Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 15 (1900)


Ms 69, 1900

Regarding the Heating of Churches


December 3, 1900 [typed]

Previously unpublished.

Yesterday, the first time for ten years, I had an opportunity to speak in the church at St. Helena. I had sent word that there must not be a fire built in the stove, for if there were I could not be able to speak. But for some reason my request was not heeded. The room was heated, and as soon as I began to speak, I felt a depression coming over me. My mind was not clear and vigorous. I could not think of the words I wished to use. After speaking for a short time. I said, You must give me more of the vitalizing air of heaven, for I am becoming exhausted. Then the windows were partially lowered. But the room was full, and the poison from the breaths of the people made an odor disagreeable to the senses and positively dangerous to health. This was telling on me, and I requested that the windows be lowered still more. I then said, There is no real need for a tire in the stove today. You all come or should come with outside wraps sufficient to keep you warm. True, it is a cold morning, but properly clothed, no one needs to suffer. 15LtMs, Ms 69, 1900, par. 1

From first to last I found the effort to speak very wearying. The effect of the heated air on me was deleterious. I have not yet recovered from the experience of yesterday. There is a letting down of my whole system, an exhaustion that is very trying to me. 15LtMs, Ms 69, 1900, par. 2

When speaking I need to be able to take deep, full inspirations of fresh air. Then I can speak without injury to my heart or lungs. At this season of the year the climate of California is not severe, and the air in our churches, where people assemble to worship God, should not be so highly heated. I wish now to say to our people, Hereafter you must not ask Sister White to speak to you if you are going to consume the air in the church by a fire in the stove. Fresh air is the Lord’s great blessing, which, in order to speak the Word effectively, every speaker must have, whether it be Sister White or some other one of the Lord’s messengers. 15LtMs, Ms 69, 1900, par. 3

Since the weather has grown cool, I have been greatly afflicted by the heating of rooms. A few weeks ago I visited Healdsburg. I was placed in a very pleasant room, which I could have enjoyed had it not been for the fire in the stove. It was evening when I arrived, and as I had driven over from St. Helena, the good friends through that a fire would be necessary. But it produced a disagreeable heaviness in my head and a difficulty in breathing. I had consented to speak to the students the next morning. I wished to speak to them, but the depression in my heart and brain was such that I feared I would not be able to do justice to any subject upon which I might be impressed to speak. But I looked to the Lord for help and strength, and He heard my prayer. The Holy Spirit came upon me and helped my infirmity. I thank my heavenly Father that He strengthened me to speak to the students. I will give His holy name the glory, for I could not depend on myself to find the words I deemed appropriate to the occasion. 15LtMs, Ms 69, 1900, par. 4

Two weeks ago I spoke to the church at Calistoga. They have a very neat house of worship, and the congregation was much larger than I expected to see. In the church near the door there is a stove, the pipe of which runs the whole length of the room and right over the pulpit. A fire was burning in the stove. The ceiling was rather low, and as soon as I rose to speak, I felt a distressing rush of blood to my head. Sister McEnterfer took in the situation. She said that my face was purple, and she was afraid every moment that I would fall to the floor. She came to me while I was speaking, and advised me to stand on one side of the pulpit, where the heat from the stove pipe would not be so directly over my head. 15LtMs, Ms 69, 1900, par. 5

I found myself utterly unable to speak and asked for more ventilation. The folding and side doors were opened, and the air was thus improved. I told the people that although it was raining, there was no need for a fire in the stove. They could so arrange their clothing that they would be able to sit in the church without a fire and be in no danger from taking cold. And the would be able to listen to much better advantage, because heated air induces sleepiness. I told them that the air in the room that morning was not such as to give me clearness of thought and speech or to give them clearness of perception to understand the Word presented. 15LtMs, Ms 69, 1900, par. 6

I see that I shall have to contend against the idea of heating our churches so highly. When I spoke in the Healdsburg church, the same enemy, the stove, was present, one at either end of the room, with a fire burning in each. I had made special efforts to avoid this evil, by sending word not to have fires built; but the janitor forgot. I felt such a sense of exhaustion on Friday that I entreated those who had faith to pray for me on Sabbath and Sunday. The church was heated, but though this caused most disagreeable sensations in my head and heart, yet the unpleasantness was not so decidedly felt as in a smaller room. The Lord gave me His rich blessing and His Holy Spirit, and the message was not hindered from coming to the people. 15LtMs, Ms 69, 1900, par. 7

I have words to speak to our people. Those who sit in stove-heated chapels do not receive from the hearing of the Word one-half the benefit they would without the stove, which is a great enemy to spiritual impressions. A reform must be made. God desires His people to study from cause to effect. They should plan for better ventilation. The health and life of the speaker should not be sacrificed to ignorance for which there is no excuse. We should seek to realize the need of having things as they should be from the standpoint of health. Light must shine forth, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. The Lord desires everything in the house dedicated to His service to be free from evil influences. It is not His will that those who assemble to worship Him shall be poisoned by the exhalations from the human body. It is a dangerous matter to breath air which has already been breathed. 15LtMs, Ms 69, 1900, par. 8

Will not those who believe the truth for this time awaken to the need of better ventilation in our churches, where everything should be as perfect as human skill can make it. God’s people should stand on broader ground on this subject. In the place where men and women assemble to worship their Creator, every necessary facility for the preservation of health should be provided. All deficiencies in this respect should be supplied at once, let the cost be what it may, that the worship of God may be pure, holy, and undefiled. In God’s house everything should be done that can be done to preserve the health of the speaker and the hearers. 15LtMs, Ms 69, 1900, par. 9

God does not desire His people to build churches and sanitariums for show, to make a display. But in the erection of these buildings everything which concerns the physical and spiritual health of His heritage should receive due consideration. Remember that God has taken human beings into partnership with Himself. They are brought into close relation with Him, and everything connected with His worship is to be planned for comfort and for the health of the physical, mental, and moral powers of the worshippers. 15LtMs, Ms 69, 1900, par. 10