African American Seventh-day Adventist Timeline
Compiled by Benjamin Baker


May 20-23: 1st General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

May 21: The Seventh-day Adventist Church is officially organized and incorporated.

Churches: 125

T&O: $8,000

End Membership: 3,500



May 16: E.L. Barr dies.

May 18-May 21, 1864: 2nd General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

August 30: Adventists petition the United States government for non-combatant status during Civil War.

Churches: 130

T&O: $10,000

End Membership: 3,800



May 17: 3rd General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

May 23: General Conference Session resolves: “That a field is now opened in the South for labor among the colored people and should be entered upon according to our ability.”

December 25: Ellen White receives vision to establish a health institution.  

Churches: 140

T&O: $12,000

End Membership: 4,000


May 16-17: 4th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

June 12: The Visions—Objections Answered by Uriah Smith is published.

September 5: Western Health Reform Institute in Battle Creek, Michigan, opens for patients.

Churches: 150

End Membership: 4,250


May 14-May 19: 5th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

Churches: 160

End Membership: 4,320


May 12-May 18: 6th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

December 25: John West, believed to be the second black Seventh-day Adventist minister, dies in Peterboro, New York.

Churches: 159

Beginning Membership: 4,320

End Membership: 4,475


May 18-24: 7th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

Churches: 167

Beginning Membership: 4,475

End Membership: 4,900


March 15-20: 8th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

December 20: William Hawkins Green is born in Lewisburg, North Carolina.

Churches: 179

T&O: $25,375

T&O (1866-1870): $103,157

Beginning Membership: 4,900

End Membership: 5,440


February 7-February 12: 9th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

May 2: Elbert B. Lane, the first Adventist minister in the South, reports in the Review and Herald of holding meetings in a depot in Edgefield Junction, Tennessee, with "white people occupying one room, and the Colored the other." Black Baptist minister Harry Lowe embraces Adventism at the meetings.

December 29, 1871-January 3, 1872: 10th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

Churches: 185

Beginning Membership: 5,440

End Membership: 4,550



December 29, 1872-January 3, 1873: 10th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

Churches: 204

Beginning Membership: 4,550

End Membership: 4,901



March 11-March 14: 11th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

November 14-November 16: 12th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

Churches: 239

Beginning Membership: 4,901

End Membership: 5,875



March 4: Anna Knight is born to Newton and Georgeanne Knight in Jones County, Mississippi.

June 4: First issue of Signs of the Times, edited by James White, is published in Oakland, California.

August 10-August 15: 13th General Conference Session is held in Battle Creek, Michigan.



April 1: Silas Osborn reports in the Review and Herald of four black converts from meetings he held in Powder Mills, Kentucky.

August 15-August 18: 14th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

Churches: 339

T&O: $33,156

T&O (71-75):  $147,690

Beginning Membership: N/A

End Membership: 8,042



March 31-April 6: 1st Special General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

June 10: Lottie Cornella Isbell Blake is born.

September 19-September 24: 15th General Conference Session, Lansing, Michigan.

November 12 and 13: 2nd Special General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

Churches: 398

Beginning Membership: 8,042

End Membership: 10,044



February 22: A report appears in the Review and Herald from Mrs. H.M. Van Slyke about a "colored school" in Ray County, Missouri, in which she taught black orphans to read the Bible. 

May 24: William F. Minisee dies in Solon, Kent County, Michigan.

March 7: James Kemuel Humphrey is born.

September 20-September 28: 16th General Conference Session, Lansing, Michigan.

September 22: Lucille Lewis (later Byard) is born.

Churches: 478

Beginning Membership: 10,044

End Membership: 11,608



January 3: C.O. Taylor reports in the Review and Herald that lawyer and planter W.F. Killen of Houston County, Georgia, is converted to the Adventist faith, along with his family. Killen states that "I have no trouble in getting my laborers (colored people) to keep it [the Sabbath]."

March 1-March 4: 3rd Special General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

March 14: C.O. Taylor reports in the Review and Herald that a black minister in Worth County, Georgia, is keeping the Sabbath.

October 4-October 16: 17th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

Charles Kinny is baptized in Reno, Nevada, during a tent meeting conducted by J.N. Loughborough and guest speaker Ellen White.

Churches: 549

Beginning Membership: 11,608

End Membership: 13,077


July 6: James Gershom (J.G.) Dasent is born.

November 7-December 1: 18th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

Churches: 599

Beginning Membership: 13,077

End Membership: 14,141



March 11-March 15: 5th Special General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

October 6-October 12: 19th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

Churches: 640

T&O: $67,801

T&O (76-80):  $290,783

Beginning Membership: 14,141

End Membership: 15,570



August 6: James White dies.

August 22: W.F. Killen reports to the Review and Herald that "The colored man, Edmund Killen, is holding on firmly to the truth. I believe he will do right just as far as he knows. 1 would be glad if he were licensed to preach the truth among those of his race. He is certainly doing a good work among them. I baptized his wife the second Sunday in last June."

December 1-December 19: 20th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

Churches: 640

Beginning Membership: 15,570

End Membership: 16,916



April 3: George Albert King begins colporteur work with sale of first copy of Daniel and Revelation by Uriah Smith.

April 11: Healdsburg Academy (later Pacific Union College) opens in Healdsburg, California.

April 19, 1882: South Lancaster Academy, forerunner of Atlantic Union College, opens in Lancaster, Massachusetts.

December 7-December 19: 21st General Conference Session, Rome, New York.

Early Writings by Ellen White is published.

Churches: 660

Beginning Membership: 16,916

End Membership: 17,169



October 21: John Nevins Andrews dies.

November 8: At the GC session J.O. Corliss reported that there were "sixty seven white Sabbath-keepers and twenty colored" in the South Atlantic Mission.

November 8-November 20: 22nd General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

November 26: Sojourner Truth dies.

The first black Adventist church is organized in Edgefield Junction, Tennessee, outside of Nashville.

Churches: 680

Beginning Membership: 17,169

End Membership: 17,317



April: Almira S. Steele founds The Steele Home for Needy Children in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

October 30: 23rd General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

Churches: 705

Beginning Membership: 17,317

End Membership: 18,702



November 18-December 6: 24th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

Testimonies for the Church, vols. 1-4, by Ellen G. White, are published.

Churches: 741

T&O: $151,191

T&O (1881-85): $561,699

Beginning Membership: 18,702

End Membership: 20,547



November 9: First congregation of Black SDAs organized at Edgefield Junction, Tennessee.       

November 18-December 6: 25th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

Churches: 798

Beginning Membership: 20,547

End Membership: 23,111



September 20-September 28: 26th General Conference Session, Oakland, California.

Churches: 889

Beginning Membership: 23,111

End Membership: 25,841



June 8: William J. Hardy dies.

May 21: Arkansas Conference is organized.

October 17-November 8: 27th General Conference Session, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Churches: 901

Beginning Membership: 25,841

End Membership: 26,112



October 5: Charles Kinny is ordained to the ministry at a camp meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the first black person ordained by the church. The concept of black conferences is first suggested by Charles Kinney when confronted by efforts to segregate him and his members at camp meeting on the day of his ordination. He suggests this as a way to work more effectively among blacks and to help deal with racial tensions and problems in the church.

October 18-November 5: 28th General Conference Session, Battle Creek, Michigan.

October 19: Mrs. Jessie Waggoner reports the following at the International Sabbath School Association at the GC session: "In Louisville, Ky. there is a nice little company of colored Sabbath-keepers. One of their little Sabbath- school scholars went out in the country on a visit among Sunday-keepers, andwhen it came Sabbath he took out his Bible and Lesson Book and began to study his lesson. This caused the people to ask him questions, and the result is several grown people are much interested in the truth."

October 25: The Committee on Home Mission took the following action at the GC session: "WHEREAS, There is an apparent need for a book written in an attractive style, profusely illustrated and handsomely bound, for use among the colored people of the South, therefore,
"We recommend that the General Conference secure the preparation of such a book at the earliest possible date: and further, we recommend that this book contain as nearly as possible a synopsis
of the Bible doctrines especially applicable at this time."

November 10: A committee of five were appointed to carry out the recommendation for the preparation of a book for African Americans.

“Fundamental Principles” appear in the 1889 SDA Yearbook.

Testimonies for the Church, volume 5, by Ellen White, is published.           

Alphonso Barry organizes a company of black SDAs in Louisville, Kentucky.

Atlantic Conference is organized. SDA colporteur canvases Barbados.

Churches: 972

Beginning Membership: 26,112

End Membership: 28,324


February 16, 1890: The Louisville Seventh-day Adventist church is organized, the second black Seventh-day Adventist church in the world.

James Alexander Chiles opens law practice in Lexington, becoming the first black to practice law in the state of Kentucky.

Marshall Enoch pioneers Adventist work in Bermuda.

T.B. Buckner begins ministerial work the South.

Churches: 1,016

T&O: $225,434

T&O (81-90):  $1,436,016

Beginning Membership: 8,324

End Membership: 29,711



March 5-March 25: 29th General Conference Session is held in Battle Creek, Michigan.

March 6: R.M. Kilgore, superintendent of District No. 2 (comprising nine Southern states), at the General Conference session, makes the following appeal: "I would call the attention of this Conference to the fact that in all the educational work connected with the denomination no provision has been made for the development or workers to labor especially among the colored people. Here is one race of people within our own borders, for whom we as a people, have done very little.
We therefore urge upon this Conference the consideration of this matter, and ask this body to make
some provision for the training of workers from the rank and file of this people, to labor effectually with those of their own race. We repeat, that in no section of the country can there be a more pressing demand, or a louder call for school advantages, than that which comes from this portion of our land."  

March 21: Ellen White delivers “Our Duty to the Colored People” address to General Conference contingent.

September 21: Bridgetown SDA Church (Barbados) is formed.

September 30: Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska, is opened.

November 12: Ellen White departs United States for Australia.

December 23: Ellen White and entourage arrive in Australia.

Beginning Membership: 29,711

End Membership: 31,665



February 20: Graysville Academy, forerunner of Southern Adventist University, opened in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

November 1: Ruth Janetta Temple is born in Natchez, Mississippi.

Henry S. Shaw is appointed as a special agent by the General Conference to evangelize blacks in the South.

James Patterson sets sail for Jamaica, becoming the first black Adventist to be sent from the United States to do missionary work.

L.C. Chadwick enters Cape Verde, believed to have been the first SDA to do so.

Churches: 1,102

Black Membership: c. 50

Beginning Membership: 31,665

End Membership: 33,778



January 31: John Loughborough speaks of William Foy at length at the General Conference Session held in Battle Creek, Michigan

February 17-March 6: 30th General Conference Session, Battle Creek.

June 28: Louis Harold Bland is born.

August 13: Eva Beatrice Dykes is born.

October 22: Thomas Milton Rowe is born.

November 9: William Foy dies in Plantation #7, Maine.  He is buried in Birch Tree Cemetery in East Sullivan, Maine

C.H. Richards and his wife begin canvassing the Bahamas.

Churches: 1,151

Beginning Membership: 33,778

End Membership: 37,404


January 7: Keene Industrial School, forerunner of Southwestern Adventist University, opens in Keene, Texas.

March 10: Construction of Morning Star mission steamer begins.

June 15: James L. Moran

July: Morning Star is launched.

Churches: 1,225

Beginning Membership: 37,404

End Membership: 42,763



February 8: Natelkka Burrell is born.

February 15-March 4: 31st General Conference Session is held in Battle Creek, Michigan.

August 10: Black SDA church in Vicksburg, Mississippi, is dedicated by General Conference president O.A. Olsen.

James Edson White opens the first church school for African Americans aboard the Morning Star, in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

Solusi Mission is established in Matebeleland, South Africa.           

Churches: 1,331

Beginning Membership: 42,763

End Membership: 47,680



January 23: Oakwood property is purchased by the General Conference.

June 23: General Conferences purchases property in Huntsville, Alabama, that would be the location of Oakwood.

July 18: Lewis C. Sheafe preaches first sermon as Seventh-day Adventist minister in Battle Creek Taberncle.

November 16: Oakwood Industrial School, forerunner of Oakwood University, opens in Huntsville, Alabama.

Churches: 1,439

Beginning Membership: 47,680

End Membership: 52,202



February 19-March 8: 32nd General Conference Session is held in College View, Nebraska.  

March 28: Lewis C. Sheafe is given ministerial credential and assigned to ministerial work in the South by the General Conference Committee.

Churches: 1,574

Beginning Membership: 52,202

End Membership: 56,426



May: The Gospel Herald, a periodical on the black work in the South geared toward the evangelization of blacks, is published by Edson White in Yazoo City, Mississippi. Message, its successor, begins in 1934.

Bermuda Institute is established.

The Coming King by James Edson White is published.       

The Southern Work, a compilation of Ellen G. White's publications on the black work, is published by James Edson White.

Churches: 1,654

Beginning Membership: 56,426

End Membership: 59,347


February 15-March 7: 33rd General Conference Session, South Lancaster, Massachusetts.

March 4: Lewis C. Sheafe is ordained to the gospel ministry at the GC session in South Lancaster, Massachusetts, with J.N. Loughborough and G.I. Irwin presiding.

March-April: “Receive Ye the Holy Ghost” revival led by A.F. Ballenger brings about short-lived merger of black and white Adventist congregations into one church in Louisville, Kentucky.

Churches: 1,785

T&O (91-1900): $3,680,164

Beginning Membership: 59,347

End Membership: 64,003