Church to release all-new encyclopaedia

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Silver Spring, Maryland, United States

Church leaders have approved a completely new, Internet-centered encyclopaedia to replace the Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopaedia, first published in 1966.

. . . while the production of a new encyclopaedia will be time-consuming and not cheap, it means a similar outlay of resources will never be necessary again.

The new Encyclopaedia of Seventh-day Adventism will debut online in 2020 and be overseen by the General Conference’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research.

The General Conference’s Executive Committee earmarked $1.6 million for the five-year project at its annual Spring Council business meeting this week.

The project has its roots in a 2010 proposal by the Adventist Review to set up a Wikipedia-style website “to support the installation, updating, and further expansion of the SDA Encyclopaedia through volunteers around the world”.

General Conference administrators agreed on the need for a new encyclopaedia that reflected “the tremendous growth and maturity of the Church as well as the shifts in global dynamics and the reception of information,” the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research said in a statement.

“Unlike its predecessors, no future major revision process will be required due to the continuous updating of the encyclopaedia’s website,” it said. “Thus, while the production of a new encyclopaedia will be time-consuming and not cheap, it means a similar outlay of resources will never be necessary again.”

It said the project would seek to meet six goals, to:

  • Supply reliable and authoritative information on Adventist history, crucial events and themes, organisations, entities, institutions, and people 
  • Strengthen Adventist identity in a fast-growing worldwide movement, heightening awareness of distinctive doctrinal and prophetic beliefs 
  • Provide a reference work for those new to the Adventist faith, mature in the faith, and not of the Adventist faith to learn about all aspects Adventism
  • Bring out the role of the denominational organisation in fulfilling the Church’s mission 
  • Highlight the missional challenges still remaining to “reach the world” 
  • Reflect the nature of the world church today, both in subject matter and in those who write and edit the encyclopaedia

The online edition will feature video and audio and draw on the expertise of thousands of Adventist scholars worldwide. It will be available in all major languages, including English, Spanish, French, and German.

“We are working with divisions to translate the encyclopaedia into the major languages spoken by Seventh-day Adventist church members,” said Dr David Trim, director of the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research.

The Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research is already in the process of acquiring numerous web addresses for the encyclopaedia.

“But the website will not go live until early 2020 and will officially debut at the 2020 GC session,” said Benjamin Baker, assistant archivist.

Plans are also in the works for a four-volume printed edition of the encyclopaedia.

The idea for a Seventh-day Adventist encyclopaedia was first raised in 1959. The Review and Herald Publishing Association initially decided against the idea but, upon completing the nine-volume Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary in 1962, voted to publish the encyclopaedia as a complement to the series.

The project was announced at the 1962 Spring Council, and the single-volume SDA Encyclopaedia produced by a staff of eight was released in January 1966.

A revised edition was published a decade later in 1976.

A substantial revision began in 1993 that resulted in the publication of two volumes in 1996.

That year, the Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary and the encyclopaedia also were released on CD for the first time. An online edition currently is available on the Logos Bible Software website.