I visited the Historic Adventist Village of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Battle Creek and enjoyed a personal tour with Don Scherencel. During the tour, he gave me an overview of the church and its teachings.
Seventh-day Adventism began in Palmyra, New York, during the mid-nineteenth century period of religious fervor. The religion began less than three miles from where Joseph Smith founded Mormonism after being visited by the Angel Maroni and not far from the Oneida Community.
Many strict interpreters of the Bible believed that the world would end in 1844, in keeping with the Biblical prophecy of world’s end 2,300 days after Jerusalem was rebuilt (Biblical days are often interpreted as years). Ellen White was a spiritual woman who had several visions that supported that idea.
When the world didn’t perish on that date, many people who supported the idea were expelled from conventional Protestant denominations. Ellen White continued to receive visions, clarifying that the 2,300 days were being counted in a spiritual rather than earthly realm. She began the Seventh-day Adventist Church, based on a view of the Bible supported by her visions, along with her husband John and Joseph Bates. They were inventive in spreading their faith through a popular newspaper. By 1852 the church had moved to Rochester, but intolerance pushed them further west. In 1855 four men from Battle Creek donated $300 each to move the printing press to their community, and the church moved to Michigan.
The move proved synergistic in a number of ways, as the brothers Kellogg were developing their cereal empire and focusing on healthy eating and exercise. Seventh-day Adventist beliefs are rooted in the body purity derived from healthy living, and John Kellogg became a Seventh-day Adventist. The religion grew fast, and the west end of Battle Creek became known as Advent Town. A small area, centered on John and Ellen White’s house and other period buildings moved to the area, now make up the Adventist Historic Village. The visitor center, named after John Kellogg, includes a number of his rather exotic exercise machines.
Seventh-day Adventists have always been abolitionists and pacifists. The first church building in the Battle Creek area constructed for their use was dedicated in early 1860. At the dedication Ellen White had a vision anticipating the Civil War. In keeping with their beliefs, they did not serve directly. However, they organized medical assistance units to assist the Union cause, but never carried guns.
Today, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has over 18 million followers in 66 countries. Although Ellen White had only three years of school, and her husband only a handful of school days, they’ve created an education system that teaches more than 1.8 million people, and also operate health care facilities throughout the world. In fact, one of the seven ‘Blue Zones’ for health living is Loma Linda, CA, a community that included over 9,000 Seventh-day Adventists and boasts life spans more ten years longer than surrounding communities.
How will we live tomorrow?
“The way the world is going right now, it’s hard to believe we can last much longer before the second coming.”
“We are supposed to live our life’s anticipating the Second Coming but not slacking off. If we are still alive at the time, we will be the last to be judged. After that, Satan will be the only being on earth for the next 1000 years. He will be one lonely guy.”