An all-time record 1.26 million people joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 2015 as the number of daily accessions matched those first seen when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the early Christian church, according to the Adventist Church’s new 2016 Annual Statistical Report.
“2015 was a landmark year for Adventist church growth: the total of 1,260,880 people who became Seventh-day Adventists by baptism and profession of faith was a new record for total accessions in a calendar year,” David Trim, director of the world church’s Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research, wrote in an introduction to the report, which is available online.
Trim noted that this was the 14th year in total and the 12th year in a row that more than 1 million new members have joined the Adventist Church.
In all, the Adventist Church had 19,126,447 members as of Dec. 31, 2015, a net increase of 647,144 people, or 3.5 percent, from the previous year, the Adventist Review reported in April. The growth comes even as the church, founded with only 3,500 members in 1863, undergoes a comprehensive membership audit to ensure that reported statistics reflect the reality on the ground.
The 2016 Annual Statistical Report, now in its 152nd edition, contains membership statistics for the worldwide church as the end of 2015, and institutional, financial, and personnel statistics as of the end of 2014.
The 101-page report says an average of 144 people joined the Adventist Church every hour last year, or the equivalent of 3,452 people per day.
“Thus, every day in 2015 was like the day of Pentecost in the numbers of believers added to the Seventh-day Adventist Church,” Trim said.
About 3,000 people were baptized on the day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2:1-47.
Trim said the Adventist Church first attained a daily average of 3,000-plus accessions in 2007 and repeated the achievement in 2011, 2012, 2014 and now 2015.
The report says three church divisions accounted for nearly two-thirds of all new church members. The highest number of accessions — 274,011, or 21.73 percent of the total — was recorded in the church’s East-Central Africa Division, followed by the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division (270,664 accessions) and the South American Division (254,768). The East-Central Africa Division’s total accessions is likely to be high again this year after Rwanda, which is part of the division, baptized more than 100,000 people after a two-week evangelistic series in May 2016.
While the report does not keep track of ages, a 110-year-old man in Guatemala could well have become the oldest person to be baptized into the Adventist Church. Local church leaders said the example of Joaquin Tzoc, who was born a decade before the death of church cofounder Ellen G. White and was baptized on Jan. 31, 2015, showed that it was never too late to accept Jesus.