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


Concern for the Vegetarian Restaurants

Ellen White's trip to southern California to attend the Los Angeles camp meeting and to visit the sanitariums at Loma Linda, Paradise Valley, and Glendale took her away from home from August 10 to September 21. 6BIO 51.3

For a year or more she had been concerned regarding the restaurants Seventh-day Adventists were operating, a line of work she had strongly supported. On several occasions she visited the vegetarian restaurant in Los Angeles and had been led to ponder: 6BIO 51.4

It is not the large number of meals served that brings glory to God. What does this avail if not one soul has been converted, to gladden the hearts of the workers? 6BIO 51.5

She declared: 6BIO 51.6

There is danger, in the establishment of restaurants, of losing sight of the work that most needs to be done. There is danger of the workers’ losing sight of the work of soul saving as they carry forward the business part of the enterprise. There is danger that the business part of the work will be allowed to crowd out the spiritual part.

Some good is being done by the restaurant work. Men and women are being educated to dispense with meat and other injurious articles of diet. But who are being fed with the bread of life? Is the purpose of God being fulfilled if in this work there are no conversions? It is time that we called a halt, lest we spend our energies in the establishment of a work that does little to make ready a people for the coming of the Lord. 6BIO 52.1

The only object in the establishment of restaurants was to remove prejudice from the minds of men and women, and win them to the truth.—Manuscript 84, 1903 (Medical Ministry, 306, 307). 6BIO 52.2

Now in September, 1905, just after her return from southern California, she participated in a convention of health food workers held at St. Helena Sanitarium. She spoke to them on Sabbath, and on Sunday addressed them on the subject of restaurant work (Manuscript 150, 1905). She spoke of her visit to the vegetarian restaurant in Los Angeles and told of her distress on observing that little was done to make the work a means of evangelistic outreach (Manuscript 96, 1905; Manuscript 27, 1906). Reporting on her Sunday meeting, she wrote: 6BIO 52.3

I told them that there must be a thorough reformation in the health food business. It is not to be regarded so much as a commercial enterprise. At present but little is seen as the result of this work to lead us to recommend the establishment of more places to be conducted as our restaurants have been in the past. But few have been converted by this work in Los Angeles and in San Francisco. Many of the workers have lost the science of soul saving.—Letter 271, 1905. 6BIO 52.4

Shortly after this convention, in writing to the president of the Southern California Conference she asked, “What is being accomplished in our large restaurants to teach men and women the way of the Lord?”—Letter 279, 1905. 6BIO 52.5

Then she reported: 6BIO 52.6

I am instructed to say that it is a mistake to gather up our young men and young women who have talent that might be utilized in evangelistic work, and call them to a work of serving tables, to a work where but feeble efforts are being put forth to warn those that are perishing in their sins, in ignorance of the truth and light which should be making its way into all parts of the world.... Those who have a valuable talent of influence should not be confined to the work of restaurants as they are now conducted.— Ibid.