Beth Thomas is a freelance writer living in Detroit, Michigan, USA, with her pastor husband and two children.

It was late in the evening when a young girl sat down to do some research on her computer. She was working on a school project, documenting specific aspects of her faith and the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. As she began to type keywords into search engines, it became clear that it would be a struggle to find the information she needed from an authoritative Adventist source. There was a lot of misinformation, to be sure. But where was the website that could answer her questions with clarity and authority?


On July 1, 2020, the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research at the General Conference launched an initiative to solve this problem. A product of over five | ARTICLE by Beth Thomas years of planning and processing, the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists (ESDA) is the best attempt to date of establishing a central, authoritative source of Adventist history, current events, church initiatives, and theological topics from every corner of the world.

With over two thousand articles and counting, contributed by a diverse team of writers and editors from every division of the Adventist Church, this database will eventually grow to over eight thousand articles tracing Adventist history, missions, theological issues, projects, programs, and biographies. Input given by pastors, administrators, evangelists, and scholars makes this a shared work of global importance, valuable for every Adventist and for those with questions and interests outside of our faith community.


As an Adventist elder or ministry leader, you may already have on your bookshelf a wellworn copy of the Adventist Encyclopedia, which is volume 11 of the Adventist Bible Commentary Series (or volumes 11 and 12 of the 1996 revision of the commentary series).

While that initial encyclopedia served a specific purpose, the reality is that the world in which it was written, and the framework from which it was written, simply do not exist anymore. “Also, even though the authors of the earlier editions really tried to present an international worldwide perspective, many feel that it was written mostly from a North American perspective.”1

In the last fifty years, the church has experienced dramatic changes. Missionaries sent to far-flung parts of the world established congregations, hospitals, and educational institutions that have taken root and fostered explosive growth. Their stories deserve to be told in a way that traces the development of institutions, sacrifices of church leaders and volunteers, and the development of our distinctive Adventist identity, through the eyes of these emerging fields and from storytellers and historians who know the stories best.

Dragoslava Santrac, ESDA managing editor, says, “One of the greatest assets of the new encyclopedia project is the strong support and involvement of the worldwide Church. The advantage of worldwide involvement is that ESDA authors can collect materials from local church libraries and archives. They can also collect materials from church members, such as letters, photos and diaries and conduct interviews with people who know about specific historical events. It would be almost impossible to conduct this style of research without local involvement and presence.”

In fact, church members with expertise on specific subjects are encouraged to give peer reviews or write articles on issues they are passionate about. Because the encyclopedia is considered a scholarly publication, published articles count toward professional development, too. It’s a wonderful opportunity to “remember, record, and rehearse God’s leading.”2


The ESDA is designed to accomplish several goals, including strengthening Adventist identity and heightening awareness of our distinctive doctrinal and prophetic beliefs, providing an authoritative reference work for new Adventists or non-members to learn about all aspects of our denomination, and even highlighting challenges the church still faces in order to reach the world for Christ.

David Trim, editor of the ESDA and director of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, believes the ESDA can be a useful tool for church members to use for evangelism. “As people hear about Seventh-day Adventists and say, ‘What are they? Who are they? What do these people believe? Where do they come from?’ the encyclopedia will show them. It will give them a scholarly and authoritative account—one that tells the truth and isn’t just sugar-coated but ultimately is faith affirming. It will lead non-Adventists and Seventh-day Adventists into a greater understanding that this is God’s church, that God is blessing it, and is leading it.”



As a ministry leader, you will want to take advantage of this expanding resource for your own personal use. Not only will it provide a basis for your own understanding of Adventist history and other issues, but you will also find inspiring stories to use as sermon illustrations, and important up-to-date information on issues. New articles, photos, videos, and podcasts are added on a regular basis.

Mario Brito, president of the Inter-European Division of the Adventist Church, has seen the value of the encyclopedia in his territory. “Members, leaders, and pastors benefit from these stories because we find experiences of commitment [and] dedication to the work. They help us to understand that nothing can be accomplished without sacrifice, involvement, and love for the cause. This is a motivation for the younger generations to do the same.”3

This is exactly what the ESDA hopes to accomplish. Trim says, “As you surf through the ESDA Online, reading some articles, scanning others, at times you may feel chastened or challenged by the struggles and missteps, at times thrilled by the victories and achievements, and at other times humbled or inspired by commitment and sacrifice. But throughout, you will be encouraged by the providences of God—and we hope and believe that you will gain a new enthusiasm for the mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.”4

For more information, visit the official ESDA website at

1 “About ESDA,” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, accessed October 8, 2020,
2 Ibid.
3 “A Brand New Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists Released July 1,” Adventist News Network, July 6, 2020, https://adventist. news/en/news/a-brand-new-encyclopedia-of-seventh-day-adventistsreleased-july-1.
4 “From the Editor,” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, accessed October 8, 2020,

Beth Thomas is a freelance writer living in Detroit, Michigan, USA, with her pastor husband and two children.

January 2, 2021
April 3, 2021
July 3, 2021
October 2, 2021

Download the materials at