Capital City: London
Area: 70,280 sq km (27,135 sq miles)
Official Language: English
Major Religions: Christian 96%, Other 4%
Currency: British Pound
Adult Literacy Rate: 99%
Life Expectancy: 78 years
Organisation: British Union Conference
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Although Adventist literature had been sent to Ireland as early as 1857, and to England by 1860, J N Andrews, the first accredited SDA missionary, met no Adventist converts when he visited the British Isles in 1874. The one Adventist English family we know of emigrated to America before Andrews arrived. Andrews visited Seventh Day Baptists in Britain en route to Switzerland in 1874. His work may have been underestimated.
In May 1878 English-born William Ings, who had emigrated to America, arrived in Southampton for a two-week stay to visit relations and evangelise. He gave out Adventist literature and influenced two people to keep the Sabbath. His next visit, beginning in December 1878, had greater success. Ings was to develop into an effective preacher, and both he and his wife Jenny were personal friends of Ellen White. In May 1878 he had asked Battle Creek to send over a minister and, in June, the General Conference voted to send the experienced pioneer and administrator, J N Loughborough.
Loughborough found conditions different from America, and difficult. Although he started with 150 in Shirley Hall, Southampton, audiences quickly dwindled. As it was difficult to hire halls, he used his own home for Sunday meetings. Tent meetings, an American success, did not always adapt well to Britain. Damp, cold, fog, xenophobia and class prejudice soon reduced his initial 600 tent audience. After 255 meetings, by December 1879 there had not been a single baptism, though a Sabbath school of seventeen was formed in April. There would be a lively debate on the relative merits of tents and halls.
In January 1880 the newly formed National Tract and Missionary Society in America began sending Signs of the Times to libraries, ships and interested people. In February, thirteen members were baptised in Southampton. This may suggest the value of regular supplies of literature. Ings, and George Drew, a British-born sea captain who came back to England in 1882, found ready access to ships. Their work spread Adventist periodicals worldwide. Many Scandinavian and German emigrants en route to America landed at east coast ports and received tracts in their own language before entraining for Liverpool, the Atlantic port.
SCOTLAND, IRELAND AND WALES
The earliest work in Scotland and Northern Ireland apparently achieved little, probably because the effort was not sustained. R F Andrews, an expatriate Irishman, returned home to visit friends and relations in 1885, and to colporteur. The first meeting of an Adventist group was in Banbridge in 1891. Dublin was entered in 1898 by M A Altman. Adventists in Ireland met with strong prejudice and opposition from both Protestants and Catholics, especially the latter. Extensive advertising and personal visitation failed to produce a substantial audience in Lochmaben, Scotland, in 1886. Thousands of Adventist papers had been sent to Scotland, noted S N Haskell in 1888. The first group of believers was organised in Glasgow by R R France and his daughter, and in 1901 the first twenty members were baptised and organised as a church.
A A John preached in Tredegar, Wales, in 1888, his most notable convert being W H Meredith, though the first baptism in Wales was in 1896, following a campaign by J S Washburn. The principality was then neglected until W H Meredith organised the first Adventist youth society in Britain, and by 1904 there were three churches in Wales.
Colporteurs played a major role in laying foundations in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.