Bahia Adventist College (FADBA) headquarters in 2019.

Photo courtesy of Bahia Adventist College Archives.

Ellen G. White Research Center of Bahia Adventist College

By Rodolfo Figueiredo de Sousa

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Rodolfo Figueiredo de Sousa lives in the State of Goiás, Brazil. He holds a degree in theology, languages and history from Brazil Adventist University. For a time he served as a writing assistant on the editorial team of the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists at the South American Division.

First Published: January 6, 2022

The Ellen G. White Research Center of Bahia Adventist College (Bahia Adventist College FADBA White Center) is an institution of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, supervised by Ellen G. White Estate Incorporated, headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States. The Ellen G. White Research Center - FADBA is located in the territory of the East Brazil Union Mission (União Leste Brasileira, ULB), and operates on the premises of Bahia Adventist College (FADBA), in Capoeiruçu village, city of Cachoeira, state of Bahia, Brazil.1

Background

The Adventist message reached the region where the White Center - FADBA is now located in the first decade of the 20th century. The first Adventist pastor to visit the state of Bahia was F. W. Spies. In 1908 he traveled 274 kilometers from the city of Teófilo Otoni, state of Minas Gerais, to the city of Mucuri, in Bahia.2 The work progressed in the territory of Bahia in the following years. In 1911, Camillo José Pereira and three other canvassers—Pedro Baptista, Zacharias Martins Rodrigues, and Francisco Queiroz—actively worked as missionaries in the towns of Sant’Anna dos Brejos, Itabuna, Santo Antônio de Jesus, and Cachoeira. Soon, there were more than 20 people waiting to be baptized; but due to transportation difficulties, it was not possible for Pastor John Lipke, president of East Brazil Mission (Missão Este Brasileira), to visit all the places where they lived to baptize them.3

In 1943 in the city of Cruz das Almas, approximately 25 kilometers from Cachoeira, the workers faced many difficulties in preaching the Adventist message, and for some time the church in that place remained closed. That began to change when a worker named Antônio Geraldo Lira was sent there to hold a series of public meetings. The audience was so large that the church and the street were full of people. Before the lectures ended, eight people had accepted the Adventist message and 20 additional people were attending a baptismal class. During that period, many children and their families were influenced by the evangelism and by the activities of the Adventist elementary school which operated with 24 students.4

The missionary vision of these pioneers was an important factor for the growth of the church in Bahia. In the midst of struggles and obstacles, such as the lack of resources, the advance of the message and the establishment of new churches continued. In 1944, a ten-year-old girl received a small amount of money as a gift when a pastor visited her family. She invested the money by buying an egg, and from that egg she obtained a laying hen. After six years, she had raised enough money to purchase a pulpit and other materials which she donated to her church.5

Over the years many families in the region were reached by the Adventist message. Churches were built in many places and the yearning arose for an educational institution. There was a need for a boarding school for the children of Adventists and for qualified workers in the north and northeastern regions of the country. Many young people went to other boarding schools to study but did not return.6 As a result, the Instituto Adventista de Ensino do Nordeste, IAENE, (Bahia Academy, FADBA) was founded in 1979 in the city of Cachoeira. Soon the Seminário de Teologia do Nordeste (Northeast Theological Seminary), now Seminário Adventista Latino Americano de Teologia (Latin-American Adventist Theological Seminary - FADBA), which until then operated at Educandário Nordestino Adventista (Northeast Brazil Academy, ENA), in Pernambuco, was transferred to this new academy.7 After its establishment at IAENE, the seminary grew and expanded its theological offerings.

In this scenario, the need to have an Ellen G. White Research Center, in order to support the colleges, seminary, and community, became a priority.8 In late 1986, Pastor Luiz Melo, director of SALT-IAENE, invited pastor Alberto Timm (director of Centro White Brasil (Brazil White Center) to present to the seminarians the work carried out at Brazil White Center. Pastor Timm accepted the invitation and, from September 30 to October 2, 1988, he presented lectures on Ellen White's literary production and taught the students of the seminary how to prepare and deliver lectures like these in local churches.9

On the same occasion, Pastor Timm donated to the seminary a copy of each publication produced by the White Center at Brazil College and other publications from the White Estate. This material was later displayed in one of the seminary rooms that became known as the Sala White (White Room). This separate space for promoting, reading and researching Ellen G. White’s materials, was the embryo of what would become a Research Center at the institution. “The collection of this space was composed of CD-ROMs, maps, master’s theses, doctoral theses, and books written by and about Adventist authors, but mainly works by Ellen G. White.” The White Room was a project led by Professor Walvetrude Andrade Nino in 1993.10

Foundation and History

The Ellen G. White Research Centers were created as centers for the dissemination and research of Ellen G White’s writings, also serving as a location for collecting historical information. The first institution that emerged with this purpose was the Ellen G. White Estate, created according to Ellen G. White’s will to be a depository of her writings. Her published and unpublished materials would be protected by this body, which would also be responsible for publishing the materials and compiling new works. These compilations include excerpts that the author wrote on a given subject, which would be produced in a single document and translated into various languages.11

The establishment of White Centers had a propelling moment when, in 1950, Pastor Arthur L. White, then administrator of the Ellen G. White Estate, held seminars on the Spirit of Prophecy around the world. These lectures highlighted the great importance of Ellen White’s writings and the need to disseminate them. In 1974, the first White Center outside the United States was inaugurated at Newbold College, England. At the same time, the South American Division requested authorization to set up a research center in its territory. The first White Center in South America was established at Universidade Adventista do Prata (River Plate Adventist University, UAP), in Argentina, on August 23, 1979, supervised by the Ellen G. White Estate. In Brazil, a study center was set up on September 20 of the same year, by Paul Gordon and Hedwig Jemison, at Instituto Adventista de Ensino (Brazil College), in São Paulo, now known as Centro Universitário Adventista de São Paulo (Brazil Adventist University), São Paulo campus - UNASP-SP.12

In 1997, pastors Clóvis Bunzen and Elias Brasil de Souza, the director of IAENE and the director of SALT, respectively, took the first steps to establish a White Center in the institution. Although there was a good collection of materials in the White Room, the management of the White Estate, which already had two offices in the South American Division (SAD) territory, saw that the time had not yet come to authorize its expansion to IAENE. In 2003, IAENE had its status changed to FADBA. Aware of the importance of a local White Center, the FADBA administration improved the building’s physical structure, implemented its collection, and made another request to the White Estate in 2010. That year, pastors Elias Brasil (director of the seminary), Gilberto Damasceno (general director of FADBA), and Alberto R. Timm (rector of SALT-DSA, and director of the Department of Spirit of Prophecy at SAD), obtained authorization from the Ellen G. White Estate.13

On December 20, 2010, the Executive Board of FADBA was convened to vote on the implementation of the Ellen White Research Center, which would be inaugurated in September 2011, according to White Estate rules. At that same meeting, Pastor Gerson Cardoso Rodrigues was appointed director of the FADBA White Center, which was inaugurated the following year, on September 4, 2011. The inauguration ceremony was attended by Pastors James Nix and William Fagal, from the Ellen G. White Estate, and Pastor Alberto Timm, as well as leaders from União Nordeste (Northeast Brazil Union Mission), and students and professors from FADBA.14

At the inauguration event, the director of FADBA White Center received from the hands of Pastor Renato Stencel, director of Brazil White Center, a gift of historical value: the Bible which had belonged to canvasser Luiz Calebe Rodrigues (1870-1960). This Bible was a symbol of the pioneering spirit of the evangelistic canvassing work in northeast Brazil where FADBA is located. It was first given to Pastor Moysés Nigri. This was Luiz Calebe’s wish, expressed on one of the pages of his Bible shortly before his death.15

Right after the inaugural ceremony, the first meeting of the Executive Board of FADBA White Center was held, composed of seven internal members, plus three ex officio members, and one guest. At that meeting, it was decided that Professor Jônatas de Mattos Leal would temporarily hold the position of director until Pastor Gerson Cardoso Rodrigues completed classes for his PhD in History at Andrews University in 2012. The first secretary of the FADBA White Center was also appointed: Diana Molina, a Costa Rican missionary who lived at FADBA. Her husband, Pastor Carlos Molina, who was a professor at SALT-FADBA, was appointed to share the secretariat of the White Center with Diana.16

At the time of its inauguration in 2011, the FADBA White Center collection contained copies of all the material written by Ellen White and about 50,000 pages of her published and unpublished writings, distributed in approximately 5,500 letters and 2,800 manuscripts. The collection also had a White Estate question and answer file and a selection of White Estate shelf-documents, which brought together: microfilm and microfiche containing thousands of letters, journals, and books from the Millerite period and beginning of the Adventist movement in the United States. It also included letters from Adventist leaders, 1,826 book titles distributed in 2,866 copies, and 199 journal titles. Finally, the general collection was completed with some significant objects from the history of FADBA and the Adventist Church in the northeast.17

Perspective

After its establishment, the Ellen G. White Research Center - FADBA continued its development. In September 2020, it completed nine years as an institution accredited by the Ellen G. White Estate and, during this period, it has sought to fulfill the goals for which it was founded: (1) keeping alive the memory of the development of Adventism in the world and in Brazil; (2) facilitating access to information on the Adventist church; and (3) communicating truths that explain the SDA church as a prophetic movement. In addition, it has sought to (4) fulfill the purpose of strengthening local Adventist congregations and educational units managed by the East Brazil Union Mission, by promoting the study, dissemination, and conservation of the literary heritage of the writer and prophetess Ellen G. White.18

The institution is also responsible for: (5) encouraging the establishment of new mini-centers, and accrediting them in Adventist churches and schools in the União Norte Brasileira (North Brazil Union Mission, UNB), União Nordeste Brasileira (Northeast Brazil Union Mission, UNeB), União Leste Brasileira (East Brazil Union Mission, ULB), and União Noroeste Brasileira (Northwest Brazil Union Mission, UNoB); (6) notifying about the new materials added to the mini-center collections; and (7) cancelling the accreditation of centers that do not follow these “Norms and Guidelines of the Brazil Ellen G. White Minicenter Network” or that do not manifest a spirit of doctrinal and ethical loyalty to the Adventist Church and its leadership.19

In order to carry out all this work, the FADBA White Center still faces difficulties regarding the formation of a permanent team of employees. The institution also aims to expand its performance through the organization of symposia and seminars that offer essential information for the progress of the Advent message.20 All of this is in the context of keeping alive the memory of Adventist Church history and its historical-prophetic legacy in its region of operation.

The aim of the team working at the FADBA White Center is to acquaint people with the history of the Adventist movement and its prophetic gift, so that they can express the same feeling as Ellen G. White did when she wrote: “In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what God has wrought, I am filled with astonishment and with confidence in Christ as Leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.”21

Lists

Official Names: Centro de Pesquisas Ellen G. White – FADBA (Ellen G. White Research Center – FADBA) (2011-present).22

Directors: Jônatas de Mattos Leal (2011); Gerson Cardoso Rodrigues (2012-present).23

Sources

Ebinger, G. F. “Écos da Missão Baiana” [Echoes of Bahia Mission]. Revista Adventista [Adventist Review] 38, no. 8 (August 1943).

“IAENE encerra um ano de intensa atividade” [IAENE closes a year of intense activity]. Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], no. 2, year 85, February 1989.

Igreja Adventista do Sétimo Dia [Seventh-day Adventist Church]. Regulamentos Eclesiástico-Administrativos da Divisão Sul-Americana da Associação Geral dos Adventistas do Sétimo Dia [Ecclesiastical-Administrative Regulations of the South American Division of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists]. Brasília, DF: Executive Secretariat, 2016.

Lipke, John. “Missão Este-Brazileira” [East Brazil Mission]. Revista Adventista [Adventist Review] 6, no. 9 and 10 (September 1911).

Minute of Bahia Mission, no. 123, August 24, 1974, vote no. 103-74.

“Para preservar a história: Oficializada a criação do Centro Nacional da Memória Adventista” [To preserve history: the creation of the National Center of Adventist History is made official], Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], no. 5, year 83, May 1987.

Replogle, Leon. “Através da União Este” [Through the East Brazil Union Mission]. Revista Adventista [Adventist Review] 39, no. 5 (May 1944).

Rodrigues, Gerson Cardoso (director of Ellen G. White Research Center - FADBA). E-mail message to Carlos Flavio Teixeira (ESDA associate editor), September 22, 2019.

Spies, F. W. “Do Campo, Viagem a Mucury” [About the field, Trip to Mucury]. Revista Adventista [Adventist Review] 3, no. 12 (December 1908).

Stencel, Renato (director of Brazil Ellen G. White Research Center). Interviewed by the author, Engenheiro Coelho, São Paulo, February 6, 2020.

Stencel, Renato. “Divulgando o dom profético” [Spreading the prophetic gift]. Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], no. 1199, year 103 (April 2008).

“Transferência de Seminário: Seminário de Teologia é transferido do ENA para IAENE” [Seminary Transfer: Theology Seminary is transferred from ENA to IAENE]. Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], no. 3, year 83, March 1987.

White, Ellen G. Testemunhos Seletos 3 [Selected Messages 3]. Santo André, SP: Casa Publicadora Brasileira [Brazil Publishing House], 1985.

Notes

  1. Renato Stencel, “Divulgando o dom profético” [Spreading the prophetic gift], Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], no. 1199, year 103 (April 2008): 6.

  2. F. W. Spies, “Do Campo, Viagem a Mucury” [About the field, Trip to Mucury], Revista Adventista [Adventist Review] 3, no. 12 (December 1908): 6.

  3. John Lipke, “Missão Este-Brazileira” [East Brazil Mission], Revista Adventista [Adventist Review] 6, no. 9 and 10 (September 1911): 11.

  4. G. F. Ebinger, “Écos da Missão Baiana” [Echoes of Bahia Mission], Revista Adventista [Adventist Review] 38, no. 8 (August 1943): 11.

  5. Leon Replogle, “Através da União Este” [Through the East Brazil Union Mission], Revista Adventista [Adventist Review] 39, no. 5 (May 1944): 12.

  6. Minute of Bahia Mission, no. 123, August 24, 1974, vote no. 103-74.

  7. “Transferência de Seminário: Seminário de Teologia é transferido do ENA para IAENE” [Seminary Transfer: Theology Seminary is transferred from ENA to IAENE], Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], no. 3, year 83, March 1987, 27.

  8. Gerson Cardoso Rodrigues (director of Ellen G. White Research Center - FADBA), e-mail message to Carlos Flavio Teixeira (ESDA associate editor), September 22, 2019.

  9. “IAENE encerra um ano de intensa atividade” [IAENE closes a year of intense activity], Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], no. 2, year 85, February 1989, 22.

  10. Gerson Cardoso Rodrigues (director of Ellen G. White Research Center - FADBA), e-mail message to Carlos Flavio Teixeira (ESDA assistant editor), September 22, 2019.

  11. Seventh-Day Adventist Church, Regulamentos Eclesiástico-Administrativos da Divisão Sul-Americana da Associação Geral dos Adventistas do Sétimo Dia 2016 [Ecclesiastical-Administrative Regulations for the South American Division of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists 2016] (Brasília, DF: SAD Executive Secretariat, 2016), 411-412.

  12. Ibid., 1-2.

  13. Ibid.

  14. Ibid.

  15. Renato Stencel (director of Brazil Ellen G. White Research Center), interviewed by the author, Engenheiro Coelho, São Paulo, February 6, 2020.

  16. Gerson Cardoso Rodrigues (director of Ellen G. White Research Center - FADBA), e-mail message to Carlos Flavio Teixeira (ESDA associate editor), September 22, 2019.

  17. Ibid.

  18. Renato Stencel, “Divulgando o dom profético” [Spreading the prophetic gift], Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], no. 1199, year 103 (April 2008): 6.

  19. Renato Stencel, “Divulgando o dom profético” [Spreading the prophetic gift], Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], no. 1199, year 103 (April 2008): 6; “Para preservar a história: Oficializada a criação do Centro Nacional da Memória Adventista” [To preserve history: the creation of the National Center of Adventist History is made official], Revista Adventista [Adventist Review], no. 5, year 83, May 1987, 1-2, 26.

  20. Renato Stencel (director of Brazil Ellen G. White Research Center), interviewed by the author, Engenheiro Coelho, São Paulo, February 6, 2020.

  21. Ellen G. White, Testemunhos Seletos 3 [Selected Messages 3] (Santo André, SP: Casa Publicadora Brasileira [Brazil Publishing House], 1985), 443.

  22. Gerson Cardoso Rodrigues (director of Ellen G. White Research Center - FADBA), e-mail message to Carlos Flavio Teixeira (ESDA assistant editor), September 22, 2019.

  23. Ibid.

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Sousa, Rodolfo Figueiredo de. "Ellen G. White Research Center of Bahia Adventist College." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 06, 2022. Accessed June 18, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BJ87.

Sousa, Rodolfo Figueiredo de. "Ellen G. White Research Center of Bahia Adventist College." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 06, 2022. Date of access June 18, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BJ87.

Sousa, Rodolfo Figueiredo de (2022, January 06). Ellen G. White Research Center of Bahia Adventist College. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 18, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BJ87.