Seventh Day Baptists
Seventh Day Baptists
Seventh Day Baptist Center, 3120 Kennedy Rd., PO Box 1678, Janesville, WI 53547
During the mid-seventeenth century, the Separatist movement in England included such men as James Ockford, William Saller, Peter Chamberlain, Francis Bampfield, and Edward and Joseph Stennett. They believed biblical Christianity required that they keep the seventh day (Saturday) as the Sabbath. The first church of record holding this conviction was the Mill Yard church, founded about 1650 in London. In December 1671, Stephen Mumford and his wife were joined with five others to establish the first Seventh Day Baptist church in America. The churches formed a general conference in 1802. They differ from other Baptists only in the keeping of the Sabbath.
In 1821 the denomination began publishing The Sabbath Recorder. The current missionary society was formed in 1843. Missionaries have served in China, Finland, Jamaica, Guyana, Malawi, Ghana, India, Myanmar, the Philippines, Australia, and New Zealand. In 1965 a world federation of Seventh Day Baptist conferences was formed, which has grown to nearly twenty conferences. The Seventh Day Baptists’Education Society had three schools that became colleges at Alfred, New York; Milton, Wisconsin; and Salem, West Virginia. A seminary was created at Alfred University in 1871.
Seventh Day Baptists were charter members of the Federal, the National, and the World Councils of Churches. The denomination withdrew membership during the 1970s because the councils were perceived as violating the autonomy of the local church, along with other principles of thought and practice. This withdrawal strengthened their relationship with the Baptist World Alliance, the North American Baptist Fellowship, the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, and related groups involving women and societal interests.
The Seventh Day Baptist General Conference is a conference of churches, and voting on most issues during the annual sessions is done by member church delegates. A general council acts for the conference between sessions. The council includes representatives from the Missionary Society, the Board of Christian Education, the Tract and Communication Council, the Council on Ministry, the Women’s Society, and the Memorial Fund Trustees. The conference is divided into eight associations. The Seventh Day Baptists established their headquarters for the first time during the 1920s in Plainfield, New Jersey. In 1982 the headquarters was moved to Janesville, Wisconsin, and the Plainfield property was sold. The new center houses the various denominational agencies, including the publishing house. The Tract and Communication Council, a major distributor of Sabbath literature in America and around the world, merged into the general conference in 1986.
In 2004 there were 74 clergy, 97 churches, and 5,900 members. There are churches in more than 20 countries.
The Sabbath Recorder.
Seventh Day Baptist: General Conference of the United States and Canada. www.seventhdaybaptist.org/7db/Default_EN.asp
A Manual for Procedures for Seventh Day Baptist Churches. Plainfield, NJ: Seventh Day Baptists General Conference, n.d.
Saunders, Herbert E. The Sabbath: Symbol of Creation and Recreation. Plainfield, NJ: American Sabbath Tract Society, 1970.
Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America: A Series of Historical Papers. 3 vols. Plainfield, NJ: American Sabbath Tract Society, 1910–1972.
Stillman, Karl G. Seventh Day Baptists in New England, 1671–1971. Plainfield, NJ: Seventh Day Baptist Historical Society, 1971.
Thomsen, Russel J. Seventh Day Baptists: Their Legacy to Adventists. Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press, 1971.
Current address not obtained for this edition.
In 1764, as the work of Johann Conrad Beissel at the Ephrata colony declined, a group of German Seventh Day Baptists settled at Snow Hill, Pennsylvania. In 1800, a society was organized. From here, other congregations were organized (five by 1900). The German Baptists differ from their English counterparts in their practice of triune forward immersion, footwashing at the communion service, the anointing of the sick, the blessing of infants, and induction into the ministry by a personal request for ordination rather than election by the congregation. They are also non-combatants. An annual delegated general conference is held.