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


Chapter 20—The Move to Washington, D.C.

Early in the 1903 General Conference session, the proposal was made that the General Conference headquarters and the publishing house be moved from Battle Creek to suitable locations on the Atlantic Coast, possibly in the vicinity of New York City. As noted earlier, Ellen White, when asked to speak to the matter, replied: 5BIO 271.1

Let the General Conference offices and the publishing work be moved from Battle Creek. I know not where the place will be, whether on the Atlantic Coast or elsewhere. But this I will say, Never lay a stone or a brick in Battle Creek to rebuild the Review office there. God has a better place for it.—The General Conference Bulletin, 1903, 85. 5BIO 271.2

Before the session closed, actions were taken to move the General Conference office to the Atlantic Coast and encourage the Review and Herald stockholders to reestablish the work of publishing in the Eastern States. 5BIO 271.3

To move the General Conference offices from their rented quarters in the West Building of the Review and Herald would be quite simple. To close up the business of the publishing house in Battle Creek and reestablish it elsewhere would involve legal and deeply emotional factors. 5BIO 271.4

The Review and Herald constituency meeting called in Battle Creek from April 21 to 29 was not at all a tranquil one. Church leaders and the majority of the constituency favored the move from Battle Creek, but a relatively few constituent members bitterly opposed it. The Spirit of Prophecy counsels were clearly the deciding factor. The final vote was overwhelmingly in favor of moving. But that vote did not resolve legal matters. The General Conference and the publishing house had been closely twined through the years, and now in the proposed move, both were involved and both must be considered at the same time. The question was whether the move was to be to one location or two. 5BIO 271.5

With the decision made to relocate the publishing house, Elder Daniells and his associates turned to the matter of just where it should be. The time was now early summer. He felt that if the move of the headquarters were to be made within a year, it should be within a few weeks. General worldwide church activities precluded other dates. 5BIO 272.1

On May 15 he addressed a letter to Ellen White in which he indicated his sense of need for divine guidance. “I do not wish to add any burdens to those you are already bearing,” he wrote, “but I feel that I must write to you for counsel regarding the location of the General Conference headquarters, also the location of the Review and Herald printing plant.”—AGD to EGW, May 15, 1903. 5BIO 272.2

He reminded her of her counsel on moving and of the action taken at the session. He pointed out that they were thinking of New York City, with offices “located outside of the city” and on a good railway line. It should be near enough to the city so that the General Conference workers could engage in missionary efforts in the city on weekends. He outlined tentative plans for searching for a site. Then he urged: 5BIO 272.3

I most sincerely request that you will write me promptly, giving all the counsel you may have to guide us. We want all the light the Lord has for us, so that we shall know that we are meeting His mind, and thus taking steps that we shall not regret. We must have divine guidance. For this we shall earnestly pray until the matter is settled.— Ibid. 5BIO 272.4

This appeal for divine help was typical of his letters during the next five months. To this appeal Ellen White replied immediately: 5BIO 272.5

Dear Brother Daniells: We have received your letter in regard to the selection of a place for the Review and Herald publishing house. 5BIO 272.6

I have no special light, except what you have already received, in reference to New York and the other large cities that have not been worked. Decided efforts should be made in Washington, D.C.... 5BIO 272.7

May the Lord help us to move understandingly and prayerfully. I am sure that He is willing that we should know, and that right early, where we should locate our publishing house. I am satisfied that our only safe course is to be ready to move just when the cloud moves.—Letter 95, 1903. 5BIO 273.1

Within a short time she indicated that caution should be exercised about settling in or near New York, and said, “I am sure that the advantages of Washington, D.C., should be closely investigated.”—Letter 106, 1903. 5BIO 273.2

Soon another letter came to the General Conference officers, from Elder J. S. Washburn, pastor in Washington, D.C., about locating there. Ellen White in one of her letters indicated that it would be advantageous for the Review and Herald to bear the imprint of Washington, D.C. But thus far she still had no definite light (Letter 115, 1903). 5BIO 273.3