In 1853, only a few years after the first group of Sabbath-keeping Adventists was formed in Washington, New Hampshire, James White organized the first regular Sabbath School in Rochester, New York. In 1852, estimating an informal membership of about 1,000 in the state of New York, White had written a series of 19 lessons appearing in the new Youth’s Instructor.
From its inception, Sabbath School has focused on four emphases that are still prominent to this day: fellowship development; community outreach; Bible study and foreign mission. A solid balance of these elements characterizes the most vital Sabbath Schools around the world. Since 1853 Sabbath School has grown to a global ministry made up of over 14 million participants all of whom study and minister along a shared path directed by the Sabbath School Quarterly Lesson.