Seventh-day Adventist Patients and Health Care
Practical Points for all non-Adventist Providers
- Abbreviation: Seventh-day Adventist have gotten away from the abbreviation S.D.A., because of the confusion with L.D.S. and J.W.. The official abbreviation is to use the word “Adventist”.
- Pronunciation: People not familiar with Adventists often pronounce the name with the accent on the second syllable. ad-VEN-tist. However, members of the church pronounce the name with the accent on the first syllable. AD-ven-tist.
- Christianity: Adventists are Protestant Christians, an outgrowth movement from the Millerite Revival of 1844. They believe in God, expressed in the concept of the Trinity. They number 18 million adherents world wide (2015)
- Salvation - Adventists believe salvation is a gift of God’s grace, based on the merits of Jesus Christ. They practice believers baptism, by immersion.
- Sabbath - Adventists honor the Bible Sabbath, taught from Genesis through Revelation in the Holy Bible. They believe it begins on Friday at sunset and ends Saturday at sunset. It is a day to be with God and family, and to put aside all common interests of work, study, reading, etc. Your patient may prefer to have the TV off during those hours, or try to find a religious or nature themed station. They would enjoy you blessing them during those hours with a cheerful “Happy Sabbath”, and would likely return the blessing to you.
- Anointing With Oil - Adventists believe and practice the anointing service taught in James 5:13ff. Prayers for divine healing, comfort, peace and forgiveness are offered. It may be requested when a patient is diagnosed or is near death. The patient or family would likely prefer that the service to be conducted by a Seventh-day Adventist pastor or an elder from a local church, but will likely accept such a service from the facility chaplain, when the need is urgent. Don’t refer to it as “last rites” however. It is a prayer of dedication and surrender to the will of God.
- State of the Dead - Adventists believe that when a person dies, the soul does not go immediately to heaven. They believe that a person is unconscious in the grave until the Second Coming of Jesus, that will bring about the resurrection of the body and the beginning of immortality for the person who is “dead in Christ.” It would be inappropriate to say to the family of the deceased. “they are in a better place.” or “they are in heaven” or “they are with the Lord.” If they are particularly zealous, they may try to correct you.
- Diet: Because of the healthy lifestyle of Adventists, many of them live into their late 80’s, 90’s or even 100+ years of age. This includes abstaining from alcohol, tobacco and drug use and abuse. Included in this healthy lifestyle is following the biblical diet: Some are vegan, Some are lacto-ovo vegetarian (dairy products O.K.). (These two groups comprise about 50%) Some choose to eat “clean” meats, as described in Leviticus 11. (the other 50%). So beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, venison would be fine. Most all will refuse any flesh from swine as well as shell fish (oysters/shrimp/etc.). If the nutritionists advise more protein, they may insist on plant based sources. Some may even refuse gelatin that isn’t kosher.
- Medications: In a few cases, an Adventist patient or their family may refuse palliative medications, on the basis of “health reasons.” Loving counsel may help them accept pain management medication.