Adventist Community Services evolved from historical efforts by the Seventh-day Adventist Church to develop community initiatives. In 1874, the Church officially recognized the Dorcas Society as its organized community outreach program. In 1956, this organized Church program became the Seventh-day Adventist Welfare Service (SAWS) with the purpose to strengthen Adventist relief efforts. As the Church grew in developing countries, the need for international relief activities increased, causing the Church to focus its community missions to domestic and international fields. As a result, SAWS expanded into a domestic and international Church-organized community program. In 1972, Adventist Community Services was officially titled the domestic humanitarian Church agency and in 1973, the international program was named the Seventh-day Adventist World Service, now known as the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) International.
This ministry gathers and prepares clothing, food, and other supplies for those in need and works closely with the deacons and deaconesses. Community Services ministry, however, includes more than giving material aid. It encompasses adult education, visiting, homemaking, home nursing, counseling, and other services.