Free Seventh-day Adventists
Who We Are
The International Association of Free Seventh-day Adventists is a world-wide association of Self-Supporting Seventh-day Adventists who believe, promote and practice the historical foundational beliefs of Seventh-day Adventism.
Since most people have never heard of Free Seventh-day Adventism, we here at HIS Vine Free Seventh-day Adventist Church thought it appropriate to provide some background as to who Free Seventh-day Adventists are and where they came from.
Two SDA ministers, both black, one on the east coast and one on the west coast, began churches that were self-supporting. They were Elder John W. Manns and Elder Louis C. Sheafe. Elder Manns’ first self-supporting church was named Christian Negro Seventh-day Adventist Church. That name was later changed on July 23, 1923 to General Assembly of Free Seventh-day Adventists. Elder Sheafe’s church was named Berean Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists. This church was incorporated in the State of California on December 21, 1916. In the “Watson Letter” (Letter 267, 1905) and Letter 262, 1902, it becomes obvious that Ellen White was very supportive through the use of her tithe of the work Elder Manns and others were performing in the south along with her son, J. Edson White who established the Southern Publishing House. (Pamphlet 127, e.g.)
Elder Sheafe was mentioned by name by Ellen G. White in her writings, specifically, Letter 157, 1904 pg. 3 (Letter to Mrs. M. J. Nelson, April 28, 1904). She said, “Under the labors of Elder Sheafe, many colored people in this city have accepted the truth. Sixteen were baptized the Sabbath before last, and seven last Sabbath. I (Ellen White) was only too glad to promise that I would speak at the church (Elder Sheafe’s) next Sabbath.” He later ministered in Washington, D. C., but his church retained their name and identity as the Berean Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists. This is important because it establishes a legal identity as a church of Free Seventh-day Adventists that has co-existed with the General Conference since 1916.
Why We Are Free Seventh-day Adventists
In the last quarter-century, some have thought they could open up a church and use the name “Seventh-day Adventist” without any legal ramifications. All of those who so thought were quickly disabused of that notion by the General Conference Corporation of Seventh-day Adventists, who own a trademark on that name, as well as the title “Adventist” and intellectual property rights to the acronym “SDA.” This was done by the General Conference in 1980 using a Roman Catholic lawyer to do its work. In so doing, they have made what is to be a church into a business and is contrary to the Bible and the writings of Ellen G. White. See, e.g., I Corinthians 6:1-4; 3SM, pg. 299, Ellen G. White.
And if that was not enough, the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, through its Corporation, has taken the additional step of trademarking the name of Ellen G. White, any and all of her writings, letters, books, visions, periodicals, papers, and anything that is printed, written or recorded from, by, or about her. In so doing, they have also banned any mention of the history of Seventh-day Adventism without their permission and sanction. Thus, any preacher, teacher, layperson or student who tries to teach historical Adventism or use it as its platform, within the General Conference, and make use of the historical writings as confirmed by Ellen White (let alone outside the conference) or any of her writings, stands the risk of being censored by the General Conference, including the seizure of any and all of that material in that person’s possession, and the risk of being sued, defamed and ostracized by the same General Conference that supposedly is the representative of the remnant church. We no longer believe this to be true based on the actions taken by the General Conference Corporation and the General Conference as a whole who seek to dominate and control every aspect of Adventism as the leadership sees fit and which they have exercised their legal authority to so control. Like the Pharisees in Christ’s time, man again thinks himself sufficient to control all aspects of religion and faith, and have chosen to ignore the true testimony of the True Witness. We want so much more of God and so much less of man in our practice of faith and religion.
The Berean Church of Seventh-day Adventists allowed the Board of the Gilead Institute of America (a medical missionary evangelistic association) to become a part of the Board of Trustees of the Berean Church of Seventh-day Adventists. This, in turn, led to the Berean Church of Seventh-day Adventists to register in the State of Georgia as a dba; International Association of Free Seventh-day Adventists, which allowed the Berean Church to legally operate in the State of Georgia with all legal privileges attending thereto, including not only the use of the name Seventh-day Adventist, but also, all writings Ellen G. White without interference from the General Conference. These are called “pre-registration common law rights” that, because they predate the preemptive action of the General Conference Corporation, preclude them from taking any legal action against the Berean Free Seventh-day Adventist Church (now International Association of Free Seventh-day Adventists) or any other churches or ministries under its legal umbrella.
Why Is This So Important?
Beyond the legal ramifications, by the will of the Conference, most of our schools, hospitals and other institutions, including many churches, no longer even bear the name Seventh-day Adventist. And perhaps this is rightly so since a lot of these institutions no longer adhere to the principles that were set forth by the pioneers regarding education, health reform, health principles, the use of natural means, not chemicals or pharmaceuticals to heal and restore and preach the true message to the sick, weak and dying; and have excluded the Sanctuary Message, the Day of Atonement, the Three Angels’ Message and Righteousness by Faith from the pulpits. But that is not what God called us to be.
“No name which we can take will be appropriate but that which accords with our profession, and expresses our faith, and marks us as a peculiar people. The name, Seventh-day Adventist, is a standing rebuke to the Protestant world. Here is the line of distinction between the worshipers of God, and those who worship the beast, and receive his mark. The great conflict is between the commandments of God and the requirements of the beast. It is because the saints are keeping all ten of the commandments that the dragon makes war upon them; and if they will lower the standard and yield the peculiarities of their faith, the dragon will be at peace. But God’s people excite the ire of the dragon because they have dared to raise the standard, and unfurl their banner in opposition to the Protestant world, who are worshiping the institution of Papacy.
“The name, Seventh-day Adventist, carries the true features of our faith in front, and will convict the inquiring mind. Like an arrow from the Lord’s quiver, it will wound the transgressors of God’s law, and will lead to repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ellen G. White, Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 4b, pg. 54-55 (1864); Testimonies, Vol. 1, pg. 223-224
“Every institution that bears the name of Seventh-day Adventist is to be to the world as was Joseph in Egypt, and as were Daniel and his fellows in Babylon. In the providence of God these men were taken captive, that they might carry to heathen nations the knowledge of the true God. They were to be representatives of God in our world. They were to make no compromise with the idolatrous nations with which they were brought in contact, but were to stand loyal to their faith, bearing as a special honor the name of worshipers of the God who created the heavens and the earth.” Ellen G. White, Testimonies, Vol. 8 pg.153.
“In the name of the Lord we are to identify ourselves as Seventh-day Adventists. If any one among us is ashamed of our colors, and wishes to stand under another banner, let him do so as a private individual, not as a representative of Seventh-day Adventist medical missionary work.
“Let us take our position as Seventh-day Adventists. The name is a true expression of our faith. I am instructed to call upon God’s people to bring their actions into harmony with their name, of which they have no need to be ashamed. The Seventh-day Adventist faith will bless whenever it is brought into the character-building.” Ellen G. White, July 6, 1902 Letter to General Conference Committee and Medical Missionary Board.
The purpose of this church as Free Seventh-day Adventists, is to proclaim present truth through the Sanctuary Message, Righteousness by Faith, the Three Angel’s Message, The Day of Atonement, and all other related messages thereto in accordance with the will of God, consistent with the True Message given by God and not according to the whims of the will of man. In order to present these messages in that fashion, it requires a return to the historical fundamental principles of Adventism set down by the pioneers of Seventh-day Adventism. We do not believe this can be done freely within the General Conference.
So, in order to accomplish what we believe to be God’s will, we are taking what Ellen G. White referred to as “irregular” lines, and doing so through the legal act of becoming Free Seventh-day Adventists, which predates by 65 years the first act of the General Conference in obtaining a trademark over the name, and 92 years before the act of getting a trademark on the name of Ellen G. White and all of her works which should be available to the world along with the Bible as a witness to present truth. We do this to protect ourselves legally so that the true message of the Gospel can be preached in its fullness, nothing more. We are not a cult or an offshoot. We preach the message that God designed the General Conference to preach from its inception. We pray for and set an example for the General Conference to return to the true path that God has set for it as an organization. In no way do we work against it. Its members are our brothers and sisters. We demonstrate this fact by being both a ministry and a church that adheres to the principles of Historical Adventism as our platform and advancing present truth from that platform. We offer everyone a concrete alternative to the “regular” lines by conducting church services on Sabbath, Bible studies, prayer services, etc., and being a ministry seeking to restore our brothers to the truth of God’s end-time message through these “irregular lines.”
“So often the same old difficulties arise and are presented in regard to disturbing the “regular lines.” But God will work in some way to make His people understand that the regular lines have become full of irregular practices. How many more years will it be before our brethren receive the clear, keen perception which calls evil evil, and good good? When will men cease to depend upon the same routine which has left so much work undone, so many fields unworked? Is not the present presentation enough to make men see that a revival is necessary and a reformation essential? If not, it is useless for me to repeat the same things over and over again.
“I want my brethren to begin to understand some things for themselves. God alone, by the quickening, vivifying influence of His Holy Spirit, can enable men to distinguish between the sacred and the common. God alone can make men understand that working on regular lines has led to irregular practices. God alone can make men’s minds as they should be. The time has come when we should hear less in favor of the regular lines. If we can get away from the regular lines into something which, though irregular, is after God’s order, it may cut away something of the irregular working which has led away from Bible principles.
“God’s principles are the only safe principles for us to follow. Phariseeism was filled with regular lines, but so perverted were the principles of justice that God declared, “Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey” (Isaiah 59:14, 15). How true these words have proved.
“It is God who gives men wisdom by which to tell truth from a lie. Those under His guidance almost instinctively separate the good from the evil. God is trying to bring the backsliders in prominent places back to their senses. He corrects the evils to which men who ought to know better, who have heard His warnings and reproofs, have held fast as if evil were a choice commodity of which not one grain must be lost.
“It is as hard today to break away from the regular lines as it was in Christ’s day.” Ellen G. White, MR 1450, Letter to Elder A. G. Daniells, dated June 24 and 30, 1901
“There are many who will spend and be spent to win souls to Christ. In obedience to the great commission, they will go forth to work for the Master. Under the ministration of angels ordinary men will be moved by the Spirit of God to warn people in the highways and byways. Humble men, who do not trust in their gifts, but who work in simplicity, trusting always in God, will share in the joy of the Saviour as their persevering prayers bring souls to the cross. We would say to them, Go forth, brethren; do your best humbly and sincerely, and God will work with you. They should be strengthened and encouraged, and as fast as possible fitted for labor, that success may crown their efforts. They harmonize with unseen, heavenly instrumentalities. They are workers together with God, and their brethren should bid them Godspeed, and pray for them as they labor in Christ’s name. No one is authorized to hinder such workers. They should be treated with great respect. No one should speak a disparaging word of them as in the rough places of the earth they sow the gospel seed.
“Christ will be with these humble workers. The angels of heaven will cooperate with them in their self-sacrificing efforts. By the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus will move upon hearts. God will work miracles in the conversion of sinners. Men and women will be gathered into church fellowship.
“These workers are trees of the Lord’s planting. In a peculiar sense they bear fruit equal to the fruit borne by the apostles. They receive a reward in this life, and a glorious reward awaits them in the future life.
“It is time that church members understood that everywhere there is a work to be done in the Lord’s vineyard.No one is to wait for a regular process before they make any efforts. They should take up the work right where they are. There should be many at work in what are called “irregular lines.” If one hundred laborers would step out of the “regular lines,” and take up self-sacrificing work, souls would be won to the Lord. And the workers would understand by experience what it means to be laborers together with God.” Ellen G. White, Spalding and Magan Collection, Letter to Brother Johnson, pg. 194-195 August 6, 1901
“God selects His messengers and gives them His message; and He says, “Forbid them not.” New methods must be introduced. God’s people must awaken to the necessity of the time in which they are living.” Ellen G. White, “Reflecting Christ,” pg. 242And yes, we are a self-supporting church. Some people have a problem with that designation. But what does it really mean? It means that we support ourselves from the tithes and offerings given to the church. A tithe is then paid to the International Association of Free Seventh-day Adventists, and the remainder to pay our pastor, support evangelism, and take care of the routine expenses of the church, including all outreach ministries.