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The encyclopedia was first published in the 1960s revised in 1976 and revised again in 1996-- when the material expanded so much that it was divided into two volumes. The articles can be divided into six main categories.
1. Church History. For the North American Division (the United States Canada and Bermuda) each article dealing with the history and statistics of the church covers a conference (the church unit comprising one or a few states or provinces). In the other divisions covering the rest of the world each article deals with a country an island or island group or other geographical unit. Length of treatment is roughly proportional to the SDA membership but there are variations.
2. Church Organization and Operation. Besides a general article on organization which describe the history and structure of the denominational organization there are articles on topics ranging from the local church–its membership officers services and auxiliary organizations and societies–through the conference and the union to the worldwide administrative body the General Conference. There are also articles on the worldwide territorial division of the General Conference and its functional departments and other bureaus and agencies.
3. Institutions. There are articles on many of the church-owned and -operated colleges secondary schools sanitariums and hospitals publishing houses health food factories orphanages and retirement homes.
4. Biographies. The encyclopedia contains hundreds of biographical sketches of men and women who played a notable part in the work of the church or were 'first is various parts of the world (it does not include any living person). The list of names was drawn from SDA historical works and accounts in the church papers and from the lists and data submitted by the various divisions.
5. Beliefs and Practices. Since Seventh-day Adventists find themselves in harmony with other conservative Christians on the basic doctrines such as salvation through faith and Christ’s preexistence deity and atonement lengthy articles on these topics were not. Longer articles are included on doctrines such as the nature of the millennium immortality only in Christ and the Seventh-day Sabbath.
6. Miscellaneous Topics. Definitions are required to explain various names or phrases of organizations methods and activities–such as church school Ingathering Bible studies pathfinder Clubs and Medical Cadet Corps.