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


The Question of Consolidation

In his opening address to the conference Olsen had mentioned the importance of the publishing work of the church and of steps being taken thought to strengthen it: 3BIO 486.3

At the time of our last General Conference we recommended this subject as worthy of consideration by this body. The result was the appointment of a representative committee of twenty-one, to take the matter under advisement, learn what could be done, and if the way was open, to go on and effect such consolidation. This committee has done all that circumstances would permit, and will render its report to this body at the proper time.—Ibid., 9 3BIO 486.4

This report came in to the session on Sunday morning, March 15. The editor of the Bulletin saw in the prompt and full attendance at the meeting, and the fact that many visitors were present, the interest taken in this particular item of business. The report opened: 3BIO 486.5

Your committee appointed at the last session of this conference to take into consideration the consolidation of the publishing work under one general management, with power to act, if in their judgment they thought best to do so, would report that we have given the matter referred to us much thought.—Ibid., 123 3BIO 486.6

Instead of the formation of a new corporation, the committee recommended that the General Conference Association, which dealt with legal matters, be reorganized. The number of trustees should be increased from five to twenty-one, and all publishing interests should be consolidated under the control of this enlarged corporation board. It was suggested that if the conference acted promptly, the new arrangement could be set up before the close of the session, set for March 25. The recommendation was accepted and followed, and by the time the session closed, a board of twenty-one had been elected and steps taken to place it in a position of responsibility. What was not realized at the time was that the General Conference Association board of twenty-one could soon overpower, in some respects, the General Conference Committee of nine. 3BIO 487.1

Among the many matters opened up to Ellen White in the Salamanca vision were dangers relating to the forming of confederacies in the publishing work, as brought to view in Life Sketches, chapter 48, [A reprinting of a tract issued in the early 1890S.] and the danger of covering up the distinctive features of the message, as referred to in chapter 35. She wrote of the vision given at Salamanca: 3BIO 487.2

I was taken out of and away from myself to assemblies in different States, where I bore decided testimony of reproof and warning. In Battle Creek a council of ministers and responsible men from the publishing house and other institutions was convened, and I heard those assembled, in no gentle spirit, advance sentiments and urge measures for adoption that filled me with apprehension and distress. 3BIO 487.3

Years before, I had been called to pass through a similar experience.... On the night of November 3, these warnings were brought to my mind, and I was commanded to present them before those in responsible offices of truth, and to fail not nor be discouraged. There were laid out before me some things which I could not comprehend.—Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, 319. 3BIO 487.4

Her attention was called particularly to those carrying on the work at Battle Creek. She wrote: 3BIO 487.5

Great peril was about the people, but some knew it not. Unbelief and impenitence blinded their eyes, and they trusted to human wisdom in the guidance of the most important interests of the cause of God relating to the publishing work. In the weakness of human judgment, men were gathering into their finite hands the lines of control, while God's will, God's way and counsel, were not sought as indispensable. Men of stubborn, iron-like will, both in and out of the office, were confederating together, determined to drive certain measures through in accordance with their own judgment.—Ibid., 320, 321. 3BIO 487.6

Was it because she detected that this was taking place in the moves toward consolidating the publishing interests of the denomination that she was led to say what she did as she addressed the conference session on the last night of the meeting? 3BIO 488.1

In this address she sounded warnings in several directions. Although she did not speak directly against the plans developed for the consolidation of the publishing work, it would seem that she had this in mind in her opening remarks: 3BIO 488.2

Brethren and sisters, I appeal to you as Seventh-day Adventists to be all that this name signifies. There is danger of departing from the spirit of the message, and adopting measures that will imperil the work of God. As the Lord has presented these things before me at several times and in different places, I have been brought into your assemblies where articles were read and statements made which were false in principle and dangerous in their tendency. I was shown that those who advocated these sentiments were not following the counsel of God.—The General Conference Bulletin, 1891, 256. 3BIO 488.3

Among leading workers in her audience there was some uncertainty as to how to apply the counsel. Did it refer to problems over the American Sentinel, or to the matter of consolidation? When they came and inquired of her, she replied that she could not answer that question. At times under similar circumstances she replied: “I cannot explain it; you should understand it better than I. If you do not understand it, pray to the Lord, and He will help you.”—DF 105b, W. C. White address, November 25, 1905. 3BIO 488.4

In the closing meeting she devoted some time to the question of their relationship to the Spirit of Prophecy; she challenged them to test her work by the Word and by their observations. She spoke of the Sabbath and the need to prize it and stand in its defense, and that the church's testimony now “is not to be less decided than formerly; our real position is not to be cloaked in order to please the world's great men.”—Ibid., 1891, 258 3BIO 489.1

She spoke of the institutions in Battle Creek and of how, as they were founded, the pioneers prayed and sought God day and night. “Now let us continue to pray,” she admonished. “If we needed to pray about the establishment of these institutions, how much more do we need to pray for God to keep them as guardians of the truth.”—Ibid., 261. 3BIO 489.2