by Atoday News Team
Echoing recent North American predictions of Christ's Second Coming, Adventist Church officials in the South American nations of Bolivia and Perú have reported a breakaway group of former Adventists suffered a disappointment of their own, October 15.
The group, which advocated living far from towns or cities in preparation for the Time of Trouble and worldwide Sunday law, formed in South America in the late 1990s under the leadership of Edgardo Zagarra (pronounced Sah-GAH-rah) a former Adventist pastor known for his radical messages and animated style of preaching.
During the early 2000s, his followers, said to number in the hundreds, broke off from local Adventist congregations and often moved to remote encampments where they could await the Lord's return in peace, at one time setting May 17, 2000 as the day in which Sunday legislation would be announced worldwide.
"I read a manifesto distributed by Zagarra, and the first half of the lengthy paper sounded very much like standard apocalyptic Adventist preaching," says Edwin A. Schwisow of the Adventist Today news team, who personally interviewed several members of the breakaway group.
"The problems arose in the second half of the paper, in which Zagarra argued for specific times when these events would be fulfilled. Most Adventists in the Andean area rejected Zagarra's teachings, but as I interviewed various breakaway members, it appeared the decision to follow Zagarra was fueled in part by dissatisfaction with some aspect of their local congregations — they may have felt overlooked or demoted by the nominating committee, or have lost a vote in what they believed to be a rigged business meeting. Fallout seemed particularly strong in congregations that were building new structures. Disagreements over how to build, finish, decorate, and pay for a new house of worship seemed to be associated with the decision to move away into a separate enclave and await the Lord's return alone."
Recent communication from Bolivia to Adventist Today indicates the breakaway group met for Sabbath services on October 15, singing and preaching throughout the day, then dispersed quietly at sundown.
“There was no uproar, nothing noteworthy,” reported Samuel Antonio Chávez, a former education director in the eastern (Andean) portion of Bolivia and now a doctoral candidate at the Adventist university in Vinto, near Cochabamba. He said to his knowledge no one currently on Adventist church books took an active role in the day of waiting, October 15.