Seventh-day Adventism, which arose in the northeastern United States in the 1840s, holds several doctrinal beliefs. Distinctive of their doctrinal system, and reflected in the denomination's name, is a belief in the perpetuity of the seventh-day Sabbath as the day of rest for Christians and a belief in the visible and literal return of Jesus Christ in the not too distant future. The denomination is evangelical in the sense that it holds for salvation by grace through faith. The church worldwide now has a presence in 205 of the 230 nations recognized by the United Nations.
Members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church first settled in the Great Plains at Omaha, Nebraska, in 1858. As of 1999 the region hosted approximately 50,000 of the 10 million Adventists worldwide. That membership is distributed rather evenly across the Great Plains. The Mid-America Union Conference (headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska) is the administrative unit that is responsible for most of the region. The southern part of the Great Plains falls within the jurisdiction of the Southwestern Union Conference (Burleson, Texas), while the Canadian Union Conference (or Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada, with headquarters in Oshawa, Ontario) includes the northern part. Those administrative units supervise the work of eleven local conferences that are included in or intersect the Great Plains. The membership in the Great Plains is, in general, proportionate among the various racial groups of the region. The major exception to that generalization is Native Americans. Although Adventists have missions to the Native American population, those missions have not prospered in relative proportion to other Adventist work in the region.
Adventists in the Great Plains sponsor a large number of elementary schools, several secondary schools ("academies"), and three tertiary institutions: Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska; Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas, near the southern edge of the Plains; and Canadian University College near its northern boundary in College Heights, Alberta. The church also operates several medical facilities in the Great Plains. The most significant are the PorterCare hospitals in Denver, Louisville, and Littleton, Colorado; the Central Texas Medical Center in San Marcos, Texas; and the Huguley Memorial Medical Centers west of Fort Worth, Texas.
George R. Knight Andrews University
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Knight, George R. A Brief History of Seventh-day Adventists. Hagerstown MD: Review and Herald, 1999.
Neufeld, Don F., ed. Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia. Hagerstown MD: Review and Herald, 1996.