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


Chapter 26—(1897) The New Church Building at Avondale

On Sabbath, January 2, 1897, in the loft above the sawmill, Ellen White spoke to the believers comprising the Cooranbong church. It had become a place for general storage as well as a place for meetings. The audience filled the room, but, she wrote, “It did appear so badly.” “There was, well, I need hardly describe it—almost everything but money.” She exclaimed, “I am fully decided that we must have a meeting house.”—Letter 70, 1897. 4BIO 315.1

With the construction, just before school opened, of the second story over the kitchen and dining hall, a room of limited space became available for meetings, and everyone was thankful for this. But as more students came in and the community grew, this proved to be too limited. 4BIO 315.2

On Wednesday morning, August 11, Baker and Daniells, the presidents of the two leading conferences, were on the campus to counsel with Ellen White and others concerning school matters and the coming camp meetings. Word had just been received at Cooranbong of the discovery of an accounting error in Melbourne. Eleven hundred pounds on deposit for the school had been lost track of—six hundred from the Wessels family and five hundred from the General Conference (Letter 177, 1897)—but was now available. Construction of a dormitory for the men could now be undertaken, and £100 was allotted toward a church building. In reporting the interview, Ellen White wrote: “We feel the need of a church very much.”—Manuscript 175, 1897. 4BIO 315.3

Friday morning, August 13, Daniells and Baker again met with Ellen White. The subject was “ways and means—how to build the meetinghouse” (Ibid.). A few days later she wrote of it: 4BIO 315.4

We took matters up quite fully, and decided that a meetinghouse must be built. We decided to start the work at once, and then in a few weeks we would have a place of worship.—Letter 90, 1897. 4BIO 316.1

She saw that the faith of the brethren was limited. They felt they should build small, to accommodate possibly two hundred. Ellen White was for a larger building, one that would seat three hundred, but she held back. She was so happy that the brethren sensed fully the need and were willing to venture that she, as she said, “was glad to carry these brethren with us in this,” feeling that in time “additional light would be given.” 4BIO 316.2

Then that Friday afternoon mail brought a pleasant surprise that to Ellen White was an omen of God's favor: a letter from the Harmon Lindsay family in Africa, accompanied by a draft for £100. Ellen White in her thank-you letter wrote: 4BIO 316.3

When your draft came, we felt to praise the Lord, who had put it into your hearts to give of your means to help in building a house for the Lord, that His people might worship Him decently and in order.... We had decided to make a beginning with the £100 [on hand], knowing that the Lord would not leave us without means to complete the house.—Ibid. 4BIO 316.4

Sabbath, Daniells took the morning worship service and spoke to 175 people who crowded into the upstairs temporary chapel. Ellen White rejoiced that they could now see their way and would soon have a simple, neat chapel erected (Manuscript 175, 1897). Daniells and Baker left Sunday morning, but the church project was not forgotten. On Monday morning Ellen White was requested to join others in considering where the meetinghouse should be erected. She wrote: 4BIO 316.5

There is a beautiful spot of land, forming a gentle rise, at a little distance from the main road. I remembered distinctly seeing this spot of land when we first visited this place in 1894.... We remarked upon this spot, and admired it. It is not thickly timbered, and there is no underbrush.... 4BIO 316.6

We were impressed that this was the place on which to erect the church. We saw no valid reason why this building should not be on the very best location that the land afforded.—Letter 90, 1897. 4BIO 317.1

On Monday evening Ellen White conversed with Metcalfe Hare concerning the proposed church, but found him less enthusiastic than was she and others. As they parted she told him, “We will not hasten the building of the meetinghouse.” But this decision was short-lived. Writing to Hare the next day, she told of a change in her position: 4BIO 317.2

Last night has changed my ideas materially.... I received instruction to speak to the people, and tell them that we are not to leave the house of the Lord until the last consideration.... I was instructed that our place of worship should be of easy access, and that the most precious portion of the land should be selected as a place on which to build for God. 4BIO 317.3

The question was asked, “Have you shown proper respect for the Master? Have you shown the eloquence of true politeness toward God? ... You cannot worship God in a correct manner where you are now. You cannot bow before Him in a suitable position. Build a house for God without delay. Secure the most favorable location. Prepare seats that will be proper for a house of God.”—Letter 56, 1897. 4BIO 317.4