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


The Swiss Conference Session

The Swiss Conference consisted of 224 members in ten churches, and an additional thirty-nine Sabbathkeepers in groups. The members were served by one ordained minister and seven licensed ministers. There were 251 Sabbath school members, enrolled in eleven Sabbath schools. 3BIO 297.1

Of the session that opened on Thursday evening, September 10, Ellen White wrote: 3BIO 297.2

The conference was quite generally attended by our Swiss brethren, and by representatives from Germany, France, Italy, and Romania. There were nearly two hundred brethren and sisters assembled; and a more intelligent, noble-looking company is seldom seen. Although gathered from different nations, we were brought near to God and to one another by our eyes being fixed upon the one object, Jesus Christ. We were one in faith, and one in our efforts to do the will of God. The influence of the gospel is to unite God's people in one great brotherhood.—Ibid., November 3, 1885 3BIO 297.3

Of course, not all assembled there could converse in one language. The congregation was divided into three parts, according to the language they understood. These were seated in different parts of the hall—French, German, and English. Ellen White found it a bit awkward and confusing when she first spoke, for her words were picked up by two translators, one speaking in French and the other in German. But with the audience divided into groups, time was conserved as the translators spoke to their respective groups at the same time. She soon found this method of addressing the conference less taxing than her usual manner of continuous speaking, for she had more time for thinking of the construction of what she would say (Ibid.). 3BIO 297.4

Friday afternoon it was her turn to speak, and she was surprised at the large number assembled. It was a new experience to have Sister White with them, and the people did not want to miss a word. She described the weather as “cold and rough“: on Sabbath she added the word “muddy.” Of the Sabbath services she wrote: 3BIO 297.5

The morning meetings are good and beneficial. Brother Bourdeau spoke in French in the forenoon. I spoke in the afternoon with great clearness. Testimonies were then borne—about one hundred. Brother A. C. Bourdeau gathered the English people together and interpreted the testimonies done in French. All expressed that they were impressed and benefited by the discourse given. Certainly this people seem to be in earnest to be helped, willing to receive my testimony.—Manuscript 16a, 1885. 3BIO 297.6

Sunday was a sunny and interesting day. Reports were given in the morning meeting. Ellen White spoke for a half-hour on missionary work. 3BIO 298.1

The Sunday afternoon meeting was memorable. She made particular mention of it in her report to the readers of the Review: 3BIO 298.2

The Lord especially blessed in speaking Sunday afternoon. All listened with the deepest interest, and at the close of the discourse an invitation was given for all who desired to be Christians, and all who felt that they had not a living connection with God, to come forward, and we would unite our prayers with theirs for the pardon of sin, and for grace to resist temptation. 3BIO 298.3

This was a new experience for many of our brethren in Europe, but they did not hesitate. It seemed that the entire congregation were on their feet, and the best they could do was to be seated, and all seek the Lord together. Here was an entire congregation manifesting their determination to put sin away, and to engage most earnestly in the work of seeking God.—Ibid., November 3, 1885 3BIO 298.4

As this was an official session, there was business to attend to. Monday was the last day of the meeting, and business was cleared away by noon. Ellen White spoke again in the early afternoon, this time on the necessity of cultivating love and Christian courtesy and of being forbearing with one another (Manuscript 16a, 1885). 3BIO 298.5

Following this timely message more than twelve were baptized, using the new baptistry in the meeting hall for the first time. Then they united in celebrating the ordinances of the Lord's house. In Ellen White's heart was the prayer that all would grow together in grace and in the knowledge of the truth as they climbed the ladder of progress in their Christian experience. 3BIO 298.6