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


The Conference at Work

Little wonder that when the conference got down to business one of the first actions read: 2BIO 375.4

Resolved, That we regard it as the imperative duty of S. D. Adventists to take immediate steps for the formation of an educational society, and the establishment of a denominational school.—Ibid., March 18, 1873 2BIO 375.5

And there were actions to get the enterprise under way. In the same meeting the conference took an action in regard to the health work: 2BIO 375.6

Resolved, That we regard the health reform as an important part of our work, and that we learn with great pleasure of the prosperity of the Health Institute, which we believe is designed of Providence to exert a great influence, not only in healing the sick, but in imparting light and knowledge on the subject of our responsibility to regard the laws of our being.—Ibid. 2BIO 375.7

Early in the session a matter close to James White's heart was brought in. The minutes read: 2BIO 376.1

The question of brethren moving to Battle Creek was introduced. Brother White stated that the thing was working slowly but well. Brother Andrews spoke; Brother Butler followed. The question was referred to a committee of three, appointed by the chair.—Ibid. 2BIO 376.2

Several days were devoted to the routine business of the conference, with special attention given to the Tract and Missionary Society work, the developing embryo of what was to become the personal ministries work of the church. S. N. Haskell, the father of this work, was commissioned to visit the conferences in promoting it. One of the concluding actions of the session read: 2BIO 376.3

Resolved, That we express our thanks for the labors of Brother and Sister White during this conference, and that we renew our expressions of confidence in the Bible doctrine of spiritual gifts, and of our appreciation, in some degree, of the kindness and mercy of God in favoring this people with the testimonies of His Spirit to the church.—Ibid., March 25, 1873 2BIO 376.4

Testimony No. 22, with its many lines of practical instruction, including education and health reform, had come from the press in late December, 1872, and was fresh in the minds of those at the conference. 2BIO 376.5

The nominating committee brought in a report recommending that George I. Butler continue as General Conference president and Uriah Smith as secretary, and introduced a new name for treasurer, E. B. Gaskill, fruitage of the program to bring in businessmen of experience to assist in the work. But when it came to the SDA Publishing Association, the story was quite different. James White was unanimously elected president of the association. He declined to serve, and over the next two weeks, several meetings were held to fill the offices of leadership. Finally, on Friday, March 21, White felt he could not further stave off the matter. Ellen White reports on the meeting in her diary: 2BIO 376.6

Husband seems depressed. Called another meeting at the house of prayer in the afternoon. Officers were elected, also editors. A controversy arose as to who should serve as president. The ministers seek to press my husband in, but he refuses to accept the office. I sustain him. His health has failed under the burden. He must have rest or sink under the pressure of care. Some difference in understanding the testimonies. Some think my husband cannot be free from the burdens. May God guide in wisdom.—Manuscript 5, 1873. 2BIO 377.1

The published report of this meeting, which White asked George I. Butler to chair, indicates that James White, J. N. Andrews, and Uriah Smith were elected editors of the Review and Herald. The report is silent on the matter of the presidency, but James finally gave in and agreed to continue as president of the Publishing Association (Ibid., July 8, 1873). 2BIO 377.2