A Word From the Editor

Welcome to the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists Online. This is the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s first online reference work and the largest, most international, most complex work of scholarship the Church has undertaken.

There is much to learn about Adventist history, and the ESDA is the place to start, but there is also much to say about ESDA Online itself. You can find out about the editorial team here and about the many authors here. If you want quick access to basic facts about Seventh-day Adventists and the Adventist Church, please consult the FAQ here. You can learn more about ESDA—its own history, origins, goals, and key facts—here. What follows are a few points to bear in mind as you start searching the online database and as you begin to read articles.

Probably no encyclopedia is read from cover to cover. Reading the whole of the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists becomes even more unlikely, for two reasons: first, it’s online, so there are no covers; but even surfing through all the articles is improbable, because at the time the ESDA Online launched (July 1, 2020), there were more than 2,100 articles. Around half are biographies (though only of deceased persons: there are no biographies of living subjects); the remainder are histories of organizational units (divisions, unions, conferences and missions), institutions (colleges, schools, hospitals, media centers, publishing houses, and others), journals and media ministries, and of the development of important Adventist beliefs—and more.

The 2,100 articles with which we start are just a portion of the approximately 8,000 articles which the Encyclopedia Editorial Board has scheduled for publication. And 8,000 won’t be the final total; precisely because this is an online reference work, it will continue to grow. As new church organizational units are established, new institutions founded, new ministries created, and as significant figures pass away, new articles will be commissioned.

Furthermore, we anticipate not only adding new articles, but also augmenting existing articles—and correcting them. This is a peer-reviewed work of scholarship, which means every article has been refereed by experts; and reflecting the need for scholarly accountability, every article is signed by its author(s). But when dealing with such a large volume of articles, it is inevitable that inaccuracies will creep in.

Many mistakes will be minor (a date that is a year out, a wrong title for a journal, perhaps), but they need to be corrected (and we look to our readers to help with that!). Other apparent flaws might not be factual errors: this Encyclopedia has been written by authors from every continent and from dozens of different countries, with varying conventions of scholarship, and/or a need for the article to be translated. In a significant number of cases, an author’s ESDA article is his or her first ever publication. We hope for a degree of understanding and latitude from our readers towards infelicities. All that said, however, we recognize that there will be some substantive errors of fact and also some interpretations with which many will disagree.

Our hope is that our readers will help us to improve the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists by detecting possible and actual errors, identifying new sources, and suggesting new articles. We also hope that many readers will become not just consumers of the ESDA, but contributors to it, by volunteering to write articles, whether those for which we currently have no authors, or new articles. In addition, we hope that the 3,600 rare photographs on the ESDA Online, as it launched in the summer of 2020, will be greatly increased by many readers making photos, movies and video and audio recordings available for publication in the Encyclopedia.

In the more than five-year journey that led to the launch of the ESDA Online, a community of scholars emerged, dedicated to the common purpose of commemorating the history of God’s leading in the lives of many individuals and in the corporate life of His people. We hope that many more Seventh-day Adventists will become part of that virtual community, which will continue to expand and improve the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists.

In 1903, Ellen G. White (who Seventh-day Adventists believe to have exercised a prophetic ministry) wrote to General Conference President Arthur G. Daniells: “Again and again I have been shown that the past experiences of God’s people are not to be counted as dead facts.”[1] Historical events have a living relevance for the Church because history is a record, as Ellen White wrote elsewhere, of “the struggles, the defeats, and the victories” of God’s people.[2] And by “seeing where they struggled and fell, where they took heart again and conquered through the grace of God, we are encouraged.”[3]

As you surf through the ESDA Online, reading some articles, scanning others, at times you may feel chastened or challenged by the struggles and missteps, at times thrilled by the victories and achievements, and at other times humbled or inspired by commitment and sacrifice. But throughout, you will be encouraged by the providences of God—and we hope and believe that you will gain a new enthusiasm for the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Thank you for becoming part of the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists


D. J. B. Trim, Ph.D., F.R.Hist.S.

Editor, Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists


[1] Nov. 1, 1903, Ellen G. White Estate, Lt. 238, 1903.

[2] White, Patriarchs and Prophets (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1913), 596.

[3] White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1948), vol. 4, p. 12.