ESTABLISHED SINCE 1961
SAAA is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization, which was informally organized in 1961 by a group of Seventh-day Adventist immigrants from the countries of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) and Myanmar (formerly Burma).
The early 1960's can be considered the beginning of Southern Asia Adventist Association (SAAA). A group of early settlers of Seventh-day Adventists from Southern Asia felt the need to organize, albeit on an informal basis, as a support group for newcomers. The organizing meeting was held by a group of nine that included Samuel Koilpillai, Tom Prasada-Rao, I.R. Thomas, E.G. Moses, Jones Isaac, Johnson Choppala, Chad Israel, M.K. George and Mr. Ganesh along with their families and friends who met at the Koilpillai’s house in December 1961 in Takoma Park, Maryland.
Through the efforts of these and others, and the kindness of the Administrators at Columbia Union College (CUC), now Washington Adventist University, a fund was established at CUC in lieu of tuition down payment of $500 per student, and this fund grew to about $3,000, a considerable sum in those days. As a result, several students from Southern Asia were able to come to CUC. Others came through their relatives and some on their own efforts.
The exodus from Southern Asia became rapid beginning in the mid-sixties and the organization grew into a more formal body in order to plan religious services and events for these larger groups. As the organization grew in membership, the Association was incorporated and subsequently obtained non-profit, tax-exempt status. A chronological listing of the history of SAAA is also included after this narrative.
The focus of SAAA has kept changing with the times. It first served primarily a social need; then it became a vehicle to acquaint Adventists in the area about Adventist Southern Asian culture. It also provided a link to the Southern Asia Division; funds were often collected through the organization for projects sponsored by the Division. Members then felt the need to worship and socialize together on a regular basis, so began the practice of meeting on the “first Sabbath” of each month, having an annual camp and organizing other social events such as Valentine’s Day and Christmas programs. These functions were also meant to give the youth an opportunity develop their leadership talents and gifts in a supportive environment.
The premise of the organizers and membership of SAAA was to be able to gather, and socialize, and worship as a group of Southern Asian Adventists, while also fully participating in their local churches where they were members. And is time moved along, some felt the need for separate churches and organizations that fulfilled their spiritual and social needs as Southern Asians. So there are now other organizations meeting these needs – the Southern Asian Adventist Church, Calvary SDA Church, the Remnant SDA Church, several other churches and organizations serving various language groups.
We thank God for the way in which He has led SAAA. By His grace, SAAA will celebrate Sixty Years in 2021 as its members continue to be blessed in associating with one another, and in serviing humanity, in the USA and in our homelands.
A Chronological Look Back - Major Events
SAAA history provided by Mr. Rajan Thomas