A Historical Reflection of Southeastern Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
During the 1970’s ideas and conversations were had about dividing the vast
territory of the South Atlantic Conference so that the gospel commission could
be fulfilled. At that time the Conference territory reached as far north as the Virginia
border and as far south as Key West, Florida. It was bounded on the east by the
Atlantic Ocean and its western borders touched such states as Alabama and
Tennessee. This land mass represented approximately half of the Southern Union
In a letter dated August 30, 1974, Elder R. L. Woodfork, President of the South Atlantic
Conference, wrote Elder H. H. Schmidt, President of the Southern Union, inquiring
about the possibility of dividing the South Atlantic Conference.
On September 3, 1974 Elder Schmidt replied to Elder Woodfork with the suggestion
that a Commission of thirteen people be set in place to give formal study to the idea
of dividing the South Atlantic Conference. This commission would include the Union
Officers, the South Atlantic Officers, Elder W.S. Banfield of the North American Division,
three pastors and three lay persons.
Representatives for both committees included Marvin Brown, K.A. Dennis, Kenneth
Moore, R.A. Sloan, J.W. Dorsett, Mrs. Julia Jackson, Mrs. W. Waldon, Alphesus Forbes,
O.H. Paul, William Winston, R. Patterson, R.B. Hairston, and R.L. Woodfork from the
South Atlantic Conference. The Southern Union Conference representatives were: H.H.
Schmidt, H.F. Roll, T.W. Cantrell, and J.H. Whitehead. The General Conference
representative was F.L. Jones.
At the 1978 Annual Council meeting of the General Conference, approval was given to
divide the South Atlantic Conference. On August 9, 1979 the Study Commission voted
the plan it would recommend for the division of the South Atlantic Conference. The
Northern territory would be North Carolina, South Carolina and all of Georgia north of an
Toombs, Tattnall, Long, and Liberty counties.The Southern territory would be all of Florida
(except that portion of Florida west of the Apalachicola River) and that portion of Georgia
south of and including the counties of Seminole, Miller, Baker, Mitchell, Worth, Turner,
Ben Hill, Telfair, Jeff Davis, Appling, Wayne, and McIntosh.
On June 8, 1980, at Hawthorne, Florida, the South Atlantic Conference Constituency voted
to formally divide the South Atlantic Conference and to authorize a session of delegates
from the new territory to meet and formally organize a new Conference. At that time votes
were taken on recommended budgets, Office locations in the north and the south,
disposition and division of assets, workers and other pertinent matters related to start up.
The first session of the new Conference convened at 10am on June 22, 1980 in the Music
Building of Forest Lake Academy in Forest City, Florida. There were 169 regular delegates
and 28 delegates at-large making a total of 197 official delegates.
At this session the following officials were elected: J.A .Edgecombe, President, D.A. Walker,
Secretary Treasurer, O.J. McKinney, Departmental Director, G.W. Timpson, Departmental Director.
Southeastern Conference officially opened for business on January 1, 1981 with approximately
8,511 members; 51 churches; 20 pastors; 5 church schools with 24 teachers; 12 literature evangelists;
2 associate publishing secretaries; and one Bible worker. Pastor-Evangelist like R.R. Brown, K. Dennis,
W.L. Taylor, D. Ross, H.L. Davis, T. Fraser, E. Young, G. Nosea, W.C. Byrd, and J. Harris were consistently
under tents summer after summer winning and baptizing souls. Add to these countless church and lay
evangelism rallies to increase the harvest of souls and the establishment of new congregations. Julio
Astacio was our first Hispanic worker. Gerard Nosea was our first Haitian pastor. At the close of 2005
Southeastern Conference employed seventy-four English language Pastors, nine Spanish language
Pastors, One Filipino Pastor and twenty-two Creole/French language Pastors.
By December 31, 2005 there were 32,782 members in 137 congregations;
86-English (63%), one Filipino (1 %), 35-Creole/French (25%) and 15 Hispanic (11%). There were
74 ordained ministers, 12 licensed and 4 part ministers for a total of 90. Also employed were two
Bible Instructors, 20 staff persons, 46 full time and/or part time Literature Evangelists, and 61
teaching personnel. Southeastern operates 13 schools with Miami Union also offering 12 grades.
Tithe for 2005 was approximately 18 million dollars compared with approximately 2 million dollars in 1981.