The United States of America is the third largest country in the world, both in geography and population. This North American country lies mostly within the center of the continent between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Other parts of the United States are not connected to the mainland, such as the country’s largest state, Alaska, on the northwest tip of North America, and Hawaii, an archipelago state in the Pacific Ocean a couple of thousand miles off the mainland’s southwest coast.
The first documented European explorer to set foot in what would become the United States was Spaniard Juan Ponce de León, who arrived in Florida in 1513. Native Americans lived throughout the country at the time, having arrived on the continent thousands of years earlier. The Spanish were followed by French fur traders in the Great Lakes region who arrived by way of what is now Canada. The British arrived next, setting up several colonies along the Atlantic coastline. By the mid-1700s 13 distinct British colonies had been established.
Unhappy with British rule, the colonists declared independence from the English on July 4, 1776. Over the next 183 years the United States expanded from the 13 original colonies to the 50-state nation it is today. Parts of the United States were originally ruled by the British, French, Mexican, Russian, Spanish, and independent republics.
The United States is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, due in part to liberal immigration policies throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The United States also has the world’s largest economy. The sheer size of the country, its immense natural resources, and the industrial revolution of the 1800s turned it into a manufacturing powerhouse.
Adventists in the United States
The Adventist Church started in the United States as a result of the nineteenth century Great Awakening movement by people looking for Christ’s second coming. Many Adventists were former followers of a movement led by William Miller, who believed Christ would return on October 22, 1844. When Christ didn’t return, many turned away from the movement. James and Ellen White, Joseph Bates, and many others believed that Christ would still return at a date unknown.
The United States
Washington, District of Columbia
Protestant, 52%; Roman Catholic, 24%; Jewish, 2%; other, 22%
ADVENTIST TO POPULATION RATIO
*General Conference Office of Archives and Statistics, 145th Annual Statistical Report
The Adventist Church started to spread across the United States. In Battle Creek, Michigan, a variety of institutions sprang up—the Review and Herald Publishing Association, Battle Creek Sanitarium, and Battle Creek College. The first General Conference headquarters was established there as well.
Today the Adventist Church in the United States has 15 colleges and universities, 59 hospitals, and more than 100 secondary schools. Even though the Adventist Church in the United States makes up less than 10 percent of the denominational membership worldwide, members donate nearly half of the total mission offerings collected each year.
The United States is just one of the three countries that make up the North American Division. This division is hosting “Follow the Bible” this month. “Follow the Bible” is an initiative sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church around the world to stimulate a deeper interest in reading the Bible. The journey began in the fall of 2008 and climaxes at the General Conference session in Atlanta, Georgia (USA), in June.