Our International Work

Throughout our history since 1914, we have seen the merciful hand of God with us in every crisis. He has given us many victories. Hereunder are the most noteworthy events which transpired since 1921.

 

First Period: 1921 – 1934

Some of the first Sabbath School quarterlies printed by our pioneer brethren deal with the book of Revelation. From top to bottom: Romanian (1922), German (1923), Russian (1924).

1921–1925

Before the organization of the SDA Reform Movement in 1925, and especially before the meeting in Wuerzburg (1921), Reformers and so-called Reformers did a great deal of unofficial publishing. But we can identify some official publications, too.

 

Local Sabbath School lessons began to be published as soon as 1915. However, the earliest lessons we have in our library were published in 1922. Beginning with the fourth quarter of 1922, the first two quarterlies dealt with the book of Revelation.

 

The Sabbat-Waechter (Sabbath Watchman), a monthly magazine, appeared in 1920.

 

In 1923, Carl Spanknoebel was sent as a missionary to the USA. Also, Willi O. Welp, the son of Otto Welp, immigrated to America in the same year. Arthur W. Doerschler, Otto Welp's son-in-law, arrived a little later. Oscar Kramer arrived in the United States in 1925.

 

Andrei Lavrik, from Bessarabia, Romania, went to Brazil in 1924 to do pioneering work.

 

1925–1928

The great concern of the Reform brethren in those days (1925–1928) was to send out missionaries and to occupy new territories.

 

Andrei Cecan from Bessarabia, Romania, went to Brazil in 1926 with his parents. He was a great help to Brother Lavrik. Karl (Carlos) Kozel from Germany, and Iefteni (Eugenio) Laicovschi from Bessarabia, Romania, immigrated to Argentina in 1927.

 

As far as the international center of operations was concerned, it was decided that the General Conference should, for the time being, share the same building where the German Union had its headquarters, in Wuerzburg. In 1926 the General Conference office was moved from Wuerzburg to Isernhagen, near Hannover, Germany, together with the German Union headquarters.

 

Since the General Conference of the Reform Movement was organized, our Sabbath School quarterlies were edited in the name of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement General Conference and printed by the German Union. Translations from German were made into many other languages. From the time that our GC headquarters were established in the USA, translations have been made from English originals.

As a bigger and much more suitable place had been secured for the two headquarters (General Conference and German Union), a print shop was also set up on the same property. The establishment of the Religious Liberty Publishing Association (Missionsverlag fuer Glaubens-und-Gewissensfreiheit) permitted the development of the colporteur work, which became a very active enterprise.

 

After so many years have elapsed, we cannot easily distinguish between the work of the General Conference and that of the German Union in the early days of our history.

 

The first number of the official organ of the SDA Reform Movement General Conference–Der Adventarbeiter (The Advent Worker)–appeared in October 1928.

 

Reform publications that had been sent overseas and had been scattered in many places generated some response. The seed was already springing up and it was necessary to send workers to answer the Macedonian calls coming from different areas. And there were courageous men who said, through their attitude, "Here am I; send me," showing their willingness to do pioneering work in faraway countries, where they would have to learn a new language and adapt themselves to different living conditions.

 

1928–1931

Publication of Der Adventarbeiter (The Advent Worker), organ of the SDA Reform Movement General Conference, began in October 1928.

Soon after the first General Conference session (1925), internal difficulties began to arise; 1928 was a particularly difficult year for the work in Germany and for the General Conference administration. Wilhelm Richter, president of the German Union, was in opposition to Otto Welp, the General Conference president. During the second General Conference session (1928), the whole committee of the German Union, under the influence of Brother Richter, stood up against the General Conference administration. Albert Mueller, Joseph Adamczak and Kasper Kissener sided with Brother Richter. Brother Richter was removed from his office as president of the German Union, but his committee supported him against the decision of the General Conference. Special efforts were made to convince the German leaders to change their attitude and, after a long discussion, they finally admitted that they were in error. The leadership of the German Union was then given to Brother Mueller. But that was not the end of the trouble. The next day, Brother Richter recanted his confession and continued his opposition. He, together with some of those who continued supporting him, were disfellowshiped. For years he tried to establish his own group but was unsuccessful. During World War II, for some time, he seemed to be reconciled with the leading brethren. But toward the end of the war, he fell out with the leadership again. Disgruntled, he returned to the Adventist Church in 1945.

 

Articles for the Week of Prayer have been supplied internationally by the SDA Reform Movement General Conference ever since the organization was completed (1925).

The General Conference was incorporated on January 11, 1929. Some of our leaders wanted to know what had become of that registration. So, in 1963, D. Nicolici, plus the author of this book and one more brother went to the registration office at Burgwedel, near Hannover, Germany, and this is what they learned: The German Union was incorporated on March 21, 1927 (this was the second incorporation); and it was dissolved by the Secret State Police May 12, 1936. The General Conference was incorporated on January 11, 1929, and dissolved by the Secret State Police May 11, 1936.

 

1931–1934

The work of reformation had already gained a good foothold in Europe, and, with the help of human and financial means coming from the European countries, Reform missionaries were already working in the United States, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina. Now it was necessary to answer the urgent calls coming from other parts of the world. According to a report presented by T. T. Ndhlovu, from Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), at the 1931 General Conference session, a European missionary was needed to help in the work in the southern parts of Africa. Eugen Frick, from Germany, and his wife accepted the call. Arrangements were made by the General Conference Executive Committee (meeting at Isernhagen, Germany, August 1931) for Brother and Sister Frick to move to South Africa by the end of September 1931.

 

Prophetic charts were needed for the work in several places. Martin Hunger, from Germany, was entrusted with the task of preparing these missionary materials.

 

A small missionary school had already been started at Rama, near Wuerzburg, Germany, in 1920. Yet this was a local initiative. So, during their meeting in August 1931, the Executive Committee of the General Conference decided to establish a missionary training center on an international basis for the preparation of workers for the worldwide field, in Schwaebisch Hall, Germany. The date for the beginning of the school year was set for April 1, 1932.

 

These are some of the publications prepared in Germany in the early days of the Reform Movement, explaining why, how, and when the SDA Reform Movement came into existence. A few of these booklets were translated from German into other languages.

The Executive Committee was filled with concern regarding the preparation of young people for the work. It was evident that each Union was not in a position to establish its own missionary training center. So, the Committee decided (July 1932) to recommend the following plan to all Union Conferences: Each local church and group should function as a little school where young men and women should receive a theoretical and practical training for the work.

 

The Executive Committee (July 1932) still had to deal with one of the questions that had come up during the delegation session in 1931, namely, the latter rain and the loud cry. In one of their resolutions, they declared with reference to the last stage of the work of Revelation 18:1–4:

 

"On the basis of the Holy Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy writings concerning the meaning of the loud cry, and the way in which the loud cry is to come, it is our knowledge and conviction that we are not in the loud cry at this time. According to Early Writings, p. 271, it is evident that the loud cry will come together with the latter rain. However, we believe that this work of reformation is a fulfillment of Revelation 18:1 in the sense that it is preparing the way for the loud cry."

 

The next General Conference Executive Committee meeting took place in Heerlen, Holland, on December 1933. Still greatly concerned with the need to enter new fields, the Committee sent the following recommendation to all Union Conferences: The leaders of the different Unions should select the most faithful and capable young men, who have already proved that they have a burden for souls and who already have a good experience in the colporteur work, and encourage them to learn foreign languages. If necessary, under special circumstances, the General Conference will cover the expenses involved in this program. As the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy say that workers are to be sent out two and two, this plan must be taken into account by our young men when they make up their mind to start learning a language, in agreement with one another, under the guidance of the Union Committee. Then they can be sent out as colporteurs, two to one country, two to another country, and so on. Pioneering work is to be done through colporteurs.

 

Second Period: 1934–1945

Our brethren in Europe had to go through fiery trials for a period of approximately ten years (1936–1945).

 

To flee from religious persecution that was gaining momentum in Germany, Brethren W. Maas and O. Welp went to Holland, A. Rieck to Portugal, A. Mueller to Switzerland, and E. Stark to Denmark.

 

In 1926, the General Conference office was installed in this building (Isernhagen, near Hannover, Germany), which was sold shortly before the Reform Movement in Germany was dissolved by the authorities (May 11 and 12, 1936).

Besides the external problems, which were serious enough, there were also internal problems, as there had been in every period of the church of God. The Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy, as well as the history of the church, show that the presence of such things is one of the characteristics of the church militant. Our narrative is not what some people might call "an Egyptian story" (the Egyptian historians would narrate only their victories and say no word about their defeats). If we tried to give the impression that crises never occurred in our history, some of the brethren might object: "The prophesied reformatory movement, according to the Spirit of Prophecy, must face serious internal problems, such as contending against apostasies and apostates, combating dictatorship and the spirit of supremacy, and meeting fanaticism. These problems belong to the prophetic picture of the movement for revival and reformation. Where are they?" Such an objection would be perfectly warranted. We will deal with this question in detail further ahead.

 

One of the first problems arising in the General Conference administration was that Otto Welp, his son (W. O. Welp), and his son-in-law (A. W. Doerschler) had a serious disagreement with W. Maas, the new president elected in 1934. An atmosphere of tension existed until a reconciliation took place in 1944.

 

Brethren W. O. Welp, A. W. Doerschler and O. Kramer, who were also called "Denver leaders," were partially satisfied when they realized that at least one aspect of their complaints was not in vain. But they also complained against authoritarianism, as their letters reveal. And this evil, they said, was not removed under the administration of Brother Maas; rather, it was transmitted to the next administration. They stated in one of their letters: "And those who rightfully protested against the [arbitrariness] of the leaders were branded as being in rebellion."

 

The internal crisis persisted for a long time. External difficulties, instead of being instrumental in settling problems expeditiously, hampered the required solution year after year. Developments in the political world discouraged the idea of convening a General Conference session in those hazardous days.

 

The situation in Europe was a matter of great concern to our leading brethren. They could see that our people would soon have to go through fiery trials. It was evident that an international conflict was forthcoming. When a new wave of persecution should burst upon them–and when, standing before the authorities, they would be brought face to face with loss of income, loss of property, imprisonment, torture, and even death for the truth’s sake–they should be prepared to give a uniform answer. Therefore, during a meeting held in Budapest, Hungary, June 1938, the General Conference Executive Committee decided, among other things:

 

"That a declaration be prepared concerning the principles of our faith, which is to be presented to the authorities in countries where difficulties shall arise for our churches."

 

It was also resolved at that meeting,

 

"That the next General Conference session be prepared for 1940."

 

But this decision was not carried out. The tenseness of the international political situation delayed the calling of another General Conference session until 1948.

 

In 1942 Brother Maas became very ill and passed away on March 12, 1944. Those who were with him the last few days of his life testified that he felt the assurance of sins forgiven and that he was at peace with the Lord and also with his brethren.

 

A. Mueller, who was living in Switzerland, was appointed by the General Conference Committee to carry the responsibility of the work until the convening of the next General Conference session. So, the General Conference office was transferred from Geulle, Holland, to Basel, Switzerland, and Brother Mueller served the Reform Movement as the General Conference president from 1942 to 1948.

 

While the war was raging in Europe, the spirit of independence, overzealousness, and fanaticism on the one hand, and the spirit of arbitrariness, with a certain amount of inconsistency in the administration of the new General Conference president on the other hand, tended to upset the work in many places. But by the help of God, "in all these things" those who stood for the truth were "more than conquerors through Him that loved us."

 

During that gloomy period of persecution and terror, many believers in Europe died as martyrs for the truth’s sake. Others suffered imprisonment, encampment, hunger, cold, and distress. Only by the grace of God were these souls able to remain faithful to the end.

 

Third Period: 1945 – 1955

Taking Stock of the Situation of the Work

One of the first efforts of the leading brethren right after the end of World War II was to gather information about the condition of our people around the world. Through the postal service it was soon possible to evaluate the situation and form a general picture of the state of things in each country. Hereunder we summarize a report which was published in the Sabbath Watchman, fourth quarter of 1946:

 

Australia: In but a few years the Lord has brought a fine work into being. The Hebron Missionary College was established, where young men and women are getting a training for the work of the Master. The message of reformation is now spreading to Queensland and Victoria, as well as to New Zealand.

 

Austria: A number of brethren loved not their lives unto death. The majority of our believers stood faithful, in defense of the truth, during the time of persecution.

 

Czechoslovakia: The powers of darkness apparently obtained a victory; but the faithful souls have stood firm, holding aloft the banner of the gospel.

 

Denmark: After the political storm, life is again returning to normal. Our minister there has permission to visit internment camps and hold Bible readings. Sometimes the number of those in attendance amounts to 100.

 

Finland: In spite of the war, the brethren were able to work for the Lord. A number of souls took their stand for the truth. A good number of workers and colporteurs are now spreading the message.

 

France: The notorious camp of Gurs lodged many of our brethren, under the most horrible conditions, during the war. But not one of them lost his life. The work of the gospel has been resumed and a number of new souls are ready to make a covenant with the Lord.

 

Germany: Of a certain number of martyrs it can be said: "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord . . . that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them" (Revelation 14:13). Brethren J. Adamczak and O. Luft are standing on the walls of Zion together with other brethren to restore that which was torn down. The work of God is growing again. While the storm was raging upon our people in this country, the Lord wrought many miracles in their behalf. Today, songs of praise and thanksgiving ascend again from places where, during the time of persecution, our churches were emptied as brothers and sisters went to prison, leaving their children behind.

 

Hungary: Our ministers and workers were in prison during the war, and not all of them came out alive.

 

Italy: Although there were external and internal difficulties, most of our brethren remained firm in the truth. There is much interest in the message of reformation. Over 20 new souls are prepared to join the Reform Movement.

 

The Netherlands (Holland): The brethren in this country suffered a great deal. Many of them went through concentration camps because of their faith. A few of them are no longer among the living. O. Welp, one of the survivors of the horrors of the concentration camp, is now working with other brethren in the cause of the Lord. The canvassing work has made a new start, and quite a number of souls were added to the church after the war.

 

North America (United States and Canada): The message of reformation is shining in many places in this vast territory.

 

Norway: Also in Norway our people went through great trials and survived only by the grace of God.

 

Poland: Our believers had to suffer very much during the war, and a considerable number of martyrs passed through the valley of death as victors over the powers of darkness.

 

Portugal: The Lord has blessed the work of A. Rieck. In a few years, seven churches were organized.

 

Romania: The fires of tribulation did not spare our brethren in Romania. There was an official plan, adopted by the Romanian authorities, not only to destroy our church, but to exterminate all our members. But the Lord did not forget His people. When the fatal blow was about to be struck against them, similarly to what was about to happen to the Jewish people in the days of Queen Esther, God came to their rescue in a miraculous way. A leading brother wrote: "Our brethren have remained faithful in the truth, in this message of reformation. After the war, the Lord made it possible for us to hold large conventions in many places. Hundreds of thousands of tracts were printed, which are now being distributed. Our membership has grown in spite of the war. Praise the Lord for everything."

 

South American countries: The message of reformation is spreading rapidly. Even among the natives living in the high mountains, in the Andes region, the light has reached many hearts.

 

Sweden: By the providence of God, Sweden was not involved in the war, and it became an island of refuge for some of our people. W. Korpmann, by the grace of God, managed to escape from Estonia to Sweden to help the cause of God there.

 

Switzerland remained neutral in face of the international conflict, and it also afforded shelter to some of the brethren who had fled from other countries. Brother A. Mueller found refuge in Switzerland, where the believers were very cooperative, making it possible for him to maintain connections with the work of the Lord in other countries. It was from there that manuscripts for Sabbath School quarterlies were sent out during the troublous years of the war.

 

Trans-Africa: According to reports received from our leading brother there, twelve African workers are engaged in spreading the message of reformation, which is shining in many places.

 

Yugoslavia: The cause of God is making good progress. Twelve workers and 46 colporteurs are spreading the message. In 1945, 140 new members were added to the church. Our people went through the "fiery furnace" of persecution in many places, but the merciful hand of God was with them, giving them courage and power to bear the test.

 

Victories in Spite of Local Problems and Divisions

The followers of Christ were called to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3). This verse has played an important role in the Reform Movement from the beginning. We have witnessed a great deal of contention whenever it became necessary to uplift the truth. Why should the SDA Reform Movement claim to be an exception to this rule? The idea of a strifeless reform–an idea which has probably been derived from a misinterpretation of a statement inTestimonies, vol. 8, p. 251–is contrary to what is written in the Bible and in the Spirit of Prophecy. Read The Great Controversy, pp. 397, 398; Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 407-413; Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 594, as well as other statements, and you will see that there is no such thing as a reform without obstacles. We can only say: Praise be to God for His mercy, His guidance, and His protection!

 

The 1948 delegation session was expected to settle most of the problems that had accumulated in the church around the world since the previous session (1934) and especially during the difficult years of the war (1939–1945). However, some of these problems, instead of being solved during the session, were rather aggravated. There was discord in several places and, to some of the brethren, the very survival of the Reform Movement seemed to be threatened. The Denver leaders frankly admitted:

 

"Never in the experience of this divine work of Reformation was there a crisis of so tremendous an importance as in these days. The enemy of all truth and righteousness is trying to strike a decisive blow against the faithful few in our church in an attempt to destroy the true reformatory spirit among us."–Circular letter of January 9, 1949.

 

The facts mentioned hereunder set a historic pattern which should not be overlooked.

 

There was apostasy at Sinai when even Aaron’s eyes were blinded to the enormity of the transgression that he had sanctioned. Sin had to be promptly dealt with. And why was the problem recorded in the history of Israel? "By executing justice upon the guilty, Moses . . . must leave on record a solemn and public protest against their crime. As the Israelites should hereafter condemn the idolatry of the neighboring tribes," they would "acknowledge the disgraceful truth," the shameful apostasy that had occurred in their own camp, but would also "point to the terrible fate of the transgressors" (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 325).

 

"Again and again was ancient Israel afflicted with rebellious murmurers. . . . In many cases, men of renown, rulers in Israel, turned against the providential leading of God and fiercely set to work to tear down that which they had once zealously built up. We have seen something of this repeated many times in our experience."–Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 594.

 

Consider what happened in the days of Christ and the apostles. Many of the disciples turned against Christ and became His enemies (John 6:66). "As those disaffected disciples turned away from Christ, a different spirit took control of them. They could see nothing attractive in Him whom they had once found so interesting. They sought out His enemies, for they were in harmony with their spirit and work. They misinterpreted His words, falsified His statements, and impugned His motives. They sustained their course by gathering up every item that could be turned against Him; and such indignation was stirred up by these false reports that His life was in danger" (The Desire of Ages, pp. 392, 393). The distress which that crisis brought to the loyal believers in those days must have been much greater than the distress caused by all the crises that the SDA Reformers have had to go through.

 

There was a serious disagreement among the delegates at the first general assembly held by the early Christian church in Jerusalem (in the year 51 a.d.?). A decree was formulated with reference to the ceremonial law and the converts among the Gentiles. And what happened? "Not all . . . were pleased with the decision; there was a faction of ambitious and self-confident brethren who disagreed with it. These men assumed to engage in the work on their own responsibility. They indulged in much murmuring and faultfinding, proposing new plans, and seeking to pull down the work of the men whom God had ordained to teach the gospel message. From the first the church has had such obstacles to meet and ever will have till the close of time" (The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 196, 197). It is probably these people that are mentioned in such warnings as recorded in Romans 16:17; 1 John 2:19; Revelation 2:2.

 

The same type of warfare, with the same tactical methods that Satan used in the days of ancient Israel and in the days of Christ and the apostles, he also repeated in the time of Luther, and in the early years of the SDA Church. The servant of the Lord wrote:

 

" ‘God is sifting His people. He will have a clean and holy church. . . . A corrupt people have arisen who could not live with the people of God. . . . We all have reason to thank God that a way has been opened to save the church; for the wrath of God must have come upon us if these corrupt pretenders had remained with us.’"–Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 99.

 

"God’s frown has been brought upon the church on account of individuals with corrupt hearts being in it. They have wanted to be the foremost, when neither God nor their brethren placed them there. Selfishness and exaltation have marked their course. . . . And we should praise God that in mercy He has rid the church of them."–Ibid., p.122.

 

In the prophesied Reform Movement we had and still expect similar battles. The Spirit of Prophecy warns us:

 

"The church will yet see troublous times. She will prophesy in sackcloth. But although she must meet heresies and persecutions, although she must battle with the infidel and the apostate, yet by the help of God she is bruising the head of Satan. The Lord will have a people as true as steel, and with faith as firm as the granite rock. . . . Ministers who have preached the truth with all zeal and earnestness may apostatize and join the ranks of our enemies, but does this turn the truth of God into a lie? . . . The faith and feelings of men may change; but the truth of God, never. The third angel’s message is sounding; it is infallible."–Ibid., vol.4, pp. 594, 595.

"Let the people of God arouse out of sleep and begin in earnest the work of repentance and reformation; . . . and evidence will not be wanting that Satan is still active and vigilant. With all possible deception he will manifest his power, calling to his aid all the fallen angels of his realm."–The Great Controversy, p. 398.

 

"There never will be a time in the history of the church when God’s worker can fold his hands and be at ease, saying, ‘All is peace and safety.’ . . . As the work of God’s people moves forward with sanctified, resistless energy, planting the standard of Christ’s righteousness in the church, moved by a power from the throne of God, the great controversy will wax stronger and stronger, and will become more and more determined. . . . Truth in its varied phases will be in conflict with error in its ever-varying, increasing forms."–Testimonies to Ministers, p. 407.

 

In these quotations the reader can see how history has been and will be repeated also in our ranks. The Bible and the writings of E. G. White do not warrant an exemption for the prophesied SDA Reform Movement. Therefore, we praise God for His mercy, guidance, and protection! Throughout our history as a Movement, since 1914, the helping hand of God has been with us in every crisis, and our march has been forward and upward, from victory to victory.

 

One of the basic characteristics of the Reform Movement is that we do not tolerate open sin. "Christ has plainly taught that those who persist in open sin must be separated from the church" (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 71). "When this instruction has been followed, the church has cleared herself before God. The evil must then be made to appear as it is [it is not to be covered up], and must be removed, that it may not become more and more widespread. The health and purity of the church must be preserved, that she may stand before God unsullied, clad in the robes of Christ’s righteousness" (Testimonies, vol. 7, pp. 262, 263). This work cannot be done without hard struggles, especially when leaders are involved.

 

From this standpoint, we sympathize with all faithful believers who are sighing and crying for the conditions that they can see in the SDA Church just prior to the close of probation. The Spirit of Prophecy informs:

 

"Many who once were earnest Adventists are conforming to the world–to its practices, its customs, its selfishness. Instead of leading the world to render obedience to God’s law, the church is uniting more and more closely with the world in transgression. Daily the church is becoming converted to the world."–Ibid., vol.8, p. 119.

 

"Pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church. The Spirit of God, which prompts to reproof, is trampled underfoot, while the servants of Satan triumph. God is dishonored, the truth made of none effect."–Ibid., vol.5, pp. 210, 211.

"Those who receive the pure mark of truth, wrought in them by the power of the Holy Ghost . . . are those ‘that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done’ in the church."–Ibid., vol.3, p. 267.

 

"The abominations for which the faithful ones were sighing and crying were all that could be discerned by finite eyes, but by far the worst sins, those which provoked the jealousy of the pure and holy God, were unrevealed. . . . But He will detect their hypocrisy and will open before others those sins which they were so careful to hide."–Ibid., vol.5, pp. 211, 212.

 

There are only two alternatives: If we want to avoid strife, we must allow apostasy to take over, as we read in the above prophetic statements. If we do not want these statements to apply also to the Reform Movement, we must "contend for the faith." These remarks should enable the reader to view our struggles and victories in the right perspective. With this hope we will list problems that we had to overcome during the ten-year period (1945–1955), some of which started even before 1945.

 

England: After F. Charles was discharged from his leading responsibility in 1935, and after he received unfavorable information about the new General Conference president, W. Maas, he rejected the authority of the General Conference. The consequent division resulted in the formation of two groups, one under the influence of A. Rieck, and the other under the direction of A. W. Doerschler. Brother Nicolici wrote to both parties, advising them to seek a reconciliation and work together. They seemingly agreed. But the separation still lasted for a number of years.

 

The Netherlands: O. Kramer reported about the problem in Holland as follows: "Matters seemed to have become rather doubtful and intolerable among our top leaders [after Brother Maas had taken refuge in Holland, 1937]. . . . No conferences were held any longer, no reports were rendered, no . . . orderly elections [of General Conference officers] took place. The leading brethren [of the General Conference] simply stayed in office beyond their allotted term. . . . Those who insisted [on the proposal to hold a General Conference session in Holland], sad to say, were unjustly disfellowshiped as rebels. . . . It was evident that the top leaders were using a rather dictatorial attitude." (From a tape.) A division took place which continued after the death of Brother Maas (March 12, 1944) and even after the end of World War II.

 

Germany: J. Adamczak, president of the German Union, who had been the chairman of the 1948 General Conference delegation session, had a disagreement with C. Kozel and A. Mueller, respectively president and vice president of the General Conference. In 1949, with the support of a certain number of brethren, he began to show these two brethren where he disagreed with them. In 1950 he wrote:

 

"Since the conference at The Hague [Holland], 1948, I have had the most terrible conflicts with myself. I have spent many sleepless nights for the sake of the cause of God. . . . The thought that there could eventually be a split aroused in me the greatest fear and disgust. . . . Resolutions and principles are being applied at will. . . . There is a little group of men who act exactly like the Pharisees in the days of Christ."–Adamczak’s circular letter of April 5, 1950.

 

New Zealand: Fred Williams, from New Zealand, started an agitation against the Australasian Union, because at the Union delegation session (1947) he did not get what he wanted. And he had a group of supporters. It was their purpose to separate the New Zealand Field from the Union, together with a building which was owned by the Union in New Zealand. Through a lawyer, the Union warned them that they could not legally take possession of the property. There was no court action. Shortly before the 1948 General Conference session, the Lord put an end to the trouble. Some of the men who were implicated in the difficulty joined the Adventist Church, while others confessed and returned to the Reform Movement. Even Fred Williams, who carried the main responsibility in that agitation, admitted that he had done wrong. Later he became reconciled with the brethren and died as a faithful member of our church.

 

Portugal: A. Rieck, who had been the General Conference secretary from 1934 through 1948, and who was the leader of the work in Portugal when trouble started in Germany, sided with Brother Adamczak in his opposition to Brethren Kozel and Mueller. Brother Kozel went to Lisbon, Portugal, to try and correct Brother Rieck, and, if possible, remedy the situation. An interview took place August 4, 1949. Brother Kozel had no success. This division continued until the death of Brother Rieck (1960?).

 

Romania: Before the General Conference session in 1948, the enemy caused some disturbance among our brethren in Romania. There was an accusation against the Union president. Albert Mueller, the General Conference president, accepted the findings of the other leading brethren of the Romanian Union, who were not able to convict their president. Brother Mueller believed the claim of innocence of that brother and never bothered to investigate the matter. For this cause, a group of protesting brethren separated themselves from the church. There were two parties since l946. Brother Kozel was informed about it, as one of his letters shows (Nov. 11, 1946). The problem remained unsolved until 1956, when Brother Nicolici was able to visit Romania. Although the accused leader never admitted the charge brought against him, there were other reasons which required or justified his disfellowshipment.

 

South Africa and Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe): The Union president violated point 18 of ourPrinciples of Faith (1925), becoming unfit, not only for the ministry, but also for membership. To settle the problem, A. Mueller, the General Conference vice president, accompanied by S. Eggarter, was sent to that area in 1950. Brother Mueller only removed the guilty man from the presidency, not withdrawing his ministerial credentials. And those who protested against this "solution" were disfellowshiped. In spite of repeated appeals, the problem was left uncorrected by the General Conference president. Result: Separation in South Africa and growing tension among some of the leaders of the Reform Movement.

 

United States: The leaders of the American Union had serious objections against the methods of three successive General Conference presidents, Brethren W. Maas, A. Mueller, and C. Kozel. They complained especially about the bureaucracy, the authoritarianism, the kingly power, which they said was evident in the brethren in high offices. Finally, Brother Kozel decided to take action against them. They were disfellowshiped in the presence and with the approval of Brother Kozel (March 4, 1949). Concerning this unfortunate experience, the leaders of the American Union wrote in their circular letter of April 12, 1949:

 

"As Brother Kozel has repeatedly demanded ‘unconditional submission’ as the only way to unity, without the slightest hint of a possible agreement, we ask: Is this procedure based on a Christian and democratic principle? Or does this remind us of the spirit which is predominant in worldly dictatorships? . . . It is apparent to us that, because of selfish interests, the work of God is now going through a serious crisis. . . . Without any investigation of the difficulties, we have been separated from the Reform [Movement] through an arbitrary act."

 

These were the major local divisions that existed under the administration of Brethren Mueller and Kozel.

 

General Conference Incorporated in the USA

Resolution adopted by the GC delegation in session, 1948, about the establishment of the GC headquarters in the United States.
Decision about acceptance of the Constitution and Bylaws for the incorporation of the SDA Reform Movement General Conference in the United States (From the GC minute book, April 4, 1949).

The fifth General Conference delegation made the following resolution (July 15, 1948):

 

"We the undersigned delegates of the General Conference empower the Executive Committee–the president, vice president, and secretary–to revise the Constitution of our Movement in harmony with the law and the Testimonies, and also to respect and include the points of doctrine upon which we agreed at this conference, and also to formulate the Constitution Rules and Regulations upon which our Movement is to function, and also to express clearly the way of our organization as a Movement."

 

During the 1948 General Conference session, the delegates, assembled in the name of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement General Conference, also decided to transfer the General Conference headquarters to the United States, as previously mentioned. The Reform Movement, as a worldwide organization, was incorporated in Sacramento, California, USA, on April 8, 1949. The General Conference office was established at 3031 Franklin Boulevard, Sacramento, California.

 

The Great Shaking (1951–1952)

For one year after the disagreement which occurred in May 1951, there was a peculiar situation which does not exist today: There were two groups of leaders in conflict with each other, but only one denomination, the SDA Reform Movement General Conference, with headquarters in Sacramento, California, USA, with which both groups professed to remain affiliated until May 1952. And, according to an agreement signed by both parties right after the second lawsuit (May 7, 1952), both sides recognized each other as members and leaders of only one and the same corporation, as just mentioned, one year after the conference of May 1951.

 

There have been two corporations only since June 6, 1952, when Brethren Kozel, Mueller and Ringelberg reorganized themselves separately from our Unions and Fields, without any delegation, but together with the disfellowshiped Denver leaders. This is what led to the formation of a separate corporation, the International Missionary Society with worldwide headquarters in Denmark and later in Germany. Through the shaking that took place in those days, the SDA Reform Movement lost a little over 2,000 souls.

 

Fourth Period: 1955 –

After the disagreement of May 1951, we thought that the election of two separate General Conference Committees, under the same name, within the same corporation, would be regarded as only a temporary measure until the convening of a new delegation session, with a legal majority of representatives of the membership from both sides, for a joint election of only one General Conference Committee, as required by principle (Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 237). But the leaders of the separated brethren did not take that for granted. They decided that their decisions and actions, though one-sided and based on a minority of the membership, were to be definite and irrevocable, regardless of the principle which says that "the entire body of believers," through its legally appointed delegates "from all parts of the earth" (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 96; Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 261), is the voice of God, the highest authority on earth.

 

General Conference headquarters of the SDA Reform Movement, Sacramento, California, USA (1949-1969).

Therefore, the impasse between the two parties has hinged on the following question which we have often put to the leaders of those brethren: Do you agree that all the Unions and Fields together, through their legally elected representatives, respecting the principle of equal rights and duties (Matthew 7:12; Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, pp. 134–137), have had authority, from the beginning of the crisis, to revise and correct the decisions and actions of the divided leaders (both sides) who could not come to an agreement in 1951? Or do you expect us to recognize as final authority the unilateral resolutions and actions of those leaders (Brethren Kozel, Mueller, and their supporters and successors) who could not see the need to "labor in harmony with the decisions arrived at by the general body of believers in united council" (The Acts of the Apostles, p. 199)?

 

Constitution, Bylaws, and Fundamental Beliefs of the SDA Reform Movement General Conference (beginning of first page and end of last page), signed April 8, 1949.
Certificate of Incorporation of the SDA Reform Movement General Conference, April 8, 1949, issued by the state of California, USA.

The fact that the first alternative has been rejected, as if our Unions and Fields had no voice in the solution of the crisis, and that the second alternative has been maintained since May 1951, is the reason why, until now, there has been no solution to the impasse.

 

However, we have not remained indifferent toward our separated brethren. Again and again we assured them that we still love them and that we are seriously interested in a genuine reconciliation and reunification on the basis of the truth, and in the way ordained of the Lord, namely, through a joint election of the General Conference officers (Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 237), at a legal General Conference delegation session. Dating from October 10, 1951, our position was made clear to them, repeatedly, as follows:

 

The highest authority of God on earth–an assembly of legally elected representatives from all the Unions and Fields (both sides together)–should examine the facts that caused the division for which both sides blame each other and withdraw the "thorns" from the "wound." Corrections must be made wherever needed. Right principles must be restored and wrong principles must be discarded.

 

Since the great shaking (1948–1952), which was deplored by some and applauded by others, it has been our great concern to restore fundamental principles which belong to the people of God, such as: the moral integrity of the ministry, which had been unfortunately neglected for years before 1951; the unity of the faith (if anyone advocates divorce and remarriage, for example, he cannot occupy a position in the leadership); the true concept of "General Conference" and the authority of the church (according to Principles of Faith, part III, section D; Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 26, and vol. 3, p. 451; The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 96, 199, 200; Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 16); the golden rule (Matthew 7:12; Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, pp. 134–137; The Desire of Ages, p. 414; Sketches from the Life of Paul, p. 69); elimination of all traces of authoritarianism or Romanism (Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 361, 362).

 

By the help of God, we obtained specific answers to these questions: Do delegates have authority to disfellowship delegates from the church at a General Conference session (The Desire of Ages, pp. 441, 805, 806;Testimonies, vol. 7, pp. 263, 264; Early Writings, p. 100)? Do a few delegates, representing only a small minority of the membership, have authority to form an exclusive group and organize themselves separately by refusing a joint reorganization (Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 237; Selected Messages, bk. 2, p. 374)? When there is a serious disagreement at the General Conference level, do a few leaders have authority to refuse to submit the problem to the legal authority of the church by refusing to listen to the voice of the whole body of believers in a general assembly of representatives (The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 96, 199, 200; Testimonies, vol. 9, p. 261) and bring the matter before a worldly court (Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 248, 249; Manuscript Releases, vol. 5, pp. 296, 413, 415, 418; Special Testimonies, Series B, No. 7, p. 27)? These are some of the controversial issues which also involve principles and which lie at the cause of the division.

 

The leadership of the separated brethren, also, defined their position on the basis of Brother Kozel’s letter of March 16, 1955, in answer to our renewed appeal for a settlement of the impasse:

 

"If they want peace, then there is only one way: They must dissolve their General Conference and their churches; give back to us the properties that they have stolen; and send back to our churches the honest members who are imbued with a spirit of sincere repentance. Then, after a long period of probation, they may be accepted back into the church, but without offices. Of course, they will not go this way of humiliation through the desert."

 

This stand has been taken by the leaders of the separated brethren, officially, from the very beginning of the crisis, when both sides still formed one and the same denomination, when they still professed to belong to one and the same corporation together with us (agreement signed May 7, 1952). Although the majority of their most responsible leaders have confirmed this position again and again, even in writing, some of their leaders have admitted to us their disappointment. They can see that this attitude does not have the approval of God, who warned us through His servant:

 

"Is the president of the General Conference to be the god of the people? . . . The Lord has a controversy with His people over this matter. Why have they left the Lord their God . . . ? Just as soon as man is placed where God should be . . . his powers become unsanctified and perverted. He feels competent to judge his fellowmen, and he strives unlawfully to be a god over them. . . . Men, saved only by the atoning sacrifice of Christ Jesus, have no right to seek to exalt themselves above their fellowmen."–Testimonies to Ministers, pp. 375–378.

 

"To no man has been appointed the work of being a ruler over his fellowmen."–Ibid., p.495. Read also pp. 279, 280.

 

"That which makes me feel to the very depths of my being, and makes me know that their works are not the works of God, is that they [finite men] suppose they have authority to rule their fellowmen. The Lord has given them no more right to rule others than He has given others to rule them. Those who assume the control of their fellowmen take into their finite hands a work that devolves upon God alone."– Ibid., p.76.

 

The spirit which engendered this type of difficulties in the Reform Movement did not begin its work in 1951; it existed much earlier. The leaders of the American Union (Brethren Welp, Doerschler, Kramer) were the first to denounce this form of "corruption" (this is the term that they used) in their letters and circular letters (from the second half of 1948 to the beginning of 1952). This strange spirit was gaining ground much earlier, in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, when God used His servant to sound the alarm: "The General Conference is itself becoming corrupted with wrong sentiments and principles. . . . Common fire has been used in place of the sacred. . . . Men have taken unfair advantage of those whom they supposed to be under their jurisdiction. They were dertermined to bring the individuals to their terms; they would rule or ruin. . . . The highhanded power that has been developed, as though position has made men gods, makes me afraid. . . . It is a curse wherever and by whomsoever it is exercised."– Ibid., pp.359–361.

 

Since the beginning of the great shaking, we have realized that we were not the only ones who were struggling to see strange principles discarded and holy principles restored. And today (1996) we are more hopeful than ever, because many of the separated brethren, with whom we stand on good terms, assure us that they, too, are doing their part. Sooner or later, the honest and faithful SDA Reformers from both sides, who have the principles of Christ’s kingdom restored in their hearts, together with all other sincere and reform-minded Adventists, who are also lifting up the standards of truth, will be united in one fold (John 10:16).

 

1955 – 1959

As the work was growing, new steps had to be taken in the interest of the furtherance of the message of reformation.

During a General Conference Executive Committee meeting held in Sacramento, California, USA, in March 1958, an important decision was made. It was agreed that, in our future Sabbath School quarterlies, we would use only the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy. And this method has had the wholehearted approval of our brethren in general and of many reform-minded Adventists who study our lessons.

 

Another point on the agenda was the need to attend Union Conference sessions in several countries and to visit new fields in answer to repeated Macedonian calls. It was decided that A. Lavrik would go to Europe to conduct conference sessions in Germany, Yugoslavia, and Austria, and to follow up interests in other countries, particularly Spain and Portugal, while D. Nicolici would go to such countries as Nigeria, South Africa, India, Philippines, and Australia.

 

Early in 1958 there was some agitation in the SDA denomination because of the ideas brought out in the book Questions on Doctrine. Seeing the need, we printed and distributed on a large scale the pamphlet After Seventy Years, which awakened widespread interest and met with a wonderful response from many Adventists in different places. This increased not only the office work of the responsible brethren but also their traveling.

 

While Brother Nicolici was in Nigeria, he was in continual contact with the General Conference office, keeping us informed of the development of the work there. And many of us thought that a wonderful work had been started in that country. But that which seemed to be a great success was not a success at all. The men who Brother Nicolici thought could be trusted proved to be untrustworthy. Through our disappointment we learned one more lesson–the need for much more caution.

 

When Brother Nicolici arrived in South Africa, he had to face a crisis. Under the influence of E. Jans, the brethren there were divided. A few days later, we received official news at the General Conference office that unity had been restored, and that Brother Jans had apologized for his unsuccessful management of church affairs and for the way he and his father-in-law, O. Schallge, had dealt with the members. Brother Jans, who seemed to be reconciled with the leadership of the Reform Movement, was nevertheless separated from the church, but he found his way back after a few years.

 

While Brother Nicolici was still in South Africa, a telegram arrived at the General Conference office saying that he was critically ill. He was down with malaria, with which he had been infected in Nigeria, and had to be taken to the hospital. With sorrowful hearts this news had to be imparted to the new fields that were anxiously awaiting his arrival. All our Union Conferences were informed about Brother Nicolici’s condition, and prayers were offered by our believers everywhere in behalf of his restoration. With great anxiety the brethren at the General Conference office waited for further news day after day. As no news came, they made a phone call to find out how Brother Nicolici was doing, and, on hearing his voice, they were assured that he was on the way to recovery.

 

When his work in South Africa was finished, Brother Nicolici was able to continue his trip as scheduled. In the same year, 1958, he visited India, Sri Lanka, and the Philippines. That was the first time that these countries received the visit of one of our workers. In India, some contacts were made and the precious seed of the present truth was sown, but a major harvest did not appear until many years later. In the Philippines, immediate results were seen.

 

In Europe, Brother Lavrik made important contacts in Portugal and Spain. In Barcelona, Spain, he organized a little group of Reform believers. The question, Who will be sent to several new fields in answer to the call for workers? was left for the prospective General Conference session to be held in 1959.

 

1959 – 1963

During the General Conference session, 1959, an agreement was made that the General Conference Executive Committee would be responsible for appointing the missionaries to be sent to the new fields. Accordingly, Alex N. Macdonald accepted the call to go to Nigeria and Joao Devai volunteered to go to Portugal.

 

The call for a missionary to the Philippines became very urgent. So the General Conference Executive Committee asked I. W. Smith if he would be willing to go there for a period of time. He and his wife accepted the call. They made nearly all the preparations necessary for their journey. They sold their furniture and their car. Their passage was booked and paid for. And they were prepared to sail shortly after the conference in Sacramento, June 1960. At the conference, however, Brother Smith was asked to take charge of the American Field. He said he accepted that responsibility with great reluctance because his heart was in the Philippines.

 

Under those conditions, the sending of a missionary to the Philippines was delayed for one more year, until John Nicolici and his wife offered themselves to go there for two years.

 

To develop the work in Central America, the Executive Committee appointed a minister from Argentina, Carmelo Palazzolo. He settled down with his family in Guatemala City, Guatemala, in 1962. Before their arrival in Guatemala, colporteurs from Argentina and from Peru had already done a good deal of pioneering work in several Central American countries for three years.

 

Since the arrival of Brother Lavrik in the United States, in 1959, to assume his new responsibility, there was a tense atmosphere in Sacramento, California. The problem, which involved both the General Conference administration and the American Field Conference, had its origin in a decision made at the General Conference session of 1959, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, establishing the merger plan.

In 1960, the work in the United States was reorganized on an experimental basis, which at that time was called "the merger."

Soon after Brother Lavrik arrived in USA, the General Conference Executive Committee began working to formulate a plan for the merger of the American Union Conference with the General Conference. The hope of the brethren was that this plan would give greater force to the work in the United States and that our membership would be built up both to the benefit of the local interests and of the General Conference administration.

 

In their first efforts to carry the plan through, they saw good possibility of success, as all had given their agreement to the general idea of a merger, but it was in the implementation of this plan that differences began to take shape.

 

In the merger plan, one of the first decisions made for the development of the local work was to form an Education Department and to start missionary training classes, as well as an elementary school. This project was started at the beginning of 1960. Brother Smith was appointed to be one of the teachers in the missionary training course which lasted over six months.

 

To implement the merger plan, a combined form of organization and administration was adopted by the delegation at the conference in Sacramento (June 1960). It was agreed that this arrangement would be kept up until the next General Conference session, 1963, when a final decision would be taken on the matter. Under this temporary plan the General Conference was to take the responsibility for the state of California excepting two counties, while all the rest of the territory of the United States would form the American Field Conference. The experimental period proved that the merger plan was not viable.

 

In 1960, letters and reports received at the General Conference office showed that the worldwide interest in the message of reformation was growing continually, and our ministers, workers, as well as many lay members felt the burden of bringing the message to those who were hungering and thirsting for the truth.

 

The brethren at the General Conference office continued to keep in contact with the new fields, to maintain the work and interest that had been started; but, alas!, there were no missionaries available to locate in those places. Another handicap at that time was that of insufficient funds for the work in foreign missions. Our native pastors and evangelists, who were doing their best to carry on the work in their respective countries, were in great difficulty because they had very little means of support or transportation facilities. Some money was sent to them from the General Conference office, as well as clothing, Bibles, and other literature. Forty-five parcels were sent out in one of the shipments from Sacramento. But what the brethren had been able to do from the USA was almost like a drop in a bucket compared with what it would have taken to firmly establish the work in those countries.

 

Special mention should be made of the sacrifices of our brethren in Canada, Germany, and other Unions to support our new missionary fields. Considerable sums of money, as well as clothing, books, and tracts were sent to Africa, India, and the Philippines.

 

We came to the end of the administrative period 1959–1963 with thankful hearts, because we had new evidences that the merciful hand of God was with His people.

 

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.

 

1967 – 1971

Due to the fact that the area where the General Conference office was located (3031 Franklin Boulevard, Sacramento, California, USA) was becoming more and more deteriorated, the office was temporarily moved to Los Angeles (1969) and then to Blackwood, New Jersey (1970).

 

General Conference headquarters, Blackwood, New Jersey, USA (1970–1984).

A parcel of land (30 acres with several buildings on it, plus two more buildings added later) was purchased by the Eastern US Field in the area of Franklinville, New Jersey, about 20 miles from Blackwood. For a number of years, the offices of the General Conference operated from that property. It was thought, at first, that these two properties would satisfy the needs of our General Conference administration. But, after a few years, the increase in industrial pollution and the deterioration of the area showed the need to find a better place.

 

Workers transferred during the quadrennium 1967–1971: A. N. Macdonald moved from Nigeria to USA in 1967; F. Devai and family, from Argentina to USA in 1968; and A. C. Sas and family from Brazil to Australia in 1969. At first Brother Sas worked only for the Australasian Union; later his services were required in the new Fields which were opened in the Asian-Pacific Region.

 

1971 – 1975

Three new Fields were opened during the period 1971–1975–Zaire (1972), Indonesia (1973), and South Korea (1975–1978).

 

In 1972, A. Balbach and family were transferred from Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Sacramento, California, USA, where he was given ministerial and editorial responsibilities. J. Devai and his family were transferred from Portugal back to South America. F. Devai Papp and family were sent from Uruguay to Portugal to take the place of J. Devai. In 1974, Noboru Sato was sent from Brazil to Japan to start the work in his native country.

 

By a decision of the General Conference Executive Committee (1972), the editorial work in connection with the Standard Bearer, a magazine of general interest, was given to Brother Balbach. He was also requested to prepare a series of studies for SDAs. After all the improvements recommended by the Literature Review Committee had been made, the Good Way Series, comprising 13 studies, were finally given to the Publishing Department at the end of 1988.

 

Brethren A. C. Sas and C. T. Stewart were given the responsibility of preparing a draft for two publications (1974)–The Ministerial Guide, setting forth the duties of ministers, and The Church Officers’ Guide, dealing with the duties of church officers. The manuscripts were submitted to the General Conference session in 1975. The delegation placed them into the hands of a special committee for improvement. These two materials were printed and sent to the Unions and Fields in 1982.

 

1975 – 1979

From 1975 through 1979 the Lord helped us organize the work in three new fields–Dominican Republic (1976), South India (1976), and South Korea (1978).

 

The need for a book dealing with the history of the Reform Movement had often been mentioned. For the first time (November 1975), the General Conference Executive Committee took a positive step in this direction and resolved that the General Conference secretary be authorized to collect from the Unions and Fields as much data as possible concerning the history of the Reform Movement. Unions, Fields and individual persons were approached for this purpose. Information and pictures were collected little by little, and the brother in charge started writing the book (this present book) in 1986.

 

The General Conference Executive Committee discussed (March 17, 1976) the possibility of establishing a missionary training center in Europe. In this connection, the German Union submitted a plan which was to answer the needs of the European countries as follows: A nine-month training program to be divided into three parts–three months of theoretical instructions, three months of practical work, and again three months of theory. This work began in Hofheim, near Frankfurt, on May 16, 1976. A minister (Gabrijel Popek) from Yugoslavia was invited to attend so that he could later organize and conduct a similar training program in his country. The plan was carried into effect with success. There was an attendance of about 15 students. It is to be regretted that this plan was not continued.

 

In harmony with a decision of the General Conference Executive Committee (March 1976), Daniel Dumitru spent about two months in Southern Africa (end of July through end of September 1976) training colporteurs and testing the market for our books. That was to be a preparatory step for the sending of colporteurs from Brazil to South Africa at that time. For several reasons, however, the carrying out of the plan was delayed until 1986, when the first Brazilian canvassers arrived in South Africa and began to work with much success.

 

In view of the reasons for our existence as the prophesied Reform Movement, the General Conference Executive Committee decided (September 20, 1977) to instruct our editors and preachers to put more emphasis on the message of Christ’s Righteousness and to show more clearly the relationship between faith and obedience.

 

In 1979, immediately before the General Conference session, an international youth congress took place at Bushkill, Pennsylvania, USA, August 31 through September 2, 1979.

 

The following workers were transferred during the administrative period 1975–1979: Pablo Briones, from Peru to Mexico (1978); Milivoj Dimitrijevic, from the Philippines to Australia (1979); Francisco Devai Papp, from Portugal to Argentina (1979).

 

1979 – 1983

In 1975 our Publishing Department (Reformation Herald Publishing Association) printed large quantities of the following paperbacks for distribution:

The Great Controversy (also in Spanish)
The Desire of Ages (also in Spanish)
Health and Happiness (The Ministry of Healing)
Steps to Christ (also in Spanish)

Calls from Sri Lanka were answered, and a little group of Reform believers was established in 1980–1981.

In 1982 the Central American Field was reorganized as follows: Guatemala and El Salvador became one Mission (the Guatemalan Mission), and Honduras became a Field by itself (the Missionary Field of Honduras).

In 1982–1983 the work of Reform was established in French Polynesia.

Until 1983 we had only one missionary school in South America–the one in Brazil–where also some students from other countries received a training. The need for a missionary training center in a Spanish-speaking area, for young men and women from all Hispanic countries, was often considered. Such a school was established, with the help of God and the assistance of the General Conference, at Puente Piedra, near Lima, Peru, in 1983.

 

In 1979, N. S. Brittain, with his family, was transferred from Australia to South Africa, and I. W. Smith from South Africa to USA. Moises Quiroga, from Brazil, worked in Iberia (Portugal and Spain) for one year (1980–1981). Pablo Briones could not get a resident visa in Mexico; so he moved to Honduras (1981). Esmeraldo Heredia was transferred from Chile to Portugal (1982), and Jung Kum Bai from Korea to the United States (1982).

 

1983 – 1987

Temporarily (1984–1995), the General Conference used several small buildings on a 10-acre lot that was secured for the building of the GC headquarters (Roanoke, Virgina, USA). In front of one of these buildings are the members of the GC Council elected in 1983.

Until 1983 we did not have any members in Northeast India. But, toward the end of 1983, the Lord opened the way and the message found access to that area.

 

Early in 1983, one more country was reached by the message of reformation. W. Volpp, and later N. S. Brittain, visited Kenya, East Africa, and confirmed the souls that were waiting for our representatives. A. C. Sas was there in 1985, when a substantial number of souls were added to the church. In 1995, we had over ten workers spreading the message in Kenya.

 

For many years we had interested people in Burma, but were not able to get a visa to visit them. A door was opened for the first time in 1985, when a minister from North India Mission, who has no problem getting across the border, spent over two months with them, baptized those that were ready, and organized a group.

 

Also, in 1984, the General Conference headquarters were transferred from Blackwood, New Jersey, to Roanoke, Virginia.

 

The following workers were transferred during the quadrennium 1983–1987: Brethren Chang Chong Kyu, from the Philippines to the USA (1985); Kim Jung Shin, from Korea to Japan (1984); Herinaldo Gomes, from Brazil to Venezuela (1985) and later to Ecuador; Dorival Dumitru from Brazil to Puerto Rico (1985).

 

1987 – 1991

The work in Martinique and Guadeloupe, overseas departments of France, in the West Indies, was started in 1987, when Edgar Mariassouce, from French Polynesia, accepted the call to locate in Martinique.

 

The Samoan Islands, in the Pacific Ocean, were reached by the message of reformation in 1988, when A. C. Sas baptized a few souls and organized a group.

 

Angola, West Africa, received our visit for the first time in 1990. A group of reform-minded Adventists were baptized and organized by Jorai P. da Cruz from Portugal (January–February 1990).

 

In Mozambique, East Africa, the first group of Reformers was organized by Rubens de J. Araujo in 1990.

 

Important contacts were made in mainland China, Taiwan, Ghana, Malawi and French Guyana. The most promising of these missionary fields, in 1991, seemed to be China.

 

The Andean Union was dissolved in September 1988, and the three countries which formed that Union (Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela) were reorganized as Fields directly attached to the General Conference, with the agreement that they would work to become Union Conferences as early as practicable.

 

The Danube Union was dissolved in September 1990, and the three countries that integrated that Union were reorganized as follows: Hungarian Field and Poland-Czechoslovakia Field.

 

The Trans-African Union Mission was dissolved in March 1991, and its constituent Fields (Botswana, Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Natal-Transvaal, and Resda) were directly attached to the General Conference as autonomous Fields.

 

In January 1990, while Brethren W. Volpp and A. N. Macdonald were visiting Ghana and Nigeria, West Africa, Brother Macdonald became ill. Feeling better, he decided to go on a local trip, while Brother Volpp proceeded to Kenya. Upon his return from his trip, Brother Macdonald felt suddenly worse and died in the home of G. R. Harrison, our leading brother in Nigeria.

 

In compliance with a resolution made by the General Conference Council in 1988, a missionary course was conducted in Graz, Austria, from November 14, 1989 through June 20, 1990. There was an attendance of nine students from different countries. It was planned that this seminar would be a preliminary step in the establishment of a missionary school in Europe. Of those nine students, four were employed in the work of the church after the seminar.

 

Presidents of the Seventh Day Adventist Reform Movement General Conference: Otto Welp (1925–1934), Wilhelm Maas (1934–1942), Albert Mueller (1942–1948), Carlos Kozel (1948–1951), Dumitru Nicolici (1951–1959), Andrei Lavrik (1959–1963), Clyde T. Stewart (1963–1967), Francisco Devai (1967–1979), Wilhelm Volpp (1979–1983), Joao Moreno (1983–1991), Neville S. Brittain(1991–1995), Alfredo C. Sas (1995– ).

In the early part of 1990, an important problem was settled among the Romanian brethren. A large portion of the membership, forming three Field Conferences, complained that they were not integrated, as they had no representation, when the Romanian Union Conference was reorganized in 1984, under prohibitive circumstances. After the revolution in Romania, when religious liberty was granted to the people, a special effort was made to reconcile those Fields with the Union. By the grace of God, unity was restored in April-May 1990.

 

During the period 1987–1991, transfers of workers occurred as follows: Brethren N. S. Brittain, from South Africa to Australia (1988); Rubens de J. Araujo, from Brazil to South Africa (1988); A. C. Sas, from Australia to USA (1989); Jorai P. da Cruz, from Brazil to Portugal (1989); Esmeraldo Heredia, from Portugal to Chile (1989); Jose Angel Senior, from the Dominican Republic to Spain (1989); Emilson Motta, from Chile to Italy (1990).

 

In coordination with each other, the North American Fields, the German Union, and the General Conference sent 10,000 Bibles to Romania in 1990; 2,000 of these Bibles were designated for our Romanian-speaking brethren in Moldavia.

 

During the same administrative period (1987–1991), our colporteurs (in 22 countries) sold about 2,500,000 books worth about 12 million dollars.

 

Thanks to the political changes that took place in Europe from 1987 through 1991, religious freedom was restored in Romania, Russia, and Bulgaria. In these countries, our people are now free to hold their meetings and services openly and legally. But the question is: for how long?

Blessed be the Lord for His help! We have often seen the presence of His merciful hand with us. The cause is His, and He will take care of His work.

 

1991 – 1995

In the early part of 1991, the SDA Reform Movement with headquarters in Roanoke, Virginia, USA, and the International Missionary Society with headquarters in Mosbach, Germany, appointed representatives from each side for the so-called Unification Committee. Peace dialogues were started and a unification plan was adopted on the basis of three agreements signed in 1991. But, during the IMS delegation session held in Ecuador, March–April 1993, the hard-liners carried the majority of votes; and the unification plan already accepted by both General Conference Councils, according to the three agreements, was rejected.

 

Our second international youth congress was held in the beautiful Waldensian valley, at a place called Bobbio Pelice, near Turin, Italy, in August 1994. There were attendants from many Unions and Fields, even from distant countries, such as Australia, Brazil, India, Korea.

 

Temporarily (1984–1995), the General Conference used several small buildings on a 10-acre lot that was secured for the building of the GC headquarters (Roanoke, Virgina, USA). In front of one of these buildings are the members of the GC Council elected in 1983.

Workers transferred during the quadrennium 1991–1995: Chang Won Jun (Nehemiah), from the United States to Japan (1991); Herinaldo Gomes, from Ecuador to Brazil (1992); Luiz Araujo, from Brazil to Portugal (1994); Emilson Motta, from Italy to Brazil (1995).

General Conference headquarters, Roanoke, Virginia, USA, dedicated in 1995.

An important feat which was accomplished in 1994 was the distribution of two challenging books, The Great Controversy (over 300,000 copies) and The New World Order (over 4,000,000 copies), in cooperation with an independent Adventist ministry of reform-minded brethren, in twelve or more countries. The results were encouraging. While there were some negative responses from bigoted individuals who were enraged at the contents of these books, a great number of letters were received from people who wanted to know more about the truth and especially about the impending crisis which is coming upon the world. Many doors were thus opened for Bible studies.

 

Another important accomplishment during this administrative period was the building of the edifice for the General Conference headquarters in Roanoke, Virginia, USA, in l994–l995.