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The impact of African Caribbean settlers on the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Britain 1952-2001\ud

By Herbert Griffiths

Abstract

The purpose of this research is to examine the impact, which African Caribbean Settlers had on the British Seventh-day Adventist church from 1952-2001, and to determine\ud what characterises Adventist mission in Britain and worldwide today. Before the arrival of African Caribbean settlers, the British SDA denomination experienced stagnation in membership. In spite of the efforts of both the church administration and local church pastors in organising evangelistic meetings to counteract such development, the membership was in decline by the early 1950's. It was this condition that African Caribbean immigrants found British Adventism when they arrived in the early 195Os.\ud \ud The research process incorporated several methods: historical documents, and interviews in the Caribbean, the USA and Britain. A survey administered to eight congregations in Britain was also used to determine the extent to which Adventism and its mission is understood and practiced in both Black and White, or Caribbean and English cultures.\ud \ud The research findings begin with the affirmation that the Africans forcibly removed from the continent of Africa to the Caribbean Islands in the 17th and 18th centuries had retained elements of their cultural and religious beliefs. They indicate that African elements of oral culture, family and community orientation were also carried over into Adventism in the Caribbean. Adventist teachings, philosophy and life-style were well placed to accommodate these elements. Together with the rapid growth of church membership, the development of educational establishments, healthcare facilities and other community training projects contributed to the mission of Adventism in the Caribbean.\ud \ud This concept of mission was transmitted to Britain with the arrival of African Caribbean immigrants from the 1950's. From their arrival, British Adventism began to experience a steady increase in membership. Furthermore, African Caribbean Adventists Christians continued to employ the philosophy and methods they were accustomed to in the Caribbean to strengthen Adventist mission programmes on these new shores. Similar results to what had been experienced in the Caribbean have been achieved in Britain. For example, the research identifies areas such as the development of new congregations, African styles of worship, the establishment of educational facilities such as nurseries, evening and weekend schools, infant and primary schools, adult training centres and day centres for the elderly and youth, and the overall drive to serve a multicultural community. From here it is evident that Adventism in Britain today is concerned about the needs of individuals as well as different groups in the wider society, and is finding ways of reaching out to them as part of the church's mission.\ud \ud This reflects the larger picture of a paradigm shift in global mission in the Adventist church internationally as well as in worldwide Christianity, especially of the Two-Thirds world. This paradigm shift in global mission is reflected in the type of projects local churches are actively engaged in, both in the Canbbean and Africa, as\ud they are compelled to respond to the social, educational and economical needs of the community

Publisher: School of Theology & Religious Studies (Leeds)
Year: 2003
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.whiterose.ac.uk:672

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