Primitive Advent Christian Church

A small, distinct sect emphasizing original Adventist teachings with unique practices like foot washing and rebaptism.

The Primitive Advent Christian Church is an Adventist Christian denomination that emerged from a schism with the Advent Christian Church. It was founded on the principles of “conditional immortality” espoused by Charles F. Hudson and George Storrs, leading to its establishment alongside the broader Advent Christian Association in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1860. The denomination uses the term “Primitive” to indicate its adherence to what it considers the original teachings of the church, akin to the usage by Primitive Baptists and Primitive Methodists.

History and Beliefs

The church separated from the Advent Christian Church over specific doctrinal differences, notably the practices of feet washing as a church rite and the rebaptism of individuals who had backslidden but later reclaimed their faith. This latter practice is based on the belief that such individuals need to be reinitiated into the faith, even if they had been baptized previously.

Organization and Membership

The Primitive Advent Christian Church is organized with pastors, elders, and deacons overseeing its congregations. The church conducts its business through an annual conference. As of 1990, the denomination had 427 members spread across 9 congregations, all located in central West Virginia. The church’s administrative and doctrinal oversight is managed by elected officers, ensuring adherence to its established teachings and practices.

Core Doctrines

The Primitive Advent Christian Church holds the Bible as the sole rule of faith and practice, emphasizing Christian character as the essential criterion for fellowship and communion. It promotes Christian fidelity, mutual watch, care, counsel, admonition, and reproof among its members. The denomination upholds three ordinances as biblically mandated for observance by the Christian church: baptism by immersion, the Lord’s Supper (with unleavened bread and wine), and foot washing, signifying humility and service among the faithful. The church takes a pacifist stance, discouraging its members from taking up arms.

Adventism Background

The church is part of the broader Adventist movement, which began in the early 19th century with William Miller’s predictions of Christ’s return. Following the “Great Disappointment” in 1844, when Miller’s prophecy did not materialize, the Adventist movement fractured into several branches, including those who later formed the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the largest denomination within Adventism. The Primitive Advent Christian Church, like other Adventist groups, retains a focus on the imminent second coming of Jesus Christ, albeit with its distinct doctrinal positions.

The Primitive Advent Christian Church represents a commitment to a specific interpretation of Adventist Christianity, emphasizing practices and beliefs that it considers to be in line with the earliest teachings of the faith. Through its focus on biblical ordinances, rebaptism, and a pacifist ethos, the denomination offers a unique perspective within the larger Adventist tradition.