Adventist encyclopedia going digital


Silver Spring, Maryland, US

Spies are in. Subcultures are out. And cosmetics and dance belong together in a single article titled “Lifestyle.”

We keep discovering how much bigger the project is than we first imagined . . .

These were among the decisions made last month as a 26-member editorial committee behind the new Encyclopaedia of Seventh-day Adventists gathered for the first time at General Conference headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland to fine-tune topics and adjust the vision of the $US1.6 million, five-year project.

The online encyclopaedia, which will replace the bound Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopaedia first published in 1966, is a global church endeavour that will see thousands of members participate by researching, writing articles, editing, and sharing memories, documents, artefacts, and other information.

The Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines will take the lead in encouraging congregational and crowd-sourced histories of local churches, Adventist institutions, and individuals who will not be the subject of separate articles in the encyclopaedia, while the effort by the Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research will focus on scholarly contributions to understanding Adventist history and experience.

“We keep discovering how much bigger the project is than we first imagined . . . at the moment I would estimate that 90 per cent of articles will be newly written. This will be one of the strengths of the encyclopaedia,” said editor Dr David Trim, an Australian currently serving as director of the General Conference’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research. 

Dr Barry Oliver, who retired from his position as South Pacific Division president last year, is one of the encyclopaedia’s assistant editors and will compile the entries relating to the South Pacific region. His current list of more than 300 topics includes everything from Atoifi Adventist Hospital to evangelist George Burnside to the Azaria Chamberlain case.

The Encyclopaedia of Seventh-day Adventists will start publishing its estimated 15,000 to 20,000 articles online as they become available, starting in 2017. The full encyclopaedia will debut at the 2020 General Conference Session, although its online presence will ensure that it is continually updated and amplified.