Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905 (vol. 5)

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The Major Debate on Institutional Control

The first major debate was launched on Friday, April 3, just a week after the session had opened, when the report of the committee on institutions was introduced. The report, submitted the day before under the heading “General Plan for Reorganization of Institutions,” read: “All institutions to be owned directly by the people, either General Conference, Union Conference, State Conference, or organized mission field.”—Ibid., 67. 5BIO 250.9

In introducing the matter to the session, Elder C. H. Parsons pointed out that this would have binding force on all new institutions, but that it would be applied to existing ones only by “moral suasian.” None of the delegates at the session including Dr. Kellogg were so naive as to fail to see the import of the proposed resolution. The church was endeavoring to protect its properties and its interests built up from the sacrifices of its members. 5BIO 251.1

Dr. Kellogg was strong in his support of an independent course, but he began his attack on the proposal in a low key, saying: “I think I ought to say to these delegates a word or two.... I rise to put myself on record simply, as I do not know what I shall say will have any influence whatever on any action that maybe taken.”—Ibid., 74. 5BIO 251.2

Kellogg questioned the purpose of the resolution. Elder Parsons pointed out in response that the denomination should own all new institutions insofar as possible, and there was a request that existing denominational institutions also be owned by the denomination. 5BIO 251.3

Dr. Kellogg replied that he understood the real purpose—it was to coerce denominational ownership. Thus the debate was opened; extended speeches were made. By the end of that Friday-morning discussion, question on the motion was called but no action was taken. Kellogg requested the privilege of having further time to explain the position of the Battle Creek Sanitarium. All of Friday afternoon was devoted to this, and again all of Sunday afternoon. The General Conference Bulletin does not report these speeches. 5BIO 251.4

On the second Sabbath Ellen White took the morning service. Her sermon, as published in the General Conference Bulletin, is titled “A Call to Repentance.”—(Ibid., 88). She made no mention of the specifics of the Controversy, but opened her sermon by quoting the message to the church at Sardis. She remarked: 5BIO 251.5

In view of this instruction, how important it is that we do not devote our time to faultfinding, or criticizing, but that we receive the divine truth into our hearts, that they may break before God!— Ibid. 5BIO 251.6

In the midst of her sermon she admonished: 5BIO 252.1

Take your minds off human beings. They are finite, erring. We are only little children in comparison with God. From Him, as little children, we must learn our lessons. He wants us to humble our hearts before Him, in submission and contrition. He wants us to speak kind, tender, compassionate words to one another. Educate yourselves to speak such words. Be polite to God and to one another. Remember that He wants you to have the best of manners, that you may glorify Him before the world. He desires you to live in unity with one another, and to love one another. Remember that if you love one another here, you will live with the redeemed through the ceaseless ages of eternity. Oh, think of these things!—Ibid., 89.

As she discussed the situation, she introduced a rather interesting phrase: 5BIO 252.2

This is our washing and ironing time—the time when we are to cleanse our robes of character in the blood of the Lamb.— Ibid., 89. 5BIO 252.3

Concerning this Sabbath-morning meeting, she reported to friends in Australia: 5BIO 252.4

I was in doubt as to the advisability of attempting to speak, as I had contracted a severe cold. But I dared not remain at home, so I said, I will place myself in a position to speak, and then, if I am unable, I will be humble enough to refrain from speaking. I found the church crowded. To the praise of God, ... I was enabled to speak for an hour and a quarter. Some who for forty years have frequently heard me speak said they had never before heard me give so powerful a discourse. No one could doubt that the power of God rested upon me.—Letter 79, 1903. 5BIO 252.5

She called for a reconsecration, asking all to rise to their feet who would seek to meet the mind of the Holy Spirit during the meetings and pledge themselves by God's help to put away all murmuring, complaining, and evil speaking and cease to hinder one another by setting a wrong example. Nearly all the congregation arose, testifying that they would seek to advance the work of God instead of hindering it (The General Conference Bulletin, 1903, 91). She asked those who had come forward to kneel in prayer and then she offered a most earnest petition to God. 5BIO 252.6

Ellen White was asked to take the devotional service on Sunday morning. She opened her remarks with these words: 5BIO 253.1

I have been carrying a very heavy burden. For the past three nights I have slept very little. Many scenes are presented to me. I feel an intense interest in the advancement of the work of God, and I say to our leading brethren, as you consider the questions that shall come before you, you are to look beneath the surface. You are to give careful consideration to every question discussed.—Ibid., 104. 5BIO 253.2

She referred to the fires in Battle Creek and pointed out the needs of the world field. Referring to the proposition that money should be raised to meet the debts of the Sanitarium by the issuance of bonds, she declared, “Light has been given me that means are not to be thus drawn from our people.”— Ibid. 5BIO 253.3

She was not unsympathetic to the situation in Battle Creek, for she said: 5BIO 253.4

The light that God has given me is that there are proper ways that the conference shall devise to help the Sanitarium in Battle Creek. I wish that a portion of the work of this institution had been taken elsewhere. But the Sanitarium has been erected in Battle Creek, and it must be helped. God will institute ways and means by which it can be helped. But He does not wish His people to invest their money in bonds.— Ibid. 5BIO 253.5

She spoke of the great field that was to be worked, and especially the needs of the South. Then she introduced another point: 5BIO 253.6

The question has been asked, “Would it not be well to pay men of ability wages that are in accordance with their experience and ability, so as to secure the very best talent?”—Ibid., 105. 5BIO 253.7

Her answer: 5BIO 253.8

The most valuable workers that can be secured for service in the cause of God are those who understand and obey the word, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”— Ibid.

Writing of the experience later, she declared: 5BIO 254.1

I was forbidden to say the things that I thought I must say on Sunday morning. Light came into my mind, and I was given a subject to present. I was instructed that I must try to lead the minds of the people away from the difficulties and perplexities around them.—Letter 49, 1903.

As she brought her talk to a close it was very clear that she had Dr. Kellogg in mind and had decided that the time had come to confront the issues. But she did not do it. 5BIO 254.2

Do not cut any man's hands. I once read of a drowning man who was making desperate efforts to get into a boat close beside him. But the boat was full, and as he grasped the side, those in the boat cut off one of his hands. Then he grasped the boat with the other hand, and that hand was cut off. Then he grasped it with his teeth, and those inside had mercy on him and lifted him in. But how much better it would have been if they had taken him in before they had cut off his hands! 5BIO 254.3

My brethren, do not cut a man to pieces before you do anything to help him. God wants us to have hearts of pity. He wants us to have reason and judgment and the sanctification of His Spirit.—The General Conference Bulletin, 1903, 105, 106. 5BIO 254.4