Ellen G. White: The Australian Years: 1891-1900 (vol. 4)

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The Question of a Primary School

In the meantime there were some tense moments at Cooranbong brought on by an ill-advised action of the school board. It was decided that there would be no primary school. Ellen White learned of this only after some announcements had been made, and she felt impelled to step in and take a firm position. She wrote of this, too, in her May 5 letter to Willie: 4BIO 300.6

The board met, and ... decided that for this term there would be no primary school. On the next Sabbath morning, I told them that the primary school would commence when the other school did.—Letter 141, 1897. 4BIO 301.1

When Brother Lacey made the statement that there would be no primary school this term, Brother Hare felt much disappointed, for he wanted both of his children in the school. The officers are on his track, telling him that his children must attend the public school.... 4BIO 301.2

But in the first Sabbath meeting we held in the upper room, I presented this matter and called for a response, and you should have heard Brother Gambril's remarks. He came forward to the front seat, so that I could hear him. He spoke of the influence of the public schools on his children, of the education they were receiving.—Ibid. 4BIO 301.3

It was in this setting that Ellen White made the rather familiar statement (found in Testimonies for the Church, 6:199), “In localities where there is a church, schools should be established if there are no more than six children to attend.”—Ibid. 4BIO 301.4

Steps were taken to again rent the convent for use in educating Adventist children in Adventist principles. Some of the children would be coming up Dora Creek by rowboat; Gambril's 15-year-old daughter would bring two Gambril children and two others to the primary school, which by mid-May had an enrollment of fifteen (Ibid.; Letter 126, 1897). 4BIO 301.5