The colorful history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church began as a result of close study of Bible prophecies around the mid-nineteenth century. People of many persuasions came to believe that the second coming, or advent, of Christ was imminent.
When Christ did not come at that time, a group of Adventists in New England, continuing their study of prophecy, concluded that the time period was right but the event anticipated was the beginning of the final judgment in heaven rather than the second coming of Christ, which was still in the future. This same group accepted the teaching of the seventh-day Sabbath, and became known as Seventh-day Adventists. The church organized formally in 1863.
Basing its faith on the Bible, the church today is a closely-knit, worldwide organization with a membership of more than 13.5 million believers. The church sent its first missionary, J. N. Andrews, abroad in 1874, and today conducts evangelistic endeavors in more than 208 nations, in more than 700 languages.
The church operates one of the largest Protestant educational systems in the world, with more than 5,700 schools, including 86 colleges and 15 universities. See a listing of Seventh-day Adventist colleges and universities.
The first organized medical work by Adventists began in 1866 with the founding of Battle Creek Sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan. Today the Adventist health system is one of the largest health-care delivery systems in the nonprofit sector. Worldwide, the church operates more than 570 health-care institutions, including hospitals, sanitariums, and clinics. Adventist Health International (AHI), a management organization committed to partnering with health-care services in developing countries, is based at Loma Linda University. The denomination's world activities are directed by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, with headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The Good Samaritan sculpture, located on the Loma Linda University campus mall, is a graphic representation of the parable told by Jesus in Luke 10:30-37.