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


Chapter 1—(1827-1836) The Messenger of the Lord in Our Midst

In old Battle Creek on a Tuesday morning in April hundreds had gathered at the tabernacle for the opening meeting of a General Conference session. After the usual formalities, the president closed his opening address, surrendered the office that he had held for two years, and declared: 1BIO 15.1

“The conference is now formally opened. What is your pleasure?” 1BIO 15.2

A little woman in advancing years arose from one of the seats on the floor, pressed to the front, mounted the steps to the platform, and moved to the desk to speak to the large audience. She had something to say, and she felt that now was the time to say it. After describing the great privilege of the Advent people to stand high above the world, sanctified by the truth and having a close connection with heaven, she came quickly to the burden of her heart—the quality and fitness of those who serve in the cause of God, and especially those who lead. She declared: 1BIO 15.3

Every soul in every conference, in every part of the Lord's vineyard, has the privilege of knowing the truth. But truth is not truth to those who do not practice it. Truth is only truth to you when you live it in daily life, showing the world what those people must be who are at last saved. [Quotations in this introductory account are from Ibid., 1901, 23-26, 460-464.] 1BIO 15.4

Then addressing particularly the leaders of the General Conference, she pointed out the damaging impact on a rapidly growing church of restrictive policies imposed by a very small group of men struggling to manage a work that had grown far beyond their ability to handle. “You have no right to manage,” she declared, “unless you manage in God's order.” She then cried out: 1BIO 15.5

What we want now is a reorganization. We want to begin at the foundation, and to build upon a different principle.... There are to be more than one or two or three men to consider the whole vast field. The work is great, and there is no one human mind that can plan for the work which needs to be done. 1BIO 16.1

The speaker hastened to say: 1BIO 16.2

According to the light that has been given me—and just how it is to be accomplished I cannot say—greater strength must be brought into the managing force of the conference.... There must be a renovation, a reorganization; a power and strength must be brought into the committees that are necessary.

It was a solemn and breathtaking address. The delegates, representing a world church of seventy-five thousand members, sat spellbound for a full hour. The response was immediate: That very hour steps were taken for the session to turn from usual procedures and address itself to accomplish what the words of the speaker plainly called for—reorganization. 1BIO 16.3

Who was this little woman who spoke so earnestly and so plainly at the opening of a great congress of the church with words of reproof and counsel and then hope, words that burned within the hearts of church leaders and all present that day? 1BIO 16.4

The voice was that of the messenger of the Lord, Ellen G. White, who for nearly a decade had resided overseas, and who for half a century and more had been bringing messages from the God of heaven to encourage, guide, and guard His remnant people on earth. 1BIO 16.5

Just three weeks later the reorganization was fully accomplished. Responsibilities in church management had been shifted from just a few men at the General Conference headquarters to a large number carrying responsibilities in the various portions of the gospel field. The way was now open for the work of God in its many ramifications throughout the world to forge ahead. At the farewell meeting many joined J. N. Loughborough, who was present during the organization of the General Conference thirty-eight years before, in the expression “I thank God for what I have seen here in this work of reorganization during this conference.” 1BIO 16.6

In her closing remarks Ellen White asked the question “Who do you suppose has been among us since this conference began? ... Who has walked up and down the aisles of this tabernacle?” She answered, “The God of heaven and His angels,” and added: 1BIO 17.1

We have been trying to organize the work on right lines. The Lord has sent His angels to minister unto us who are heirs of salvation, telling us how to carry the work forward.... Press together, press together. Let us be united in Christ. 1BIO 17.2

The church had heard the voice of God through His messenger, and the response was electrifying and immediate. But, by rights, we should begin the story of the life and work of Ellen G. White with her birth and early life—and in doing so, let her speak. 1BIO 17.3