Although the Seventh-day Adventist church in Europe’s uttermost Western country of Iceland celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, the seeds of Adventism were planted 113 years ago.
Starting in 1893, Adventist missionaries came from other Scandinavian countries such as Norway, Sweden and Denmark and visited various smaller ports and settlements on the North Atlantic coast. On their brief missionary trips these Nordic missionaries left literature in the ports they visited. The literature took effect. After all, Iceland, or the Saga-Island as it is called, has the highest percentage of literacy, 99.9 percent, in the world.
In 1906 the Seventh-day Adventist church in Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, was organized. Today, out of a national population of 300,000, about 600 Adventists worship in six churches. Adventists celebrated the church’s 100th anniversary in Iceland with thanksgiving services and social gatherings for members.
In keeping with one of the church’s mandates to freely Tell The World about the gospel message, earlier this year Adventists joined 13 other religious groups to sign a document intended to encourage greater religious tolerance in Iceland.
Under the auspices of the president of the republic, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, the various organized religious groups in Iceland signed an Interfaith Dialogue Policy Statement. The document calls for the promotion of tolerance and respect as well as religious freedom, human rights and no interference in religious beliefs and practice between persons and religious organizations.
Although strong secularism in Iceland hinders church growth, Adventist leaders express confidence in the Lord who has been with them during the preceding 100 years and has promised to be with them in the years to come.