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10-8-14 Adventist Heritage Ministry to become part of Ellen White Estate

Move integrates historical property ministry with Church structure

Adventist Heritage Ministry to become part of Ellen White Estate  
This home is part of a three-block area in Battle Creek, Michigan, United States, known as the Adventist Heritage Village. The village is one of the four properties owned by Adventist Heritage Ministry. [photo: Gerald Klingbeil/Adventist Review Ministries]  

October 02, 2014 | Ansel Oliver/ANN | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

The ministry that manages Adventist historic sites is about to become more integrated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s structure.

The denomination’s Ellen G. White Estate board last week approved Adventist Heritage Ministry’s (AHM) request to become a more fully recognized entity of the Church. Beginning in January, AHM, which owns four properties related to founders of the Adventist Church, will have a fulltime executive director who will also serve as an associate director of the White Estate, Church officials said.

White, who died in 1915, was a co-founder of the denomination.

AHM was founded in 1981 with the purchase of the Deacon John and Betsey White home in Battle Creek, Michigan, where the denomination was established in 1863. AHM has since purchased properties that once belonged to William Miller farm and Hiram Edson in New York, as well as the Joseph Bates boyhood home in Massachusetts. The organization is run by volunteers and funded by donations.

White Estate Director James Nix said AHM is both an evangelistic outreach and a ministry to remind members of their roots.

“This is important ministry for the Adventist Church to support because once visitors see the consecration, commitment and dedication of the early pioneers, it makes a difference in their own lives,” Nix said.

More than 12,000 people visit AHM’s four properties each year, said AHM President Thomas R. Neslund. He said last week’s move puts the ministry on a more stable footing.

“I’m proud of the Church for doing this. This puts it in a category where it belongs. It gives the organization what it needs to be part of the Church’s ministry,” he said.

As it grew over the years, AHM has struggled at times and once nearly had to disband.

AHM was launched in 1981 as Adventist Historic Properties Inc. by several lay Adventists interested in historical preservation.

In 1984 the organization purchased 25 acres of what was William Miller’s Farm in Low Hampton, New York. Miller was a Baptist preacher who incorrectly predicted the second coming of Christ in 1844. Some of his followers from the Sabbatarian movement would later form the Adventist Church.

The ministry was officially recognized as an Adventist organization in 1988.

In 1989, the organization purchased 17 acres that were originally part of the Hiram Edson farm in Port Gibson, New York. Edson was credited with introducing the Sanctuary doctrine to the Adventist Church.

In 1993 the organization changed its name to Adventist Heritage Ministry.

In 1995, AHM began developing the Historic Adventist Village in Battle Creek, Michigan. The village is a three-block area, which now includes several homes belonging to the White family, as well as surrounding properties.

In 2004, AHM nearly had to close due to a lack of donations to fund maintenance, utility bills and operations. Neslund said the Church’s North American Division the General Conference world headquarters assisted the organization financially to assure its survival.

In 2005, AHM purchased a portion of the Joseph Bates boyhood home in Farhaven, Massachusetts. Bates was a sea captain who became convinced of the seventh-day Sabbath and was a co-founder of the Adventist Church along with James and Ellen White.

Neslund said an increasing number of guests come from other countries, and several of the denomination’s 13 world division are investing in historic preservation in their own regions.

“It’s very important for members to know where this denomination came from,” Neslund said. “If you don’t know your roots you don’t know who you are.”

His favorite quote of White’s is from an 1890 letter: "The past history of the cause of God needs to be brought before our people, young and old, that they maybe familiar with it. How frequently were the waymarks set up by The Lord in His dealing with ancient Israel, let they should forget the history of the past."

AHM board member Garrett Caldwell, assistant Communication director for public relations at the denomination’s headquarters, said AHM is seeking to work cooperatively with other Adventist historic sites worldwide, such as White’s “Elmshaven” home in St. Helena, California, United States, and her “Sunnyside” home in Cooranbong, New South Wales, Australia.

“We’re wanting to convey the palate of significant heritage of the Adventist faith,” Caldwell said. “The likelihood is that when a person experiences one they want to experience more.”

From Adventist News Network
North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists
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