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Matt Rosenberg

Shifting Date Line, Shifting Sabbath in Samoa

By June 13, 2013

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In late 2011, the Pacific island country of Samoa decided to shift the International Date Line so that the country would share time zones with Australia and New Zealand instead of being about a day apart. December 30, 2011 was skipped as December 29 rolled into December 31 overnight. One entity which rejected the change was the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which traditionally observes their sabbath on Saturday (considering Saturday to be the seventh day). With the skipping of December 30, 2011, one day was lost. Thus, the church decreed that since a day was missing, each Sunday in Samoa would be the new weekly sabbath day. There have been many opinions expressed about this change within the church. As a geographer, I think about the dramatic global shift to the Gregorian calendar beginning in 1582 and even with that change of eleven days, Christianity and Judaism ultimately settled on keeping their sabbaths on Sunday and Saturday, respectively. I would think that for consistency within the Seventh-Day Adventist community around the globe, it would be easier to maintain a Saturday sabbath based on the decreed local day of the week for we know that there have been several calendar changes and the Saturday of today is certainly not the Saturday of several millennia ago.


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