Around the world, individuals from many different faith backgrounds, including Baptist, Methodist, and Christian Connection, were preaching that the second coming of Christ was imminent. In North America, William Miller, based upon his understanding of Bible Prophecy, set a date – October 22, 1844 – for when the Lord would appear. Eagerly he and his fellow believers, known as Adventists, prepared for the appointed day. When it came and went, they suffered a great disappointment; the message had been sweet in their mouths but very sour in their stomachs just as Revelation 10:9,10 had foretold.
Many of these early Adventists bitterly renounced their beliefs, but a small group decided to restudy the prophecies to understand what had happened. Gradually they came to a new realization: though Christ's return was imminent, a specific date could not be set. As they continued to study, more and more Bible truth came to light: the sanctuary message, the state of the dead, and the seventh-day Sabbath.
Realizing organization was essential to the successful spreading of these Bible truths. In 1863 this faithful group of North American Bible students officially launched the Seventh-day Adventist Church with an initial membership of 3,500.Today the Seventh-day Adventist Church is a worldwide movement composed of almost 13 million members in more than 50,000 churches. And daily more than 2,000 people become part of the Adventist family through baptism or profession of faith.
The world church organization, known as the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, is divided into thirteen divisions: Trans-European, Euro-Africa, East-Central Africa, West-Central Africa, Southern Africa-Indian Ocean, Euro-Asia, Southern Asia, Northern Asia Pacific, Southern Asia-Pacific, South Pacific, Inter-American, and North American. Our North American Division (NAD) is comprised of nine unions: The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada, Atlantic Union Conference, Columbia Union Conference, Lake Union Conference, Southern Union Conference, Mid-American Union Conference, Southwestern Union Conference, Pacific Union Conference, and North Pacific Union Conference (NPUC). Our union, which is often referred to as the NPUC, is made up of six conferences: Alaska, Washington, Upper Columbia, Montana, Idaho and Oregon. Our conference is comprised of 128 local churches, 11 companies, and 12 groups with a total membership of almost 33,000.