My mother became a Seventh-day Adventist in 1957 - 58, when I was 4 or 5 years old. We were living on a farm in a remote part of northern British Columbia, Canada. Several people were baptized the day my mother officially joined the church. The baptisms [full immersion] were conducted at a nearby river.
In 1959, my mother and I moved to Ontario, and I started school. It was quite a culture shock for me -- in the wilds of B.C., I'd followed the man my mother worked for as a housekeeper, when he checked his trap line, when he herded cows, or butchered them, and when he cut down trees for logs. I learned to identify wild animals by their paw prints in the snow. I was not very happy to be confined to a school room.
The school I attended was not a Seventh-day Adventist one, but a regular public school. Although I did attend an SDA school for a short time when I was in the 3rd grade, we did not usually live in an area where an Adventist school was nearby.
During my school years, my mother and I occasionally attended the SDA church in Oshawa, Ontario. More often, our Friday nights to Saturday nights were spent worshipping, but not at a church, because there wasn't any Adventist church where we lived.
Most, if not all, of my mother's ideas regarding my upbringing, and teaching about God were derived from the church publications, and Ellen G. White's many books.
The TV would be turned off before sunset on Friday. It was not turned on again until after sunset on Saturday. On Saturdays, we went for walks, to the park, often with a picnic lunch. We read the Bible, studied our Sabbath School lessons [there were quarterly publications, published by the SDA church], read Adventist books [published by the SDA owned publishing house] prayed, and sang hymns.
I was told that the Adventist church was the only true church, and that everyone else was an unbeliever. Only Seventh-day Adventists would be saved, at the end of the world, when Jesus would come in the clouds, with all the angels. The wicked would then perish. There was an exception: Those who lived in a righteous way, *before* the truth of the Seventhday Adventist church was 'discovered' by Ellen G. White, would be saved, and those who lived in a good and holy way, but had never learned of the true church, would also be saved. If someone was shown the 'truth' and turned away, they would be lost forever because they had rejected the message. Death was a sleep -- people do not go to heaven when they die, as they would suffer terribly, having to look down at loved ones, and their unhappiness on earth. Instead, all who die simply sleep, until Jesus arrives, at the time of the Second Coming. There is no such thing as Hell. The unsaved will be destroyed after the Second Coming, completely, and will not suffer for very long - certainly not for eternity.
The Roman Catholic Church and its Pope were of the Devil -- and the evil Pope would someday make a law for all the world, that would force everyone to worship only on Sunday - in fact, the Pope had changed the day of rest chosen by God from Saturday, to Sunday! Only those who worshipped on Saturday were doing the will of God.
Keeping the seventh day Sabbath, and believing in the return of Jesus is what set the SDA's apart from the wicked. Ellen G. White was a prophetess, who wrote many important books, and prophesied as she was guided by God.
When I was eleven years old, my mother decided to move back to Alberta, where her relatives lived. What a difference in the behavior of Seventh-day Adventists! In Ontario, those we associated with did not eat meat. They were vegetarians. In Alberta, most of the Adventists we came into contact with ate meat, and didn't seem to be concerned at all. Since we'd understood that vegetarianism was expected, this was a real surprise. It was then that I began to question what was going on in the church. How could a belief that was so strong in Ontario differ in Alberta?
As I got older, I attended an Adventist 'church school', as the church operated elementary schools are called. I was disappointed to find that the children who attended were no different than those in 'regular' schools. They were just as rude, just as loud, and so on. We learned that it was wrong to associate with unbelievers -- indeed, my mother had always felt bad about my attending public schools -- associating with the wicked. I wondered how Seventh-day Adventists were supposed to 'save' the wicked, if they could not be associated with??!
My mother and I moved again, away from the church school, and I was back at a regular, secular school again. As I entered junior high school, I was glad to be away from the narrow views of the church school.
As I entered my teens, I began more and more to question the rigid rules and regulations of the Adventist church. For example, it was wrong to play cards "the Devil is always in attendance, where ever card games are played". It was wrong to dance, to wear makeup [try telling that to a young teenage girl!], to wear jewellery, and wrong to listen to 'worldly' music. Going to a movie was wrong - although some movies were shown in church halls, and that was acceptable, for some reason. Non-SDA books were frowned upon. Oh, non-fiction might be alright, in some cases, but anything that took the mind away from Jesus was WRONG.
I couldn't grasp just how a person was supposed to always think of Jesus! Surely there was more to life than that??! Was it a sin to think that way? Probably. But something just didn't seem right, about all that Ellen G. White had written....
I am aware that my experiences differ from most of those in the SDA faith.
I have received emails from many people, though, who are concerned with the church as it is today.
Those who have left the church continue to find joy in the freedom of Christ's sacrifice for us.
This discovery has given them hope and they no longer live with the lies of the church, who tell members that they must do this and do that or they will never be saved.