The Seventh-day Adventist Church was founded in the mid nineteenth century in the northeast of the United States. The first leaders originated from many different Christian directions and it is not surprising that the Church has had many influences from different traditions. This is particularly true for the way the church is organised. On the basis of some clear biblical principals an organisational model developped with American signs, but also features that remind us of different Protestant denominations. The organisational form has been continually adapted to changing circumstances. When Church spread throughout the whole world a profound reorganisation was needed.
The Adventist World Church is governed by the so called ‘General Conference’, with its headquarters in Silver Spring (close to Washington DC). There many worldwide activities are planned. Representatives from the whole world regularly convene to decide on policies.
The world is divided in thirteen regions (Divisions), who logistically support smaller units, so called Unions. A Union is an umbrella organisation, which coordinates the ecclesiastical work in one or more countries (with exceptions to some countries where more than one union is needed). Most of the Unions are made up of Conferences (Federations). The activities of a group of local congregations is coordinated by these conferences.
Website of the General Conference.