Bermuda is an island nation some 1,050 kilometers (650 miles) off the Atlantic coast of the United States. It is the oldest and most populous of the British overseas territories.
Spanish sea captain Juan de Bermúdez discovered the archipelago of seven islands and more than 170 islets that became Bermuda during the sixteenth century. It was nearly 100 years, however, before the first permanent settlement emerged from a group of shipwrecked colonists headed for the United States from the United Kingdom in 1609. Bermuda’s first capital, St. George’s, was settled in 1612 and is the oldest continuously inhabited English town in the Americas.
During the mid-1800s North Americans, trying to avoid harsh northern winters, popularized Bermuda’s tourism industry. This industry continues to be an important part of the island’s economy. Each year nearly half a million tourists, some 80 percent from the United States, visit to enjoy Bermuda’s beaches, golf courses, colonial buildings, and subtropical climate.
The country’s dependence on tourism makes it susceptible to the ups and downs of the tourist industry. The global economic recession of the past few years has had a negative effect on Bermuda’s economy. Still, Bermuda enjoys the third highest per capita income in the world, due in part to its other primary source of income, international financial services. A number of insurance companies have relocated to the island from the United States, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and again after Hurricane Katrina in August 2005, further contributing to the expansion of an already robust international business sector.
As with many other British overseas territories, independence from the United Kingdom is an ongoing point of discussion. Although a 1995 referendum on independence was rejected by 75 percent of Bermudans, the current government leadership has restarted the debate.
Adventists in Bermuda
English (official), Portuguese
Anglican, 23%; Roman Catholic, 15%; African Methodist Episcopal, 11%; other Protestant, 18%; other, 33%.
ADVENTIST TO POPULATION RATIO
*General Conference Office of Archives and Statistics, 146th Annual Statistical Report—2008
The Adventist Church in Bermuda has its roots in education. In the early 1890s two Adventist teachers, Marshall Enoch and his wife, immigrated to Bermuda from Nova Scotia, Canada, and started a school. In 1898 the Bermuda Institute, an elementary and secondary school, opened its doors and still operates today.
Shortly after the Enochs arrived, two brothers from Minnesota, in the northern United States, Frank and Marquis Pogue, began serving as literature evangelists in Bermuda. Three years later the first Adventist congregation was officially organized.
At the 1950 General Conference session the world church challenged its members to double the denomination’s membership in the next four years. Inspired by the challenge, local church members in Bermuda held several series of evangelistic meetings that doubled Bermuda’s membership in just two years. The Adventist Church now has 10 churches on the islands.
Bermuda is one of three countries, along with Canada and the United States, that make up the North American Division. This division is hosting “Follow the Bible” this month, an initiative sponsored by the Seventh-day Adventist Church around the world to encourage a deeper interest in reading the Bible. The journey began in the fall of 2008 and will finish at the General Conference session in Atlanta this month.