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1963 – 1967

During the administrative period 1963–1967, closer contacts were established with our brethren in Romania and Bulgaria under severe political restrictions and great risks of imprisonment and increased persecution. In 1964 Brethren A. Lavrik and W. Volpp visited Romania and contacted some of our leaders. Several brethren, mostly ministers and workers, were still in communist prisons. The report that the two visiting brethren brought back told of many hardships and much oppression. Nevertheless, underground visits were carried on throughout the following years. And our Sabbath School quarterlies which were put into their hands were instrumental in keeping our people united.


In 1963, the General Conference delegation voted to dissolve the merger and restore the American Field Conference, which was done at a conference held in Sacramento, July 20–26, 1964. Concerning this administrative step, Brother Smith wrote in his circular letter of August 4, 1964:


"As most of you will recall, the work in the United States has existed, particularly since 1961, under an unusual form of organization, partly under the direct administration of the General Conference and the remaining portion under a Field Conference organization. This experiment, as we might call it, was entered into with the best interests of the work in view, but unforeseen and unwelcome difficulties arose which made it evident to all that it was impracticable; hence, after requests made from the membership here (i.e., from the United States), a resolution was made by the General Conference session of 1963 that the regular form of organization be restored. It was at this recent conference (held in Sacramento, California, USA, July 20–26, 1964) that the restoration was brought into effect."


Although the former and regular form of organization was restored, the tension between the two constituencies, or rather, between the Field leader and the General Conference president, continued to grow until the General Conference Executive Committee was forced to intervene. The result was that the American Field Conference was dissolved June 16, 1965.


Harmony between the Field and the General Conference administration was restored when the representatives of the Field, who refused to accept the decision of the General Conference Executive Committee, appealed to the General Conference delegation during the session held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, 1967. J. Nicolici, the Field president, was then given a hearing and, as far as past disagreements were concerned, the matter was settled.


During that same period (1963–1967) there was a crisis in South Africa. The leader of the brethren of European ethnicity, together with the majority of the members of that group, decided to return to the Adventist Church. When Brother Smith and his wife arrived there in 1964, it was too late to help them. They had left us. For a good number of years, however, the self-denying service rendered by Brother and Sister Smith in South Africa was a substantial help to the Trans-African Union. The little health food industry that they established, called "Mission Health Foods," proved to be an asset to the work at the beginning. Later on, when competition increased and threatened to stifle the project, it was deemed advisable to sell it.