Map of Southern Asia Division.

Photo courtesy of 2020 Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook.

Southern Asia Division

By Gordon E. Christo

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Gordon E. Christo, Ph.D. in Old Testament and Adventist Studies (Andrews University). Christo is retired and working on contract as assistant editor of the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists and assistant editor of the Seventh-day Adventist International Biblical-Theological Dictionary. He is currently setting up a heritage center for Southern Asia Division. Some of his research on Adventist history can be seen at https://sudheritage.blogspot.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/SUDHeritage/.

First Published: January 29, 2020

The Southern Asia Division (SUD) is an administrative unit of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The territory was first organized in 1910 as the India Union Mission, then as a part of the Asiatic Division from 1915 to 1918. It was reorganized in 1919, and in 1920 it became the Southern Asia Division.

Today (2019) the SUD consists of the following territories: Bhutan, India, Maldives, and Nepal, comprising the East-Central India, Northeast India, Northern India, South-Central India, Southeast India, Southwest India, and Western India union sections; the Nepal Section; the Andaman and Nicobar Island Region; and the East Himalayan Field. As of June 30, 2018, the SUD had 4,529 churches, a membership of 1,607,719, and a total population of 1,402,308,000 (including 428,000 in the Maldives).1

Organizational History

The territory of India, Burma, and Ceylon had functioned as the India Mission since 1895 when the General Conference Mission Board had sent D. A. Robinson as the first supported worker and appointed him superintendent. 2 An advisory committee had started functioning on July 1, 1901, and minutes are on record in the division archives. General meetings were held biennially thereafter. The 1904 general meeting strongly advocated learning the local languages and working for the native population and with the 1906 biennial session serious efforts began. At that session action was taken to establish new mission stations in Bengal in the East, Bombay in the west, Nazareth in the south, and Lucknow and other places in the north.3 Those stations served as centers from where the work grew and spread. In 1910 the General Conference Committee voted to organize the India Union Mission, to keep it separate from China, and to keep it in direct connection with the General Conference (GC).4 Those stations turned into headquarters of missions at that time.

Background of the Ranchi Conference

The General Conference had voted on November 7, 1915, to form a larger Asiatic Division Conference to include the India and the Australia unions, citing common religions, common problems in the territories of India and the Far East, and the need to confer more frequently. Australia was included to provide leadership and assistance for this large mission field.5 Nevertheless, three years later at the 1918 session in San Francisco the General Conference decided to discontinue division conferences, and thus the large Asiatic Division Conference had to be reexamined. At the same time, the India Union Mission executive committee was appealing to the General Conference to consider organizing two or more union missions in their territory, citing extensive territory and the vast population.6 They had also appealed to the General Conference to appoint presidents/vice presidents for North India, South India, East India, and Burma.7

The dissolution of the division conferences led to the disbanding of the Asiatic Division Conference.8 The India Union Mission was once again placed directly under the General Conference. Similarly, the Australasian Union Conference. A vice president of the General Conference was placed as president of both unions, though they would have no organizational unity and would each come under the General Conference directly. The president, J. E. Fulton, would reside in India.9

In harmony with that decision taken in the General Conference session on May 4, 1919, the General Conference Executive Committee took the following action:

REORGANIZATION OF INDIA MISSION FIELD: The committee on the reorganization of the India mission field made a report, which was adopted as follows:

     In view of the action at the General Conference in San Francisco, looking toward the organization of the India Union Mission into a divisional section of the General Conference and in harmony with the suggestion of W. W. Fletcher, superintendent of the India Union Mission, that such an organization be formed; therefore,

     We recommend,

     1. That India, Burma, and Ceylon be organized into a divisional section of the General Conference, to be known as the
         Southern Asia Divisional Section of the General Conference,

     2. That the territory be divided and organized into three union missions, to be known as the East India Union Mission, the
         Northwest India Union Mission, and the South India Union Mission.

     3. That the fixing of the boundaries of each union mission be left to the executive board of the Southern Asia
         Divisional Section.

     4. That W. W. Fletcher take the superintendency of the East India Union Mission, and render the vice president,
         J. E. Fulton, such assistance in general administration as may be necessary,

     5. That a man with conference administrative experience be selected to take the superintendency of the Northwest India
         Union Mission.

     6. That a man with conference administrative experience go to South India, to take the superintendency of the
         South India Union Mission.

     7. That a field missionary secretary be selected to go to India as assistant field missionary secretary for the
         Southern Asia Divisional Section.

     8. That the members of the Executive Board consist of the vice president of the General Conference, J. E. Fulton;
         the secretary and secretary-treasurer, A. H. Williams; the assistant field missionary secretary (to be chosen);
        the assistant medical secretary, H. C. Menkel; the assistant Educational and Missionary Volunteer secretary,
        I. F. Blue; the superintendent of the East India Union Mission, the superintendent of the Northwest India
       Union Mission, and the superintendent of the South India Union Mission.10

Organization at the Ranchi Conference

While the conference held at Ranchi in 1919 was summoned as the biennial conference of the India Union, except for the reports of the missions and the union, the meetings had more to do with looking forward at the newly organized Southern Asia Division.

J. E. Fulton spoke at the divine service of the opening Sabbath and led the workers in reconsecration of their lives. G. F. Enoch led out in studies from the book of Isaiah, that were remembered long as an outstanding feature of the meetings. G. G. Lowry led out in afternoon meetings, which addressed the important question of vernacular work. A. H. Williams led out in meetings with prospective literature evangelists. Edith Bruce and Mrs. Meleen conducted meetings for the children. On the second Sabbath an ordination service was conducted for R. A. Beckner, H. L. Peden, E. B. Hare, F. A. Wyman, F. H. Loasby, and F. W. Smith. G. F. Enoch preached the ordination sermon, Fletcher delivered the charge, and Fulton offered the prayer. Fletcher reported that large plans were set in place for a fuller organization, and that the spirit of unity and consecration demonstrated promised a bright future for the division. 11

Though the General Conference had recommended the establishment of three unions, eventually four were organized. The proposed East India Union was divided into the North East India and the Burma unions. The other two were the South India Union, which included Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and the North West India Union (which included the territory of what is today Pakistan). Within those four unions, 16 missions were organized.12

The General Conference, under which the India Union Mission was attached directly, had already made appointments that were read out by Fulton at the Ranchi Conference. J. E. Fulton, president (chair); A. H, Williams, secretary-treasurer (for a year, after which he served as treasurer); and W. W. Fletcher, field secretary (for the first year, after which he was elected division secretary). In addition, H. C. Menkel was appointed secretary of the Medical Department, I. F. Blue, secretary of the Educational Department, and S. A. Wellman, secretary of the Home Missionary and YPMV departments. G. G. Lowry joined them on the executive board. 13

The nominating committee appointed the personnel for the newly formed union missions: I. F. Blue, superintendent of the Northwest India Union, and G. G. Lowry, superintendent of the South India Union Mission. Burma was organized as a separate union. Ceylon was included in the South India Union, and Pakistan was part of the Punjab Mission of the Northwest Union Mission.14

In the major reorganization of the world divisions, many other new unions were being formed all over the world, and leaders with administrative experience for all of them were difficult to locate. Thus, it was not till 1921 that Burma got a president, when Joseph Philips came, and Northeast India received their first president also that year, when H. E. Willoughby arrived.15

At the time of organization into a division, the total membership was 978 in 26 churches. Of these, 269 were in seven churches in Bengal, where the work had begun. This territory was organized into the North East India Union Mission. Another 78 members in three churches in the Bombay Presidency were combined with the 215 members in four churches of the North India Mission into the North West India Union Mission. The 259 members in eight churches in the south formed the South India Union Mission. In Burma the 162 members in four churches were organized into the Burma Union Mission.16

When the division was organized, there were two schools in Calcutta, a Bengali Boys' School and a Bengali Girls’ School, and two schools in Karmatar, 160 miles to the northwest: a Middle English School and the Santali Girls’ School. Another school lay in the foothills of the Himalayas—the Garhwal Industrial School in Dwarika. In the south, in what is today Tamilnadu, was the Tamil Boarding School in Nazareth and the South India Training School in Coimbatore. In Burma was the Meiktila Technical School, Meiktila. Two schools important for the division were the Annfield School, in Mussoorie, India, where the children of missionaries and Europeans were sent for primary and middle education, and the India Christian Training School in Lucknow, intended to train indigenous workers.17

The division had four treatment rooms: the Sanitarium Hydro-Electric Institute at 75 Park Street in Calcutta, the Sanitarium Hydro-Electric Institute Mar Lodge, Mussoorie, the Shimla Hydro-Electric Institute in Belvedere Shimla, and the newly established Sanitarium Hydro-Electric Institute at 12 Vachgandhi Rd in Chaupati, Bombay.18

The division publishing facility in Lucknow was at this time known as the Seventh-day Adventist Publishing House.

Foreground of the Ranchi Conference

At the Ranchi Conference an action was taken to reach out to missionaries of other denominations. The Oriental Watchman was distributed free to pastors of other churches and in a couple of years a membership of 200 English speakers was reported, excluding missionaries.19

The establishment of village schools had received prominence at the Ranchi Conference. The purpose was to provide a Christian education for children of Sabbathkeepers.20 At the quadrennial report given to the General Conference in 1921, Fletcher could report the establishment of 17 village schools.21

One of the important topics at the Ranchi Conference was the operation of training schools.22 The South India Training School, which had been established in 1915 in Coimbatore, had moved to Bangalore and divided in to both a Boys Training School and a Girls Training School, with 35 and 17 students respectively. The India Union Christian Training School established at Lucknow had split up and divided when it was realized that the training would better be served in the vernacular rather than in English. The Burmese students were served at Meiktila; the Marathi students were shifted to the Marathi Training School that R. L. Loasby was asked to set up in 1920,23 with 11 boys. Later that year the training school was moved to Lasalgaon.24 The Hindi-speaking students from the IUCTS enrolled at Hapur, where the Northwest Union Christian Training School started in 1920 with nine students. 25

However, a major development was the opening of the school at Vincent Hill in Mussoorie to replace Annfield School, which had closed down the year before the Ranchi Council. The school was intended for children from the English-speaking churches and for the children of missionaries. Vincent Hill School was intended to play a major role in the development of the work in India.26

The headquarters of the India Union in Lucknow was limited in facilities. Though the matter of headquarters did not feature in the resolutions of the Ranchi Council, there must have been some discussion and consultation with the General Conference, for Fulton very soon after reported that the Foreign Mission Board had encouraged them to study the question of reestablishing headquarters. Workers lived in houses outside the office campus in Lucknow. At first it was thought to put up new buildings in Lucknow itself.27 However, by the end of the year a search was on for a change. Locations favored were Ranchi, which had a good climate and where the organizing session had been just held; Jabalpur, which was the geographic center of India; and Poona.28

Poona was selected, which also had an excellent climate and was on the main railway line connecting the north to the south even though there was no active Adventist work in the city.29 Poona’s value as a site for the headquarters was enhanced by its proximity to Bombay (a few hours away by road) and its international airport, and also to Mahableshwar, where many foreign workers chose to spend their summer vacation.30

While the exact location was being decided, the headquarters moved to Poona into rented quarters on 2401 East Street (where Majestic Furniture now stands).31 The search committee recommended either Kirkee or a river bend, whichever had electrical connections,32 and even a plot beyond the Aga Khan palace.33 Eventually the site on Nagar Road was selected, even though it had no power.34 The property had been occupied by the military as a temporary wartime camp, but they had vacated it just in time. The barracks purchased were demolished, but that occupation provided for a metaled road and a water connection.35 Meanwhile, the estate was named Salisbury Park in memory of Homer R. Salisbury, former president of the India Union who perished returning to India on the S.S. Persia, when it was torpedoed during World War I.36 For a while offices were accommodated in a bungalow,37 but as soon as the Oriental Watchman Publishing House was completed, the division office moved onto the first floor of the publishing house.38

In time, however, the work grew, and the number of workers increased in both the Oriental Watchman Publishing House and the division office so that it became clear that a new building would have to be erected for the division office. An action was taken on March 29, 1929, and by November it was occupied, though not fully completed. The new building had 12 offices, a storeroom, and a vault.39 A new facade of the building accomplished in the 1960s transformed it from a bungalow-type appearance and gave it a more contemporary look, which it retains to this day.

In 1932 the church was constructed so that the division and union could hold meetings there.40 In 1948 a school for the children of division staff was built.41 Salisbury Park was only a few miles from the main street of the city, which soon spread all around the compound and made the estate a delightful place to live.

Territory of the Division

The initial territory of the Southern Asia Division was listed merely as India, Burma, and Ceylon with the politically aligned islands,42 which eventually were spelled out as the Andaman, Nicobar, Maldives, and Laccadive islands. However, India has often been used as a generic term, which in medieval period at times included parts of the Middle East and even Africa.43 Without reorganization the territory had to be reworded. By 1930 the territory list included Afghanistan, Baluchistan, Nepal, and Bhutan. In 1947 the list needed to add the country of Pakistan. The following year the territory of Sikkim was added. In the 1950s the territories of Portuguese and French India were included in the list. In 1972 Tibet was dropped from the list.

In 1986 in a major reorganization, necessitated by circumstances described under the section “Major Challenges,” Pakistan with Afghanistan was moved to the Trans European Division, and Burma, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh were transferred to the Far Eastern Division, leaving Southern Asia with India, Nepal, and Bhutan, and the Maldive Islands. The farewell at the 1985 division council was extremely emotional. D. P. Rema president of the Bangladesh Union Section, expressed his feelings of being given away by parents in marriage, and concern over how they would be treated. President Anthony of Sri Lanka reminded all that they were only 22 miles across the sea, and would miss India sorely. President Clothier of Pakistan remarked that there was no sea between India and Pakistan, and they could jump over the border. The Burma Union treasurer remarked they felt young and unprepared to leave their parent.44

Realignments in Central India

The territory in the central part of India was the first to experience reorganization and has been involved most in frequent adjustments. The North West Union, organized in 1919, included territories from Bombay, Central India, Rajputana, Hyderabad, and north to Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, the Northwest Frontier, and Baluchistan. Ten years later it was planned to separate the Bombay Presidency and other territory as deemed advisable into a new union mission.45 A committee was appointed,46 and the Bombay Union Mission was organized at the end of March 1929.47 The new union included the Central Marathi Mission, the Kolhapur Section, the Kalyan Section, and the Gujarat Section.48 From 1932 to 1937 the union existed as a mission because of depleted funds, and thereafter was known as the Western India Union. In 1951 it was recommended that the Western India Union and the Northwestern Union be amalgamated. The former Western Union was reduced to the Bombay State Mission. The territory included much of present-day Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.49

However, in 1956 political agitation resulted in the enlargement of the Bombay state to include all the Marathi-speaking territories of Madhya Pradesh, and the division took the following actions: (1) that the territories of the newly formed Bombay state (November 1956) be the Bombay State Section; (2) that the portions of Bombay state appended to Mysore be part of the South India Union; (3) that Abu district, which was appended to Rajasthan be part of the Northwestern Union; (3) that 11 districts of the Northeast Union be transferred to the Northwestern Union so as to conform to new political boundaries.50 Since the territory of the new union was considerably larger than the previous Bombay State Mission, it was recommended to the General Conference that the name of the union be changed to the Western India Union.51

Amalgamation of the Unions in the North

A major realignment of the unions took place in 1970. The headquarters of the Northeast Union was in Karmatar, which was deep in remote Bihar. As a mission station, the campus had served well as a school, a dispensary, and an orphanage. The publishing house had functioned there for a few years before realizing the need to be where there was direct rail connectivity with other parts of the country. The union office had similar needs. Ranchi had also served as headquarters for a while, but did not afford much better connections. Calcutta’s weather had driven the pioneers to look for an alternative earlier. Also, the costs were prohibitive.52

Communication was most difficult with the northeast hill states on the other side of Bangladesh. The work there had progressed and grown so that they could soon be organized into a union of their own. The language of the remaining area was Hindi, and then it seemed expedient to join those territories with the Northwest Union, which used the same language.53 Eventually the Northern Union was created by amalgamating all the territories of the Northwest Union, except the south part of Madhya Pradesh, and all of the Northeast Union except Orissa.

The southern part of Madhya Pradesh and the state of Orissa from the Northeast Union was attached to the territory of the Western India Union, which also received the states of Andhra Pradesh from the South India Union in exchange for the state of Goa. The enlarged union would be known as the Central India Union. New Delhi was headquarters for the Northern Union, Bombay for the Central India Union.54

The realignment was possibly partly motivated by the uneven membership of the earlier unions. While the South India Union had a membership of 31,968 at the end of 1970, the Western India Union’s membership was 2,878, the Northwestern India Union’s 3,157, and the Northeast Union’s was 4,713.55 After the realignment at the end of the first quarter of 1971, the South India Union had 22,240, the Central India Union had 14,861, and the Northern Union 8,289.56

Bifurcation of the Northern Union

Though the work in the northeast hills had started officially only in the 1930s the work had developed rapidly to the point where several missions were on the verge of self-support. The whole of the northeast hill area also was isolated from the rest of India lying largely beyond Bangladesh and travel to and from if not by air took an extra day. The territory was more than 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) from Delhi, the headquarters of the Northern Union.

In 1983 the division took the decision to bifurcate the Northern Union. The Northern Union would retain the name Northern Union and the new union would be called the Northeast India Union, the territory of which would be comprised of the “seven sisters,” the hill states of the northeast India: Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura, comprising the Manipur-Nagaland, the Meghalaya, and the Mizo sections.57

Attached Fields/Regions

The countries of Nepal and Bhutan had been part of Northeastern Union from the beginning and had become part of the amalgamated Northern Union in 1970. However, in 1991 the division recommended to the General Conference that Nepal and Bhutan be subtracted from the Northern Union and formed into a Himalayan Region, which would be administered directly by the division.58 The work had progressed in Nepal beyond that conducted by the hospital, and a local director was available.59 The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which had also been part of the Northeastern Union and become part of the amalgamated Northern Union in 1970, was subtracted and formed into a Andaman and Nicobar Region, directly administered by the division in 1989.

In May 2013, upon recommendation from L. C. Cooper, General Conference advisor to the Southern Asia Division, an action was taken to move in the direction of forming the Nepal Field into a section attached directly to the division. This was done on August 6, 2013, and the constituency date was set for September 5–7.60

Bifurcation and Trifurcation in Central and South India

In a major action starting in November 2000 the four unions in India were split into seven. The reasons cited were authorization by the General Conference to experiment with alternative structures within guidelines and considerable growth in the Central India and South India unions.61 However, the division administration had not sought counsel and consent of the General Conference prior to altering the boundaries of unions or in the creation of new ones. Thus, the two actions of November 2000 were amended to request the General Conference for permission to reorganize the two unions and subdivide them into “attached fields,” which was a temporary special relationship while awaiting consent of the General Conference.62

The territories of Maharashtra and Gujarat were detached from the Central India Union and formed into the Western India Attached Field. The state of Kerala was subtracted from the South India Union and initially called the Kerala Attached Field (later Southwest India Attached Field). The state of Karnataka and the union territory of Goa were combined into Karnataka-Goa Attached Field (later South Central India Attached Field). Two days later on November 16, 2000, the presidents of these fields were elected, and voted members of the division executive committee.63 These were finally recognized by the General Conference and the division in a formal action taken at the 2003 year-end meetings to change the names to “unions.”64

The Depression

The depression that hit the United States economy starting in 1929 had severe repercussions for the church around the world. Within a year Cormack in his report to the division council referred to a time of financial stringency and the perplexities of worldly finance.65 The treasury, however, reported that appropriation for the biennium 1929–1931 was still higher than for the previous biennium by Rs 225,000.66

At the spring meeting in 1932 the Bombay Union, the Burma Union, and the Northeast India Union were redefined as missions, though with the same constitutional relationship with the division as before. At the same time, the Northwest Union was reorganized. The North Agra (Upper Ganges) Mission would continue, a Punjab Mission would largely encompass the territory now known as Pakistan, and the remaining territory would be administered by the union. Also, at the same time, the South India Union would have the Telugu, Tamil, and Malayalam missions, with the remaining territory administered directly by the union.67

The Bombay Mission was renamed the Western India Mission in 1933,68 and was restored to union status in 1937. The Northeast India Union reverted to union status in 1938.69

These actions were taken in response to a recommendation by the General Conference to simplify in order to conserve financial resources and to facilitate evangelism, as fewer headquarters were required and administrators could be released for frontline work. 70

The budget for 1932 had been made with a planned reduction in appropriation of 5 percent when news was received from the GC for a further cut of 8 percent. Action was taken to reduce wages of all workers European, Domiciled and Vernacular by 5 percent.71 Eventually the appropriation suffered a 30 percent loss, and salaries were cut 27.5 percent.72 The Bombay Mission was briefly administered by the division officers, and hence the headquarters moved to Salisbury Park in 1936, but the following year the Bombay Mission was upgraded to union status again, and the headquarters reverted to Bombay. The Northeast India Mission was upgraded to union status in 1938.73

World War II

World War II impacted the Southern Asia Division far more than World War I, pushing its way into northeastern India and Burma. Communication between the division and the General Conference got delayed, travel for missionaries became difficult, and support for biennial meetings dwindled and vanished so much that they were canceled.74 Paper was rationed, and the Oriental Watchman Publishing House had to resort to poorer quality paper and reduced the number of pages for both the Oriental Watchman and the Tidings. Nevertheless, the state of war increased anxiety among people, and attendance at meetings and sales of literature rose.75

Few Adventists were conscripted into the army, and members of the church from Allied forces posted to India often visited Adventist churches and fellowshipped with local members. There was one casualty in the war. Frank Mainstone served as an accountant in the army in Burma, and when the country was overrun by the Japanese, he withdrew with the army through the jungles to India. He died of exhaustion and fatigue on the way.76 The division could not communicate with the Burma Union from 1942 till 1945, when the British drove out the Japanese.

Fearing that India would be the next, Adventists were counseled to retreat to the countryside. Of the 89 expatriates working in Southern Asia, 33 left. Of these, 15 had furloughs that were either due, overdue, or near, and another couple or so were planning to return on account of poor health. Thus, about 15 left because of the war.77 This created a shortage of leaders. Some leaders cared for multiple departments, some positions remained vacant, and some projects and institutions suffered in their operations.78 The danger to traveling missionaries was real, as during World War I Homer Salisbury, president of the India Union, lost his life when the S.S. Persia, on which he was returning to India, was torpedoed, and Salisbury was lost at sea.79

Partition of India and Pakistan

As World War II drew to a close, nationalist forces in the colonized countries became restive. Talks with leaders of the freedom movement resulted in the plan to divide India into two countries: Pakistan, which was 77 percent Muslim, and India, 85 percent Hindu, in 1947. Some 10 to 12 million people would eventually migrate between India and Pakistan in Punjab and Bengal, resulting in nearly a million deaths.

Till the early 1940s the Europeans and Anglo-Indians were loyal to the British monarch and didn’t show much sympathy for the freedom movement.80 For a while the Oriental Watchman and Herald of Health were listed among the banned literature by the Nizam of Hyderabad. Only after a meeting that explained matters were the magazines restored to the approved list.81 Religious fundamentalists were suspicious of foreigners and Christians, and wary of conversions.82

The leaders of Southern Asia Division met with the leaders of the freedom movement as they prepared to frame constitutions for the two countries, and presented a “memorial” of the Adventist Church, which explained the church’s basic beliefs, its noncombatant stance, and general support for governments. It ended with the hope of continued religious freedom. Pandit Nehru listened with rapt attention and made a few enquiries. Mr. Jinnah gave assurances for protection of minorities. The group also visited Mahatma Gandhi, who fondly recalled an Adventist sermon he’d heard forty years earlier.83

After partition, Pakistan continued to be part of the Northwest Union, but workers were advised to migrate to the country their families had originally resided in.84 Finally at the year-end division executive committee meeting in 1948, citing great natural difficulties as a result of the political developments, the West Pakistan Union was severed from the Northwest Union.85 The West Pakistan Union had just one section, the Punjab Section. East Pakistan remained a part of the Northeast Union till the 1956 division council, at which time it became part of the Pakistan Union.86

Multiple Headquarters

Problems began to surface with the Bombay Public Trusts Act, 1950,87 and the ruling of the Charity Tax Joint Commissioner of the state of Maharashtra asserting that the jurisdiction covered the entire activity of the division extending even to the countries outside India. Many trusts and societies turned to states and territories where there was no charity tax commissioner or public trusts act in force.88 To complicate matters further, the government passed the Foreign Currency Regulation Act (FCRA) in 1976, which prohibited the flow of funds from outside the country to India to be diverted to other countries. 89

Searches were conducted for division headquarters in Sri Lanka and Nepal, but the governments of both countries could not grant the privileges requested.90 Division president R. S. Lowry and M. S. Prasada Rao worked with legal advisors and chartered accountants for solutions. Suggestions were made to relocate to another state. The General Conference suggested New Delhi, the capital. Kodaikanal in Tamilnadu was also examined. M. E. Cherian and G. J. Christo were invited to the GC office to work out a solution. Finally, it was decided to register the church in the state of Tamilnadu, where the government’s attitude was favorable to charitable trusts and companies. Thus, SERVSDA was incorporated and registered in Madras. However, this did not address the complication of the FCRA and the flow of appropriation funds to other countries in the division.

Finally, the GC and the division worked out a unique solution. The official headquarters of the division would be relocated to the General Conference office in Washington, D.C., and would be referred to as GENCOSUD. A division executive committee would meet there periodically and take actions and determine policies upon the advice of SUDAC, the advisory committee that would meet in Poona. Departmental secretaries/directors would be referred to as departmental advisors. However, the division treasurer B. J. Williams was refused a resident visa for India and had to settle in Nepal, from where he disbursed funds for the other eight countries of the division. The headquarters thus was split between GENCOSUD in Washington, D.C., SERVSDA in Madras, SUDAC in Poona, and the office in Nepal.91

The situation of a split headquarters was less than ideal and could not last long. A permanent solution with headquarters in one location was needed. Thus, in February 1985 the division executive committee appointed a subcommittee to study the merits of three locations, Madras, Hosur, and New Delhi. The next division executive committee was scheduled for May 22, 1985, and the report was to be given then.92 On May 22 the committee met and decided on Hosur. The subcommittee had rejected the option of New Delhi and Madras because of the counsel of Ellen White, who advised building offices away from the cities,93 but also because of the high cost of building in the cities. A letter from Elsworth Hetke, former division secretary, working in Canada, suggested they look at Hosur. Most had never heard of the place. A few had passed through there on the way to the hill station of Kodaikanal. Hosur, like Madras, was in the state of Tamilnadu, but on the border near Bangalore. In Hosur they found what they had prayed for—a rural setting, but with access to an airport only an hour away, railway connections minutes away, a highway, and communication facilities. 94

Though the executive committee had voted to relocate to Hosur, President Christo was not comfortable with the small majority that passed the resolution. Since only 15 members were present, he took it back to a later meeting, at which time it was passed by a two-thirds majority with fuller attendance.95 The executive committee that met on December 30, 1985, voted to ask the General Conference for permission to move to Hosur, and asked for Rs 3.2 million as assistance.96 Nevertheless, there were several who had grown deeply attached to the Poona campus and were unhappy with the move. The division executive committee discussed the matter one more time on August 21, 1986, and, with 21 members present, reaffirmed the decision that had been taken on December 30, to move the headquarters to Hosur, Tamilnadu.97 A special committee, which included General Conference associate treasurer Bill Murrill, went to inspect three sites, and was impressed to recommend a site at a crossing of two state highways just a few kilometers from the railway station. The town is at an elevation of three thousand feet and has a climate similar to Pune’s but milder.

The current headquarters campus, named Jeevan Jyothi, “light of life,” was opened on March 27, 1989. Bangalore has since grown stupendously into a city of international repute. Hosur has developed to the point where workers no longer need to go to Bangalore for weekly shopping. Division staff enjoy the benefits of a rural setting with access to a large city thirty miles away.

Indigenization of Leadership

The first missionaries to India looked to develop local leadership. Among the earliest converts in Calcutta was the Mookerjee family. Lal Chand (Grandfather) Mookerjee was a son of Bhyrub Mookerjee, William Carey’s first Brahmin convert, whose first wife had been a daughter of Krishna Pal Carey’s very first Hindu convert. Two of Lal Chand’s grandsons joined the workforce of the Adventists. Lal Gopal, the elder, was one of the first two Indians to be ordained to the gospel ministry. He pioneered the work in East Bengal, was one of the first elders of the Calcutta church when it was organized, and served as a leader at the section (mission) and union levels. Eventually he joined the division office in 1949 as the first Indian to care for the Religious Liberty and Temperance departments.98

Down South, E. D. Thomas was among the first fruits of J. S. James’s work in Tirunelvelli. Sensing his leadership potential, the missionaries left the work in Prakasapuram to him. Among the first two Indians to be ordained, Thomas led the Sabbath School and Home Missionary departments from 1933 to 1950.99

Indigenous School Administrators

The 1936–1937 division council voted to operate several vernacular schools with indigenous principals and staff, which was a major step toward development of national leaders.100 This was a timely action, as World War II was about to break out, and during that time many missionaries would return to their homeland and it would be a challenge to replace them.

Withdrawal of Missionaries

World War II continued, and division councils did not meet for ten years. With A. L. Ham on furlough, the division executive committee on January 8, 1943, with E. M. Meleen, acting president, took an action to place local workers in positions of leadership as rapidly as possible. They were to be entrusted with financial responsibilities and readied to take over leadership roles.101 During this period Pein Gyi, I. K. Moses, and M. Amirtham assumed leadership roles as did R. S. Fernando and F. M. Sajid earlier.102

Credit for beginning the national leadership program has been given to A. L. Ham, division president, who returned during the war years and continued into the first years of independence of the countries of Southern Asia, and who carried out the process of indigenization.103 Robert Pierson, who followed, led out in taking an action to “rapidly develop indigenous leadership.”104 O. O. Mattison, the succeeding division president, has been recognized as nurturing the national leadership program, as locals were inducted into the division committee.105

Increasing Nationals at the Division Level

The first Indian to head the Public Relations Department was Chad Israel in 1955. He had earlier served as an associate in the Home Missionary and Temperance departments. The first local pastor to serve in the Ministerial Association was S. Thomas, a successful evangelist who served as an assistant in the Ministerial Association and also the Radio Department. The first Indigenous worker to head the Public Relations and Religious Liberty departments together was C. N. Abraham in 1960. The first Indian to head the Stewardship Department was S. James in 1971, though he had headed the Temperance Department from 1960 onward.106

R. S. Lowry made a conscious decision to increase the indigenous participation in leadership roles. During his first term he drafted Gerald Christo at the age of 37 as the first indigenous YPMV director in 1962. M. E. Cherian, at the age of 37, was appointed president of Spicer College, effective 1963. He was preceded by Ronald Rice, an Anglo-Indian. M. D. Moses was the first Indian to be appointed as a union president in 1962. At this time V. P. Muthiah was appointed Sabbath School secretary/director. In Lowry’s fourth term as president, starting in 1975, he had an Indian division secretary for the first time in Gerald Christo, who succeeded him as the first national division president from 1980 to 1990.

Nationals Assume Leadership of the Division

With an Indian president, several other Indians joined the division staff. The first Indian Education Department director was J. M. Fowler in 1980. The first Indian Ministerial Association secretary was Saudagar Chand in 1985, and the first Indian Publishing Department director was Thomas K. Joseph in 1985. The first Indian to serve as division treasurer was Johnson Koilpilai in 1985. The first coordinator for Shepherdess was Mrs. Christo, who served on an honorary basis during her retirement.

During the term of M. E. Cherian, the second Indian to serve as division president, an Indian, John Wilmott, served as Chaplaincy and Ministerial director from 1990. The Church Ministries associate director for children and family was Margaret Nathaniel, from 1995, and Women’s Ministries director, Hepzibah Kore, from 2000. Mrs. Kore initiated the much-acclaimed adult literacy program for women, which spread all over the country.

When Gerald Christo became the first national president, the expatriates Ellsworth Hetke served as secretary and Martin Ytreberg as treasurer. Later Ian Grice, another expatriate, replaced Ytreberg. M. E. Cherian, the second national president, had expatriates first—Lowell Cooper and then James Campell as secretary (though he had nationals I. N. Rao, followed by P. D. Kunjachan, as treasurers). Donald R. Watts, a Canadian, followed as division president, with nationals K. J. Moses as secretary, followed by R. John, and Robert Clive as treasurer. The first time when all three division officers were nationals was in 2010, when R. John was the president, Gordon Christo the secretary, and Robert Clive the treasurer.

Membership Growth

When the Southern Asia Division was organized in 1919, the membership stood at 858. Within a year it had risen to 1,051, an increase of 22 percent. In the next ten years, till 1930, membership increased to 3,382, an average increase of more than 200 percent. However, missionaries became wary of locals converting to Christianity with ulterior motives, and were cautious to baptize new members.107

Slowest Growth

While the newly formed division ceased the practice of reporting the number of “unbaptised adherents” in the statistical reports, as the India Union had,108 the first biennial conferences of the union missions in 1922 took actions to follow the method of requiring “enquirers” who wished to join the church to sign a pledge, after which they would be recognized as “adherents.” These names were entered in a register, and when they were baptized, they would be recognized as “communicants.”109 The 1929 division council described the process carefully and defined each stage:

  1. The enquirer: Whenever any person expresses a definite desire to affiliate himself with the Christian community as represented by our denomination, we recommend that his name or signature and thumbprint impression, together with other desired information, be recorded in an “Enquirer's Register,” it being a temporary step, and that unless he shows definite progress, his name be dropped after a period of six months or a year.

  2. The Adherent: When an enquirer gives evidence of his sincerity, having forsaken his previous religious beliefs and practices, accepting Christ as his Savior and the Ten Commandments as his rule of life, and manifests a determination to prepare himself for full church membership, he will be issued an adherent's certificate, which shall recognize him as a member of the Christian community and eligible for rites of Christian marriage.

  3. The Communicant: When an adherent shows proof of being able to withstand temptation in respect of such habits as the use of pan supari, tobacco, intoxicants, and unclean meats and the wearing of jewelery, except an inexpensive wedding sign, pays tithe and is living in harmony with the fundamental principles of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, showing evidences of spiritual growth through faith in Jesus Christ, he shall be eligible for full membership through baptism.110

As can be imagined, it took months of Bible study and sometimes years of waiting till a prospect was baptized. Despite the small numbers, membership audits were accomplished, resulting in the removal of sixty names from the books.111 Thus the next decade following 1930 witnessed a growth from 3,382 to 6,697, an increase of merely 98 percent for the decade, compared with 221 percent for the previous decade.

The following decade, 1941–1950, witnessed an even greater slowdown, probably because of World War II and the reduced number of workers, as a number of missionaries went on extended furlough or permanent return. The division registered its slowest growth during this decade, increasing from 6,697 to 10,509 an increase of 57 percent for the decade, down from 98 percent for the previous decade.

Faster Growth

Membership increase picked up the next decade. In 1951 Robert Pierson led the division committee in adopting a landmark five-point program of revival and evangelism. Every worker supported by tithe was urged to engage in evangelism. Every possible resource was dedicated to effective evangelism. Public and personal evangelism was made the theme of constituency meetings. Laity were urged to support this drive.112 Further slogans such as “double or more by ’54” (General Conference session), the membership and “2000 this year” (1953) sprinkled the pages of the Tidings. Series of meetings were conducted all over the division and resulted in an increase in membership from 10,509 to 22,740 at the end of the decade (1960): an increase of 116 percent for the ten years, as compared with 57 percent for the previous decade.

R. S. Lowry’s leadership dominated the next two decades. Starting in 1962 at the report to the General Conference session in 1970, he announced that the division had a goal to reach 50,000 members by 1970, which marked the fiftieth year of the division’s existence. 113 The division that last year was among the three fastest growing divisions, achieving 16.8 percent for the year, 56 percent for the quadrennium, and 132 percent for the decade. During the following decade, still under Lowry’s leadership, the membership nearly doubled to 101,657, an increase of 98 percent. During the next decade membership continued to grow under the banner of Harvest 90, under which the division was challenged to reach 70,000 increase in membership. While this was achieved in 1986, the unions of Bangladesh, Burma, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka were subtracted from the Southern Asia Division, thus resulting in a loss of membership of more than 20,000. Still the division reached 167,740 in 1990.114

Fastest Growth

Starting in the 1990s the church adopted a Global Mission plan to target unreached people groups. Planting pioneer volunteers among unreached people yielded results, and by 2000 the membership had reached 389, 868, an increase of 132 percent for the decade. D. Ron Watts, who became president in 1997, led the division for the next ten years. With the help of nearly 2000 volunteers sponsored by individuals and organizations such as Gospel Outreach, Cornerstone, Jesus for Asia, and the Quiet Hour, the Advent message penetrated to smaller people groups scattered all over. Maranatha International helped build thousands of churches in villages. During his ten years of administration, the membership increased from 249,387 in 1997 to 1,295,002 in 2007, more than 1 million in ten years. The membership increased to 1,497,189 at the end of the decade in 2010. Since then, because of membership audits, which had been neglected for decades, resulting in more than 500,000 members being dropped, membership totals have not shown substantial increase.

Division Institutions

Oriental Watchman Publishing House. The division’s sole publishing house is located in Salisbury Park in Pune. It has complete facilities to print in about twenty languages. The institution gets its name from the Oriental Watchman, a magazine that William Spicer began publishing in 1898.

Spicer Adventist University. The division’s premier educational institution since 1937, it moved from Bangalore to its current location in Pune in 1942. The university gets its name from William Spicer, who had served as superintendent of the work in India from 1898 to 1901 and who later served as president of the General Conference from 1922 to 1930.

Adventist Media Center. The Media Center located in Salisbury Park Pune produces programs for broadcast over FM radio and shortwave in the major languages of India, including English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, and Telugu. The center also operates health and Bible correspondence courses.

METAS. The Medical Educational Trust Association, Surat, is a conglomerate of colleges and hospitals. The main campus is in Surat, Gujarat, where there is a 7,000-student high school, a college, and a 300-bed state-of-the-art hospital. Other campuses are in Ranchi, with a 130-bed hospital, and Nuzvid, with a 250-bed hospital.

Medical Trust. This registered trust supervises the following health-care institutions: the 50-bed SDA medical Center and the lifestyle center in Bangalore, 120-bed SDA hospital and nursing college in Ottapalam, the 52-bed Ruby Nelson Memorial Hospital in Jalandhar, the 30-bed Milton Mattison Hospital in Hapur, the 40-bed Aizawl Adventist Hospital, the 90-bed Pune Adventist Hospital, and the 10-bed Thanjavur Adventist Hospital.

Scheer Memorial Hospital. This 150-bed hospital and nursing college is located in Banepa, Nepal, an hour east of Kathmandu. The hospital gets its name from Clifford Scheer, who provided funds for the establishment of the hospital.

Lowry Adventist College. Located in Bangalore, the college is the precursor of Spicer Adventist University, which moved to Pune in 1942. The college gets its name from the pioneer G. G. Lowry, who started the training school in Coimbatore in 1915.

Roorkee Adventist College. This college is located in Roorkee, one hundred miles north of Delhi, and serves mainly the constituency of the Northern Union.

Northeast Adventist College. This college is located in Jowai, 65 kilometers east of Shillong, and serves mainly the constituency of the Northeast India Union. The institution recently received authorization to establish a university.

Division Councils

The council in the winter of 1919–1920 was summoned as a biennial conference of the India Union and was referred to as the Ranchi Conference. Besides the organization of union missions, the constitution and bylaws were formulated for the North East India Union Mission as a model for others. The matter of literature for Indians also was addressed. Writers were encouraged to produce original material, to use local illustrations, and to ensure proper translation.115 The importance of learning the local language was emphasized in the context of establishing new mission stations.116 Unlike the first missionaries, newcomers were given two years off for language study.

The intention was to have division councils every two years, though circumstances often necessitated postponement and/or cancellation. From 1956 onward councils came every four years till 1971. Till 1985 the Southern Asia Division Committee attending the General Conference made appointments for departmental directors and union officers, and division councils were held in the year following a General Conference session. From 1985 division councils were held in the same calendar year as the General Conference session, and such appointments were made at that time.

     1. The council held February 9–19, 1922, was called a Council of the Executive Board. The discussions addressed matters pertaining to missionaries from overseas. The council approved a Missionary Manual, which provided guidelines and policies for such issues as language study, hill leave, allowances, rents, budgeting, reporting, traveling, use of motor vehicles, bicycles, etc., which were set forth in a leaflet.117

     2. The following division council met in Poona December 28, 1923–January 5, 1924. The council was preceded by the first biennial conferences for the unions. At the council, boards were appointed for the Oriental Watchman Publishing House, Vincent Hill School, and the Sanitarium Food Company. The council also appointed a literature committee and approved a new constitution for the publishing house.118 The council was followed by an English Workers Convention, hinting that national workers were present at the council.119

No record of a division council has yet been traced either in photographs, minutes, or the Eastern Tidings between 1925 and 1928. A very full division (executive) committee met January 19–24, 1926, and took up matters of credentials and licenses, appointed boards.120 Similarly, on March 10–13, 1927, a division committee met to issue credentials and licenses, appoint union superintendents, boards, etc. These actions along with the large number of pages in the minutes suggest that these division committees were substitutes for division councils. 121

     3. The next division council in available records took place February 28–March 7, 1929, at Salisbury Park, Pune. The publishing work received significant attention. Colporteurs’ benefits and credentials of local colporteurs were approved. The council also created operating policies for unions, the Oriental Watchman Publishing House, and Vincent Hill School. 122 The Bombay Union Mission was bifurcated, separating the Bombay Presidency from the North West Union.123 An application for recommending students to training school was formulated.

     4. The division council scheduled was postponed. Eventually it was held December 27–30, 1932, at the division office in Poona. When it was rescheduled, the size of the delegation was reduced significantly124 and was little more than a division committee, though it was referred to as a council.125 The issues of baptism, conversion, and marriage were addressed. A highlight of the meetings was the presence of a question box. The emphasis in the context of the Depression is understandably on the budget and the reduction, though officers expressed gratefulness that it was not so serious. 126

The biennial council that should have met in the winter of 1934–1935 was postponed to 1935–1936, and again postponed.127

     5. The council that met in Salisbury Park December 1936–January 1937 spent considerable time on baptism with regard to standards, a manual, and reporting. Another action of lasting effect was that taken to produce a baptismal manual. The council also approved upgrading the South India Training School to junior college level, and changed its name to Spicer College and made it a division institution devoted to training vernacular workers. Other schools in the division were instructed to desist from offering post-high school courses. The Spicer College board would be appointed at division councils. Henceforth the Eastern Tidings would be distributed free to all English workers.128

Because of the onset of war and the absence of General Conference personnel who could not travel to the division, the council was postponed repeatedly.129

     6. The new campus of Spicer College was the venue for the council March 13–22, 1948. Meeting after a gap of 11 years because of the war, the council was preceded by a ministerial institute. At this time all the countries in the division had achieved independence, even Burma, which had been occupied by Axis forces. The opening song “There’s a New Day Dawning” reflected this reality.130

     7. The council met at Salisbury Park, Poona, January 26–February 5, 1950. Emphasis was laid on the Sabbath School as an organization. Issues discussed were membership records, the opening and closing of the service, the Sabbath School offerings, goals, and even branch Sabbath Schools. Home Missionary reports were to be given in church. The council also appointed union superintendents and secretary-treasurers.131

     8. At the division council in Poona December 14–23, 1951, Robert Pierson announced an effort to release men from administration to engage in evangelism. Administrative units were reduced by joining local fields to make local missions. The Northwest and Western unions were combined to form the Northwestern India Union. Giffard Memorial and Surat hospitals were put under union administration.132

     9. The council held March 9–17, 1956, also stressed evangelism. More than four hundred delegates were present, and the General Conference president, R. R. Fighur, was present. The East Pakistan Section, which had from the beginning been part of the Northeast Union, was removed and attached to the Pakistan Union.133 The council also paid attention to sponsorship of students for various educational programs in the division. 134

     10. The division council held in Poona December 29, 1959–January 5, 1960, had 136 delegates with visitors from the GC, including C. L. Torrey, W. R. Beach, and R. A. Anderson from the Ministerial Association. Each union was instructed to establish a high school that would feed Spicer College. Hindi was to be taught in Indian schools, but would not be compulsory for the DSLC exam. Attention was given to the problem of Sabbath exams and recognition for Spicer’s bachelor’s level curriculum.135

     11. The council December 4–10, 1963, saw two hundred delegates come to Salisbury Park, Poona. Newly elected president R. S. Lowry showed intent to develop indigenous leadership, and several nationals were elected to union officer positions: Burma Union secretary-treasurer Kalee Paw; North East India Union secretary-treasurer, S. John; North West India Union secretary-treasurer, C. N. John; South India Union secretary-treasurer, I. K. Moses; and for the first time, a national union president in M. D. Moses, for the Western India Union. V. Raju was elected manager of the Oriental Watchman Publishing House. M. E. Cherian was elected Spicer College president.136

     12. This council, held December 11–16, 1967, in Poona, was very helpfully labeled the Twelfth Division Council. Following councils took their ordinal numbers from here on. Seven hundred delegates attended. It would be best remembered by those who attended for the more than forty earthquakes and tremors with epicenters in nearby Koyna. SASDA, the division food factory, was transferred to Spicer College as an industry.137

     13. The council that should have been held in 1971 was first rescheduled to June 1972 because of the Indo-Pakistani War in 1971. Initially rescheduled for June 1972, eventually it met November 28–December 3, 1972. A minimal delegation of about one hundred attended. Most of the work was done referred to the executive committee, which met on December 4–5. Emphasis was on membership audit in preparation for the Forward in Faith program. Teacher certification occupied considerable attention. The wage scale was modified, with I–XV categories on a single norm compared to the earlier four norms.

     14. For the first time in the history of the division the council met outside India. It was held December 10–14, 1976, at Lakpahana Adventist Seminary, Sri Lanka, with three hundred delegates. A pageant on Sabbath afternoon depicted the history of Southern Asia from 1890 to 1976. 138 Burma was the only union not represented, because of travel restrictions.

     15. The council was held November 25–30, 1981 again at Salisbury Park, Poona, with three hundered fifty delegates. It was preceded by a six-day lay activities council. At this time the decision was taken to hold the division councils henceforth in the same calendar year as the General Conference session. A board of education set up to replace the division education advisory council to provide guidelines for schools.139

     16. Once again the council, held October 23–26, 1985, in Poona, was preceded by a six-day ministerial council. Four hundred delegates attended. An emotional farewell to the unions of Pakistan, Burma, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka marked the council. After 66 years of being together, Pakistan would be joining the Trans-European Division, and Burma, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka would be joining the Asia-Pacific Division.140

     17. The General Conference president, Bob Folkenberg, was present for the council held November 25–December 1, 1990. The division office had moved to Hosur, Tamilnadu, but the council was once again held at Salisbury Park, Pune. Three hundred fifty delegates plus three hundred guests attended. The Global Mission program was introduced at this time.141 Wintley Phipps added to the spirit with his inspiring singing. For many the highlight of the council was the easing of tension between the former division president G. J. Christo and the present president, M. E. Cherian, when Christo embraced Cherian in an affirmation of oneness.142

     18. The next council November 14–18, 1995, was held again in Pune with five hundred delegates. Minister of State for External Affairs Slaman Khurshid and his wife, Mrs. Louise Khurshid, were chief guests for the council. Christian leaders of Pune City assembled at the Spicer Campus on November 12. W.R.L. Scragg and M. E. Cherian addressed a press conference on November 13.143

     19. Once more the council, November 14–18, 2000, was held at Salisbury Park, Pune, with 395 delegates and 51 guests. At this time new units were created by bifurcating the Central India Union into the Western India Attached Field/Union and the East Central India Union, and the trifurcation of the South India Union into the Kerala (Southwest India) Attached Field/Union, the Karnataka-Goa (South Central India) Attached Field/Union, and the South India Union (Tamil Fields and Pondicherry).144

     20. The council November 2005, was held at Salisbury Park, Pune. A controversial issue was the raising of the highest retiring age for employees eligible to be part of the denomination’s Provident Fund from 62 to 65 while at the same time for those under the government employees Provident Fund the highest retiring age was reduced from 62 to 58, except for those “elected” as administrative heads.145 The decision caused a lot of unhappiness. The centenary of the Tidings was celebrated with a special issue released at the council.

     21. For the first time a Division Council was held at the Division headquarters in Hosur. It was held November 16–20, 2010, with 253 attendees. The centenary of the first executive committee of the India Union, which was organized in 1910 was celebrated. GC president Ted Wilson was present. The distinction between “elected” and “appointed” was removed for retiring ages.146

     22. The council was held in Pune on the campus of Spicer College, which had just benefited from a government act approving the establishment of a university. It was held November 17–21, 2015, with 273 attendees. The council was conducted by the president and secretary as the treasurer who had been nominated at the GC session in 2015 and reaffirmed at the 2016 division executive mid-year committee, was approved only at the following 2017 General Conference Spring Council. There was no division treasurer in the nominating committee.147

Celebrations of Heritage: Golden Jubilee

The fiftieth anniversary of the Adventist mission in India was a yearlong celebration in 1945. The Eastern Tidings announced it in the January 1 issue,148 and in the next issue someone initialed “T,” supposedly the editor, Mrs. A. F. Tarr, celebrated the arrival of Georgia Burrus fifty years ago that very month.149 In September the Eastern Tidings brought out two Golden Jubilee specials. The first carried a lead article by the editor, and sported photographs and writeups of all the presidents starting from J. L. Shaw and the formation of the India Union in 1910.150 W. A. Spicer recounted the pioneer days,151 and J. E. Fulton recalled the inauguration of the Southern Asia Division at Ranchi in 1919.152

Part II of the Golden Jubilee series contained articles on the history of the work in each union: L. G. Mookerjee, on the North East;153 W. H. McHenry, on the work in the West;154 F. H. Loasby, on the work in the Northwest;155 and E. D. Thomas, on the work in the South.156 Spread out over both issues were articles on the history of each department of the division.

Surprisingly, the actual celebration of the fifty years of mission work in India was termed a “Silver Jubilee.”157 The issue contained a transcript of the service held in the church at Salisbury Park. The service was chaired by E. D. Thomas. L. G. Mookerjee delivered a history. The last page of the Tidings honored those who had given their lives for the work in India.

Celebrations of Heritage: Centenary Celebration

One would have expected the centenary of Adventist mission in India to be celebrated in 1995 since the fifty-year event celebrated the coming of the first mission workers in 1895. However, the Annual Council of the Adventist Church was slated to meet in India for the first time. The event was scheduled for October 5–11, 1993, in Bangalore. Since the first colporteurs A. T. Stroup and William Lenker had arrived in India in 1893, this seemed an opportune time to celebrate the hundred years.

Preparations for the event started appeared in the August, September, and October issues of the Southern Asia Tidings. The Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri Veerappa Moily, paid rich tribute to the contributions of Christian missions in India.158 About eight thousand people assembled on Sabbath for the centenary celebration. Former missionaries and senior workers were honored. A cultural pageant and a play depicting the early history of the church in India concluded the celebrations on Sabbath afternoon.159

To commemorate the centenary, the Oriental Watchman Publishing House released a book, Images 1893–1993, a collection of photographs and illustrations of the work of the Adventists in India.

Centenary of the Organization of the India Union Mission

In 2010 at the year-end division executive committee the centenary of the formation of the India Union and the first executive committee. A heritage special issue of the Southern Asia Tidings was issued in November 2010. Special guests were R. S. Lowry, who had served practically his entire career in India, including 16 years as division president, and Fern Babcock, great-granddaughter of D. A. Robinson, the first superintendent of the work in India starting from 1895 till his untimely death from smallpox in 1899. The Tidings special heritage issue printed a list of all the division officers till date and another list of all missionaries who had served form 1895 till 1910.

Centenary of the Organization of the Southern Asia Division

To celebrate the formation of the Southern Asia Division, the entire division committee traveled to Ranchi, where the council had been held December 25, 1919– January 4, 1920. The division committee met from May 28–30, 2019, and the main celebration took place on Tuesday night, May 28, at a thanksgiving service. President Ezras Lakra delivered the sermon “100 Years Journey,” focusing on the memorial stones the Israelites placed on the banks of the Jordan. Then historian Gordon Christo presented a PowerPoint history of the church in Southern Asia up to 1919. On Thursday the committee traveled by bus to Karmatar, the first station established by the Adventists in 1898, where there was another service and PowerPoint presentation of the work from 1919 to 2019.

The Oriental Watchman Publishing House reprinted the hundred-year-old issues of the December 1 issue of the India Union Tidings, which had heralded the Ranchi Conference, and the January 1 and 15, 1920, issue of the renamed Eastern Tidings, which reported the proceedings of the conference. At the conclusion of the celebration, the division officers distributed a commemorative paperweight.

Outlook for the Future

The challenge of Southern Asia is immense to say the least. If one were to check for comparative progress over the past hundred years there is little. At the end of 1921 there were 1,423 members in Southern Asia, which at that time included the territories of what is now Bangladesh, Burma, and Pakistan. The 1921 census of India showed the population of these territories to be 1,805,332.160 The church had reached 0.1 percent of the population. The current membership of the Adventist Church in Southern Asia today is a vague 1.3 million. Statistics are controversial. Audits have been conducted but are not complete. The population of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, and Nepal today total more than 1.7 billion. Proportionately, the church has still reached only about 0.1 percent of the population. Numberswise, we are falling behind swiftly.

Nevertheless, with newer methods there is hope. AWR is reaching across the territories with SW and FM broadcasts and the Internet. Hope Channel—International and Hope Channel–India—is available through satellite and the Internet. More and more churches are livestreaming their services, which are available through YouTube. It is impossible to gauge how many are reached through these means, but the possibilities are immense.

Executive Officers Chronology

Presidents: J. E. Fulton (1919–1921); W. W. Fletcher (1921–1923); Nathaniel C. Wilson (1934–1942); Gentry G. Lowry (1942); A. L. Ham (1942–1950); Robert H. Pierson (1950–1954); Ollie O. Mattison (1954–1962); Roscoe S. Lowry (1962–1980); Gerald J. Christo (1980–1990); M. E. Cherian (1990–1997); Donald R. Watts (1997–2008); R. John (2008–2015); Ezras Lakra (2015– )

Secretaries: A. H. Williams (1919–1920); W. W. Fletcher (1920–1921); A. H. Williams (1921–1926); C. L. Torrey (1926–1936); A. E. Nelson (1936–1942); A. F. Tarr (1942–1950); J. F. Ashlock (1950–1954); D. S. Johnson (1954–1962); C. R. Bonney (1962–1966); C. B. Guild (1966–1973); A. J. Johanson (1973–1975); Gerald J. Christo (1975–1980); E. A. Hetke (1980–1985); R. D. Riches (1985–1990); Lowell Cooper (1990–1991); J. M. Campbell (1991–1997); K. J. Moses (1998–2005); R. John (2005–2008); Gordon E. Christo (2008–2015); Mesapogu Wilson (2015– )

Treasurers: A. H. Williams (1919–1926); C. L. Torrey (1926–1936); A. E. Nelson (1936–1942); A. F. Tarr (1942–1950); M. E. Kemmerer (1950–1962); C. B. Guild (1962–1966); B. H. Stickle (1966–1975); B. J. Williams (1975–1980); F. M. Ytreberg (1980–1984); I. E. Grice (1984–1985); J. Koilpillai (1985–1990); I. N. Rao (1990–1997); P. D. Kunjachan (1998–2005); G. S. Robert Clive (2005–2015); Selvin Moorthy (2015– )

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Charles, Vijayan, “On the Road With the World President.” Southern Asia Tidings, February 1991.

“Chief Minister Moily Hails Christianity’s Service to Mankind.” Southern Asia Tidings, November 1993.

Christo, Gerald J. Out of the Clay Pit. Hosur: Thomson Graphic, 2009.

Christo, Gordon. “Taking Root—the First Indigenous Pastors.” Southern Asia Tidings, November 2010.

Cormack, A. W. “The President’s Report, Southern Asia Division Biennial Council, December 17, 1930—January 3, 1931.” Eastern Tidings, Special Number, 5.

“Day of Reconciliation.” Southern Asia Tidings, January 1991.

“Division Biennial Council.” Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, August 16, 18–20, 1935, no. 5137.

Eastern Tidings, June 1, 1920; March 1, 1922; February 1, 1924; February 15, 1946; April 15, 1950.

Editor. “The Harvest Has Begun.” Southern Asia Tidings, October 1986.

“Educational Report of the Southern Asia Division.” Eastern Tidings, October 1, 1920.

Southern Asia Division executive board minutes, August 26, 1920, no. 294.

“Expression of Appreciation.” Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee/council, December 27–30, no. 3068.

“Far Eastern Fields.” General Conference Committee minutes, November 7, 1915. http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Minutes/GCC/GCC1915.pdf.

Fletcher, W. W. “Condensed Quadrennial Report.” Eastern Tidings, July 1, 1922.

———. “Return From the General Conference.” Eastern Tidings, September 1, 1918.

———. “The Ranchi Conference.” Eastern Tidings, January 1 and 15, 1920.

Fowler, J. M. “Twelfth Division Council Marked With Vivid Reports. Delegates See Earth Tremors as Signs.” Southern Asia Tidings, January 1968.

Fulton, J. E. “Our Work in the Southern Asia Division of the General Conference,” Eastern Tidings, January 1 and 15, 1920.

“Further Resolutions Passed.” Eastern Tidings, January 8, 1937.

“Further Resolutions Passed.” Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1937.

General Conference minutes, August 4, 1910, 261. Accessed June 16, 2019. http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Minutes/GCC/GCC1910.pdf.

General Conference Committee minutes, May 4, 1919.

“Gratitude to God.” Southern Asia Division council minutes, 1948, 2804 (opening meeting), no. 10412.

Ham, A. L. “1895–1945, A Report of the Silver Jubilee Service That Was Held on Sabbath, December 15, 1945.” Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1946.

———. “Former Leaders of the Southern Asia Division.” Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1946.

“Highlights of the Southern Asia Division Council, December 14–23, 1951.” Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1952.

“How to Successfully Open Up and Carry on Mission Work on a New Mission Station.” Eastern Tidings, March 1, 1920.

Howell, W. E. “God’s Plan of Education in India.” Review and Herald, June 21, 1923.

http://www.icnl.org/research/library/files/India/IndiaPublicTrusts1950.pdf.

“In Memoriam.” Eastern Tidings, April 1916.

“India Mission.” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1908.

“Institutions in Southern Asia Division.” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1920.

Kent, H. Maxwell. “Victory for the Oriental Watchman, in Hyderabad.” Eastern Tidings, June 15, 1939.

Langhu, Koberson. “The Origin and Development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in India 1895-1947.” Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies, 2017.

Loasby, F. M. “Sowing the Seed in the Northwest.” Eastern Tidings, September 15, 1945.

Lowry, G. G. “Important Announcement.” Eastern Tidings, November 1, 1941.

Lowry, R. S. “Great Things He Hath Done: Report to the General Conference Session.” Eastern Tidings, July 1970.

Martin, S. O. “Our Vernacular Work in Poona.” ARH, September 17, 1925.

Mattison, M. M. “The Punjab Workers Meeting.” ARH, August 21, 1919.

Meleen, E. M. “How Many Departed?” Eastern Tidings, May 15, 1943.

———. “Mainstone.” Eastern Tidings, May 15, 1943.

———. “The Training School: Its Object and Purpose.” Eastern Tidings, May 15, 1920.

“Membership Standards.” Minutes of the biennial conference of the Southern Asia Division. Eastern Tidings, May 9, 1929.

Michael, T. J. “The New Division Office Building.” Eastern Tidings, April 15, 1930.

Michael, T. J., acting treasurer. “Division Treasury Department Report.” Eastern Tidings, Special Number.

Minutes for the Southern Asia Division committee, 1952.

Minutes of the available members of the Southern Asia Division committee, November 8, 1951, no. 13267.

Minutes of the division council, March 9–17, 1956, no. 56–123. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, August 21, 1986, no. D 86-73/285. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, August 6, 2013, nos. 2013-75 and 76. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, December 30–31, 1985, no. D 85-236/446. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, November 11–13, 2003, no. 2003-148. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, November 16, 2000, no. 2000-139/25. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division, 19th council, November 14, 2000. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, February 24–March 1, 1932, no. 2976. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, March 4, 1921. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, April 1, 1921, no. 517. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, April 12, 1922, no. 755. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, April 29, 1924, no. 1325. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, December 26, 1920. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, December 8, 1921, no. 634; and January 28, 1922, no. 644. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, February 4, 1920, no. 69. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, January 11, 1923, no. 878. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, January 11, 1923, no. 863. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, January 19–24. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, March 10, 1929, no. 2241. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, March 10–13, 1927. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, March 17, 1932 no. 2995. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, March 5, 1929, no. 2216. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, October 25, 1921, no. 589. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee,” March 7–12, 1933, no. 4147. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division council, December 29, 1959–Jan 5, 1960. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division council, February 28–March 7, 1929. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee held at Salisbury Park, November 14, 2000. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, February 25, 1985, no. D 85-3/32. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, January 19, 1951, no. 12421. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, March 6, 1991, nos. 91-100. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, March 6, 1991, nos. 91-99. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, November 14, 2000, nos. 2000-137 and 2000-138. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, November 2, 1983, no. D 83-107/369. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, November 23, 2001, preamble to no. 2001-243 and no. 2001-244. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the year-end committee of the Southern Asia Division, December 10, 1956, no. 56-610. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes of the year-end committee of the Southern Asia Division, December 10, 1956, no. 56-611, p. 232. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Minutes postponing the next council are recorded on March 5, 1940, no. 7024; October 22, 1941, no. 7676; January 2, 1942, no. 7688; December 17, 1943, no. 8364; September 4, 1946, no. 9613; November 4, 1946, no. 9689. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Mookerjee, L. G. “Early Days in the North East.” Eastern Tidings, September 15, 1945.

———. “Literature for Indians, Paper Presented at the Biennial Conference.” Eastern Tidings, February 1, 15, 1920.

———. “The Village School: Paper Presented at the Ranchi Conference.” Eastern Tidings, February 1, 15, 1920.

Nathaniel, Margaret, “Friday, October 25, 1985.” Southern Asia Tidings, Special Bulletin.

———. “1985 Division Council, Friday, Oct 25.” Southern Asia Tidings, special.

“Organization of the West Pakistan Union.” Minutes of a meeting of the executive committee of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Southern Asia Division, December 23, 1948, no. 10891.

“Quarterly Statistical Report for the Quarter Ending December 31, 1970.” Eastern Tidings, April 1971.

“Quarterly Statistical Report for the Quarter Ending March 31, 1971.” Eastern Tidings, July 1971.

“Reorganization in India.” India Union Mission executive committee minutes, May 6, 1919.

“Reorganization of the India Mission Field.” General Conference Committee minutes, May 4, 1919, 287, 288, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Minutes/GCC/GCC1918.pdf.

“Reorganization of the India Mission.” India Union Mission executive committee minutes, December 17, 1918.

Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, 1920–2018. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1920, 1930, 1943, 1948.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2015–2019.

Southern Asia Division committee minutes for 1948. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Southern Asia Division council minutes, 1956, March 15, no. 56-123. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Southern Asia Division council minutes 1956, March 18, no. 56-223. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Southern Asia Division council minutes. “Policy Amendments,” 2005-68/31. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Southern Asia Division council minutes, “Policy Amendments,” 2010-83/59. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Southern Asia Division council minutes, “Standing Committees,” 2015-163/14. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Southern Asia Division council minutes, 1981, 81-385. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Southern Asia Division council minutes, March 29, 1929, no. 2276. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Southern Asia Division executive committee minutes, December 12, 1932, no. 3056. Southern Asia Division Archives, Hosur, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.

Southern Asia Division executive committee minutes, January 8, 1943, no. 8131.

Southern Asia Tidings, January 1964.

“Special Events.” Southern Asia Tidings, Quinquennium 1990–1995, December 1995.

“Statistical Report.” Eastern Tidings, July 15, 1918.

“Statistical Report of the India Union Mission.” Eastern Tidings, September 1, 1918.

“Statistical Report of the India Union Mission for the Year Ending Dec 31, 1919.” Eastern Tidings, May 1, 1920.

“Statistical Report of the Southern Asia Division for the Quarter Ending March 31, 1920.” Eastern Tidings, June 1, 1920.

Stevens, W. H. “The West Bengal Mission.” Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1922.

Tarr, A. F. “Meeting India’s Leaders.” Eastern Tidings, July 15, 1947.

Tarr, Mrs. A. F. “Fifty Years Ago: Lighting the Torch.” Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1945.

“The Conference: Important Actions Taken at the Conference.” Eastern Tidings, February 1907.

“The Program Is Still Evangelism.” Eastern Tidings, June 15, 1952.

Thomas, E. D. “Early Days in South India.” Eastern Tidings, September 15, 1945.

———. “1945—India’s Golden Jubilee.” Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1945.

———. “Sabbath School Department Report.” Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1937.

Times of India. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/miscellaneous/fcra/articleshow/56221166.cms.

Torrey, C. L. “The Spring Meeting of the Division Committee.” Eastern Tidings, April 1, 1932.

“Training School for Bombay Mission.” Meeting of the executive board of the Southern Asia Division, January 7, 1920, no. 32.

“Treatment Rooms.” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1920.

“We End the Council to Begin the Quinquennium.” Southern Asia Tidings, January 1991.

White, Ellen G. Ellen G. White letter 26, 1907, to W. D. Salisbury in Australia. https://education.adventist.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Ellen-White-and-the-Situation-of-Adventist-Schools-in-Urban-Settings.pdf.

Williams, A. H. “Divisional Headquarters Development.” Eastern Tidings, July 1, 1922.

Woodward, H. G. “The Work in Malabar, South India.” ARH, October 4, 1923

Notes

  1. “Southern Asia Division,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2019), 315.

  2. The India Mission (“India Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook [Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1908], 133) was the first to define the territory.

  3. “The Conference: Important Actions Taken at the Conference,” Eastern Tidings, February 1907, 4–6.

  4. General Conference Committee minutes, August 4, 1910, 261, accessed June 16, 2019, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Minutes/GCC/GCC1910.pdf.

  5. “Far Eastern Fields,” General Conference Committee minutes, November 7, 1915, 328, 329, accessed on November 20, 2019, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Minutes/GCC/GCC1915.pdf.

  6. “Reorganization of the India Mission,” India Union Mission executive committee minutes, December 17, 1918, 58.

  7. “Reorganization in India,” India Union Mission executive committee minutes, May 6, 1919, 64.

  8. “Asiatic Organization,” General Conference Committee minutes, June 11, 1918, 50, accessed November 20, 2019, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Minutes/GCC/GCC1918.pdf.

  9. W. W. Fletcher, “Return From the General Conference,” Eastern Tidings, September 1, 1918, 1, 2.

  10. General Conference Committee minutes, May 4, 1919, 286, 287, accessed September 18, 2019.

  11. W. W. Fletcher, “The Ranchi Conference,” Eastern Tidings, January 1 and 15, 1920, 2, 3.

  12. J. E. Fulton, “Our Work in the Southern Asia Division of the General Conference,” Eastern Tidings, January 1 and 15, 1920, 31, 32.

  13. “Biennial Conference Actions,” Eastern Tidings, “Biennial Conference Number,” 22.

  14. “Reorganization of the India Mission Field,” General Conference Committee minutes, May 4, 1919, 287, 288, accessed on November 20, 2019, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Minutes/GCC/GCC1918.pdf.

  15. Koberson Langhu, “The Origin and Development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in India (1895–1947) (Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies: 2017), 163, note 26.

  16. “Statistical Report of the India Union Mission for the Year Ending December 31, 1919,” Eastern Tidings, May 1, 1920, 4.

  17. “Institutions in Southern Asia Division,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1920), 201.

  18. “Treatment Rooms,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1920), 270.

  19. W. E. Howell, “God’s Plan of Education in India,” ARH, June, 21, 1923, 17. Langhu, 169.

  20. L. G. Mookerjee, “The Village School: Paper Presented at the Ranchi Conference,” Eastern Tidings, February 1, 15, 1920, 8–11.

  21. W. W. Fletcher, “Condensed Quadrennial Report,” Eastern Tidings, July 1, 1922, 4

  22. E. M. Meleen, “The Training School: Its Object and Purpose,” Eastern Tidings, May 15, 1920, 1, 2, and Eastern Tidings, June 1, 1920, 4, 5.

  23. Meeting of the executive board of the Southern Asia Division, January 7, 1920, no. 32, “Training School for Bombay Mission.”

  24. Southern Asia Division executive board minutes, August 26, 1920, no. 294.

  25. “Educational Report of the Southern Asia Division,” Eastern Tidings, October 1, 1920, 11.

  26. Fletcher, “Condensed Quadrennial Report.”

  27. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, February 4, 1920, no. 69

  28. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, December 26, 1920.

  29. S. O. Martin, “Our Vernacular Work in Poona,” Review and Herald, September 17, 1925, 1. See also minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, March 4, 1921.

  30. Ibid.

  31. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, April 1, 1921, no. 517.

  32. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, December 8, 1921, no. 634, and January 28, 1922, no. 644.

  33. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, October 25, 1921, no. 589.

  34. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, April 12, 1922, no. 755.

  35. A. H. Williams, “Divisional Headquarters Development,” Eastern Tidings, July 1, 1922, 7.

  36. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, January 11, 1923, no. 863.

  37. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, January 11, 1923, no. 878.

  38. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, April 29, 1924 no. 1325.

  39. T. J. Michael, “The New Division Office Building,” Eastern Tidings, April 15, 1930, 1.

  40. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, March 17, 1932, no. 2995. Approved the plan submitted by Shivram Singh Gahlot.

  41. The index for Southern Asia Division committee minutes for 1948 contain both the items for the need for the school and the completion of the school, but the minute number in the index does not match the minutes and could not be located.

  42. Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1920), 272.

  43. Alphonse Mingana, The Early Spread of Christianity in India, accessed September 26, 2019, https://www.escholar.manchester.ac.uk/api/datastream?publicationPid=uk-ac-man-scw:1m1200&datastreamId=POST-PEER-REVIEW-PUBLISHERS-DOCUMENT.PDF.

  44. Margaret Nathaniel, “Friday, October 25, 1985,” Southern Asia Tidings (Special Bulletin).

  45. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, March 5, 1929, no. 2216, 14, 15.

  46. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, March 10, 1929, no. 2241.

  47. “Bombay Union Organization,” minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, March 29, 1929, no. 2276, 659.

  48. “Bombay Union Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1930).

  49. Minutes of the available members of the Southern Asia Division committee, November 8, 1951, no. 13267, p. 3603. Minutes for 1952 are incomplete, but this must have been passed, since it is in the index. The combined union retained the name Northwestern Union.

  50. Minutes of the year-end committee of the Southern Asia Division, December 10, 1956, no. 56–610, p. 231.

  51. Minutes of the year-end committee of the Southern Asia Division, December 10, 1956, no. 56-611, p. 232.

  52. Gerald J. Christo, Out of the Clay Pit (Hosur: Thomson Graphic, 2009), 66.

  53. Ibid.

  54. Cecil B. Guild, “India Unions Are Realigned,” Eastern Tidings, January 1971, 1.

  55. Quarterly Statistical Report for the Quarter Ending December 31, 1970, Eastern Tidings, April 1971, 8, 9.

  56. Quarterly Statistical Report for the Quarter Ending March 31, 1971, Eastern Tidings, July 1971, 8, 9.

  57. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, November 2, 1983, no. D 83-107/369. The action was to request the GC for authorization and for this to be effective January 1, 1984.

  58. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, March 6, 1991, no. 91-100, p. 27.

  59. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, March 6, 1991, no. 91-99, p. 27

  60. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, August 6, 2013, no. 2013-75 and 76 pp. 55, 56.

  61. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, November 14, 2000, no. 2000-137 and 2000-138, pp. 78, 79.

  62. See the acknowledgment in the minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, November 23, 2001, preamble to no. 2001-243 and no. 2001-244, pp. 126, 127.

  63. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, November 16, 2000, no. 2000-139/25, p. 104.

  64. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, November 11–13, 2003, no. 2003-148, p. 93.

  65. A. W. Cormack, “The President’s Report,” Southern Asia Division Biennial Council, December 17, 1930–January 3, 1931,” Eastern Tidings, Special Number, 5.

  66. T. J. Michael, Acting Treasurer, “Division Treasury Department Report,” Eastern Tidings, Special Number, 7.

  67. C. L. Torrey, “The Spring Meeting of the Division Committee,” Eastern Tidings, April 1, 1932, 3.

  68. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, March 7–12, 1933, no. 4147, gives the new name as “Seventh-day Adventist Mission, Western India.”

  69. Langhu, 308, 309.

  70. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, February 24–March 1, 1932, no. 2976, pp. 951–953.

  71. “Balancing the Budget,” minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, June 9, 1932, nos. 3008, 3009.

  72. See Langhu, 352.

  73. Ibid., 309, 310.

  74. G. G. Lowry, “Important Announcement,” Eastern Tidings, November 1, 1941, 2. See also Langhu, 353.

  75. Langhu, 354.

  76. E. M. Meleen, “Mainstone,” Eastern Tidings, May 15, 1943, 8 cited in Langhu, 355.

  77. E. M. Meleen, “How Many Departed?” Eastern Tidings, May 15, 1943, 2. See also Ibid., 356.

  78. Langhu, 357.

  79. See the special issue of “In Memoriam,” Eastern Tidings, April 1916, 1–16.

  80. G. J. Christo, 19.

  81. H. Maxwell Kent, “Victory for the Oriental Watchman, in Hyderabad” Eastern Tidings, June 15, 1939, 5, 6.

  82. See Langhu, 359.

  83. A. F. Tarr, “Meeting India’s Leaders,” Eastern Tidings, July 15, 1947, 1, 2.

  84. G. J. Christo, 28, 29.

  85. “Organization of the West Pakistan Union,” minutes of a meeting of the executive committee of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Southern Asia Division, December 23, 1948, no. 10891.

  86. A subcommittee was appointed on March 14, 1956, vide action no. 56-122, and having received the report, the first thing the next morning the East Pakistan Section was merged with the West Pakistan Union and the combined unit was named the Pakistan Union. Minutes of the division council, March 9–17, 1956, no. 56-123.

  87. See http://www.icnl.org/research/library/files/India/IndiaPublicTrusts1950.pdf.

  88. Center for Advancement of Philanthropy, “Major Amendments in Rules for Charitable Trusts in Maharashtra,” accessed on October 2, 2019, https://capindia.in/major-amendments-in-rules-for-charitable-trusts-in-maharashtra/. The focus in this article is on more recent amendments, but it illustrates the challenges of working in a state with a charity tax commissioner.

  89. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/miscellaneous/fcra/articleshow/56221166.cms.

  90. G. J. Christo, 72.

  91. Ibid., 73, 74.

  92. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, February 25, 1985, no. D 85-3/32.

  93. She wrote, “The instruction is still being given, Move out of the cities. Establish your sanitariums, your schools, and offices away from the centers of population” (letter 26, 1907, to W. D. Salisbury in Australia) accessed October 1, 2019, https://education.adventist.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Ellen-White-and-the-Situation-of-Adventist-Schools-in-Urban-Settings.pdf.

  94. G. J. Christo, 90.

  95. Ibid., 91.

  96. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, December 30-31, 1985. no. D 85-236/446.

  97. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, August 21, 1986, no. D 86-73/285.

  98. Gordon Christo, “Taking Root—the First Indigenous Pastors,” Southern Asia Tidings, November 2010, 21-22.

  99. Ibid., 23, 24.

  100. Longhu, 364, refers to “Further Resolutions Passed, Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1937, 13.

  101. Southern Asia Division executive committee minutes, January 8, 1943, no. 8131.

  102. I compared the Seventh-day Adventist Yearbooks of 1943 and 1948 and found many more Indians among leadership roles, especially at the Mission level.

  103. G. J. Christo, 124.

  104. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee, January 19, 1951, no. 12421.

  105. See G. J. Christo, 124.

  106. The information in this paragraph is taken from the respective Seventh-day Adventist Yearbooks.

  107. Langhu, 170, refers to W. H. Stevens, “The West Bengal Mission,” Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1922, 5; H. G. Woodward, “The Work in Malabar, South India,” Review and Herald, October 4, 1923; M. M. Mattison, “The Punjab Workers Meeting,” Review and Herald, August 21, 1919, 18.

  108. Compare “Statistical Report,” Eastern Tidings, July 15, 1918, 7, which reported a total of 360 unbaptized adherents, and “Statistical Report of the India Union Mission,” Eastern Tidings, September 1, 1918, 6, with “Statistical Report of the Southern Asia Division for the Quarter Ending March 31, 1920,” Eastern Tidings, June 1, 1920, 9.

  109. See “Actions of the North-East India Union Mission Biennial Conference,” Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1922, 12, and “Actions of the North-West India Union Mission Biennial Conference, Eastern Tidings, March 15, 1922, 14. See comments of Langhu, 171.

  110. “Membership Standards,” minutes of the biennial conference of the Southern Asia Division, Eastern Tidings, March 7, 1929, May 9, 1929, 5, 6.

  111. Langhu, 171.

  112. “A Five-Point Proposal of Revival and Evangelism,” Eastern Tidings, May 1, 1951, 1. See also Robert H Pierson, “The Program Is Still Evangelism,” Eastern Tidings, June 15, 1952, 1.

  113. R. S. Lowry, “Great Things He Hath Done: Report to the General Conference Session,” Eastern Tidings, July 1970, 6.

  114. See Editor, “The Harvest Has Begun,” Southern Asia Tidings, October 1986, 2; Annual Statistical Report of the Southern Asia Division, Southern Asia Tidings, August 1986, 8, 9.

  115. L. G. Mookerjee, “Literature for Indians: Paper Presented at the Biennial Conference,” Eastern Tidings, February 1, 15, 1920, 1–4.

  116. “How to Successfully Open Up and Carry On Mission Work on a New Mission Station,” Eastern Tidings, March 1, 1920, 5–7.

  117. Eastern Tidings, March 1, 1922, 1, 2.

  118. Eastern Tidings, February 1, 1924, 8.

  119. Eastern Tidings, February 15, 1924, 4.

  120. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, January 19–24, 463–484.

  121. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, March 10–13, 1927, 516–541.

  122. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division council, February 28–March 7, 1929, 17–28.

  123. Southern Asia Division council minutes, March 29, 1929, no. 2276, p. 659.

  124. Southern Asia executive committee minutes, December 12, 1932 no. 3056, p. 987.

  125. E. D. Thomas, “Sabbath School Department Report,” Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1937, 5, writes “at the last council in 1932. . . ,” and all statistics of the departments compare 1936 with 1932.

  126. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee/council, December 27–30, no. 3068, “Expression of Appreciation,” p. 1000.

  127. “Division Biennial Council,” minutes of the Southern Asia Division committee, August 16, 18–20, 1935, nos. 5137, 1238.

  128. See “Further Resolutions Passed,” Eastern Tidings, January 8, 1937, 12–15.

  129. Minutes postponing the next council are recorded on March 5, 1940, no. 7024; October 22, 1941, no. 7676; January 2, 1942, no. 7688; December 17, 1943, no. 8364; September 4, 1946, no. 9613; November 4, 1946, no. 9689.

  130. Southern Asia Division council minutes, 1948, 2804 (opening meeting), no. 10412, “Gratitude to God,” p. 2809.

  131. See Eastern Tidings, April 15, 1950, 10–15.

  132. “Highlights of the Southern Asia Division Council,” December 14–23, 1951, in Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1952, 8.

  133. Southern Asia Division council minutes 1956, March 15, no. 56–123, p. 58.

  134. Southern Asia Division council minutes 1956, March 18, no. 56–223, pp. 103–116.

  135. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division council, December 29, 1959–January 5, 1960, 137–150.

  136. Southern Asia Tidings, January 1964, 8.

  137. J. M. Fowler, “Twelfth Division Council Marked With Vivid Reports. Delegates See Earth Tremors as Signs,” Southern Asia Tidings, January 1968, 1.

  138. D. R. Bankhead, “Sabbath, December 11,” Southern Asia Tidings, January 1977, 5.

  139. Southern Asia Division council minutes, 1981, 81–385, pp. 174–180.

  140. Margaret Nathaniel, “1985 Division Council, Friday, October 25,” Southern Asia Tidings, special, 14, 15.

  141. Dittu Abraham, “Gearing Up Global Mission,” Southern Asia Tidings, January 1991, 2, 3.

  142. Reports of this incident recurred in several locations in the “Day of Reconciliation,” Southern Asia Tidings, January 1991, 8; “We End the Council to Begin the Quinquennium,” Southern Asia Tidings, January 1991, 14; Vijayan Charles, “On the Road With the World President,” Southern Asia Tidings, February 1991, 7

  143. “Special Events,” Southern Asia Tidings, Quinquennium 1990–1995, December 1995, 20.

  144. Minutes of the Southern Asia Division executive committee held at Salisbury Park, November 14, 2000, no. 2000-137, p. 78; no. 2000-138, p. 79; minutes of the Southern Asia Division’s nineteenth council, November 14, 2000, pp. 81, 90.

  145. “Policy Amendments,” Southern Asia Division council minutes, 2005-68/31, pp. 94–99.

  146. “Policy Amendments,” Southern Asia Division council minutes, 2010-83/59, pp. 118.

  147. “Standing Committees,” Southern Asia Division council minutes, 2015-163/14.

  148. E. D. Thomas, “1945—India’s Golden Jubilee,” Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1945, 1.

  149. Mrs. A. F. Tarr , “Fifty Years Ago: Lighting the Torch,” Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1945, 4.

  150. A. L. Ham, “Former Leaders of the Southern Asia Division,” Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1946, 2–4.

  151. W. A. Spicer, “Those Were the Good Old Days,” Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1946, 5, 6.

  152. J. E. Fulton, in Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1946.

  153. L. G. Mookerjee, “Early Days in the North East,” Eastern Tidings, September 15, 1945, 1-3.

  154. W. H. McHenry, “Western India Pioneers,” Eastern Tidings, September 15, 19453, 4.

  155. F. H. Loasby, “Sowing the Seed in the Northwest,” Eastern Tidings, September 15, 1945, 5.

  156. E. D. Thomas, “Early Days in South India,” Eastern Tidings, September, 15,1945, 6–8.

  157. A. L. Ham, “1895–1945, A Report of the Silver Jubilee Service That Was Held on Sabbath, December 15, 1945,” Eastern Tidings, January 15, 1946, 1–8.

  158. “Chief Minister Moily Hails Christianity’s Service to Mankind,” Southern Asia Tidings, November 1993, 4, 5.

  159. “Centenary Celebrations held on Sabbath, October 9,” Southern Asia Tidings, November 1993, 7.

  160. See “Census Reports 1921,” accessed November 20, 2019, at http://censusindia.gov.in/Census_And_You/old_report/census_1921.aspx.

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Christo, Gordon E. "Southern Asia Division." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed September 25, 2022. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6AMO.

Christo, Gordon E. "Southern Asia Division." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access September 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6AMO.

Christo, Gordon E. (2020, January 29). Southern Asia Division. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved September 25, 2022, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6AMO.