Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Photo from North American Division Archives, Statistics and Records

Why Did the General Conference Move to Takoma Park?


Story by Shannon Kelly

After the creation of new departments and unions within the General Conference—formed in 1863 as a governing body of the Seventh-day Adventist Church—as well as two fires in 1902 that destroyed the Battle Creek Sanitarium and the General Conference, both located in Michigan—the Adventist Church had to find a new headquarters where the denomination could rebuild and expand. Ellen G. White urged other leaders to look for a location away from the Battle Creek area.

Michael Campbell, North American Division director of Archives, Statistics, and Research, says that church leadership initially wanted a property along the Hudson River in New York, but someone else beat them to it. With encouragement from White, co-founder of the Adventist Church, the group kept looking, venturing farther south.

A tract of 50 acres became available for a tremendous bargain near the nation’s capital within the limits of Takoma Park, Md. The property included ready access to electricity, good roads, sewage, fuel and free mail service, as well as transportation by rail and a recently developed trolley line.

A 2018 Adventist Review article also noted the community’s rural air, with gentle hills, streams and woodlands, making the area attractive for the new headquarters.

From 1902–1906, church leaders temporarily moved the General Conference to a rented building at 222 North Capitol St., NE, Washington, D.C. In 1904, the Adventist Church purchased the land, and the headquarters eventually relocated to Takoma Park, Md.

The Columbia Union Conference—which covers the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States—is home to many locations where people of the Seventh-day Adventist faith made (and continue to make) history. But how did the greater Washington, D.C., area become a church hub in the first place? And where can one find impactful, lesser-known historic sites within the Columbia Union territory?

Take a road trip with historians Michael Campbell, North American Division director of Archives, Statistics, and Research, and Phillip Warfield, a Ph.D. candidate studying United States 20th Century History at Howard University (D.C.), as they introduce—or for some, reintroduce—several interesting and exciting Adventist spots you and your family can visit this summer. So, grab your hiking boots and sunscreen because we’re off!

Find more details and history in our online articles!

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