everything seemed to be going fine until they presented the Sabbath doctrine and a division arose among the Independent church members with only six accepting the Sabbath doctrine and uniting with the Seventh-day Adventist group. Upon completing these meetings, Bourdeau and Loughborough moved on to Windsor, to the north, then to Piner, then on to Santa Rosa and Healdsburg. There was intense excitement in this area of California regarding the establishment of the small Advent groups, and it was decided that a church building should be established in this area. Two lots of land and $500 were donated, and as a result, the first Seventh-day Adventist church in California was established and organized in Santa Rosa, November, 1869.
Adventism Goes Global. “ And then the world was spread out before me and I saw darkness like the pall of death. What did it mean? I could see know light. Then I saw a little glimmer of light and then another, and these lights increased and grew brighter, and multiplied and grew stronger and stronger until they were the light of the world. These were the believers in Jesus Christ.” Ellen White: December, 1844 in Selected Messages III , 34.
European beginnings: John Sisley (a converted Englishman, resident in the US) began to send the Review and Herald to friends in England. In 1861 he wrote that he had received several favourable responses, including, “ I feel thankful to be able to say that I embraced the cause of‘ present truth’ about nine months ago. It is a cause I love.”
Margaret Armstrong wrote from Tallyvine, Cavan County, Ireland; that there are five who were keeping the Sabbath. Jane Martin wrote: “ Myself and two children, and governess, keep the seventh-day. My house servant I compel to keep from work.”
In 1858, a converted Catholic priest of Polish descent, Michael Belina Czechowski travelled to Switzerland and Romania unofficially (the church refused to send him officially) and converted a number to the seventh-day Sabbath.
Czechowski’s career is quite confusing, he returned to Europe in 1864 representing the Advent Christian Church, though he continued to preach the SDA message! Czechowski formed a “Seventh-day Adventist” Church in Tramelan in Switzerland—though the members were not told by Czechowski of the existence of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination. After Czechowski left in 1869, the leader of this group, Albert Vuilleumier discovered a copy of the Review and Herald that Czechowski had left behind. He made contact with the General Conference and asked for assistance.
In 1869, James Erzberger travelled to the home of James and Ellen white in Michigan where he learned English and received further theological training. In 1870, he returned to Europe as an SDA minister. James Erzenberger later in life.
At the 1869 General Conference session, a missionary society was formed. “ The object of this society shall be to send the truths of the third angel’s message to foreign lands, and to distant parts of our country, by means of missionaries, papers, books, tracts, etc.” However, the society focussed on publications rather than people, and no overseas missionaries were sent as a result.
In 1871, Ellen White appealed to the church to broaden its mission: “ Young men should be qualifying themselves by becoming familiar with other languages, that God may use them as mediums to communicate His saving truth to those of other nations….Missionaries are needed to go to other nations to preach the truth….Every opportunity should be improved to extend the truth to other nations.” Ellen White, Life Sketches , 204-206.
It was not until 1874 that the Church finally took action and sent one of its best scholars—J. N. Andrews.
First official missionary was J. N. Andrews who left Boston on September 15, 1874 with his son Charles and daughter Mary. (Andrews’ wife Angeline had died in 1872.) They visited Sabbath-keepers in the British Isles before arriving in Switzerland late in October. The Andrews family prior to the death of Angeline.
The local workers, James Erzberger and Albert Vuilleumier had already had some successes: Catherine Revel was the first baptised SDA believer in Europe.
Andrews worked in Switzerland & in Germany- (Prussia); he was joined by Daniel T. Bourdeau in 1876. Bordeau spoke fluent French & began working in France and later in Italy. Daniel T. Bordeau
These pioneers were followed by many others: John G. Matteson to Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.
The first known Seventh-day Adventist in Iceland was O. J. Rost, a Norwegian minister who went there in 1893 and convinced a local Lutheran minister of the Sabbath. In 1897 David Ostlund, a Swede, was sent by the Danish Conference as the first SDA missionary to Iceland. On board ship he met an Icelandic couple who had decided to keep the Sabbath after reading The Great Controversy . Having read in the Danish church paper that a missionary was being sent to Iceland, the couple had decided to return to help him. A printer by trade, in 1890, Ostlund began a semi-monthly magazine called Fraekorn (The Seed) which, until he left Iceland in 1914, had the largest circulation of any paper in the country. He also printed books and tracts on his own press.
John N. Loughborough arrived in England in 1878 to assist English convert William Inggs. (Inggs had converted whilst travelling in America.) William Inggs John N. Loughborough
In 1886, L. R. Conradi travelled to Russia under the guise of being a printer. He travelled and preached publicly in the Crimea. In the town of Berdebulat he organized a church and following a public sea baptism, were jailed for 40 days as a teacher of “Jewish heresy.”
Australia and the South Pacific In 1885, a group of Seventh-day Adventists set sail for Australia: S.N. Haskell; J.O. Corliss and family; M.C. Israel and family; Henry L. Scott; and William Arnold. On June 7, 1885, they arrived in Sydney but stayed only briefly before heading to Melbourne, settling in Richmond. Stephen N. Haskell c. 1885 The first Australian company was established in North Fitzroy following a series of tent meetings.
In October, 1887, Haskell travelled to NZ and made several converts in Auckland.
In 1889, John Tay attended the GC session to plead the cause of the Pacific Islands. It was decided to build a ship to work throughout the Pacific. In 1890, the Pitcairn was built in California and set sail on October 20, heading directly to Pitcairn Island.
While at Pitcairn, 82 adults were baptised and organized into a Seventh-day Adventist church. E. H. Gates and his wife remained on Pitcairn Island while the ship travelled to Tahiti where A. J. Reed and his wife remained, while John Tay and his wife travelled to Fiji to work.
Asia: In 1888, Abram La Rue travelled to Hong Kong as a self-supported missionary. He had asked the church to send him to China, but the church thought that he was too old and unqualified; and advised him to go to one of the islands in the Pacific. Since Hong Kong is an island, he interpreted the General Conference’s reply to include it. He worked alone until the first official missionaries, J. N. Anderson and his wife, and his sister-in-law Ida Thompson were sent in 1902.
After his death in 1903, John E. Fulton said of La Rue: “ Brother La Rue never was known as a great preacher, or a great administrator, or a great leader in any other sense other than that he was a great follower of the Master, but he left his influence in the hearts of men.”
REFERENCES: Rajmund Dabrowski, “M. B. Czechowski: Pioneer to Europe,” Adventist Heritage , 4:1 (1977), 13-23. Rajmund Dabrowski (ed.), Michael Belina Czechowski 1818-1876 Warsaw: Znacki Czasu, 1979. George R. Knight, A Brief History of Seventh-day Adventists Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 1999. John Loughborough, The Great Second Advent Movement Washington DC: Review and Herald, 1909 Arthur W. Spalding, Origin and Progress of Seventh-day Adventists Vol. I & II. Washington DC: Review and Herald, 1961-1962. Emmett K. Vandevere, “Years of Expansion 1865-1885” in Gary Land (ed.) Adventism in America (rev. ed.) Berrien Springs: Andrews University Press, 1998, 53-75.
This PowerPoint presentation has been produced by Jeff Crocombe for a class on SDA Church history at Helderberg College in Semester 1, 2006. It should not be used without giving credit to its compiler, nor reproduced in any way without permission. You may contact Jeff Crocombe at: [email_address]