How does a church celebrate a 150th anniversary when it didn't even expect to be around for a decade? Such is the conundrum Seventh-day Adventists are facing, reports Religion News Service in a fascinating look at the coming May milestone. As it explains, the church was founded in the 1860s, and one of its major tenets is and was that Jesus will return to Earth—in the very near future (hence the name "Adventists"). "If you took a time machine and visited our founders in May 1863, they'd be disconcerted, to say the least, that we’re still here," the church's archives director tells RNS.
"In one kind of way it really is a sad event," says a VP with the church's governing body (the director of education calls it "almost an embarrassment"). "We have been hopeful that long ago Christ would have come and taken the righteous to heaven and this world would have ended." So the 17-million-member church will mark the event quietly, with a May 18 day of prayer and a smaller ceremony at its Maryland HQ three days later. And until the apocalypse comes, they'll continue doing what they've done for a century and a half: make the most of the time they have left in the pursuit of social good. Upcoming plans include the opening of a Hong Kong hospital and health centers in disadvantaged areas, notes RNS.