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


Matters for Conference Consideration

The minutes of this conference session set forth some interesting items of business that Elder Sanborn brought from Illinois and Wisconsin, calling for the opinion of the conference: 1BIO 478.5

1. How shall we treat divorced marriages? 1BIO 478.6

2. Shall preachers from other denominations embracing the message preach and baptize among us, on the strength of their former ordination and standing as ministers? 1BIO 478.7

3. Shall young preachers, before being ordained, be allowed to baptize? 1BIO 478.8

4. Shall T. M. Steward have a letter of commendation as a preacher among us?—Ibid. 1BIO 478.9

Steward was the minister deeply involved in the fanaticism that broke out in Mauston, Wisconsin. 1BIO 478.10

After satisfying themselves to the full intent of the first question—and ascertaining that what was involved was the accepting into church membership those couples comprised of individuals who had been divorced on grounds other than the violation of the seventh commandment, actions were taken as follows: 1BIO 478.11

1. Resolved, That the matter of divorced marriages be referred to the conference committee. [Diligent search fails to disclose any report on this perplexing item.] 1BIO 478.12

2. Resolved, That ministers of other denominations, embracing present truth, should give proof of being called to preach the message, and be ordained among us, before administering the ordinances. 1BIO 479.1

3. Resolved, That no person, young or old, should administer the ordinances before being ordained. 1BIO 479.2

4. In reference to Brother Steward's case, it was suggested ...that... further time be allowed.... The conference saw fit to take no action in the matter.—Ibid. 1BIO 479.3

The feeling prevailed that Steward's position was somewhat akin to that of a young minister, allowing him time to give proof of his ministry before endorsing him again for that sacred work. It was felt best, however, to leave the matter without record. 1BIO 479.4

The closing actions of the conference called for the next State conference meeting to be held in Battle Creek, October 2 to 5, 1863, and that the State conferences be invited to meet with them by delegates “in general conference, at our next annual conference.” 1BIO 479.5

The subject of a general conference that would bind State conferences together surfaced again from time to time. This would be the crowning step in organization. 1BIO 479.6

Uriah Smith, as he reported the conference, pointed out that “our pilgrimage heavenward lies through a pathway that is rough and thorny,” but that the conference at Monterey would be looked back upon as an oasis in the desert. It was clear that organization of churches and conferences was paying off. He observed, “The meetings were harmonious, and the brethren unanimous in their conclusions.”—Ibid. 1BIO 479.7