|South Pacific Division|
territory was the first union conference to be organized in the developing
structure of the Seventh-day Adventist church in 1894. Originally called
the Australian Union Conference, it consisted only of Australia and New
Zealand. By 1901 various Pacific Islands, such as Fiji, Pitcairn, Samoa
and Tahiti had been added. As the church grew, the territory incorporated
various other countries in the region, becoming the Australasian Union Conference
in 1922. By 1956 it had been designated a Division, with it's current name
adopted in 1985.
Composed now of 17 countries, more than half of the members of the South Pacific Division are in the Papua New Guinea Union mission, which has a membership of more than 184,000.
Several of the Islands became famous during World War II, when local villagers rescued wounded servicemen - including John F Kennedy, one time President of the United States. These unexpected helpers became known affectionately as "fuzzy wuzzy angels."
Today, many of these pacific islands are sought-after vacation get-away destinations, harboring romantic holiday resorts. But their richest treasure is its people. These are a hospitable people with a rich heritage, who are eager for Bible truth and education. Many island territories continue to look to Australia and New Zealand for financial support of their many ministries. The Sanitarium Health Food Company, a leading breakfast cereal and soy beverage producer operated by the church, has provided one source of income to support mission in the island territories.
Pitcairn, island of mutineer fame and once fully Seventh-day Adventist, has now only 50 permanent residents as many have left for education overseas. However, it remains a source for short-wave news in that area of the Pacific. Some 259 schools and colleges provide an Adventist Christian education throughout the South Pacific. Avondale College in Australia, the Pacific Adventist University in Papua New Guinea, and Atoifi Hospital in the Solomon Islands all have a school of nursing. Fulton College in Fiji is another source of training for the Adventist young people of the Pacific. Karalundi Aboriginal Education Center in Western Australia and Miriwinni Gardens Aboriginal Academy in New South Wales, Australia, provide for boarding and education of aboriginal children. The ATSIM Bible College in Western Australia is a practical ministry training center for young adult and adult Aborigines who want to serve God and their people but do not wish to go through a full academic program.
The Signs Publishing Company prints or arranges for publication in several languages, including Pidgin for the Melanesians of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. ADRA plays a major role in development and there is an office of Christian Services for the Blind and Hearing Impaired that provides an extensive ministry including summer camps for blind and hearing impaired children.
Healthcare is provided at hospitals in Australia and the Solomon Islands along with 33 clinics and dispensaries throughout the island territories. The aviation program in Papua New Guinea operates three small Cessna aircraft and gives access to remote mountain villages.
Quality video productions regularly come from the South Pacific Adventist Media Center, including the quarterly video reports from Adventist World Radio. The Center has satellite uplink capabilities and is part of the Adventist Global Communication Network. Bible correspondence schools operate in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
The South Pacific Division is alive with challenge and promise. Growth in church membership surpasses resources in many areas. Rich in color and contrast, the nations of the Pacific comprise an exciting mission field with a growing number of Seventh-day Adventist Christians living for Jesus and preparing for His return.