The Pew Research Center describes the Seventh-day Adventist Church as the most diverse in North America. This comes as the result of our global mission focus which has been in evidence since the beginning of our denomination. Missionaries have traveled to nearly every country in the world, spreading the good news of salvation to people everywhere. We are proud to be part of such a mosaic of beautiful people, cultures, languages, and backgrounds. Our diversity is certainly evident in the Pacific Union Conference, where Adventists are of European, Hispanic, African, Asian, Pacific, and Native American ancestries. Many of our churches offer services in the native languages—there are about 30—of the cultural groups they serve. Our sense of shared community transcends divisiveness over differences, and our cultural diversity brings unique opportunities for building understanding and mutual respect—precisely the things God has called us to pursue in our relationships with others. Adventists are also respectful of religious diversity and welcome opportunities to collaborate with other Christian churches as well as with our neighbors who worship in nearby synagogues, temples, and mosques.
In addition to traveling all over the world as missionaries, the Seventh-day Adventists have long made mission a top priority in the United States as well, becoming well established in the Pacific Southwest more than one hundred and fifty years ago. The first Adventists arrived in San Francisco in 1859, and just a few years later enthusiastic converts set up a tent in Petaluma, California, and began to share what they knew to be the “blessed hope.” In fact, California is home to a great treasure of Adventist historical heritage, the spiritual retreat Elmshaven—former home of Church founder Ellen G. White—located in St. Helena, California. The serenity of this spiritual haven reminds visitors of how God’s Spirit moved to bring fresh courage and inspiration to the early visionaries in the Adventist Church. The country Victorian residence was built in 1885. Ellen White moved there after her return from Australia in 1900 at the age of 72. She wrote nine of her inspired works at the property, which she described as having “a most beautiful location” that she was very thankful to God for providing. Find out more about Elmshaven.
The Christ-centered enthusiasm of our early pioneers quickly spread up and down the California coast and throughout the five states that now make up the Pacific Union Conference. We now have growing congregations in the tourism centers of Nevada, evangelism projects underway throughout the vast stretches of mountainous Utah, small but friendly open-air groups enjoying the tropical breezes of Hawaii, and multilingual discussions in Bible study groups all along the border communities in Southern California—as well as world class medical facilities and institutions of higher learning. This area is filled with dedicated Adventists eagerly serving their communities with a commitment to Christ and an inclusive spirit committed to expanding ministry opportunities to people of all backgrounds.