On April 14, 2015, the General Conference Executive Committee at the Spring Meeting held at the World Headquarters approved a budget for the Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists (ESDA), a five-year global church initiative directed by and based at the GC Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research.
The ESDA was conceived by General Conference administrators who, almost twenty years after the second revised edition of the SDA Encyclopedia, and nearly a half century after the publication of the first edition, saw the need for a completely new encyclopedia that would reflect the tremendous growth in the church, the shifts in global membership, and the possibilities of the digital age.
The ESDA will draw on the expertise of thousands of Adventist scholars worldwide, with each organizational unit of the church participating. It has six goals:
- Supply reliable and authoritative information on Adventist history, crucial events and themes, organizations, entities, institutions, and people
- Strengthen Adventist identity in a fast-growing worldwide movement, heightening awareness of distinctive doctrinal and prophetic beliefs
- Provide a reference work for those new to our faith, mature in the faith, and not of our faith, to learn about all aspects Adventism
- Bring out the role of the denominational organization in fulfilling the church’s mission
- Highlight the missional challenges still remaining in order to “reach the world”
- Reflect the nature of the world church today, both in subject matter and in those who write and edit the encyclopedia.
It is expected that a print edition will also appear in 2020 but that this will be the last print edition. The ESDA will first and foremost be available as an online edition that is regularly updated, corrected and amplified. It will include web-only content, such as video and audio, and additional articles will be added as the denomination grows. This new facet of the encyclopedia will mean that, unlike its predecessors, no future major revision process will be required due to the continuous updating of the ESDA website. Thus, while the production of a new encyclopedia will be time-consuming and not cheap, it means a similar outlay of resources will never be necessary again. The website will be introduced to the public at the 2020 GC Session.