Ellen G. White: The Early Years: 1827-1862 (vol. 1)


Moves Toward Order and Organization

In recent visions Ellen White's attention was called to the order in heaven, and she was shown that the believers must imitate this. At these conferences two points stood out: (1) church organization, and (2) the importance of the visions and their place in the emerging church. In the published report given by James White, and in James's and Ellen's correspondence, another feature stands out, namely, the number of believers who came together for these conferences. The meetings usually opened on Friday evening at six o'clock—the time they then commenced the observance of the Sabbath—and ran through Sabbath and Sunday. James White exuberantly reported from Waterbury, Vermont, in a general letter: 1BIO 216.1

Our conferences at Medford, Washington, Bethel, and Johnson have been wonderful. We are astonished at the marvelous work of God. My words but faintly express my ideas—the facts in the case.—JW to “Dear Brethren in Christ,” November 11, 1851. 1BIO 216.2

He reported seventy-five present at Medford, eighty at Washington, and at Johnson, ninety to one hundred. One thing that made the moves toward church order seem desirable was the destructive work of Stephen Smith, of Unity, New Hampshire, a few miles from Washington. In 1850 he was entering the field of public ministry but was swept off his feet by the 1851 time setting projected by Bates. He refused to accept the warning counsel that time was no longer a test, picked up other strange ideas, and joined the opposition. At the conference in Medford, Massachusetts, James and Ellen White were met by his work. 1BIO 216.3

James wrote: 1BIO 216.4

When we arrived there, disunion existed among the brethren. They had been visited by Stephen Smith and J. Hart, who had tried to prejudice them against us. It had had a bad effect, but we went on with the meeting. There were eleven from Fairhaven and seven from Maine.... It was a meeting of labor. Not a lecture given.

The burden of the meeting was church order, pointing out the errors of S. Smith, H. W. Allen, and the importance of church action as to the course of some brethren. 1BIO 217.1

Ellen had a vision. Saw that the frown of God was on us as a people, because the accursed thing was in the camp, that is, errors among us, and that the church must act, and the only way to do Brethren Allen and Smith good was to withdraw fellowship from them, in their present position. All acted on the light given, all received the vision, and, even to an individual, all raised the hand to withdraw fellowship from them.— Ibid. 1BIO 217.2