Ellen G. White: The Later Elmshaven Years: 1905-1915 (vol. 6)


The First $5,000 Payment

However, the officers of the Southern California Conference felt that more than one church should be heard from before the conference could be brought into it. June 20 was set for a delegated meeting of the conference as a time for the decision. In the meantime, June 15 would come with its payment of $4,000 due. It took considerable faith and courage just then to meet the payment to complete the first installment on the $40,000. The farmer down the coast had provided $2,400. Brother Burden talked with a sister, Belle Baker. She could see no reason to hesitate and said she would put up $1,000. “You may lose it,” Burden suggested. “I'll risk it,” she replied.—Ibid., 356. 6BIO 20.1

Then Burden conferred with his friend, R. S. Owen. “I don't have the money,” Owen declared, “but I'll mortgage my house for it.” He was able to get an unsecured loan for the needed amount, and the June payment was made on schedule. 6BIO 20.2

Five days later, on June 20, the constituency of the Southern California Conference met. They were faced with the matter of whether Loma Linda should be purchased, and if so, whether it would be operated “by private corporation or by the conference assuming the financial responsibility of the enterprise” (Pacific Union Recorder, July 13, 1905.) Ellen White was on hand for the meeting. She spoke for more than an hour on the work that should be done in southern California and urged the securing of the Loma Linda property, as it fully met the descriptions of the properties shown to her in vision that should be in the church's possession. She declared, “This is the very property that we ought to have.”— Ibid. 6BIO 20.3

Still the leading officers of the Southern California Conference hesitated. How, with the heavy debt on the conference, could they become further involved in securing properties and starting sanitariums? Conference officers cautioned the delegates to move guardedly. 6BIO 20.4

Then Elder G. A. Irwin, the newly elected General Conference vice-president, rose to speak. He was on a mission to California, and while passing through Los Angeles had been urged to visit Loma Linda. He had just that morning come from there; he now spoke in favor of securing that institution. He rehearsed a number of incidents in which, when Sister White's counsel was followed and workers and church members responded to the guiding messages, God signally blessed and success came to the work. 6BIO 20.5

Irwin spoke particularly of the Avondale school in Australia from where he had just returned after a four-year term of service. While leading workers had foreseen only failure, Ellen White had urged that the property be bought and schoolwork begun. Elder Irwin pointed out that that college was now one of the most successful training schools in the denomination and was free of debt. 6BIO 21.1

The audience listened attentively as Elder Irwin spoke with measured words: 6BIO 21.2

Although the conference is heavily in debt, I believe it to be to the glory of God that the conference should assume this responsibility.— Ibid. 6BIO 21.3

Elder Irwin's speech, exuding confidence in the Spirit of Prophecy counsels and urging action, turned the tide. The constituency voted unanimously in favor of securing the Loma Linda property and opening a third sanitarium in southern California. Cash and pledges totaling $1,100 were offered in support of the action. The enthusiastic response of a new church member, the daughter of Gen. Harrison Gray Otis, founder of the Los Angeles Times, who promised to give $10,000 if and when she could get the money released from another commitment, gave encouraging support. 6BIO 21.4