The Abiding Gift of Prophecy
Chapter 31—The Providential Move to Washington, D. C.
The Seventh-day Adventist movement, which has now grown to world-wide proportions, had its beginnings in New England. There the first believers were gained. In Middletown, Connecticut, in 1849, there was issued a small journal, the Present Truth, which marked the beginnings of our publishing endeavors. From this point, it will be of profit and of interest to trace the shifting centers of our work. AGP 343.1
For three years the pioneers had no printing plant of their own. Elder James White and his wife were directed in the providence of God to various places, where favorable conditions obtained for their work as leaders, especially for the publishing of their paper. Following the very modest beginning at Middletown, Connecticut, they carried forward their work at Oswego, New York, then at Paris, Maine, and later at Saratoga Springs, New York. During this period, they prepared the copy, and hired newspaper offices to publish for them. AGP 343.2
In April, 1852, the work was moved to Rochester, New York. A small press, with type and other equipment for printing, was purchased, and for two years they conducted their enterprise in rented houses. During this time there were but few Sabbath-keeping Adventists in the East. The cause was meeting with greater success farther west. Several groups of believers were raised up in Michigan. These new converts were warmhearted, loyal, and earnest. They heartily invited the leaders to come to Michigan, and offered liberal inducements to enable them to establish their printing plant on a larger scale. This led to the establishment of the headquarters of our work at Battle Creek, Michigan, in November, 1855. AGP 343.3
This removal to Michigan brought sorrow to the hearts of the believers in New York and New England. Elder and Mrs. James White, Joseph Bates, Uriah Smith, Samuel Rhodes, and others, who had brought the message to them and whom they had AGP 343.4
learned to love, had now gone to what was then known as “the West.” They felt that they had been deserted. About a year after the settlement in Battle Creek, Mrs. White had a message for these disappointed, sorrowing believers, not only assuring them that God had led in the move, but giving reasons why that move was for the best interests of His work. A few sentences from this message will set forth some of these reasons: AGP 344.1
“Dear Brethren: The Lord has shown me in vision some things in regard to the East and the West, which I feel it my duty to set before you. I saw that God has been opening the way for the spread of present truth in the West. It requires much more power to move the people in the East than in the West….
“The people in the East have heard the proclamation of the second coming of Christ, and have seen much of the display of the power of God, and have fallen back into a state of indifference and security, where it is almost impossible to reach them at present….
“I saw that the people in the West could be moved much more easily than those in the East. They have not had the light of the truth, and have not rejected it, and their hearts are more tender and susceptible to the truth and the Spirit of God….
“I saw that tenfold more has been accomplished in the West than in the East with the same effort, and that the way is opening for still greater success.” Testimonies for the Church 1:146, 147.
This definite guidance of the Lord, through the gift of prophecy, in connection with the establishment of the work in Battle Creek, should be fully appreciated. The location of the central office is a very important factor in determining the success of a movement. The Lord did not leave this important question to the unaided, finite judgment of men, with their limited vision and possible sectional prejudices. He gave positive, definite instruction. AGP 344.2
“The burden of the work is in the West,” they were told, “and it is of the greatest importance that the servants of God should move in His opening providence.” Testimonies for the Church 1:149. AGP 344.3
In harmony with the outline given in this message, our work seemed to take wings in speeding forward from the time the AGP 344.4
headquarters were located in Battle Creek. It went westward, farther and farther, crossing rivers, plains, and mountains, until it reached the Pacific Coast. Believers were added in far greater numbers than had ever been experienced in the East. So great has been the development of the work in the West that one third of all our believers in the United States and Canada are west of the Rocky Mountains. Just as the message predicted, the work grew rapidly, and developed into strength all through the Western States. AGP 345.1