Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Megan Brauner/ANN

More than 1 million people joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church during the year ending June 30, 2009, marking the sixth consecutive year of million-member gains, church officials said.

Church leaders said an average of 2,818 people joined the church daily, bringing the world membership total to 16,049,101 baptized believers.

Church leaders initially projected a world church membership of 17 million by 2009. However, partially due to corrected membership reports from several church regions, the membership total stayed around 16 million, world church secretary Matthew Bediako said.

Bediako said a recently completed audit in the South American region resulted in a decrease of more than 300,000 members.

During his report, Bediako encouraged the two or three regions that have yet to do audits to "gather courage and do it."

"I know something good will come out, when you know that the membership on your record is accurate," he said.

Bert Haloviak, director for the church's Office of Archives and Statistics, said an audit is sometimes be followed by a period of quick growth.

Haloviak cited membership growth in the Southern Asia-Pacific region, which increased more than 6 percent during the past four quarters. That region underwent membership audits from 2006 to 2007 and has since increased its membership more than any time during its history, Haloviak said.

While South America reported significant losses due to membership audits, the region also recorded a total accession of more than 200,000, reported Bolivar Alana, secretary for the church in South America.

Bediako and Haloviak presented their findings during a report to the world church's Annual Council business session in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States on October 11.

Church growth patterns indicate most church growth took place in non-western societies. About 71 percent of church growth occurred in five of the church's 13 world regions -- South America, Inter-America, East-Central Africa, South Africa-Indian Ocean and Southern Asia.

Church leaders attributed church growth to a variety of initiatives undertaken by the major church regions, including media outreach, interpersonal outreach and public evangelism.