SECTS, CULTS AND THE CATHOLIC CHURCH TASK ONE A – The Seventh Day Adventists A sect is a religious group with controversial beliefs, they are groups that break away from a main group/religion and form their own set of beliefs, which differ from the teachings of their parent group. Sects also reject the authority of their parent group. The Seventh Day Adventists is an example of a group that broke away from their parent religions of Millerite Movement and Christianity, to become a sect. INTRODUCTION New York was the home of the 1840s Millerite movement; Millerites were followers of the teachings of William Miller who prophesied the second coming of Jesus Christ to Earth on the 22nd October 1844. When Jesus did not appear on this day the Millerites dissolved, however from the ashes of one movement came the next as the Seventh Day Adventists arose from the disbanded Millerites. The Seventh Day Adventist Church was officially founded in 1863 and the four founding figures were Joseph Bates, James White, Ellen G. White and J. N. Andrews. The Church quickly became popular and began to spread worldwide, reaching the shores of New Zealand in the 1880s – only shortly after its official establishment back in the States. Today the Seventh Day Adventist Church boasts over 16 million members globally and is the twelfth largest religious body in the world. SOCIAL ORGANISATION The Seventh Day Adventist Church uses a democratic church organisation system, it consists of four leadership levels, and these are: 1. The local church – this is the foundation level of church organisation. It includes all local churches that are located in cities around the world. Every Adventist is a member of their local church and has voting powers in it and these churches are the public face of the whole denomination. 2. The local mission – the local mission oversees the local churches within its specified province. It organizes things for the local churches such as appointing ministers, paying ministers, distributing tithes and also owns all the church land in that province. 3. The union mission – the union mission consists of all the local missions over a greater area. So it would represent several local missions over several different provinces. 4. The General Conference – this is the highest earthly authority of the church and consists of 13 ‘Divisions’, which look after various geographic locations globally. The General Conference meets every two to three years and includes union missions from all over the world. It has the final say in all matters. Membership into the Seventh Day Adventists is not given on the spot, as there are several steps to becoming a full-fledged member. The key requirement of initiates is baptism by immersion. People wanting to join are first questioned about their faith and beliefs in front of Church members. After satisfying with their answers they can then move onto to the next step. The Adventist hopeful must undergo proper instruction on the beliefs and values of the Church and if he or she must also accept the Bible as a literal interpretation.
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