My denomination, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, was conceived in disappointment. It happened one-hundred and sixty-six years ago today, October 22, 1844. That morning, thousands of Christians gathered together around the United States (mostly New England) to await the second coming of Jesus. People called them Millerites, because of the movement’s leader William Miller, they came from many different churches at the time—from Baptists to Presbyterians. Many of them forced to leave their churches because of their radical ideas.
Ironically, the Advent movement, as it eventually became known, happened because our forefathers were wrong (Most of my life this event was explained away or treated like the odd cousin no body wants to talk about at family reunions). Like or not, I wouldn’t be here today if the Great Disappointment didn’t happen.
This year I am grateful for a group of innovative young Adventists who decided to look at our failures from a different perspective, something Christian’s don’t like doing very often. Tonight small groups of us around the country will be gathering to reflect on what this event means for us in the 21st century, and where we go from here together. My friend Ryan Bell, pastor of the Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church, and one of the founders of Great Disappointment Day, captures the spirit of tonight best:
“Being faithful to our original calling does not mean saying and doing the same things we said and did in 1844 or 1863 or 1905. It means remaining faithful to the spirit of those crucial moments: the radical pursuit of truth, the courageous challenging of long established norms, and faithfully following the Lamb where he goes.” – Ryan J. Bell (Adventist Today, Summer 2010)
The Suburban Pastor is the personal blog of Jeff Gang. I’m pastor for the Anaheim Seventh-day Adventist Church in Anaheim, California. This blog is a place for me to share my thoughts about ordinary life as a Jesus follower, pastor, husband, father of three, friend, and triathlete in my spare time.