An organization decades in the making, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church has evolved from a small group of like-minded Christians, with a handful of dominant personalities, including all but:

Ellen and James White, along with Joseph Bates , were pivotal in the beginnings of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Ellen G. White, though holding no official role within the Church, helped shift the concentration at the start to missionary and medical work, both of which contribute to the Church's central role today.

Under the guidance of Ellen and James White, the Church grew to 75,000 members by 1900, and operated colleges and academies, hospitals, and publishing houses. From the beginning, the Church spread their message by:

Adventist effort for a worldwide proclamation of their message began with mailing publications , including overseas. By 1900, the Adventists' mission effort truly was enthusiastic and worldwide.

Ellen White wrote a book, and sales of this book are tied to the financial support of the growing Adventist schools:

Ellen White wrote Christ’s Object Lessons , saying the Lord gave her the idea to use the book to help financially support the school system. Funds were raised for materials, and Adventist publishing houses donated the printing, resulting in worldwide dissemination of Christ’s Object Lessons.

Ellen G. White’s passing in 1915 meant the church faced new challenges, including how the church would continue without someone recognized as a living prophet. Perhaps the greatest challenge the church faced in an evolving world was:

The 1919 Bible Conference was a pivotal event that took a deeper look at how Adventists truly interpreted Bible prophecy and the legacy of Ellen White’s writings, resulting in a polarizing influence on Adventist theology pitting progressives against traditionalists.

Progressivism began to take a stronger hold after World War II, with more liberal Adventism emphasizing a different understanding of justification by faith. One of the more recent issues addressed was the ordination of women. This issue was:

Proposals supporting the ordination of women were turned down at the General Conference Sessions in 1990 in Indianapolis, and in 1996 in Utrecht.
more from beliefnet and our partners