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


Back in Battle Creek

After attending four camp meetings in the Midwest, Ellen White went on to Battle Creek, arriving on July 3. She took the Sabbath morning service, July 4, and her report of the progress of the cause in California cheered the audience. The next issue of the Review promised that she would be attending the eastern camp meetings, beginning in August. 2BIO 421.3

On Tuesday night she attended a temperance meeting in the Methodist church. When called upon to speak, she made a brief statement of the experience in Oakland and the manner in which the evangelistic tents in Oakland were employed in holding mass temperance meetings. Writing to James of the experience, she told of how twice there was great cheering (Letter 68, 1874). She learned that in Battle Creek the time for the temperance meetings had been changed from Friday evenings to Thursday to accommodate the Adventists, but that there was little response from the church members. Of this she wrote: 2BIO 421.4

I think our people are in danger of being too narrow and not broad and generous and courteous as they must be if they would do good. I intend to speak on temperance soon. Some of the people in the city are quite urgent that I should.—Letter 68, 1874. 2BIO 421.5

The next Tuesday, July 14, responding to an invitation of the temperance forces, she spoke in the park, for it was thought no church in the city would hold the crowd. Of this meeting, she reported on July 15 in a letter to her husband: 2BIO 422.1

Our last night's effort was a success. Thank the Lord, to His name alone shall be the glory. A nice stand was fitted up, an organ placed on it, and the citizens’ choir was from the city. They conducted this branch of the work; good singing. Mr. Hollowell opened the meeting by prayer. He made an excellent prayer. He prayed in a most fervent manner for the servant of the Lord who was to address them. I could say “Amen” to every word. 2BIO 422.2

There was singing again. Mr. Peavey, chairman of the meeting, then arose and made some very appropriate remarks; stated that he was pleased to see the interest manifested in our part of the town and for the general turnout of the citizens of Battle Creek. He then spoke in regard to Mrs. White, that the appointment was given out without her knowledge or obtaining her consent.... 2BIO 422.3

I then arose and thanked the chairman for his courteous remarks in regard to our people and for his kind and generous apology for me. I told them I would do the best I could under the circumstances. I had been so hoarse I could not well speak and there had been a dryness in my throat and disposition to cough, but it was all gone in three minutes. 2BIO 422.4

They say my voice was clear and rang out all over the park clear as a bell. Hattie Golden told her mother she heard me distinctly part of the time away up to their house. The wind took the words to her. There were from five hundred to a thousand out. I had to speak slowly but distinctly, and with some earnestness. Peavey was as pleased as he possibly could be. He told Brother Gaskill it was a complete success, more than met his most sanguine expectations.—Letter 43, 1874. 2BIO 422.5

She mentioned that during her address she turned to Willie, who had accompanied her on the stand, and asked what time it was. “Nearly ten o'clock,” he said. Two or three around him commented: 2BIO 422.6

“What did you say that for? I wanted to hear her continue her remarks.” She added:

I think that we shall have a good attendance of citizens from Battle Creek at the camp meeting. I hope you will be here. You could speak with great clearness and acceptance in regard to temperance.—Ibid. 2BIO 423.1

As Ellen White brought this letter to her husband to a close she wrote, “I am glad you are feeling better. I so desire that you may have a clear and cheerful mind to do the will of God. A great work is before us that others cannot do. Our experience is of value to this cause.”—Ibid. There was a hint in these words that James and Ellen White had been passing through some tense times. Other letters written in early July make more direct reference to such problems, not in their marriage but in their understanding of their individual responsibilities: James White, called of God to be an apostle, a church leader; and Ellen White, called of God to bear His message to the church—a prophet. 2BIO 423.2

From almost the beginning of her ministry there had been a very close relationship between the two, and at the same time a clear understanding that each had a distinctive mission. In the case of Ellen White's work, no influence except that of God could be brought to bear on it. Indeed, to be the husband of God's prophet was no easy or ordinary responsibility. This was especially so when the husband was a forceful leader, devising, planning, and executing the functions imposed on him. As it was, neither took a subservient place. 2BIO 423.3