The General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research (ASTR) recently launched a new online Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists (ESDA). Watch the video above or read on to learn more (all information from the ESDA website).
What is the Encyclopedia of Seventh-Day Adventists (ESDA)?
ESDA is a global church project which aims at completing approximately 8,500 articles with accompanying photographs, media, and original documents. ESDA is a great tool, not only for those seeking to learn more about the church, but also for those looking to witness to others. ESDA Online, the church’s first online reference work, launched on July 1, 2020. This free online resource will continue indefinitely, to be constantly updated and expanded.
Almost twenty-five years after the second revised edition of the SDA Encyclopedia, and more than half a century after the publication of the first edition, the Seventh-day Adventist Church needs a new reference work: one that embodies the diverse Adventist Church of the twenty-first century, reflects the tremendous growth in the church in the last fifty years, the shifts in global membership, and the development of Adventist historical scholarship in the last quarter century. The Church also needs an online encyclopedia that allows all the possibilities of the digital age.
How is ESDA different from the encyclopedia produced in 1996?
ESDA is much larger in its scope and is a brand-new reference work. Every article is freshly researched and written. They include historical data from world regions that previously were left out of the Encyclopedia. Also, even though the authors of the earlier editions really tried to present an international worldwide perspective, many feel that it was written mostly from a North American perspective. ESDA draws on the expertise of hundreds of authors worldwide. Eventually the editorial team comprised more than 35 assistant editors, sub-editors, editorial consultants, and research assistants, along with 15 consultant editors from the Adventist Church’s 13 world divisions, the Middle East & North Africa Union, and the Ellen G. White Estate, directed by an ESDA Main Office composed of the Editor, Managing Editor, Editorial Assistant, and website developer.
The advantage of worldwide involvement is that assistant editors were able to identify authors with local (and expert) knowledge, while authors have been able to collect materials from their local churches, such as letters and diaries. They have also recorded oral traditions and conducted interviews with surviving relatives or people who experienced key historical events. This information would often probably not have survived but for ESDA.
- Supply reliable and authoritative information on Adventist history, crucial events and themes, organizations, entities, institutions, and people;
- Strengthen Adventist identity in a fast-growing worldwide movement, heightening awareness of distinctive doctrinal and prophetic beliefs;
- Provide a reference work for those new to the Adventist faith and not of the Adventist faith, to learn about all aspects of Adventism;
- Bring out the role of denominational organization in fulfilling the church’s mission;
- Highlight the missional challenges still remaining in order to “reach the world”;
- Reflect the nature of the world church today, both in subject matter and in those who write and edit the encyclopedia.
At its 2015 Spring Meeting, the General Conference Executive Committee approved a sizeable budget for the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists (ESDA) and initiated the project, based on proposals drawn up by ASTR. At the 2015 Annual Council, Dr. David Trim, Director of ASTR, was appointed Editor and Dr. Benjamin Baker Managing Editor; to oversee the project, an Editorial Board was established, chaired by Dr. Artur Stele, a General Conference general vice president. In the spring of 2018, Dr. Dragoslava Santrac took over as Managing Editor and in December 2019, extra funding was approved by the General Conference Administrative Committee.
So much for the past, what about the Future: Can I suggest an article topic?
The editorial team seeks to include articles on every aspect of Adventist history, so consider: What are some other topics that merit inclusion in ESDA? It may be a forgotten person that you think people should know more about. It may be the Adventist work in the country, state, or city in which you were born. You may want to suggest an article on a school or ministry, or about Adventists’ engagement with an issue that you are passionate about, such as social activism, technology, or the environment. To contact the main office please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And who can contribute articles?
Members from all walks of life with expertise on a given subject, not only history and theology scholars, are welcome to contribute to ESDA. This is a chance to write about our church in an honest, open, and thorough way. For a list of available topics, email the ESDA main office at email@example.com. See also the author guidelines and other useful materials at encyclopedia.adventist.org.
It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in a global church project that thousands of others are joining in, the articles will be signed and so you will be the authority on the subject; it will count as a scholarly publication and so count for professional development; and most importantly, you will add to the body of knowledge about our church that is accessible on the web, and you will fulfill the inspired admonition to remember, record, and rehearse God’s leading.