The Seventh-day Adventist Church was birthed with a compelling sense of urgency to tell the world the good news of a soon-coming Savior. With gritty determination and at great personal sacrifice, the first issue of Signs of the Times was printed on June 4, 1874, using a manual printing press on a dining room table in the home of James White — only 30 years after the Great Disappointment.
In describing the commitment of the early believers, Joseph Bates wrote, "Who does not still remember how [the] message flew as it were upon the wings of the wind — men and women ... going with all the speed of locomotives, in steamboats, and rail cars, freighted with bundles of books and papers, wherever they went distributing them almost as profusely as the flying leaves of autumn," (Joseph Bates, Second Advent Way Marks and High Heaps, page 31).
Although much has changed in the almost 140 years since, that sense of urgency remains undiminished. From that primitive desktop publishing effort in Oakland, California, Pacific Press Publishing Association was eventually established and, today, still has at the heart of its mission the sole purpose of uplifting Jesus and publishing the good news of His salvation and soon return.
With the arrival of the Information Age and the resulting Digital Revolution, an explosion of possibilities now exists to rapidly take this mission even further. From the early days of the personal computer in the late 1970s to the development of the Internet in the early 1990s, the Information Age has redefined communications in what has become an ever-shrinking global village. The Internet has become the ultimate platform for facilitating the flow of information. It is, without a doubt, the fastest-growing form of media today, providing an incredible opportunity to spread the good news — like streams of light — around the world.
In 1998 Pacific Press pioneered the development of AdventistBookCenter.com. This became a joint venture with the Review and Herald. Soon church members were able to enjoy a full-service, secure e-commerce website featuring books from both publishing houses, as well as a full line of Chapel Music. In its first full year, the website brought in sales of $31,000. In 2010, sales rose to almost $1.1 million.
With the rapid growth in popularity of e-readers, Pacific Press recently initiated Adventist-eBooks.com making all Pacific Press e-books available in one place. New releases are added on an ongoing basis, and the site will ultimately include all best sellers and many back-listed books. "As much as I love paper books, I have thoroughly enjoyed my e-reader," says Jerry D. Thomas, author and vice president for product development. "Adventist-eBooks opens up a new way for us to put books into the hands of those who love them most."
With sole ownership of Chapel Records, Pacific Press announced in November 2010 its newest website, ChapelMusic.com, which is specifically targeted to meet the growing demand from artists and consumers alike for digital downloads. Jaime Jorge, the first recording artist to sign with ChapelMusic.com, says, "I am thrilled to be a part of Chapel's new venture to bring quality Christian music to people. I know it will be a blessing to many and an opportunity to further share the gospel with others."
The latest development by Pacific Press is the online daily devotional reading now available in conjunction with netAdventist, which provides the Adventist Church with a common communication platform. The daily devotional readings are taken from Pacific Press' current lineup of best sellers. Stephen Ertel, director of electronic marketing, says, "All churches, schools, conferences and ministries that use netAdventist will be able to add this feature to their existing site. Non-netAdventist sites can still take advantage of this service via an RSS feed." To activate this feature for your website, visit www.pacificpress.com/rss. Ertel reports, "We are currently working with Adventist Church Connect to make the devotionals available to their thousands of end users across North America."
From its earliest days, publishing has played a fundamental role in the life of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Doug Church, vice president for marketing and sales, observes, "Now, through Adventist-eBooks.com, ChapelMusic.com and AdventistBookCenter.com, technology is helping us adapt to our changing world, finding new ways to powerfully and effectively fulfill our mission to the world church."
Even though the early pioneers did not live to see the Digital Revolution, they certainly would have enthusiastically approved of how it is helping spread the good news on the wings of the wind.