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


Chapter 3—Face to Face With the Issues

There were good reasons why Ellen White hoped to get settled quickly on her return to the United States, and why she was so pleased to find Elmshaven ready for occupancy. In a number of visions in Australia, conditions, situations, and dangers that threatened the church were clearly revealed to her. Correspondence from America also disclosed some of the looming problems. These she must face unflinchingly and without delay. 5BIO 38.1

There was the matter of the disproportionate development in the medical missionary lines, which was placing special emphasis on a work in Chicago directed toward the outcasts, the drunks, and the harlots. The light given to Ellen White indicated that a certain amount of this type of work, carried out under proper safeguards, was essential and proper, but it would yield but a limited lasting harvest. There was grave danger of an unbalance that would divert attention from major objectives in the medical work of the church and, because of the heavy financial demands, curtail various lines of denominational work around the world. From a reliable source in Battle Creek she was informed that Dr. Kellogg had at last taken a position against Sister White because she did not sustain him in the work he had carried to such extremes. 5BIO 38.2

Then there was the situation in which Dr. Kellogg was involved. His growing interest in and promotion of a great Christian medical work that would be undenominational in nature and not linked to a small religious body was a matter of growing concern. Ever loyal to health principles, Kellogg was very critical and at times intolerant of ministers who were slow to accept and follow all these principles. At the same time he was so pressed with duties and responsibilities that he had little time for the theological interests of the church. 5BIO 38.3

Then, too, Ellen White had been given views of an outbreak of fanaticism, which when it developed came to be known as the Holy Flesh Movement. While in Australia, she was shown in vision its perils and what would transpire. 5BIO 39.1

There was the work among the blacks in the South in which her son James Edson White was leading out. In 1894 he had built the Morning Star, a missionary riverboat, which in early 1895 he had sailed down the Mississippi River, and had pioneered a work, establishing schools and churches. This work was now under the direction of the Southern Missionary Society, an organization he headed and one that was recognized by the General Conference as the agency largely responsible for the work of the church among the blacks. This was almost entirely a self-supporting work, carried on with approval of church leaders and with minimal financial assistance. 5BIO 39.2

In connection with this there had been the sad experience of the lost offering—$11,405 raised by the Sabbath schools to assist in the work in the Southern States, which in the absence of a central, overall organization, was inadvertently diverted to meet other pressing needs of the church. When the matter finally came to light, church leaders were dismayed, but seemed helpless to remedy the situation. Then, too, some unfortunate financial moves on the part of Edson White had reduced the confidence of church leaders in his qualifications in financial lines. 5BIO 39.3

Perhaps uppermost in Ellen White's mind was the General Conference session that was scheduled to be held in February. The reason she felt she must leave Australia in August was in order to be certain that she could attend this conference. There was an uneasy feeling among thoughtful church leaders; almost all of them sensed that this would be a particularly important meeting. 5BIO 39.4

Clearly, the rapidly expanding outreach of the church was outrunning its organizational structure. Church leaders could see this, but they did not know how to grapple with the problems. They had considered these matters at the 1897 General Conference session, but no remedial steps were taken. 5BIO 39.5

To Ellen White these combined burdens intensified as she set foot on American shores, especially as she quickly comprehended the lethargy that marked the work in California, the second-largest conference in the world. Added to this was her own state of health. Approaching her seventy-third birthday, she recognized that her years were running out. She had left Australia in early spring only to arrive in the Northern Hemisphere in late autumn, to be followed quickly by an early winter, putting two winters end to end. She dreaded the prospect of traveling to Michigan in winter. Yet it seemed that she must attend the coming conference in Battle Creek. Also she had had unveiled to her in vision the needs of Europe and especially London, where she said that a hundred men should be at work. 5BIO 40.1

Books were yet to be prepared and published. Her unfinished work pressed upon her. First there was Testimonies for the Church, volume 6, sometimes referred to as Testimony No. 34. Nearly twelve years had gone by since volume 5 had been published in 1889. There were reasons why another volume of the Testimonies seemed to be very necessary, and its issuance urgent. 5BIO 40.2

When volume 5 was published, there were three Seventh-day Adventist educational institutions—Battle Creek College, South Lancaster Academy, and Healdsburg College—all located within the limits of small cities, and curtailed in their opportunities for outreach in normal expansion. 5BIO 40.3

In the meantime, Ellen White had been in Australia, and in response to her counsels and encouragement the Avondale school was started on a 1,500-acre tract of land seventy-six miles north of Sydney, the nearest large city. Here was opportunity to develop a college along the lines that were called for originally if our educational work was to accomplish all that God would have it do. Now other institutions were being established, and to provide guidelines there was need of the recently written counsels that had been available in but a limited way. 5BIO 40.4

There was Battle Creek with its many problems. Institutions were saddled with heavy indebtedness, particularly the college. Already Ellen White had dedicated the newly published Christ's Object Lessons to help lift the debts on our schools. 5BIO 40.5

Not only was she deeply involved in the selection of material for Testimonies, volume 6, but work was under way for a book on education that could serve both the world and the church. This was to occupy considerable time from certain members of her staff until the book Education was published in 1903. 5BIO 40.6

Then, for years she had been concerned relative to a general book on the subject of health that would serve the world as well as the church, taking the place of the old Christian Temperance. The work on this culminated in 1905 in The Ministry of Healing. 5BIO 41.1

Long waiting for attention was work on the early Christian church, providing a Conflict of the Ages book to replace the Sketches From the Life of Paul, published in 1883. And there were her plans for a book on Old Testament history to follow Patriarchs and Prophets. Then, too, there was the matter of supplying articles almost every week for the Review and Herald, the Signs of the Times, and The Youth's Instructor. From time to time articles for the union papers had to be prepared. Many interests demanded her attention and that of her staff. 5BIO 41.2

Ellen White moved into Elmshaven as quickly as she could in early October. But this was no time to rest. As noted earlier Edson had left for California as soon as he heard that his mother was back in the States. Elder G. A. Irwin, president of the General Conference, was on hand in California to meet her and seek her counsel. The last Sunday in September, just a week after her arrival, found Edson, Willie, and Elders A. O. Tait, A. T. Jones, and G. A. Irwin gathered in counsel with Ellen White at the Rural Health Retreat, where she was staying. A major topic of discussion was Edson's work in the South. Some problems had arisen over some of the transactions between him and the publishers who were issuing his books for colporteur sale. It was these books that formed the basis for financial support of the work of the Southern Missionary Society. Also, outbursts of racial violence demanded new tactics and some new personnel. All this was reviewed carefully. 5BIO 41.3