Ellen G. White in Europe 1885-1887


Ellen G. White in Europe 1885-1887


Ellen G. White was personally involved in the beginnings and development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North America. This movement, now international in its dimensions, had its rise in the wake of the great Advent movement of the 1840's in which William Miller and his associate ministers played a principal role. EGWE 5.1

Instructed by God that she was to serve as his special messenger, she accepted the mission assigned to her, provided counsel and encouragement that proved to be of inestimable value to the “little flock” of Sabbathkeeping Adventists. With the work of Seventh-day Adventist developing in Europe in the late 1860's and in the 1870's it was quite natural that she should be invited to spend some time in the Old World, traveling to the churches for meetings, attending and preaching at the conferences, and helping to build strength and endurance into the growing organization. EGWE 5.2

Responding to an earnest invitation from the brethren at the Second European Council held in Basel,* Switzerland, in 1884, Ellen White the following year journeyed to Europe and spent two full years laboring in eight countries where significant work was in progress. At the same time she continued her voluminous literary work at her apartment in the headquarters building in Basel. EGWE 5.3

After being in Europe only a few months, she was led to remark again and again that she found in its various countries circumstances relating to the work of the church very similar to those that existed thirty-five or forty years earlier in the establishment of the work in North America. Her two years of labor, from late September, 1885, to August, 1887, resulted in building depth and strength wherever she worked and did much to bring about unity and good will among the believers. EGWE 6.1

As representatives of the White Estate have visited Europe from time to time, they have discerned a keen interest and curiosity about Ellen White's visit and a strong desire to have a good working knowledge of the experiences and accomplishments of those two years. This culminated in a hearty affirmative response on the part of European publishing leaders and church administrators assembled at Jonkoping, Sweden, in 1971, to the suggestion that a historical study might be prepared that would bring those eventful days back to life again for all to enjoy. To accomplish this, arrangements were made with D. A. Delafield, an associate secretary of the White Estate, who visited the scenes of Ellen White's labors in Europe while on a year-long itinerary. In preparing the manuscript he was assisted by other members of the White Estate staff, particularly Ronald Graybill. EGWE 6.2

While traveling and working in Europe, Ellen White with some regularity kept a rather full diary, which is rich in information essential to such a historical work. Sometimes she reported to the church in America by way of articles in its two leading english papers, the Review and Herald and the Signs of the Times. Many of her sermons preached during the two years were reported stenographically, and copies in typewritten form are on file in the White Estate office. Then, there are her letters rich in biographical and human-interest reports, letters written to members of the family and to leading denominational workers, and the records also of her visions. EGWE 6.3

A prime source of materials is the long-out-of-print volume, Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of The Seventh-day Adventists, edited and published in Basel in 1886. Its sections on the history of the work in Europe to the time of publication, and others on Mrs. White's travels and presenting her addresses at the conferences she attended, have been most useful in the preparation of this manuscript. EGWE 7.1

The problem on the part of the author has been to confine the selection of materials to the space limitations of this book. No attempt is made to present a day-by-day chronicle of Ellen White's twenty-four months in Europe and her travels by boat, train, carriage, and on foot. But the main features of her ministry, represented at the major conferences, workers’ meetings, and in the churches, are laced together with tracings of her journeys from country to country and church to church. EGWE 7.2

A number of important visions were given to Ellen White while on this mission, and those relating to the work in Europe are introduced. EGWE 7.3

It is the testimony of those who were close to her in labor during those two years and also associated with the work of the church in the years that followed, that her visit made a deep impression on the hearts and lives of the people. They came not only to esteem and respect her highly but to love her. They found in their hearts a ready response to the messages that God imparted to them for the growth and harmony of the church. EGWE 7.4

Significant counsels, whether presented orally or in writing, have been included, drawn from her sermons and manuscripts and diaries. Much of this material has never before been released until this book provided a natural outlet. In each case where there is a quotation, an original source reference is given. The student wishing to make inquiry about the sources that form the basis for unquoted material may do so, availing himself of this information incorporated in copies of the printer's manuscript. This information is available at the Ellen G. White Seventh-day Adventist research center, Europe, situated on the campus of Newbold College in Great Britain. Copies are also on deposit at the headquarters of the two European divisions, situated in St. Albans, England, and Berne, Switzerland, and of course at the offices of the White Estate at the general conference headquarters, and at Andrews University. EGWE 7.5

While many of the excerpts have been drawn from the Ellen G. White diaries, the term diary Is not used as the reference. For convenience in filing and reference, all the diaries have been copied from their original handwritten form into numbered, typewritten documents, most of which embody a period of her activities or are confined to a particular journey. Thus, instead of referring to “diary for October 8, 1885” the reference will be to “Manuscript 25, 1885.” EGWE 8.1

The various spellings of the names of European cities, towns, and people represent the opinions of European consultants. EGWE 8.2

An attempt has been made to present, as it were, a printed recording of Mrs. White's voice speaking in Europe to Europeans, communicating with the people of God in their homelands. Two goals were kept in mind in the preparation of this record. One, the building of a correct and much-needed historical source book of an important period in the work of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Europe, thus gathering together into one framework the chronological story of Mrs. White's two years there. And, two, the telling in a limited way of the human-interest story of the personal experiences, hopes, triumphs, despairs, vicissitudes, and feelings of an altogether human person, presenting a readable account, hopefully leaving the reader with the feeling that he now knows Ellen G. White, the Lord's messenger. The narrative is simply told, and because the story is not spectacular it is more persuasive. EGWE 8.3

It is worth noting that the publication of this book coincides approximately with the centennial of the arrival on the continent of Europe in 1874 of J. N. Andrews, the first seventh-day adventist missionary to be sent to a country outside North America. EGWE 8.4

Were Ellen White living she doubtless would rejoice in the appearance of this volume. Again and again she reminded us that the experiences of the early years must be recounted with reminders of God's special providences. In 1903, speaking of the literary tasks before her, she wrote of her hope to have part in the preparation of such a manuscript as it related to her work in Europe: EGWE 9.1

“I am going to make an effort to prepare a history of our stay and work in Europe. I shall get together the talks that I gave while there, and publish them with the historical sketch, most of which is in the book published some years ago on this subject. Then, sometime, I want to get out a history of my work in Australia.”—Letter 150, 1903. EGWE 9.2

The publication of this volume of history will undoubtedly deepen the interest in the study of the century-old adventist witness in Europe, and inspire a strong faith to plan for larger evangelistic accomplishments in the days ahead. EGWE 9.3

Arthur L. White

Washington, D.C.