Pioneer missionary Benny Tavodi and popular evangelist George Burnside are among the many individuals from the South Pacific Division (SPD) whose biographies feature in the new Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists (ESDA), which launches this week.
ESDA is an exciting global project several years in the making. Of the 8500 entries documenting the history and life of the Adventist Church around the world, 611 are from the SPD, with a further 19 currently being edited. The benefit of the digital format is that ESDA can be continually updated and expanded.
Scholars, teachers and authors from every division have contributed to the project, including 140 writers from the SPD. It is the first time some of the stories have been told.
In his role as ESDA regional editor, former Division president Dr Barry Oliver has been busy coordinating local writers and entries for the project. There are articles on each union, conference, mission and institution, as well as on significant people and events from the South Pacific.
“No project ever attempted by the Church has had this breadth of input,” Dr Oliver said. “We are a global Church and it is entirely appropriate that our encyclopedia should be produced by the contributions of writers from right around the globe. Some authors live in remote locations such as Choiseul Island in the Solomon Islands. Some live at Avondale University College. They come from every continent except Antarctica as far as I know.”
Some of the stories have left a lasting impression on Dr Oliver. “The amazing courage, commitment and dare I say it, intestinal fortitude of people I had not heard of blew me away,” he said.
“It is not a coincidence that our Church is the global, growing Church that it is today. And when one realises that it all is within the providence and blessing of God, it is moving to say the least. The stories of people and places are so good that they can be used for serious research or enjoyable reading. Like me, I am sure you will be amazed at what you learn.”