Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years: 1862-1876 (vol. 2)


The Eleventh Annual Meeting of the General Conference

Tuesday morning was devoted to the usual formalities connected with such a conference. In the afternoon James White gave the opening address, setting the tone for the meeting. He started with organization and its value: 2BIO 373.2

I would first say that organization, with Seventh-day Adventists, was not entered into as a matter of choice; but it had become a necessity. And now, with our organization, however complete, we need wisdom to use it properly. I regard organization more like a fort, to use military terms, in which we may entrench ourselves for protection and self-defense, rather than as a weapon for aggressive warfare. 2BIO 373.3

To speak more definitely, organization should be regarded by us as the means of uniting our forces, and fortifying ourselves against outside influences; and we should be careful never to use it in a manner to oppress, to rule, and to govern the consciences of honest men. 2BIO 373.4

Our system of organization we regard as very simple, and yet as very efficient; and although we entered upon it in our feebleness, as a people, some twelve years since, not patterning after others, but seeking for that which would answer our purpose, yet in reviewing it and reexamining it, we find that it seems to be just what we want; and we have found but very little reason to change it in any particular.—Ibid., May 20, 1873 2BIO 373.5

Going into more detail, he reviewed the relationship of the members to conference organizations, and dealt with the method of support under which the denomination operates: 2BIO 374.1

The General Conference is the highest earthly authority that we acknowledge, designed to take the general oversight of the entire work connected with the message which we have to give to the world. Our State conferences take the oversight of the work in the several States; and they are amenable to the General Conference. Our simple church organizations, for the benefit of local assemblies, are amenable to the State conferences. 2BIO 374.2

Our system of supporting the cause by means of Systematic Benevolence appears to be the best that could be devised. It bears very lightly upon the poor man, drawing only about 1 percent annually of the little which he possesses. And when this system is applied to the wealthy—when we consider that they profess to believe that the end of all things is at hand; and that they have but a little time to use their means, and when we consider that the system calls for only about one tenth of their increase—they should be the very last to complain of the system. 2BIO 374.3

I know not where we can better it. We have tried it, and it works well.... Here we may see the result of the system of equality that oppresses no one, but yet gives all the privilege of doing something. 2BIO 374.4

I think that Seventh-day Adventists are not half as grateful to God as they should be, not only for the simple organization which is so efficient, but for the special blessing and help of God in carrying out the work to which He has called us.—Ibid. 2BIO 374.5

With this as a foundation, White launched into a presentation of the church's position in fulfilling prophecy, and then the responsibilities that devolve on the church in advocating a message far beyond the limitations of the English language. This called for publishing in other languages, and also for a school in which, among other things, to train ministers to work in the languages of Europe. 2BIO 374.6