Central Maharashtra Conference is an administrative unit of the Western India Union Section in the Southern Asia Division of Seventh-day Adventists. Its headquarters is in Pune, Maharashtra, India.
Territory: The districts of Dhule, Nandurbar, Nashik, Pune, and Solapur in the Indian state of Maharashtra.
Statistics (June 30, 2022): Churches, 36; membership, 17,218; population, 27,441,525.1
The territory of the Central Maharashtra Conference, which previously housed the Division office at Salisbury Park from 1922 to 1989, is still home to several major Division institutions, including the Oriental Watchman Publishing House, the Adventist Media Centre, Spicer Adventist University, and Pune Adventist Hospital.
Beginnings of the Work
Lonavala: In 1910, the West India Mission was organized with headquarters at Lonavala.2 Earlier in 1909, the G. F. Enochs had been stationed at Poona (now Pune), at 9 Kahun Road in the camp area, to learn Marathi.3 The Enochs moved to Panvel in 1911, and the A. G. Kelseys, who were also studying the language in Poona, were assigned to the newly established Lonavala Station.4 In the summer of 1912, G. F. Enoch and S. A. Wellman conducted tent meetings for English-speaking people in Lonavala with more than 200 people in attendance.5 In 1913, the West India Mission’s headquarters moved from Lonavala to Bombay, and the mission was soon renamed the “Bombay Presidency Mission,”6 but the Lonavala station continued to be active with a Sabbath School and church.7
Lasalgaon: Roland E. Loasby arrived in Bombay on February 4, 1916. In 1918, after he had passed his second-level exam in Marathi, he acquired an acre of land in Lasalgaon, the Nashik district, with the help of A. H. Williams. The land was used to build a bungalow,8 which was completed the following year.9 In 1919, the Marathi Training School from Kalyan and the Marathi Boys Boarding School, which had been established by W. Hume McHenry and S. O. Martin, were combined with the school at Lasalgaon.10
Pune: According to his "Sketches of Travel - India," in the Adventist Review issue of January 31, 1893, G. C. Tenney visited Poona in 1892 with a letter of introduction to Pandita Ramabai from Mrs. Dr. Kellogg, which resulted in an invitation to visit the home. The first Sabbath School in Pune was organized in October 1920 with 15 members, including the Stotesbury family. The first baptism ceremony was conducted on January 1, 1921, when three new members were baptized. The work in Pune received a large impetus when the Oriental Watchman Publishing House and the Division office moved from Lucknow to Salisbury Park in 1922. The Marathi church was organized in September 1923.11 The next significant development was the move of Spicer College from Krishnarajapuram in Bangalore to Pune in 1942.
Sholapur: The work in Sholapur was begun by S. S. Chavan, a colporteur. In 1936, Chavan led a Sabbath School of about 30 members, many of whom were studying the Bible studies with him.12 In 1948, Pastor Sumitra S. Pandit reopened the work in Sholapur by conducting an evangelistic series.13 Soon, there were 25 in the baptismal class. The work in Dhulia also began during this time.14
The Western India Union was created out of part of the Northwest India Union in 1956 to conform to the territory of the newly formed Bombay State in which Marathi-speaking people were brought together. The Marathi-speaking portion of the Central India Section of the Northwest India Union was now added to the Maharashtra Section, and the administrative unit was renamed the North Maharastra Section. The new union had a little more than a thousand members in 18 churches.15 The rest of Maharashtra and Gujarat, and “certain other territories,” were administered by the Union directly,16 until the South Maharashtra Section was organized in 1966 with the districts of Kolaba, Kolhapur, Osmanabad, Poona, Ratnagiri, Sangli, Satara, and the territory of Goa. The territory had 1,200 members and unused facilities at Hatkanagle of the Kolhapur district served as headquarters.
In 1971, the Western India Union was combined with the state of Andhra Pradesh to form the Central India Union, and in 1972 the Maharashtra Section was organized by combining the North and the South Maharashtra sections. There were 32 churches, and the membership was 3633. The first constituency meetings of the Maharashtra Section were held from December 18 to 21, 1974. Again in 1999, the North Maharashtra Section was separated, and in 2004, the South Maharashtra Region was organized, leaving the Maharashtra Section with just the districts of Dhule, Nandurbar, Nasik, Pune, and Sholapur. The Maharashtra Section was appropriately renamed the Central Maharashtra Section in 2005.
The survey to organize the Central Maharashtra Section into a conference was initiated in 2007,17 and effected in 2008. The Central Maharashtra Conference included the districts of Dhule, Nandurbar, Nasik, Pune, and Sholapur in the state of Maharashtra. It had 30 churches with a membership of 18,225. The following were the first administrators: Jacob N. Sathe, president; B. R. Chandanshive, secretary; and Shashi Shinde, treasurer.18
Maharashtra Section: Ramchandra S. Shinge (1972-1974); V. D. Ohal (1974-1976); Sharad S. Pandit (1976-1985); Anandrao K. Kandane (1985-1987); Sandanand G. Mahapure (1987-1990); Johnson S. Dass (1990-1998); Chandrakant R. Shinge (1998-2001); Jacob N. Sathe (2001-2005)
Central Maharashtra Section: Jacob N. Sathe (2005-2008)
Central Maharashtra Conference: Jacob N. Sathe (2008-2016); Chandrakant R. Shinge (2016-2018); Joseph T. Khajekar (Feb 2018- )
Maharashtra Section: Sandanand G. Mahapure (1972-1985); Ramesh W. Nirmal (1985-1987); J. M. Gill (1985-1987); Vasant J. Khandagle (1985-1987); Shashi R. Shinge (1987-1989); Ramesh Y Jadhav (1989-1996); Shashi R. Shinge (1996); Jacob N. Sathe (1996-1999); Bhupal R. Chandanshive (1999-2001); Johnny Chavan (2001-2003); Premanand Shirsath (2004); Robby Abraham (2004-2005)
Central Maharashtra Section: Robby Abraham (2004-2006); Satish Bhosale (2006-2008)
Central Maharashtra Conference: Bhupal R. Chandanshive (2008-2011); Joseph T, Khajekar (2011-2018); Nandulal Khare (February 2018- )
Maharashtra Section: Dattu L. Gaikwad (1972-1985); Rajnikant Devde (1985-1987); Shashi Shinde (1987-1998); Ramesh M. Gaikwad (1998-2001); Johnny Chavan (2001- 2003); Premanand Shirsath (2004)
Central Maharashtra Section: Robby Abraham (2004-2006); Satish Bhosale (2006-2008)
Central Maharashtra Conference: Shashi Shinde (2009-2012); Bobby Wagh (January 2013-August 2018); Suresh Kumar (2018- )
Christo, Gordon E. “Lasalgaon Seventh-day Adventist Higher Secondary School.” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, October 30, 2020. Accessed June 21, 2023. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=DAM7&highlight=Lasalgaon|Seventh-day|Adventist|Higher|Secondary|School.
Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1918; February 15, 1919; May 1, 1920.
James, S. “Temperance Twitters.” Eastern Tidings, July 1, 1958.
Kedas, Ronald, ed. Advent Movement in Western India 1905-2005. Pune: Earnest & Frank, 2005.
Lange, O. W. Southern Asia Tidings, 1957, 0601 vol. 52-11 01, 1957.
McHenry, W. H. “Western India Pioneers.” Eastern Tidings, September 15, 1941.
Minutes of the Yearend Committee of the Southern Asia Division, December 10, 1956, #56-610. Southern Asia Division archives, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.
Moses, William. “Western India.” Southern Asia Tidings, August 1, 1959.
Pettit, G. W. “West India English Work.” Eastern Tidings, January 1914.
Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, various years. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.
Shaw, J. L. “A Forward Move in English Work.” Eastern Tidings, May 1912.
Shaw, J. L. “West India.” Eastern Tidings, February 1911.
S[piess], F. E. “Western India Union Ordination.” Southern Asia Tidings, June 1, 1959.
Spiess, F. E. “Western India Union.” Eastern Tidings, September 1, 1968.
Tenney, G. C. "Sketches of Travel - India." ARH, January 31, 1893.
Western India Union Executive Board Minutes 2007 – 84. Southern Asia Division archives, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu, India.
“Central Maharashtra Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (2023), https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity?EntityID=13200.↩
“West India Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1913, 147-148.↩
“India Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1910, 135.↩
J. L. Shaw, “West India,” Eastern Tidings, February 1911, 2-4.↩
J. L. Shaw, “A Forward Move in English Work,” Eastern Tidings, May 1912, 1.↩
Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1913, 1914, 148.↩
G. W. Pettit, “West India English Work,” Eastern Tidings, January 1914, 10.↩
Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1918, 4. ↩
Eastern Tidings, February 15, 1919, which records the construction of the bungalow, and Eastern Tidings, May 1, 1920.↩
See Gordon E. Christo, “Lasalgaon Seventh-day Adventist Higher Secondary School,” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, October 30, 2020, accessed June 21, 2023, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=DAM7&highlight=Lasalgaon|Seventh-day|Adventist|Higher|Secondary|School.↩
W. H. McHenry, “Western India Pioneers,” Eastern Tidings, September 15, 1941, 4. Ronald Kedas (ed.), Advent Movement in Western India 1905-2005 (Pune: Earnest & Frank, 2005), 39, without any reference, dates, the organization of the Poona Marathi Church to October 27, 1922.↩
J. S. James, Eastern Tidings, January 1, 1936,↩
S. James, “Temperance Twitters,” Eastern Tidings, July 1, 1958, 6; F. E. Spiess, “Western India Union,” Eastern Tidings, September 1, 1968, 8; F.E.S., “Western India Union Ordination,” Southern Asia Tidings, June 1, 1959, 4.↩
William Moses, “Western India,” Southern Asia Tidings, August 1, 1959, 6.↩
Minutes of the Yearend Committee of the Southern Asia Division, December 10, 1956, #56-610, 231. O. W. Lange, Southern Asia Tidings, 1957, 0601 vol. 52-11 01, 1957.↩
See “Western India, Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1965, 1966, 222.↩
Western India Union Executive Board Minutes 2007 – 84.↩
Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1973, 1974, 247.↩