From its beginning, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been involved in and supportive of the work of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), according to a number of historical sources.
In Australia, that legacy continued at the three-day National WCTU triennial meeting held at Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, October 16-18, 2018. Women, along with some men, from a variety of denominations traveled from all over Australia to listen to keynote presentations about the dangers of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco (DAT) and elect new officers for the next three years.
Seventh-day Adventists were elected to four of the officer positions, with Joy Butler named as president, Glenda Amos re-elected as treasurer and director for children’s work, Christine White as first vice president, and Margaret Major as coordinator for pastoral care.
Seventh-day Adventist pastor David Haupt provided one of the keynote presentations, during which he described experiences from his days at a drop-in-drug rehabilitation center in the heart of Cabramatta, in Sydney, Australia.
Haupt was joined by John Whitehall, who talked about fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), with their many damaging effects on the unborn child. Tony Brown, a lawyer and lobbyist, emphasized in his presentation the importance of WCTU continuing to agitate and lobby so governments might take action to reduce the multifaceted damage caused in the community by alcohol and extended drinking hours.
A number of brainstorming opportunities were given to the participants during the three-day event to bring new life and ideas into the 180-year-old movement that might create greater involvement from church members. Prayer and more emphasis on the younger generation, who face much pressure to indulge in alcohol and other drugs, are key components of WCTU’s focus going forward, according to organizers.
Seventh-day Adventists and the Temperance Movement
Historical sources attest that from its beginning in the 19th century, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has supported efforts to curb the use of harmful drugs, alcohol, and tobacco, advocating for a life free of those social ills. As part of their efforts, Adventist leaders and members have a longstanding tradition of partnering with other organizations to advocate temperance.
Through her writings, Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White supported and led many of the church’s early efforts on behalf of total abstinence. She also encouraged Adventist church members to work together with like-minded organizations, including WCTU.
In her book Welfare Ministry, White wrote, “I have been shown that we are not to shun the WCTU workers. By uniting with them in behalf of total abstinence, … we can show our appreciation of their position regarding the subject of temperance. By opening the door and inviting them to unite with us on the temperance question we secure their help along temperance lines; and they, by uniting with us, will hear new truths which the Holy Spirit is waiting to impress upon hearts” (p. 163).
The original version of this story was published by the Adventist Record.