Racist From the Start? The SDA Church in South AfricaMay 10, 2006
On the 14th of January 1893, P.J.D. Wessels wrote to Ellen White:
"I do not want my children to associate with the lower classes of coloured people. I will labor for them and teach my children to do so. But I do not want my children to mix with them for such is detrimental to their moral welfare. Nor do I want my children to think there is no difference in society that they should finally associate and marry into coloured blood."
DF 506, as quoted in Antonio Pantalone's DTh. thesis.
Like all historical accounts, official accounts of Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) history are selective and gloss over much of the darkness. Official (and most unofficial) accounts of the SDA church in South Africa are almost hagiographic in nature. You can find an account of the conversion of Pieter/Peter Wessels–one of the first converts to the SDA church in South Africa at:
There is no doubt that the Wessels family donated large amounts of money to the work of the SDA church in South Africa, Australia, and America and their generosity should be remembered. We must also however, take note of the racist attitudes of these early SDA members and the impact that such attitudes have had on the church in South Africa–which is still in one area divided along racial lines. Recommended reading is Antonio Pantalone's 1998 DTh thesis: A Missiological Evaluation of the Afrikanse Konferensie (1968-1974) and its Significance for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South Africa (University of Durban Westville) pp 177-187, 306-314.