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


The Conference at Washington, New Hampshire

The next conference was at Washington, New Hampshire, where the Adventists first began to keep the Sabbath about the time of the disappointment in 1844. In a letter to the Howlands in Topsham, Maine, written from the E. P. Butler home [E. P. Butler was the father of George I. Butler, who served the church in prominent positions for many years.] in Vermont on November 12, near the close of their tour, she described the meeting at Washington in detail. The letter, which in typed form fills seven pages, gives illuminating glimpses of what took place. Butler had gone down from Vermont to attend the conference. At the time he sympathized with Steven Smith and was opposing the visions. The opening lines set the tone of the experiences: 1BIO 217.3

Here we are at Brother Butler's. O how changed everything is here. God has wrought for us mightily, praise His holy name. 1BIO 217.4

At Washington the Lord took the rule of the meeting Himself. Stephen Smith and Brother Butler were present. There were about 75 present, all in the faith. Brother Stephen Smith was filled with the wrong spirit. J. Hart and himself had filled the minds of many of them with prejudice against us; false reports had been circulated. The band had been sinking and had lost the power of the third angel's message. They were sickly, but knew not the cause, but the reason was that there was an accursed thing in the camp and by the assistance of God we were trying to get it out of the camp.... 1BIO 217.5

[On Sabbath] I was ... taken off in vision.... The state of things was revealed to me in Washington, which I declared plainly to them. The vision had a powerful effect. All acknowledged their faith in the visions except Brother Butler and S. Smith. We all felt it duty to act, and by a unanimous vote of the brethren, S. Smith was disfellowshipped by the church until he should forever lay down his erroneous views.... [For a fuller report of Stephen Smith's erratic experience and his final turnaround after reading a testimony left for twenty-eight years in an unopened envelope, see appendix C.] 1BIO 217.6

Sunday Eve, after we had disfellowshipped Brother Smith (in the afternoon) we had a glorious season. Many confessed that they had been prejudiced against us by different individuals such as S. Smith and J. Hart, but they praised God that they had seen us and were convinced that the visions were of God.... 1BIO 218.1

Monday ... we held another meeting and it was the best meeting of the whole. Sweet union and love prevailed in the meeting. We then sung the farewell hymn and with sad yet joyful hearts parted, sad that we must part with those we love so well and had taken such sweet counsel with; but joyful that our hearts had been strengthened and comforted together, and that the clear light of truth had shone upon us, and that we were soon to meet to part no more, where no discord or disunion reigns.—Letter 8, 1851. 1BIO 218.2

James White reported November 11 in his general letter that “at Washington we met Brother Smith, hard, hard, full of errors.” “It was a battle.... Sunday, Brother Smith was present. Hard as ever. We talked plain. Finally the conference voted to withdraw from him.” In his published report of this conference he stated that it was one of great profit. He noted: 1BIO 218.3

A committee of seven was chosen (see Acts 6) to attend to the wants of the poor, and we have reason to believe that it will be a great pleasure for them to do so.—The Review and Herald, November 25, 1851. 1BIO 218.4

This is the first record of such steps being taken as the brethren began to move toward organization, that there might be order in the church. 1BIO 218.5

At the close of the conference that Monday, a request was received from Sister Mead, who was afflicted with a “slow fever,“ for anointing and prayer for her healing. Of this Ellen White reported: 1BIO 218.6

We went into a room by ourselves, Brethren Holt, Wheeler, Stowell, James and self. After I had anointed her with oil we prayed over her and she was healed every whit.—Letter 8, 1851. 1BIO 219.1

The immediate healing of Sister Mead was so marked that those acquainted with the circumstances thought of another serious case, of which Ellen White wrote: 1BIO 219.2

That night we got into a rowboat and went on to the pond about one mile to Brother Mead's. His sister was there with a very sick child. We anointed it with oil and prayed over it, and God heard our prayers. Then the two Brothers Mead rowed us back again in the night.—Ibid. 1BIO 219.3