Timeline of Black Adventist History
Compiled by Benjamin Baker
November: Melvin C. Sturdevant enters Atlanta to work for blacks: colporteuring, preaching upon request, and starting a day school and night school.
Testimonies for the Church, volume 6, by Ellen White, is published.
Beginning Membership: 64,003
End Membership: 75,767
March 16: The first SDA church in Bermuda is organized.
April 2-April 23: 34th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.
April 4: Southern Publishing Association is established in Nashville, Tennessee.
April 11: Lewis C. Sheafe delivers a sermon at the GC session.
April 24: General Conference District No. 2 becomes the Southern Union Conference.
May 26: Anna Knight is sent to India as missionary, becoming the first black woman overseas missionary.
September 1: Carolina Conference is formed.
October 30: Emmanuel Missionary College, forerunner of Andrews University, opens in Berrien Springs, Michigan.
November 12: In Review and Herald Haskell reports on Adventism in New York City. There are four Adventist churches in New York City, four in Brooklyn, and two in Jersey City, totaling about 500 members. Haskell’s modus operandi was to start a Bible training school “to train and educate the workers themselves in canvassing, in visiting from house to house, in holding Bible readings, and in other ways, and have endeavored also to form as many little nuclei in the city as possible, where we can interest the people. We have labored to educate our brethren and sisters in the churches to go out and distribute tracts and hold Bible readings, that the seed may be scattered in all parts of the city.” With a team of 12, Haskell held meetings in his home, but soon managed to rent a hall “in the heart of the city” that accommodated 1,000 people. The Bible workers “gained access to many homes; a goodly number have already taken their stand for the truth” and “large quantities” of Adventist publications were scattered throughout the city.
Lewis Sheafe shares proposal for organization of “colored work” similarly to that proposed for German and Scandinavian language groups in U.S. not accepted.
The Gospel Herald Publishing Company becomes the Southern Publishing Association.
Beginning Membership: 75,767
End Membership: 78,188
January: GC president A.G. Daniells secures unrecorded agreement on race policy at Nashville session of Southern Union that “no effort be made to bring about an equality of the races” and calling for “separate meetings of the races in those parts of the country where it causes offense for them to mix.”
January: Lewis C. Sheafe becomes first black to serve on Oakwood board.
Spring: The General Conference Committee assigns ministers Lewis Sheafe and J.S. Washburn to conduct evangelistic meetings to begin separate black and white churches in Washington, D.C.
May: Lewis C. Sheafe begins ministry in Washington, D.C.
May-June: Evangelistic meetings are held for the black and white population in St. Louis, Missouri.
September: Washington, D.C. church divided in accordance with A.G. Daniells’ Nashville policy: approximately half of white members form Second (Memorial) while the other half remain with the black believers in the original congregation, renamed First Church.
September: Lewis C. Sheafe becomes pastor of the First SDA Church in Washington, D.C., an interracial congregation.
October 13: Arna Bontemps is born.
October 14: S.N. Haskell reports to Ellen White of the organization of the first black church in New York City.
A church of 14 blacks is organized in Kansas City, Kansas.
Testimonies for the Church, volume 7, by Ellen White, is published.
Thomas H. Branch is sent to Rhodesia as a missionary.
Beginning Membership: 78,188
End Membership: 73,522
March 27-April 13: 35th General Conference Session, Oakland, California.
April 19: The Second Atlanta Church of Seventh-day Adventists, the first black church in Georgia is organized in Atlanta.
May 23: Addison V. Pinkney, future president of Oakwood College, is born.
August 19: James K. Humphrey begins ministerial career holding a tent meeting in Harlem, New York City—becomes one of the most effective soul winner of any color.
December 3: Lewis Sheafe organizes the People's SDA Church in Washington, D.C., comprised of 51 members.
December 6: Lewis Sheafe establishes the People’s SDA Church in Washington, D.C., with 45 charter members, the third church in the nation’s capital.
December 16: Jasper Wayne starts first Ingathering campaign.
Franklin Henry Bryant publishes Black Smiles or the Sunny Side of Sable Life, the first book published by a black Seventh-day Adventist.
The General Conference and Review and Herald Publishing House relocate to Washington, D.C.
Washington First Church elder Andrew Kalstrom reports 122 black and 46 white members who “stand united before the world” as witness to the power of God to overcome racial prejudice.
Beginning Membership: 73,522
End Membership: 77,554
January 24: First black SDA church in Kansas is organized.
April: Lewis C. Sheafe visits with Ellen G. White in Takoma Park. She encourages him in his ministry.
Late June: Ellen White visits Oakwood for the first time and while there she addresses the student body twice.
October 1: The Madison school opens outside of Nashville, Tennessee.
November 30: Washington Missionary College, now Washington Adventist University, opens in Takoma Park, Maryland.
Testimonies for the Church, volume 8, by Ellen White, is published.
Beginning Membership: 77,554
End Membership: 81,721
May 11-May 30: 36th General Conference Session, Washington, D.C.
Summer: W.H. Green begins a tent effort for blacks in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
October 7: The first black Adventist church in New Orleans, comprised of 11 people, through the efforts of S.B. Horton.
Beginning Membership: 81,721
End Membership: 87,311
April: The People’s Church of Washington, D.C., presents petition to the General Conference Committee to retain tithes and offerings in view of racial exclusion from institutions built in Takoma Park combined with failure to fund separate black institutions. The GCC rejects the petition.
December 1: F.H. Seeney begins evangelistic meetings for blacks in Baltimore, Maryland.
Jennie Ireland begins to do medical missionary work among blacks in Los Angeles, California. She is instrumental in the organization of the Furlong Church, first black church west of the Mississippi River.
Beginning Membership: 87,311
End Membership: 91,531
January 1: Canadian Union College opens in temporary quarters in the town of Leduc, Alberta.
January 9: Lewis Sheafe's People’s Church of Washington, D.C. declares independence from the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
January: W.C. Sebastian begins work for blacks in Atlanta.
June 13: Washington Sanitarium (now Washington Adventist Hospital) is established.
November 9: First regular school term of Alberta Industrial Academy, forerunner of Canadian Union College, is opened.
M.C. Strachan, charged with raising a loyal black congregation in Washington, D.C., organizes the Fifth Church from fruits of a tent meeting.
U.S. Willis baptizes six in a series of meetings in Kansas City, Kansas.
Beginning Membership: 91,531
End Membership: 94,048
February 26: The Fifth Church of Washington, D.C., pastored by M.C. Strachan, writes a letter to the General Conference that called for a rectifying of racial injustice in the church.
August 8: The Furlong Church in Los Angeles, California, the first black SDA church west of Ohio, is established by Jennie Ireland.
First issue of Columbia Union Visitor appears.
Maria Williams, her six sons, and daughter, are the first Adventists to be baptized in the Dominican Republic.
Beginning Membership: 94,048
End Membership: 97,579
February: Rock City Sanitarium, a medical facility for blacks, opens in Nashville, Tennessee.
Late April: Ellen White visits Oakwood for the second time.
May 13-June 6: 37th General Conference Session is held in Washington, D.C.
June 1, 1909: The North American Negro Department of the General Conference is established by a General Conference vote. Much of its missional focus was on blacks in large cities. J.W. Christian, a white man, is the first secretary.
September 1: Land is purchased for Pacific Union College in Angwin, California.
District of Columbia Conference is established.
In Los Angeles, Furlong Track Church, the first black SDA congregation on the West Coast still in existence, is organized.
Testimonies for the Church, volume 9, by Ellen White, is published.
T&O (1901-10): $9,177,599
Black Membership: c. 900
Beginning Membership: 97,579
End Membership: 100,931
February: W.D. Forde, a Barbadian minister, conducts the first major tent effort for blacks Chicago. A church was organized on May 4-7, 1911, from Forde’s efforts.
Summer: Oakwood sanitarium opens in Huntsville, Alabama.
September 6: Start of the first camp-meeting held for blacks in Columbia, South Carolina, in the state.
April 18, 1910 - May 31, 1910: James Alexander Chiles argues before the Supreme Court in the Plaintiff vs. Chesapeake & Ohio Railway Company for desegregation of railroad coaches. He is the first black to argue a Supreme Court case.
A.J. Haysmer, a white man, becomes secretary of the Negro Department.
Black membership: 1,000
Beginning Membership: 100,931
End Membership: 104,526
January 1: Nyazura Adventist Secondary School in Zimbabwe opens.
The first SDA church in the Bahamas.
Beginning Membership: 104,526
End Membership: 108,975
October 17: A.J. Haysmer reports in The Gospel Herald on black minister working big cities, including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Washington, Richmond, Kansas City, and Denver.
October: J.W. Owens and workers begin a major tent meeting geared toward blacks in Detroit, Michigan.
December 4: R.T. Hudson is born.
December: W.H. Green begins labors in Detroit, Michigan; he remains until 1918. While there he builds up the Hartford Avenue SDA Church.
The Watts church, now the Tamarind Avenue SDA Church, is established with a charter membership of 16, P.B. Bontemps serving as pastor.
Beginning Membership: 108,975
End Membership: 114,206
May 15-June 8: 38th General Conference Session is held in Washington, D.C.
May 21: General Conference is first divided administratively into world divisions.
May: The People's Church is reconciled to the denomination at the GC session in Takoma Park.
July 26: Mary Inez Booth is born.
December 1: Loma Linda hospital opens.
December: Lewis C. Sheafe begins ministerial assignment based at the Furlong Church in Los Angeles, California. His efforts will lead to the formation of the Berean Church with 30 members.
Beginning Membership: 114,206
End Membership: 122,386
Berean Church is formed in Los Angeles, California, with a charter membership of 30.
C.B. Stephenson becomes secretary of the Negro Department.
Hadley Memorial Hospital opens.
Beginning Membership: 122,386
End Membership: 125,844
March 3: Ellen White has final vision.
July 16: Ellen White dies.
July 16: Ellen G. White Estate is established at the time of White’s death.
Summer: Lewis Sheafe organizes a congregation of 17 in Watts, California, building on work led by Bible instructor Jennie Ireland. There are now three black churches in Greater Los Angeles.
September 11: Lewis C. Sheafe resigns from the California Conference. The Berean Church which he organized the previous year withdraws from the conference and becomes the "Berean Church of Free Seventh Day Adventists.:
Congregation in Watts, California, is organized with a charter membership of 17.
Life Sketches of Ellen G. White is published.
Beginning Membership: 125,844
End Membership: 136,879
May: Lewis Sheafe and J.W. Manns announce the start of the Free Seventh Day Adventist denomination with “congregational sovereignty” and a “square deal for the Negro.”
Frank L. Peterson graduates from Pacific Union College, the first person of color to do so.
Beginning Membership: 136,879
End Membership: 141,488
February 23: Louis Bernard Reynold is born.
February 25: The People’s Church again declares independence from denominational governance.
April 9: Irene Kirkaldy Morgan is born.
July 29: Emma White dies from malaria complications that she contracted working in Mississippi.
G.E. Peters baptizes approximately 60 people from tent meeting held in Jacksonville, Florida.
James I. Beardsley becomes president of Oakwood University.
The first SDA church in Dominican Republic is organized.
Beginning Membership: 141,488
End Membership: 153,857
March 29-April 14: 39th General Conference Session. San Francisco, California.
April 10: W.H. Green is appointed first black to head Negro Department. His appointment would lead to a more specialized approach to black city work.
Former members of People’s church form Ephesus Church (later DuPont Park) in Washington, D.C.
Ruth Temple and husband Otis Banks open the first medical clinic in Southeast Los Angeles. The clinic expanded to become the Temple Health Institute, which not only provided free health care, but conducted much-needed health education programs to members of the community. The model was replicated throughout the United States.
Beginning Membership: 153,857
End Membership: 162,667
May 2: Jacob Justiss is born.
July 1-July 21: Bible Conference held in Washington, D.C.
September: Sydney Scott and other workers conduct a successful evangelistic campaign in Dallas, Texas, resulting in the organization of the first black Adventist church in the city.
West Indian Training School, the first permanent worker-training school in the Caribbean and forerunner of Northern Caribbean University opens in Mandeville, Jamaica.
Beginning Membership: 162,667
End Membership: 178,239
Harlem Academy opens with an enrollment around 135 black students, in Harlem, New York City. It is the largest academy in the Atlantic Union.
Black membership: 4,000.
T&O (1911-20): 29,954,225
Beginning Membership: 178,239
End Membership: 185,450
March 11: Edward Earl (E.E.) Cleveland is born.
July 25: Alma Blackmon is born.
Eva B. Dykes becomes first black woman in the United States to complete requirements for the PhD degree.
Beginning Membership: 185,450
End Membership: 198,088
April 16: Warren Banfield is born.
May 11-May 28: 40th General Conference Session, San Francisco, California.
October 3: La Sierra Academy (now La Sierra University) is officially opened.
Beacon Light Church of San Diego, California, comprised of 30 charter members won in an evangelistic meeting by Sydney Scott, is established.
Joseph A. Tucker becomes president of Oakwood University.
W.H. Anderson enters Angola to survey missionary prospects.
Beginning Membership: 198,088
End Membership: 208,771
May 12: A.T. Jones dies.
November 23: Market Street Seventh-day Adventist Church is organized in Oakland, California. It was organized largely by the efforts of Louraine Vanderburg Mitchell, Marie Kisack and Gertrude Drake.
Beginning Membership: 208,771
End Membership: 221,874
April 2: Owen A. Troy Sr. becomes the first pastor of Market Street Church in Oakland, California.
April 7: J.N. Loughborough dies.
November 11: Eric Calvin Ward is born.
District of Columbia Conference becomes Potomac Conference.
Santo Domingo Mission (Dominican Republic) is organized.
Beginning Membership: 221,874
End Membership: 238,657
July 12: Charles E. Bradford is born.
Zaire Union Mission is organized.
Beginning Membership: 238,657
End Membership: 250,988
May 27-June 14: 41st General Conference Session is held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Beginning Membership: 250,988
End Membership: 261,834
February 1: Charles Edward (C.E.) Dudley is born.
May 12: A church of 15 members is organized in Salt Lake City, Utah.
August: East Caribbean Training School, later University of the Southern Caribbean, is established.
Maurice T. Battle is born.
Beginning Membership: 261,834
End Membership: 274,064
May 30: James Edson White dies.
October 31: William Hawkins Greens, secretary of the Negro Department at the time, dies in Detroit, Michigan.
The Pasadena Second Church is organized under the leadership of P.B. Bontemps, in Pasadena, California.
Beginning Membership: 274,064
End Membership: 285,293
March 22: Lorenzo W. Paytee is born.
G.E. Peters becomes secretary of the Negro Department.
James K. Humphrey, a black Baptist minister who became an Adventist in 1902, organizes the First Harlem Seventh-day Adventist Church. Humphrey plans to create an Adventist village called Utopia Park, consisting of an orphanage, a nursing home, a training school, an industrial area, and health-care facilities. Conference administration feels that Humphrey is acting unilaterally and moves to defrock him. First Harlem congregation stands with Humphrey, and the Greater New York Conference votes to disfellowship Humphrey and his congregation. The independent congregation adopts the name United Sabbath-day Adventist Church.
J.W. Manns dies in Costa Rica.
J.E. Johnson and Ludie Smith begin the work in San Bernardino, California, organizing a church of 35 initially named Valley View Church but later renamed Shiloh.
Beginning Membership: 285,293
End Membership: 299,555
May 24: Hamilton Square Church is organized in San Francisco, California.
May 28-June 12: 42nd General Conference Session is held in San Francisco, California.
June 24: Charles Decatur (C.D.) Brooks is born in Greensboro, North Carolina.
December: First issue of Caribbean Union Gleaner appears.
F.L. Peterson becomes secretary of the Negro Department.
United Sabbath Day Adventists form.
Black membership: 8,000
T&O (21-30): $56,134,097
Beginning Membership: 299,555
End Membership: 314,253
“Fundamental Beliefs of Seventh-day Adventists” appears in 1931 SDA Yearbook.
B.W. Abney is sent as a missionary to South Africa.
Beginning Membership: 314,253
End Membership: 336,046
James L. Moran becomes first black president of Oakwood University.
Beginning Membership: 336,046
End Membership: 362,101
Beginning Membership: 362,101
End Membership: 384,151
February 1-6: Ministerial institute for black ministers of the Columbia, Atlantic, and Lake Unions held at Ephesus SDA Church in Columbus, Ohio. W. H. Branson and F. L. Peterson lead out.
February 20-27: Ministerial institute for black ministers and Bible workers of the Southern Union Conference is held at Oakwood Junior College.
April 8: The pre-Spring Meeting is held at the General Conference and has important discussions on the black work and regional conferences.
April 15: Sydney Scott dies.
Gospel Herald becomes The Message Magazine.
Hope of the Race by F.L. Peterson is published.
Beginning Membership: 384,151
End Membership: 404,509
January: First issue of the newly named The Message Magazine appears
Beginning Membership: 404,509
End Membership: 422,968
May 26-June 8: 43rd General Conference Session, San Francisco, California.
Riverside Sanitarium and Hospital (Nashville, Tennessee) is opened.
Beginning Membership: 422,968
End Membership: 438,139
July 1: Nellie Hellen Rankin Druillard dies.
November 7: An institutional missionary band of 8 members is organized in Chicago's Shiloh Church which began mission work in the county jail of Chicago.
The Riverside Church of Riverside, California, is organized.
Beginning Membership: 438,139
End Membership: 452,758
June 24: Lewis C. Sheafe dies.
Beginning Membership: 452,758
End Membership: 469,951
T&O (31-40): $62,378,514
Beginning Membership: 469,951
End Membership: 486,670
December 28: Black church is organized in Monrovia, California, with J.W. Allison as pastor.
C.D. Brooks, age 10, is baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Black Membership: 14,537
Black Churches: 206
Beginning Membership: 486,670
End Membership: 504,752
G.E. Peters is elected secretary of the Colored Department.
Colored Department Membership: 14,537
Beginning Membership: 504,752
End Membership: 520,644
February 14: W. Augustus Cheatham is born.
October: The Allen A Cappella Choir, comprised of youth from the First and Ephesus churches in Washington, D.C., is organized.
Pacific Union Conference organizes its first Colored Department under the leadership of F.L. Peterson.
Beginning Membership: 520,644
End Membership: 535,134
August 15: As a result of an evangelistic effort by F.H. Jenkins and Richard E. Berry, a black church is organized in Bakersfield, California.
September 22: Lucy Byard, a longtime black Adventist from New York City with terminal liver cancer, is discouraged admission by medical staff at Washington Adventist Sanitarium due to her race. Sanitarium staff suggest she go to Freedman's Hospital in Washington, D.C.
October 16: Fifteen members of the two black Adventist churches in Washington form The Committee for the Advancement of the World-wide Work Among Colored Seventh-day Adventists (Committee) to demand racial justice in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
October 17: Members of Committee meet with General Conference president J.L. McElhany.
October 30: Lucy Byard dies in Freedmen's Hospital, Washington, D.C.
Oakwood Junior College becomes Oakwood College.
Beginning Membership: 535,134
End Membership: 544,710
The Committee issues a pamphlet titled "Shall the Four Freedoms Function Among Seventh-day Adventists" and it is circulated at the General Conference Spring Council in Chicago. Delegates approve black-administered conferences, a school for blacks in the North, a black editor of Message, and a commission to explore medical education for blacks in the North.
April 10-16: General Conference Spring Meeting takes place at the Hotel Stevens in Chicago, Illinois. At the meeting there are intense discussions about regional conferences, culminating in an action approving their organization. In the next two and a half years seven regional conferences would be established.
July: Irene Morgan refuses to give up her seat to a white person on an interstate bus in Virginia. Irene Morgan vs. Commonwealth of Virginia outlaws interstate bus segregation.
December 17: Allegheny Conference is officially organized in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
December 21: The General Conference Committee votes "To pass on to the Southern Union Conference and Oakwood College the call from the Columbia Union for J.L. Moran to connect with the newly organized Allegheny Conference, as secretary-treasurer..."
North American Department Colored Department Membership: 17,891
Beginning Membership: 544,710
End Membership: 557,768