Messenger of the Lord


Section IV—The Voice of a Movement

Chapter 17—Organization, Unity, and Institutional Development

“We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.” 1 MOL 182.1

The ministry of Ellen White and the emergence of the Seventh-day Adventist Church are inseparable. To try to understand one without the other would make each unintelligible and undiscoverable. Ellen White and the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in thought and structure, are as integrated as the union of Anglo-Saxon languages in the formation of English speech. 2 MOL 182.2

Ellen and James White were the rallying center for those Millerites who later became the Sabbatarian (Saturday-sabbath) Adventists. James White, a remarkably resilient organizer, embraced simultaneously many aspects of a growing movement as few others could. By his side, emboldened with a holy candor and unwavering commitment, Ellen White encouraged the growing “little flock” with visions bold. This administrator/prophet team within a few decades led a New England group into an international mission. Though they were the human center of a worldwide movement, neither claimed recognition, reward, or even earthly comforts. 3 MOL 182.3

On one hand, the Whites fearlessly denounced the evils of the social order; on the other, they led tens of thousands in their day to catch a picture of how the gospel brings spiritual, social, and physical restoration in this life—all in fulfilling the divine command to prepare a people to meet the soon-coming Lord. Out of this twin emphasis, a turning from the distracting customs of worldly practices and the commitment to tell the world of the principles of the kingdom of God, emerged an international network of medical and educational institutions, supported by scores of publishing houses and a worldwide mission network. 4 MOL 182.4

The indisputable guiding force behind this impulse was Ellen White. Her unifying, motivating “voice” continues to provide light and compelling dynamics long after her death in 1915. 5 Yet, one of the unique factors that distinguishes her from others who claimed the prophetic gift in the nineteenth century 6 is that she never perceived herself as a leader of a new movement. She never swerved from her simple self-perception that she was only God’s messenger to the Advent movement. MOL 182.5

Mrs. White kept one eye on the divine commission as set forth in Revelation 14, an assignment that would ultimately unite all who seek truth, from every continent and from every ethnic, social, and economic background; her other eye was on the core group that was to make credible this good news of God’s last-day invitation to a judgment-bound world. She knew that without the gospel principles working in the lives of those who proclaimed the gospel, results would be minimal. For her, the church’s highest priority was to reflect the Christlike life that would make Christ’s gospel appealing and convincing. 7 MOL 182.6