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


The Wellington Camp Meeting

New tents, both large and small, had been shipped from Australia and were now being pitched on high and dry ground in a beautiful fenced paddock within walking distance of the city of Wellington. It was with somewhat bated breaths that church members and others watched the process. Wellington was well known for its fierce winds. Not long before this, a circus tent had been torn to shreds by the high wind. Church leaders knew well the risks. “Our earnest prayer,” wrote Ellen White, “is that this encampment may have the favor of God. The winds and fountains of waters are in His hands, under His control.”—Manuscript 88, 1893. 4BIO 108.7

God did hold His sheltering hand over the encampment. An early report to the Bible Echo indicated this: 4BIO 109.1

Every provision is made, and every care taken, to carry out the arrangements with facility and decorum. The tents are arranged in streets. The large tent has seating accommodation for about six hundred.—January 1, 1894. 4BIO 109.2

O. A. Olsen arrived during the opening days of the meeting, and he became the main, and much appreciated, speaker. Pitcairn was in port, and her officers and crew were a help to the meeting. Dr. M. G. Kellogg, the medical missionary of the ship, was drawn into service and spoke from day to day on health topics and Christian temperance, which were reported to be one of the most telling and interesting features of the meetings (Ibid.). 4BIO 109.3

From the very beginning Ellen White was often on the platform and almost every day addressed the congregation. Sabbath afternoon she spoke and again on the afternoon of Sunday, her sixty-sixth birthday. She felt great freedom as she took pleasure in “showing our colors on which were inscribed the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Reporting the response, she wrote: 4BIO 109.4

I told them that we were Seventh-day Adventists, and the reason of the name which distinguished us from other denominations. All listened with deepest interest.—Letter 75, 1893. 4BIO 109.5

Sunday evening the tent was full when G. T. Wilson was the speaker. Ellen White's disclosure of the identity of the people holding the meetings did not deter a good attendance. In a letter to Edson she told of their concern for the success of the meeting: 4BIO 109.6

We had much fear lest we would have a very slim attendance, but we were happily disappointed. From the first to the last there was a good appearance of congregation of the best class of our own people who fed on the bread of life during the meeting. Evenings there were good-sized congregations of outsiders.... 4BIO 109.7

We have had good, large, respectful audiences, and a very large number of people now understand what we do believe. The discourses have been close, plain, and thorough upon present truth, appropriate and applicable to our time. The people listened as if spellbound.... The citizens were impressed with this meeting as nothing else could have transpired to impress them. When the winds blew strong, there would be many looking with wonder to see every tent standing unharmed.—Letter 121, 1893. 4BIO 110.1

What a victory had at last been gained. Walls of prejudice were crumbling. 4BIO 110.2

As the camp meeting opened, Ellen White observed that Mrs. Brown, of Long Point, only twenty miles distant, was not there. She hastened off a note to her: 4BIO 110.3

Dear Sister Brown and Household,

We sincerely hope that you will not lose this opportunity of attending the meeting brought so near your own door. Come, Mother and children and Sister Lounge. We want to enjoy this holy convocation with you, and bring all the children you can spare from the home place, for this meeting is that which you all need to strengthen and confirm your faith, and you want to hear the message which God has for you.... 4BIO 110.4

Be sure and bring the younger members of the family. You will never regret the expense or the trouble. It is seldom you will be favored, and perhaps never with such an opportunity.... You can and must come, Sister Brown. You need all the help and all the strength you can possibly gain to help you in your lifework.—Letter 74, 1893. 4BIO 110.5

And she did come, with part of the family attending the earlier days of the camp meeting and the others coming later. How Ellen White rejoiced! She reported to Edson: 4BIO 110.6

The mother and three youngest members of the family came—Alex, 16 years old, and the two girls, one 14 and the youngest 9.... These children remained with the mother, were baptized, and returned to their home and sent the older members—four grown daughters from 17 years of age to 30. These were all united with the Wellington church after their baptism. They have a church now at Long Point, Paremata, numbering nine of their own household.—Letter 121, 1893. 4BIO 110.7

During the meeting, Ellen White wrote a letter: 4BIO 111.1

The camp meeting is a success. It is a marvel of wonders to Wellington. Meetings have been held for one week. This camp meeting will give character to our work and do more to counteract the falsehoods that ministers have framed for others to repeat....

The Lord is in the encampment. The Spirit of God is moving upon the hearts of believers and unbelievers. Visitors are pouring in to wonder over and admire the well-fitted-up tents which are to be the homes of those camping on the ground.—Letter 75, 1893. 4BIO 111.2

Others agreed with Ellen White in the success of the meeting and of its far-reaching influence. This was reported in the January 8, 1894, Bible Echo: 4BIO 111.3

Indeed, the whole meeting was a spiritual feast. The people return to their homes rejoicing in the liberty they enjoy in Christ Jesus, and praising God for His goodness and mercy.... Twenty-four persons were baptized as a result of the services. 4BIO 111.4

Dr. Kellogg and G. T. Wilson remained in Wellington for a time to follow up the camp meeting interest. In the meantime the tents were quickly dismantled and shipped to Australia for use in their first camp meeting, scheduled to open in a suburb of Melbourne on January 5. 4BIO 111.5