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


Chapter 12—When the Test Comes

A situation of quite large proportions that was developing in the Southern California Conference gave Ellen White a great deal of concern. 6BIO 145.1

The reader will recall that at the time the Loma Linda property became available in May, 1905, for $40,000, Ellen White urged Elder Burden to move forward in its acquisition. Considerable opposition developed because the Southern California Conference, with its 1,100 members who would be responsible for its purchase, was already heavily in debt. With a new secondary school, San Fernando Academy, just getting well started, and with Glendale Sanitarium just opening its doors, to make further heavy financial commitments seemed not only unreasonable but almost impossible to the conservative conference president, Elder George W. Reaser. 6BIO 145.2

Reaser had been a convert of Elder G. I. Butler. In 1884 at the age of 25 he was employed by Pacific Press in Oakland, California. In the mid 1890s he was called to ministerial work in the California Conference. Then he gave two years of service to the work in South Africa. 6BIO 145.3

In the spring of 1905, at the age of 46, he was elected president of the Southern California Conference. Speaking of his own characteristics and experiences, he at one time told of how his nature and education were against going into debt. As he took office, he was counseled by the union conference president that in the matter of debt he was to hold the line. This laid the foundation for his reluctant attitude toward the purchase of Loma Linda and for conflicts that ensued as necessary developments at the new institution called for borrowing money. 6BIO 145.4

Through his life he had been clear in his acceptance of Ellen White as Heaven's appointed messenger, and this was intensified as he advanced in the ministry. He often mentioned in his preaching that he had never “known anyone to make a mistake by following the light of the Spirit of Prophecy” (G. W. Reaser to EGW, January 14, 1908). 6BIO 146.1

When the developments at Loma Linda called for increasing the indebtedness there—when money was called for to build treatment rooms and start a school—it was hard for the conference president, who at the same time was chairman of the Loma Linda board, to give his wholehearted support, even though such developments had Ellen White's firm backing. In his heart he began to reason that possibly her son, W. C. White, had influenced her to give her strong support to the Loma Linda enterprise. 6BIO 146.2

Then, too, San Fernando Academy was the apple of his eye. The speedy reduction of the indebtedness on this institution became the focus of his endeavors in financial lines. He was greatly bothered that Elder Burden, a member of the Southern California Conference committee, seemed to take rather lightly the assumption of financial obligations for the Loma Linda institution. With this as a background, we come to the prime subject of this chapter. 6BIO 146.3