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


Chapter 25—(1897) Avondale—A New Start in Christian Education

We earnestly desire to have this school such as the Lord shall approve,” wrote Ellen White on June 9, 1897 (Letter 33, 1897). For twenty-three years Seventh-day Adventists had been engaged in operating educational institutions, commencing in Battle Creek in 1874. Through those years a good deal of experience had been gained, and the Lord had many times given special instruction to guide in the founding and operation of schools. Mistakes had been made from the start; oftentimes, courses were set that were not for the best and were hard to alter. Now, it seemed appropriate and possible, as a new beginning was being made in a new land, to establish a course more in keeping with God's will. Mrs. White wrote: 4BIO 304.1

We must all work earnestly and intelligently to do the utmost to make this school as God would have it. No man's notions are to be brought in here. No breezes from Battle Creek are to be wafted in. I see I must watch before and behind and on every side to permit nothing to find entrance that has been presented before me as injuring our schools in America.—Letter 138, 1897. 4BIO 304.2

In the same vein she wrote in her diary on July 22: 4BIO 304.3

This is not to be a school after the common order of schools. It is such a school as the Lord has marked out should be established. We have to demonstrate that we have not followed cunningly devised fables.—Manuscript 174, 1897.

Some members of the faculty contributed to these desirable ends more than others. There was the steady and experienced Elder Haskell, of whom Ellen White could write: 4BIO 304.4

His experience and knowledge of the truth, commencing in so early a stage of our history as Seventh-day Adventists, was needed in this country. From his youth upward, he has been a self-denying, self-sacrificing man. And now his age and gray hairs give him the respect of all who know him.—Letter 126, 1897. 4BIO 305.1

There was Prof. C. B. Hughes and his wife. Of them Ellen White wrote: 4BIO 305.2

We are pleased with the principal of the school and his wife. They are determined to carry out the testimonies.... He is the right man for the place.—Letter 164, 1897.

And there was the more youthful Herbert C. Lacey, with his wife, Lillian. Twenty-five years of age, he was just out of Battle Creek College, having completed the classical course. He was one of the young men sent from Australia to the United States to gain training to enter the Lord's work. It was expected he would make a strong contribution. Ellen White had met a portion of his school expenses both at Healdsburg and in Battle Creek. Although Lacey was in time to grow and develop to become one of the most able and respected Bible teachers in the denomination, at this point he was described by Ellen White: 4BIO 305.3

Brother Herbert Lacey has the impulsive temperament to move out after the education received in Battle Creek and would feel perfectly competent to manage everything, when he will have to obtain as a learner how things ought to be managed.—Letter 182, 1897. 4BIO 305.4

Matters became complicated when Prof. Rousseau left for the United States. Herbert Lacey was chosen by the Avondale school board to serve as principal. He was without experience in lines of management and in finance, yet he readily accepted the position. It was difficult for Ellen White to understand why not one member of the school board sought her counsel about the matter. She wrote Daniells that “all these things had been opened before me,” and commented, “It was a large pill for me to swallow.”—Letter 185, 1897. She felt she must act, distasteful as it might be. To W. C. White she wrote on June 6: 4BIO 305.5

The board ... elected Brother Herbert Lacey as principal without counseling with me. This brought me to the front to speak.—Letter 140, 1897. 4BIO 306.1