Originally published April 2, 2010 at 3:27 p.m., updated February 27, 2012 at 12:37 p.m.
This film looks at the surprising life spans and fitness of the practicing members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Studies show that Adventists live on the average nearly ten years longer than their neighbors. Adventists consider themselves a conservative religion, yet in terms of hospitals and health care they are often on the cutting edge. One story in the film shows the proton accelerator, a state-of-the-art method to split the atom to laser-target cancerous growths.
Also featured is Dr. Leonard Bailey of Loma Linda, California, who gained international fame in the 1980s when he transplanted the heart of a baboon into a dying child who came to be known as Baby Fae. "The Adventists" follows Dr. Bailey as he transplants the hearts and saves the lives of two children from the same family.
Filmmaker Martin Doblmeier observes, “Today the Adventist focus on wholeness and health has made them one of the healthiest faith groups in America. This fact alone speaks to an American audience increasingly interested in ways to extend and improve life. Our current debate on health care reform would be better informed by understanding the benefits of wellness and prevention as practiced by this community.”
Formed on American soil, the Seventh-day Adventist faith holds as its central tenet that Jesus Christ is returning again, soon. At the same time Adventists are at the forefront of some of the most advanced medical technology and health care exploration in the world. For them, waiting for the Second Coming is not a time for fear, but for preparation and hope.
While focusing mostly on contemporary stories, the film also contains a re-enactment of key events leading to the church’s founding and archival images of its links with John Harvey Kellogg and the Battlecreek, Michigan, sanitarium of early 20th century fame.