Ellen G. White: The Lonely Years: 1876-1891 (vol. 3)


Meeting the Needs of California

J. N. Loughborough had pioneered the work in California and for ten years had given good leadership to the church on the Pacific Coast. In 1878 the General Conference Committee, observing his talents and sensing the needs of the newly opened work in England, assigned him to that field. However, they did not at the same time make proper provision for the growing work in the West. As a result, that work suffered. Poor management at the Pacific Press put its activities in a precarious position. James and Ellen White had not been in the West since mid-1878. According to a report in the Review of February 12, the General Conference Committee, on receiving reports from the brethren on the Pacific Coast, “thought it advisable that S. N. Haskell and W. C. White spend some three months in California.” 3BIO 131.8

Two weeks later it was reported on the back page of the February 26 Review that 3BIO 132.1

Elder S. N. Haskell, accompanied by W. C. White and wife, and Mrs. E. G. White, left for California, via the Chicago and Northwestern Railway, the twenty-third. Elder H. and WCW will spend a few months there before their contemplated visit to Europe. 3BIO 132.2

James White remained in the East to care for the many administrative duties he willingly accepted at the General Conference session, to pastor the Battle Creek church, and to push ahead with such publishing interests as the issuance of Life Sketches of James and Ellen White and the republication of some of the earliest E. G. White pamphlets and books. As time and strength permitted, he would continue to visit churches in Michigan in the interests of spiritual revival. 3BIO 132.3

The group of workers traveling westward were seven days in making the journey from Battle Creek to Oakland, arriving Sunday, February 29. Ellen White was able to get in some writing en route. In her diary she mentions work on Spirit of Prophecy, volume 4, and letters that she would send back to Battle Creek. 3BIO 132.4

As she and those with her picked up the threads of the situation in Oakland, she was troubled. Monday morning she noted in her diary: 3BIO 132.5

My heart went up to God for wisdom and judgment to know how to move, how to advise. Important decisions are being made. God help us to decide aright.—Manuscript 7, 1880. 3BIO 132.6

The next day she wrote further of the situation: 3BIO 132.7

My heart is heavy, my mind [is] pressed with care and anxiety. The tangled condition of affairs here is distressing.—Ibid. 3BIO 133.1

A little later she declared: “Things here require much thought, deep study, careful management. Everything must move slowly, and time alone will effect permanent changes and will promise prosperity.”—Letter 19, 1880. 3BIO 133.2

She entertained deep concern for the publishing house in Oakland. At its opening in 1875, W. C. White had been selected to manage it, a responsibility he carried well for two years, bringing the new institution through with a modest financial gain. Then plans were laid for him to go to Europe and establish a publishing house in Switzerland. He was released from the work on the Pacific Coast to go to Battle Creek College, where he and his wife, Mary, were to gain a working knowledge of French and German. At a meeting attended by neither James nor Ellen White, the California constituency replaced W. C. White by his older brother, Edson, not fully aware of the latter's weaknesses in financial management. 3BIO 133.3

Edson's relationship to financial matters had given his parents great concern. His mother had sent him many warnings and admonitions, most of which went unheeded. In spite of his efforts and the counsel of his parents, who were not on the Pacific Coast during most of the time, he floundered, and the Press came close to disaster. Men brought in to help salvage the institution also faltered. Three weeks before taking the train for the West, Ellen White, with divinely inspired insight, wrote to Edson: 3BIO 133.4

In my last vision [November 23, 1879] I was shown that God gave you another trial, let you pass over the ground again. You have had the most favorable position and chance that you will ever have. You could have redeemed your failures of the past, but you have failed, utterly failed. You will never again have as good a chance to become a man of trust and honor.... 3BIO 133.5

I will not give my voice to hold you one hour in that office. You have imperiled the office again and again and it is time you resigned all position there, for your course has proved to others your unfitness to be there.—Letter 3a, 1880. 3BIO 133.6

On his mother's counsel Edson resigned and went to Battle Creek. His brother was again called upon to manage the publishing house. Bringing in W. C. White and Haskell to help salvage the situation meant postponing plans for their going to Europe, but California had to have help. 3BIO 133.7