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


Call to Labor in Washington, D.C.

In February, 1905, church leaders in Washington were confronting attempts to introduce Sunday legislation in the District of Columbia and to teach religion in the public schools. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Ellen White saw an opportunity to call Jones from Battle Creek to join forces with men in Washington to make strong thrusts along religious-liberty lines. These efforts would be associated with evangelistic endeavors in unentered territories. She had the hope that in working to save others, he might save himself. 5BIO 417.2

On Monday, February 13, she wrote to Elder A. T. Jones: 5BIO 417.3

My Dear Brother: The light given me is that you should be in Washington just now. Go there, and offer your help. The Lord has a work for you to do in Washington in connection with the workers there. Stand in the place of your appointment. Again and again it has been presented to me that you would be one who, in connection with your brethren, would proclaim the message in Washington. The time has come for you to do this. 5BIO 417.4

Washington and Baltimore are very close together, and in both of these places a decided interest is to be aroused. You should now be putting forth earnest efforts in Washington.—Letter 65, 1905. 5BIO 417.5

In this letter she discusses the evangelistic thrust that should be made “east and west, north and south.” “The Lord calls for action,” she wrote. 5BIO 417.6

The Sabbath question is being agitated in Washington, and while minds are stirred, there is an opportunity for our people everywhere to sow the seeds of truth. Should we neglect to take advantage of this time, we should miss a great opportunity for letting light from God's Word shine forth. The trumpet is to give a certain sound.—Ibid. 5BIO 417.7

In January she had written to Elders Prescott and Colcord, men giving the lead to religious-liberty efforts in Washington: 5BIO 418.1

Dear Brethren: One night we seemed to be in a council meeting, and One of acknowledged authority was telling us that now is our time to press to the front in Washington. A decided testimony must be borne to the people in the national capital, and this work must not rest upon a few. Those who engage in this work must exert themselves to the utmost of their ability to proclaim the truth with clearness and energy.... 5BIO 418.2

A most important work is to be done in Washington, and I inquire whether you do not need the help of those who in years past have stood prominently for religious liberty. Can it not be arranged for Elder A. T. Jones to work with you for a time in Washington, and for someone to take his place in Battle Creek? Elder Jones can help you. It may do him a world of good to have a part in this work now.—Letter 21, 1905. 5BIO 418.3

To the leading men in Washington the proposition of Jones joining them seemed strange and unworkable. Even while serving as president of the California Conference, Jones, in the crisis of the fall of 1902 and later as a member of the General Conference Committee, had sided with Dr. Kellogg in his unreasonable positions and demands, and he broke with the General Conference Committee (AGD to EGW, February 22, 1905). Daniells had made several attempts to hold Jones steady, but the latter had severed himself in heart and distance from church leaders. It was clear that he was in Dr. Kellogg's camp in opposition to steps being taken to put the denomination in the best position to fulfill its divine commission. 5BIO 418.4

Daniells responded to Ellen White on February 22, and the same day wrote to A. T. Jones. To Ellen White he reflected the response of leading men in Washington upon reading her letter to Jones: 5BIO 418.5

The brethren who have heard the letter read are united in extending to Elder Jones an invitation to come to Washington, and work in harmony with the counsel you have given.—Ibid. 5BIO 418.6

He pointed out that he did not know how “he can unite with some of us in this work without an entire change of views and feelings. But,” he continued, “the counsel is plain, and it is the duty of everyone to act in harmony with it.”—Ibid. 5BIO 419.1

The same day Elder Daniells wrote to A. T. Jones, inviting him to come to Washington in harmony with Ellen White's letter. He then stated clearly his position and in so doing revealed his attitude toward the Spirit of Prophecy: 5BIO 419.2

It is a fact, Brother Jones, that during the last two years we have differed very widely regarding some matters with which we have been dealing. This has made it difficult if not impossible for us to work together with the harmony that should characterize the ambassadors of our blessed Lord. I know not how we can ever unite without a change of views, and I do not know how this change can be made. But all things are possible with God, and also to him that believeth. 5BIO 419.3

I believe that the Lord is speaking to us through the Spirit of Prophecy, and we know that voice plainly declares, and repeats the declaration, that you should be in Washington now, joining the rest of us in the work to which we are called. I accept that, and place myself as well as I know how, where I can do my part in helping to arrive at the oneness among the brethren for which Jesus prayed. 5BIO 419.4

I know it is safe to walk in the counsel of the Spirit of Prophecy, and that it is perilous to reject that counsel. 5BIO 419.5

During the last fifteen years I have had opportunities to follow my own judgment independent of the instruction given through the Spirit of Prophecy, and at times I have done this too much. But I have found that this always lands me in difficulties. On the other hand, the most careful, faithful obedience to the light given through this channel has made me free and led me in a good way. I have never been led into a trap by the Spirit of Prophecy. For this reason, whether or not I fully understand the counsel that comes, I know that the right thing to do is to act in harmony with that instruction.—AGD to A. T. Jones, February 22, 1905. 5BIO 419.6

Elder Jones joined the forces in Washington and, working with Elder Prescott, took a prominent part in important gatherings in setting forth the denomination's religious-liberty positions. Daniells reports that “both speakers handled their subjects in a masterly fashion.”—AGD to WCW, March 21, 1905. 5BIO 419.7

But the united work was short-lived, and this attempt to save Jones collapsed. On the pretext of being needed at home in Battle Creek, he asked to be excused from working in Washington. Daniells’ suggestion that he move his family to Washington did not meet with favor. So by mid-April, A. T. Jones was back in Battle Creek, working full tilt in developing plans to start a “university” in connection with the Battle Creek Sanitarium, where young people could enroll in a diversity of fields of study and work their full way at the Sanitarium. It was later learned that Jones had confided to friends in Battle Creek that he did not intend to stay long in Washington, so apparently he had not gone and taken up duties there in good faith. 5BIO 420.1