The Inter-European Division is a subordinate body of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Territory: Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Holy See, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Spain, and Switzerland; comprising the Czecho-Slovakian, Franco-Belgian, North German, Romanian, South German, and Swiss Union conferences and the Austrian, Bulgarian, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish unions of churches.
Statistics: (June 30, 2019): Churches, 2537; membership, 178,829; population, 338,333,000. The general population per member ratio is 3,013.
Background and Prerequisites for the Organization of a European Division
Europe was the first continent after North America where Adventists began missionary work. In 1864, the first Adventist to set foot on European soil was the unofficial missionary, Michał B. Czechowski.
He first worked in the Waldensian Valleys in northern Italy and later in Switzerland where, in 1867, he founded the first Adventist church outside North America, in Tramelan.
In 1874, John Nevins Andrews, the first Adventist official missionary, arrived in Switzerland to continue the work of Czechowski. Due to his efforts, as well as those of Jakob Erzberger, Switzerland became the cradle of European Adventism.
By 1882, the mission in Europe became known as the European Council of Seventh-day Adventist Mission.
Formation, Growth, and Development, 1901-1921
On July 23, 1901, on the initiative of Ludwig Richard Conradi, a reorganization of the mission work was implemented in Europe. Due to the strong growth, the European Adventist leaders formed what was called the European General Conference.7
This organizational experiment, however, ended soon after, in 1907.9
A vice president, Conradi, was recommended to oversee the work in Europe under the supervision of the General Conference in America.
By 1913, the European Division was officially created. This came as a result of the calls from the European leaders since 1908.
The European Division was officially founded with administrative headquarters located in Hamburg, Germany. This division comprised several mission fields in Africa and Asia (i.e. the Turkish possessions of Persia, Arabia, and Afghanistan).15 There were nine unions with their conferences and 26 missions (mainly in Eastern and South-East Europe, Siberia, in the Middle East, North, West, and East Africa).16
Growth and Reorganization: 1922-1928
The period between 1922-1928 is considered a time of significant progress in the division: Adventist membership in Europe increased from about 53,000 to 89,000. In 1922, thirty missionaries from Europe were sent abroad. Six years later, this number had grown to 134.18“Africa, in particular, was evangelized by many Adventist missionaries from Europe.”19
As a result of the growth of this division, at the council of the European Division in 1928, in Darmstadt, there was a reorganization into three new divisions.20 These were: Northern European Division (now Trans-European/TED), based in London, St. Albans; the Central European Division (CED), based in Berlin and Darmstadt, Germany; and Southern European Division (SED) in Bern, Switzerland.
World War II and Reorganizations
From 1933 to 1945, during Hitler’s regime and when the German church was not allowed to send funds abroad, the CED was partitioned into two: the denomination in Germany and the rest of the division, called Section II. Section II of the CED functioned separately until 1941.
The 1970s and 1980s
From January 1, 1972, the Trans-Mediterranean and Central European Divisions were merged into one: the Euro-Africa Division (then EAD), with headquarters in Bern, Switzerland.
At this time, the membership in the division territory amounted to 183,122, and there were 2,574 churches.34
“On October 7, 1981, the General Conference Committee approved the request of the Euro-Africa Division to dissolve the Southern European Union Mission and to designate the organizations in Italy, Portugal, and Spain, separately as the Union of Churches in Italy, the Union of Churches in Portugal, et cetera, respectively.” 49
At the beginning of the 1990s, the membership had grown beyond the 300,000 marks .60 As it entered the decade, the Euro-Africa Division (EUD instead of EAD from 1995 onward) faced major challenges, linked to geopolitical issues.
Twenty-first Century and Outlook toward the Future
In 2011, the General Conference established a new territory in the Middle East. This territory included the MISSERM countries that belonged to the Euro-Africa region. As a result of this move, the division changed its name to “Inter-European Division,” as suggested by its then president.76
(info and data: Chigemezi N. Wogu, ESDA)