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


Chapter 28—(1897) The Stanmore Camp Meeting and the Health-Food Business

In early August, 1897, A. G. Daniells and W. L. H. Baker, presidents of the two principal conferences in Australia, [Note: When the general conference at its 1897 session released W. C. White from administrative responsibilities to enable him to give more assistance to his mother in her literary work, A. G. Daniells was appointed in his place to the presidency of the australasian union conference. Daniells continued to serve as president of the Australian Conference, with headquarters in melbourne. Baker was president of the New South Wales Conference.] had gone up to Cooranbong to counsel with Ellen White and others there regarding the two camp meetings to be held in the early summer. The first was to be held in a suburb of Sydney, October 21 to November 1 (The Bible Echo, October 4, 1897), and the second in a suburb of Melbourne, November 18 to December 5 (Ibid., December 13, 1897). Ellen White was requested to attend both, and she planned to do so, particularly the meeting in Sydney. On receiving a letter from Daniells suggesting that a company of workers should be put in Sydney some weeks in advance of the camp meeting to work up an interest, Baker wrote to Ellen White seeking advice. He enclosed a copy of Daniells’ letter. 4BIO 334.1

“That night,” she wrote, “after receiving Brother Baker's letter, enclosing a copy of the letter from Brother Daniells, the Lord gave me light”: 4BIO 334.2

I saw that it was not the best thing to do to make our plans known and advertise the meetings to be held, for in doing this we would prepare the ministers of the churches to arm themselves with all their implements of warfare, and by their falsehoods in their publications make the people bitter opponents to the truth. 4BIO 334.3

I was shown that the best plan on this occasion was to come on the people as a surprise, and let them have an opportunity to hear for themselves before the ministers of all denominations should rally their forces to misinterpret our work and pour in their false reports..... The light given was, When the seed of truth has been sown in the hearts of the people by the laborers at the camp meeting, then those who remain to follow up the work will, through the Spirit's power, be prepared to ripen off the work and gather in the harvest.—Letter 37, 1897. 4BIO 335.1

Immediately Ellen White addressed a letter to “Dear Brethren,” bearing the date of August 27, 1897. It opened, “I must place before you ideas that I cannot withhold. Is it at this time best to let everyone possible know that there is to be a camp meeting held by Seventh-day Adventists? ... Will it not rather be best to set up the tents, and then let the people know, after the meeting has commenced doing the work of advertising? In spreading the intelligence of a Seventh-day Adventist camp meeting, are we not furnishing ammunition to our foes?” She added: 4BIO 335.2

After an interest has been created by the camp meeting, then is the time that a special work should be done in following up the interest created. The greatest secrecy is needed in some cases, lest there be created an intense opposition that will prevent the people from coming to the meeting to hear for themselves.... 4BIO 335.3

If a camp meeting can be started to break in upon the community unexpectedly, the opposing elements will not be aroused with an intensity moved by Satan's agencies to hold the people in error and darkness. The warning must be given, but let us give as little chance as possible for Satan to work, by moving cautiously and making no stir before. Let all the effort possible be put forth after the meeting closes.—Letter 13, 1897. 4BIO 335.4

The suburb of Stanmore was chosen for the meeting. Ellen White described it: 4BIO 335.5

Stanmore is only a few stations from Sydney. It is a thickly settled suburb, and is a very popular place. Here we found a most beautiful, grassy plot of ground, so thickly carpeted with grass that we needed no board floors.—Letter 136, 1897. 4BIO 335.6

Just before the meeting opened, Ellen White sent her entire staff, except Marian Davis, who would not leave her work on The Desire of Ages, to the camp meeting. She followed the next day. W. C. White's entire family also went, not only for the camp meeting but to meet W. C. White, who arrived in Sydney from America the day before the meeting opened. 4BIO 336.1

The village of tents, speedily erected, surprised the inhabitants of Stanmore. At the last moment small notices were distributed by diligent workers. Eagerly the workers and campers awaited the hour for the first meeting, Thursday evening. Then the people began to pour onto the grounds. The big tent was crowded, and Ellen White, in a letter to Edson, reported: 4BIO 336.2

A wall of people several feet deep stood around the tent. Elder Daniells spoke with excellent freedom. Friday morning there was an early meeting at six o'clock, and a good representation of our people was present.... The meetings have opened well.—Letter 148, 1897. 4BIO 336.3

With this propitious opening, the meeting moved along well. The big tent was crowded, and people stood outside in the afternoons and evenings. Ellen White's first meeting came Sabbath afternoon. Through the ten-day meeting she spoke six times to the large assembly and five times at smaller meetings of church members and workers. 4BIO 336.4

But to the Whites, a high point was the reunion of the W. C. White family after a separation of ten months. “The twins soon became acquainted with their father. May feels very well indeed over the arrival of her husband. She has behaved excellently.”—Ibid. 4BIO 336.5

As to the accelerating interest in the meetings, which continued over two Sabbaths, she wrote to a friend in America: 4BIO 336.6

I spoke Sabbath, Sunday, and Wednesday afternoons. At each meeting the large tent was crowded. To the very last of the meeting there was no falling off in numbers. On Sunday, in order that the crowd might be seated, the children were called into a forty-foot tent to a meeting of their own. Then our own people were invited to give the outside people room. I believe the angels of God were upon the ground.—Letter 136, 1897. 4BIO 336.7

The light given her concerning advertising the camp meeting, she said, “has been followed to the letter” (Letter 148, 1897). 4BIO 337.1