More than 17 million Seventh Day Adventist Christians around the globe are still praying for the end of the world as we know it. And next month, as they celebrate a 150-year-old tradition they hadn't expected to last this long, there are some who are disappointed that Jesus hasn't returned yet.
"I would love for Him to come this second," said Janice Maitland, a member of the Ephesus Seventh Day Adventist Church in Manhattan, N.Y., who has been a member of the denomination since 1996, to The Christian Post. "That's always our desire because once He returns there will be less suffering. We will be restored back to our perfect way, so that's always our desire. It always has been and always will be," she added.
A recent Religion News Service report noted, however, that as the world's more than 17 million Seventh Day Adventists, of which 1.2 million are in the United States, get ready to commemorate the 150th year of the organization's existence on May 21, there's not a whole lot of cheer to go around. Not even for all the good they have accomplished through their faith across the world while they wait for deliverance.
According to Adventist archives, as of 2012, the church employed more than 230,000 people globally and established nearly 8,000 schools plus catered to more than 16 million medical outpatient visits. They have also donated millions of dollars to charity.
When the Seventh Day Adventist movement was birthed in 1863, the Church's founders attracted members with the message that Jesus would return soon. And even as many have come and gone with that hope, Adventists living today still see the stuff of their lives pointing to a common conclusion – Jesus' return and the end of this old world.
Michael Ryan, a vice president at the church's General Conference, its top governing body, noted to RNS regarding the church's planned May 18 ceremony – ahead of its 150th anniversary – to rededicate itself to its mission, that "in one kind of way it really is a sad event."
"We're a church that by its name believes in the Second Coming of Christ, and we have been hopeful that long ago Christ would have come and taken the righteous to heaven and this world would have ended," said Ryan.
In Maitland's assessment of the wait, however, if Jesus doesn't come anytime soon, she won't mind. "I think it's presumptuous as human beings to tell God when he should return. You know we can only hope that he will come as soon as he can but we can't tell him when to come," she told CP.