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


Back Again to the Northwest

Ten days after returning to Healdsburg, Ellen White sailed with the company of workers scheduled to attend the two camp meetings in the Northwest. A back-page note in the Signs of June 5 gives this word: 3BIO 247.2

The editor of the Signs [J. H. Waggoner], in company with Elder W. C. White, Mrs. E. G. White, Elder J. N. Loughborough, Professor Brownsberger, and Elder William Ings and wife, left San Francisco on the steamer Oregon, Friday, May 30, to attend the camp meetings in the Washington Territory and Oregon. They will return about the middle of July. 3BIO 247.3

In conjunction with the Oregon meeting, to be held June 19-30, the “Pacific Coast Council” was to convene. In 1883, S. N. Haskell, president of the California Conference and a member of the General Conference Committee, had advanced the proposition that being so far removed from places where the General Conference sessions were held, many workers and most of the church members were deprived from attending. A council should be held to strengthen the work. 3BIO 247.4

Wrote Haskell: 3BIO 247.5

The importance of taking advance steps [in the cause of God] and wisely laying larger plans for operation is constantly increasing.... There should be frequent consultations in those sections of the country where the work is of a similar character. The wise man says, “In the multitude of counsellors there is safety.” By bringing together different minds, and laying out different plans, and having free counsel with much prayer, we shall secure more light than by a few pressing toward certain points without conferring with others.—The Review and Herald, March 6, 1884.

Haskell's words were carefully chosen. Situations were developing in the church in the Northwest that indicated the need of study, close fellowship, and counseling together. The workers appointed to this council, including Ellen White, were well chosen for the occasion. As their experience and the accomplishments were of particular significance, the account of the few weeks spent there will be reserved for the next chapter. 3BIO 248.1

The sea trip back to San Francisco in early July was pleasant, giving some time for the workers to counsel together. Ellen White felt that in spite of earnest requests, she could not attend the Eastern camp meetings (Letter 9, 1884). The type was being set for The Great Controversy at the Pacific Press, and there was other writing she felt she must do. She also felt she could not continue to rush from one meeting to the next as fast as the trains could take her. While debating in her own mind what she should do, she wrote to Butler and Haskell on July 10, expressing her mixed feelings and seeking counsel: 3BIO 248.2

I remember I am 56 years old, instead of 25 or 35.... I am not immortal yet, and have cause to remember this every day of my life.... I think my best course is to remain in California.—Letter 21, 1884. 3BIO 248.3

On the other hand, she had a strong desire to attend the Eastern meetings. She wrote of being deeply moved when urgent appeals were made for her to go east, and declared, “I know I have a testimony for God's people. It burns in my soul day and night, seems as if it would consume me.”—Ibid. But she reasoned: 3BIO 248.4

I have large work here.... My copyists are here on the ground. It is at great loss to me every day that I leave this coast. Duty does not call in two directions at the same time. Now which is the most urgent?—Ibid. 3BIO 248.5

Although perplexed, she concluded, “Because you are praying for me, I expect to come.”—Ibid. 3BIO 248.6

For a few days Ellen White remained at her Healdsburg home, writing for the last chapters of Great Controversy and putting on the finishing touches. In late July she went to Oakland to be near the Pacific Press in the final checking on the printing of the book. Then she was off for the Eastern camp meetings, while the final work was done on the printing plates and the book was run through the press. 3BIO 248.7