The Anoka area is prominent in Seventh-day Adventist history dating back to 1899, when the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists relocated the Minneapolis Preparatory School, also known as the "Conference School" (1888-98), from the basement of the Minneapolis First SDA Church on Lake Street to the former Commercial Hotel in downtown Anoka. Renamed The Minnesota Industrial School (1899-1904), this secondary academic school - with an initial enrollment of 100 students - sat on the busy northeast corner of Ferry and Main Streets in Anoka. A small group of local Adventists worshiped with the students on Sabbaths during the school year.
The school moved to a more desirable farm location on Lake Katrina in Maple Plain in 1904 and was renamed Maplewood Academy (Maple Plain location 1904-28). The institution soon enjoyed a national reputation as a premier educational facility. Maplewood Academy merged with the existing Hutchinson Theological Seminary (1917-28) in 1928 and relocated on the former Seminary campus. Maplewood Academy continues to operate in Hutchinson as a co-educational secondary boarding school.
In 1899, the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists again looked to Anoka when it secured use of "a beautiful grove in the southeast part of the city" to hold the 38th Annual Conference and Camp Meeting June 6-11. According to the June 14, 1899 Anoka County Union, "Anoka hopes the Adventists may see fit to make Anoka their permanent camping place and they will be warmly welcomed each year." About 700 people stayed in the "Adventist Campground" which is now known as George Green Park. Hundreds of spectators, including many local residents, sitting along the high river banks, witnessed the first Anoka Camp Meeting baptism of 46 believers in the Rum River. Baptisms were held at a spot called "the eddy" located just above the mouth of the river.
The Annual Conference and Camp Meeting took place in various Minnesota locations for the next few years, based on proximity to railroad connections and rivers or lakes to hold baptisms. The Conference returned to Adventist Campground in Anoka for the 1915-18 sessions. The June 15th, 1915 St. Paul Dispatch reported, "Fifty-three persons were baptized in the Rum River by three pastors of the church in the presence of 3,000 spectators." The topics of the evangelistic meetings and the backgrounds of prominent Seventh-day Adventist guest speakers were covered in detail by area newspapers.
The campground property was formally purchased by the Minnesota Conference in 1913. Reportedly, a "syndicate" out of St. Paul attempted to purchase the site to erect an amusement park but Anoka residents were grateful the Adventists acquired the property titles. Within two years of the sale, several smaller buildings and two large permanent structures were erected on the 9-acre site, making it the official gathering place for the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Annual Conference and Camp Meeting from 1923 through 1955, with the exception of two years. Camp Meeting was held in Hutchinson in 1934 and was cancelled in 1945 because of government restrictions to save resources for the war effort.
A water system was installed in 1926 and attendance reached 1,300. Local residents referred to the Adventist Campground as "Cotton City" or "White City" due to the hundreds of tents in use. Twenty cabins were added in 1946 to replace some of the tents. A severe windstorm on June 22, 1952 swept through the campground, collapsing the main meeting tent and damaging other areas on the site. The $8,000 tent was a complete loss but no injuries were recorded, although ten men were inside at the time setting up for an evening evangelistic session.
Residential expansion and deteriorating equipment led to a decision by the Executive Committee of the Minnesota Conference of Seventh-day Adventists to sell the campground property back to the city of Anoka in 1955 for the generous sum of $55,000, double the appraised value. The July 22, 1955 edition of ABC Papers states, "Elder Vernon Emmerson is presiding over the last session of the Annual Convention on the present Adventist Campground site. In attendance are twelve Adventists who also attended the first Seventh-day Adventist Annual Meeting held in Anoka 56 years earlier."
The Anoka Adventist group worshiping at the Minnesota Industrial School felt they should have a permanent church home. Upon learning that a local Baptist congregation wanted to sell their church located on the west side of Ferry Street, between the present-day walking bridge and Walgreen's, the group decided to buy it. Built in 1858, it was in sound condition and could support membership growth. The twenty-one charter members of the Anoka Seventh-day Adventist Church bought the building from the Baptists in October of 1900 for $650.
In the year following the purchase of the church, a church school was started and continued for several years.
Church membership increased and site improvements were made. Eventually the dirt floor in the basement, where the children's Sabbath School classes were held, was replaced with concrete. In 1966 a small building was added behind the church that served as a Community Center. Hundreds of area families were helped in times of need with clothing, bedding, furniture and food.
Anoka membership exceeded 60 by 1971 and the 113-year old building was showing its age. Property located northeast of downtown Anoka, on Round Lake, was purchased in 1971 and construction on a new church home began. After serving this congregation for over seventy years, the church on Ferry Street was sold in 1973 to a real estate developer. The current facility largely became a reality through the leadership of the Anoka pastor at the time, H.I. Jarnes. The pastor, church members and supporters put in hundreds of hours of labor to complete the church for a 1973 opening.
Beginning in the late 1970’s the Anoka congregation operated an elementary school in the church basement. School enrollment and faculty size fluctuated. As time passed, the school outgrew its basement facility and was in need of more space. In 1993 an existing building, formerly used as a small neighborhood church, was purchased on Lincoln Street in Anoka and converted into the current Anoka Adventist Christian School.
In recent years the area north of the city of Anoka continued to grow in population density and the Anoka Seventh-day Adventist Church property was recognized as being located in the town of Andover. The church membership voted to change the name of the church to the Andover Seventh-day Adventist Church to reflect this.
Former pastors include Elders Catlin, C.E. Edwardson, G.W. Wells, H.M. Hiatt, T.J. Rush, Harold Schmidt, Lawrence Burgeson, J.C. Zollbrecht, Vernon Emmerson, H.I. Jarnes, Clarence McKey, Bruce Juhl, Jan Follett and David Kobliska. Adam Breiner has been serving the Andover Seventh-day Adventist Church congregation since 2011