A Look Back at SAAA History


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 this larger groups. As the organization grew in membership, SAAA 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. At first it served primarily as social network and then it became a vehicle to acquaint Adventists in the community about Southern Asian Adventist culture. It also provided a link to the Southern Asia Division. Funds were often collected through the organization for projects sponsored by the Division. Eventually members felt the need to worship and socialize 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 to develop their talents and skills within a supportive environment.

The premise of the organizers and membership of SAAA was to be able to gather, socialize, and worship as a group of Southern Asian Adventists, while also fully participating in their local churches where they were members. As time moved along, some felt the need for separate churches and organizations that fulfilled their spiritual and social needs as Southern Asians. This has resulted in the establishment of Southern Asian Adventist Church, Calvary SDA Church, Remnant SDA Church, and 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


1961 - A group of nine families formed an organization called Southern Asia Adventist Association (SAAA)

1964 - The first Bylaws were drafted.

1965 - SAAA was formally organized in December.

1967 - First camp at the Potomac Conference campsite in Blue Ridge, Virginia; June 9-11


1970 - First Southernasian newsletter published.

1971 - Ten-year anniversary.

1974 - SAAA was incorporated and tax exemption filed.


1980 - Executive officers started serving two-year terms.

1981 - Twenty-year anniversary.

1985 - SAAA was re-incorporated in Maryland with new Bylaws, and established as a non-profit, 501(C)3, tax exempt, organization.

1986 - Twenty-five year (Silver) anniversary celebrated in December


1991 - Thirty-year (Pearl) anniversary celebrated.

1993 - Twenty-three acres of land in Spencerville was purchased in June where SAAA planned to build a worship and multipurpose building.

1996 - Thirty-fifth anniversary. First Southern Asia Day celebrated.

1997 - First SAANA (Southern Asian Adventists of North America) Summit was held in Glacier View, Colorado.

1998 - Second SAANA summit was held in Lake Arrowhead, California, in December.


2001 - Third SAANA Summit was held near Andrews University, Michigan in July.

2001 - Fortieth Anniversary celebrated October 6.

2003 - Fourth SAANA Summit was held in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, August 6-9.

2007 - The Spencerville property was purchase from SAAA by the Maryland State Highway Commission, by eminent domain, to satisfy green space requirements in conjunction with the  construction of the Montgomery-Prince Georges County Inter-county Connector (ICC).

2008 - Brookeville property purchased. This spacious residential building, situated on an 18-acre lot with farmland, is being used for various SAAA small group activities, includingsocial programs, officers and board meetings.

2011 - Golden Jubilee celebrated December 2-3.

2017 - A five-acre lot purchased in Burtonsville, Maryland, for the building of a worship and community center. Final County approvals and building plans nearly complete.

SAAA history provided by Mr. Rajan Thomas

Southern Asia Adventist Association

Website pictures by Joseph Pakkianathan


P.O. Box 4818, Silver Spring, MD 20914