Adventists (ăd´vĕn´tĬsts) [advent, Lat.,=coming], members of a group of related religious denominations whose distinctive doctrine centers in their belief concerning the imminent second coming of Jesus (see Judgment Day). The name Adventism is specifically applied to the teachings of William Miller (1782–1849), who predicted the end of the world for 1843, then for 1844. When it did not occur, the Millerites, or Second Adventists, at a meeting at Albany, N.Y., in 1845 adopted a statement declaring their belief in the visible return of Jesus at an indefinite time, when the resurrection of the dead would take place and the millennium would have its beginning. Later this body took the name Evangelical Adventists. Another and larger branch of the original Adventist group became known in 1861 as the Advent Christian Church. This branch was formed as a result of a controversy over the question of the soul's immortality. The Advent Christian Church has a U.S. membership of about 26,800 (the Life and Advent Union, which was organized in 1863, merged with the Advent Christian Church in 1964). The largest Adventist body, the Seventh-day Adventists, under the leadership of Joseph Bates and James and Ellen White, adopted in 1844 the observance of Saturday as the Sabbath. Formally organized in 1863, they are fundamentally evangelical, taking the Bible as the sole rule of faith and practice. Fundamental to their doctrine is their belief in the imminent, premillennial, personal, and visible return of Jesus. The Seventh-day Adventists carry on worldwide missionary work; they number some 13.6 million. Another Adventist group is the Church of God, which was organized as Churches of God in Christ Jesus in 1888 and then permanently organized as the Church of God in 1921; its U.S. membership is around 75,000.
See M. E. Olsen, A History of the Origin and Progress of Seventh-day Adventists (1925, repr. 1972).