African American Seventh-day Adventist Timeline
Compiled by Benjamin Baker
May 20-23: 1st General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
May 21: The Seventh-day Adventist Church is officially organized and incorporated.
End Membership: 3,500
May 16: E.L. Barr dies.
May 18-May 21, 1864: 2nd General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
August 30: Adventists petition the United States government for non-combatant status during Civil War.
End Membership: 3,800
May 17: 3rd General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
May 23: General Conference Session resolves: “That a field is now opened in the South for labor among the colored people and should be entered upon according to our ability.”
December 25: Ellen White receives vision to establish a health institution.
End Membership: 4,000
May 16-17: 4th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
June 12: The Visions—Objections Answered by Uriah Smith is published.
September 5: Western Health Reform Institute in Battle Creek, Michigan, opens for patients.
End Membership: 4,250
May 14-May 19: 5th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
End Membership: 4,320
May 12-May 18: 6th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
December 25: John West, believed to be the second black Seventh-day Adventist minister, dies in Peterboro, New York.
Beginning Membership: 4,320
End Membership: 4,475
May 18-24: 7th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Beginning Membership: 4,475
End Membership: 4,900
March 15-20: 8th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
December 20: William Hawkins Green is born in Lewisburg, North Carolina.
T&O (1866-1870): $103,157
Beginning Membership: 4,900
End Membership: 5,440
February 7-February 12: 9th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
May 2: Elbert B. Lane, the first Adventist minister in the South, reports in the Review and Herald of holding meetings in a depot in Edgefield Junction, Tennessee, with "white people occupying one room, and the Colored the other." Black Baptist minister Harry Lowe embraces Adventism at the meetings.
December 29, 1871-January 3, 1872: 10th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Beginning Membership: 5,440
End Membership: 4,550
December 29, 1872-January 3, 1873: 10th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Beginning Membership: 4,550
End Membership: 4,901
March 11-March 14: 11th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
November 14-November 16: 12th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Beginning Membership: 4,901
End Membership: 5,875
March 4: Anna Knight is born to Newton and Georgeanne Knight in Jones County, Mississippi.
June 4: First issue of Signs of the Times, edited by James White, is published in Oakland, California.
August 10-August 15: 13th General Conference Session is held in Battle Creek, Michigan.
April 1: Silas Osborn reports in the Review and Herald of four black converts from meetings he held in Powder Mills, Kentucky.
August 15-August 18: 14th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
T&O (71-75): $147,690
Beginning Membership: N/A
End Membership: 8,042
March 31-April 6: 1st Special General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
June 10: Lottie Cornella Isbell Blake is born.
September 19-September 24: 15th General Conference Session, Lansing, Michigan.
November 12 and 13: 2nd Special General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Beginning Membership: 8,042
End Membership: 10,044
February 22: A report appears in the Review and Herald from Mrs. H.M. Van Slyke about a "colored school" in Ray County, Missouri, in which she taught black orphans to read the Bible.
May 24: William F. Minisee dies in Solon, Kent County, Michigan.
March 7: James Kemuel Humphrey is born.
September 20-September 28: 16th General Conference Session, Lansing, Michigan.
September 22: Lucille Lewis (later Byard) is born.
Beginning Membership: 10,044
End Membership: 11,608
January 3: C.O. Taylor reports in the Review and Herald that lawyer and planter W.F. Killen of Houston County, Georgia, is converted to the Adventist faith, along with his family. Killen states that "I have no trouble in getting my laborers (colored people) to keep it [the Sabbath]."
March 1-March 4: 3rd Special General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
March 14: C.O. Taylor reports in the Review and Herald that a black minister in Worth County, Georgia, is keeping the Sabbath.
October 4-October 16: 17th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Charles Kinny is baptized in Reno, Nevada, during a tent meeting conducted by J.N. Loughborough and guest speaker Ellen White.
Beginning Membership: 11,608
End Membership: 13,077
July 6: James Gershom (J.G.) Dasent is born.
November 7-December 1: 18th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Beginning Membership: 13,077
End Membership: 14,141
March 11-March 15: 5th Special General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
October 6-October 12: 19th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
T&O (76-80): $290,783
Beginning Membership: 14,141
End Membership: 15,570
August 6: James White dies.
August 22: W.F. Killen reports to the Review and Herald that "The colored man, Edmund Killen, is holding on firmly to the truth. I believe he will do right just as far as he knows. 1 would be glad if he were licensed to preach the truth among those of his race. He is certainly doing a good work among them. I baptized his wife the second Sunday in last June."
December 1-December 19: 20th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Beginning Membership: 15,570
End Membership: 16,916
April 3: George Albert King begins colporteur work with sale of first copy of Daniel and Revelation by Uriah Smith.
April 11: Healdsburg Academy (later Pacific Union College) opens in Healdsburg, California.
April 19, 1882: South Lancaster Academy, forerunner of Atlantic Union College, opens in Lancaster, Massachusetts.
December 7-December 19: 21st General Conference Session, Rome, New York.
Early Writings by Ellen White is published.
Beginning Membership: 16,916
End Membership: 17,169
October 21: John Nevins Andrews dies.
November 8: At the GC session J.O. Corliss reported that there were "sixty seven white Sabbath-keepers and twenty colored" in the South Atlantic Mission.
November 8-November 20: 22nd General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
November 26: Sojourner Truth dies.
The first black Adventist church is organized in Edgefield Junction, Tennessee, outside of Nashville.
Beginning Membership: 17,169
End Membership: 17,317
April: Almira S. Steele founds The Steele Home for Needy Children in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
October 30: 23rd General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Beginning Membership: 17,317
End Membership: 18,702
November 18-December 6: 24th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Testimonies for the Church, vols. 1-4, by Ellen G. White, are published.
T&O (1881-85): $561,699
Beginning Membership: 18,702
End Membership: 20,547
November 9: First congregation of Black SDAs organized at Edgefield Junction, Tennessee.
November 18-December 6: 25th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
Beginning Membership: 20,547
End Membership: 23,111
September 20-September 28: 26th General Conference Session, Oakland, California.
Beginning Membership: 23,111
End Membership: 25,841
June 8: William J. Hardy dies.
May 21: Arkansas Conference is organized.
October 17-November 8: 27th General Conference Session, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Beginning Membership: 25,841
End Membership: 26,112
October 5: Charles Kinny is ordained to the ministry at a camp meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the first black person ordained by the church. The concept of black conferences is first suggested by Charles Kinney when confronted by efforts to segregate him and his members at camp meeting on the day of his ordination. He suggests this as a way to work more effectively among blacks and to help deal with racial tensions and problems in the church.
October 18-November 5: 28th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
October 19: Mrs. Jessie Waggoner reports the following at the International Sabbath School Association at the GC session: "In Louisville, Ky. there is a nice little company of colored Sabbath-keepers. One of their little Sabbath- school scholars went out in the country on a visit among Sunday-keepers, andwhen it came Sabbath he took out his Bible and Lesson Book and began to study his lesson. This caused the people to ask him questions, and the result is several grown people are much interested in the truth."
October 25: The Committee on Home Mission took the following action at the GC session: "WHEREAS, There is an apparent need for a book written in an attractive style, profusely illustrated and handsomely bound, for use among the colored people of the South, therefore,
"We recommend that the General Conference secure the preparation of such a book at the earliest possible date: and further, we recommend that this book contain as nearly as possible a synopsis
of the Bible doctrines especially applicable at this time."
November 10: A committee of five were appointed to carry out the recommendation for the preparation of a book for African Americans.
“Fundamental Principles” appear in the 1889 SDA Yearbook.
Testimonies for the Church, volume 5, by Ellen White, is published.
Alphonso Barry organizes a company of black SDAs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Atlantic Conference is organized. SDA colporteur canvases Barbados.
Beginning Membership: 26,112
End Membership: 28,324
February 16, 1890: The Louisville Seventh-day Adventist church is organized, the second black Seventh-day Adventist church in the world.
James Alexander Chiles opens law practice in Lexington, becoming the first black to practice law in the state of Kentucky.
Marshall Enoch pioneers Adventist work in Bermuda.
T.B. Buckner begins ministerial work the South.
T&O (81-90): $1,436,016
Beginning Membership: 8,324
End Membership: 29,711
March 5-March 25: 29th General Conference Session is held in Battle Creek, Michigan.
March 6: R.M. Kilgore, superintendent of District No. 2 (comprising nine Southern states), at the General Conference session, makes the following appeal: "I would call the attention of this Conference to the fact that in all the educational work connected with the denomination no provision has been made for the development or workers to labor especially among the colored people. Here is one race of people within our own borders, for whom we as a people, have done very little.
We therefore urge upon this Conference the consideration of this matter, and ask this body to make
some provision for the training of workers from the rank and file of this people, to labor effectually with those of their own race. We repeat, that in no section of the country can there be a more pressing demand, or a louder call for school advantages, than that which comes from this portion of our land."
March 21: Ellen White delivers “Our Duty to the Colored People” address to General Conference contingent.
September 21: Bridgetown SDA Church (Barbados) is formed.
September 30: Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, is opened.
November 12: Ellen White departs United States for Australia.
December 23: Ellen White and entourage arrive in Australia.
Beginning Membership: 29,711
End Membership: 31,665
February 20: Graysville Academy, forerunner of Southern Adventist University, opened in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
November 1: Ruth Janetta Temple is born in Natchez, Mississippi.
Henry S. Shaw is appointed as a special agent by the General Conference to evangelize blacks in the South.
James Patterson sets sail for Jamaica, becoming the first black Adventist to be sent from the United States to do missionary work.
L.C. Chadwick enters Cape Verde, believed to have been the first SDA to do so.
Black Membership: c. 50
Beginning Membership: 31,665
End Membership: 33,778
January 31: John Loughborough speaks of William Foy at length at the General Conference Session held in Battle Creek, Michigan
February 17-March 6: 30th General Conference Session, Battle Creek.
June 28: Louis Harold Bland is born.
August 13: Eva Beatrice Dykes is born.
October 22: Thomas Milton Rowe is born.
November 9: William Foy dies in Plantation #7, Maine. He is buried in Birch Tree Cemetery in East Sullivan, Maine
C.H. Richards and his wife begin canvassing the Bahamas.
Beginning Membership: 33,778
End Membership: 37,404
January 7: Keene Industrial School, forerunner of Southwestern Adventist University, opens in Keene, Texas.
March 10: Construction of Morning Star mission steamer begins.
June 15: James L. Moran
July: Morning Star is launched.
Beginning Membership: 37,404
End Membership: 42,763
February 8: Natelkka Burrell is born.
February 15-March 4: 31st General Conference Session is held in Battle Creek, Michigan.
August 10: Black SDA church in Vicksburg, Mississippi, is dedicated by General Conference president O.A. Olsen.
James Edson White opens the first church school for African Americans aboard the Morning Star, in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
Solusi Mission is established in Matebeleland, South Africa.
Beginning Membership: 42,763
End Membership: 47,680
January 23: Oakwood property is purchased by the General Conference.
June 23: General Conferences purchases property in Huntsville, Alabama, that would be the location of Oakwood.
July 18: Lewis C. Sheafe preaches first sermon as Seventh-day Adventist minister in Battle Creek Taberncle.
November 16: Oakwood Industrial School, forerunner of Oakwood University, opens in Huntsville, Alabama.
Beginning Membership: 47,680
End Membership: 52,202
February 19-March 8: 32nd General Conference Session is held in College View, Nebraska.
March 28: Lewis C. Sheafe is given ministerial credential and assigned to ministerial work in the South by the General Conference Committee.
Beginning Membership: 52,202
End Membership: 56,426
May: The Gospel Herald, a periodical on the black work in the South geared toward the evangelization of blacks, is published by Edson White in Yazoo City, Mississippi. Message, its successor, begins in 1934.
Bermuda Institute is established.
The Coming King by James Edson White is published.
The Southern Work, a compilation of Ellen G. White's publications on the black work, is published by James Edson White.
Beginning Membership: 56,426
End Membership: 59,347
February 15-March 7: 33rd General Conference Session, South Lancaster, Massachusetts.
March 4: Lewis C. Sheafe is ordained to the gospel ministry at the GC session in South Lancaster, Massachusetts, with J.N. Loughborough and G.I. Irwin presiding.
March-April: “Receive Ye the Holy Ghost” revival led by A.F. Ballenger brings about short-lived merger of black and white Adventist congregations into one church in Louisville, Kentucky.
T&O (91-1900): $3,680,164
Beginning Membership: 59,347
End Membership: 64,003