To be read on Sabbath, December 28, 2013
The Special Sabbath School Offering will be gathered
on Sabbath, January 4, 2014
The United Kingdom, also known as Great Britain and England, is a large island on the west side of the European continent. Economically it is one of the strongest countries in Europe. The island has an area of 243,610 square kilometers (94,058 square miles). Its coastline is 12,429 kilometers (7,723 miles). The population is approximately 62.7 million people.
Politically, the United Kingdom is a union of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. The official language is English, although other native languages are recognized, including Scottish, Irish, and Welsh. Britain is a multiracial nation comprised of 88.7% Caucasians, 5.6% Indians, 2.7% Blacks, 1.6% Chinese and other, and 1.4% mixed races.
The country is basically a Christian nation with a good degree of religious liberty. Protestants account for 60% of the population, Catholics 14%, Muslims 3%, and Buddhists and Hindus 2%, while other religions, such as Jews, Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh-day Adventists, and others share 21%. Like many other Western countries, due to material wealth and other factors, interest in religious matters is dying very rapidly in this country.
England has a very rich and interesting historical heritage, including the Protestant Reformation. During the Middle Ages of Roman Catholic supremacy, one of the very first Reformers in all Christendom arose in the fourteenth century in this country. John Wycliffe, the “morning star of the Reformation,” opened the eyes of many to the Holy Scriptures, which in his time were accessible only to a few learned scholars. In a very special way, he exposed the false teachings of Romanism by writing and publishing tracts. After him, a long list of other eminent Reformers emerged in England and in other countries of Europe.
Following the Adventist awakening in the 1840s, the present truth of the three angels’ messages reached England in the mid-1860s, while the message of the Reform Movement reached England as early as 1925 and the church was organized. At the beginning, this message was well received in Britain, and there was a good number of believers, most of whom lived in Wales. The Charles family was the first to accept the message. Others joined, and the number of believers in Wales grew to about 25. In Scarborough, there were 10 members, while in Stock on Trent there was a family of 4 members. As political and economic pressures increased, it became difficult to present the message in its full power; and as the members grew older and died, the new generation could not live the message. Today we have just a few members in England. The present membership stands at about twenty, composed mostly of immigrants attending the church in Chelmsford, from which we operate the activities of the British Field.
At present, the church leadership in England is working hard to focus the church’s energies on expanding the missionary outreach especially in the City of London, where three souls were recently baptized. Sister White had a special message with regard to missionary work in this city: “There is a great work to be done in England. The light radiating from London should beam forth in clear, distinct rays to regions beyond. God has wrought in England, but this English-speaking world has been terribly neglected. England has needed many more laborers and much more means. London has been scarcely touched. My heart is deeply moved as the situation in that great city is presented before me. It pains me to think that greater facilities are not provided for the work throughout Europe. I have sore heartache as I think of the work in Switzerland, Germany, Norway, and Sweden. Where there are one or two men struggling to carry forward the different branches of the cause, there should be hundreds at work. In the city of London alone no fewer than one hundred men should be engaged. The Lord Marks the neglect of His work, and there will be a heavy account to settle by and by.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 25, 26. We hope to do our best to follow this testimony.
One of the problems is that the British Field was only recently officially registered. Also, like a new field, we need a chapel and a central office with furniture, fixtures, and office equipment to carry out the present activities. In the past, the British church did a great deal to support the General Conference financially in extending missionary activities to other countries. But now, due to the great need, we solicit the support of our sister fields and the Unions around the world to join hands with us in our endeavor to advance our evangelistic campaign as well as re-establish the church in this country at a new level. Currently the British Field, in collaboration with the General Conference, is in the process of obtaining a permanent gospel minister for England who will take care of the work. Such plans and obligations, which this field has never experienced in the past, will put this field under greater financial constraints. For this reason, we ask for your financial support next Sabbath. Your generous gifts will be highly appreciated. May the grace of God and the multitude of His blessings rest upon you as you respond to this kind appeal.
–Your co-worker in Christ,
Parmenas N. Shirima