The Signs of the Times


December 19, 1878

Hold The Fort


[James White in an appeal for the Oakland house of worship quotes an E. G. White letter. A portion of his article embodying this letter follows.]

White Trustees

Battle Creek, Michigan, and Oakland,

Battle Creek, Mich., and Oakland, Cal., are the two great fortresses of our cause on the western continent. The first is the headquarters and center of our world-wide operations. At Battle Creek is located our oldest and largest publishing house, our college, and our sanitarium. This fort has been held twenty-three years the present month. Here at Battle Creek, many a hard battle for truth and the right has been fought, and as many triumphant victories have been won. The last grand effort of our people at this important point is the erection of a house of worship which will not only convene the present congregation, but which will comfortably take in the future audience of Battle Creek. Thank God, that in His good providence we are connected with a cause whose growth makes it necessary to form and execute plans for the near future two or three times as large as the present demands. ST December 19, 1878, par. 1

Oakland, Cal., is the headquarters of all our work on the Pacific Coast. There is located the most perfect and complete publishing house on the coast. We have added to a first-class printing establishment, a complete bindery, stereotyping, electrotyping, and type foundry, where the most improved styles and qualities of the types are manufactured. This fort must be held at all hazards. When we take into the account the youth of the cause on the Pacific Coast, its growth is a marvel. But there is a heavy debt on the Oakland church, which that good people can never lift. They are the poorest and most liberal church on the continent, yet this position is the most important, excepting the Battle Creek church only. Of the financial condition of things at Oakland, our son, J. E. White, writing November 29, says: ST December 19, 1878, par. 2

“I write you about a matter that is troubling me considerably. That is our church. There is a debt of $8,000 on it at present, and there is not the remotest prospect of the Oakland church, if left to itself, ever paying the debt. The church is poor and, struggle as it may, can hardly pay interest and running expenses, which amount to $1,200 a year. There are only two or three in the church who are worth anything at all, and they pay the least. ST December 19, 1878, par. 3

“The Christians (Campbellites) want a church and ours suits them. They spoke of buying it once before, and I spoke against it. I told the brethren I thought it would be a terrible disgrace to sell, but as I could not see any way out more than they could, I withdrew my objection. ST December 19, 1878, par. 4

“I can see the situation just as plainly now as if we had reached the time. Unless outside help comes in, the Oakland church must go either by sale or by the holders of the mortgage taking it. It would be a distressing thing to have anything like that take place. I write to you, hoping you can propose some solution to the difficulty. ST December 19, 1878, par. 5

“The office, by the closest and most rigid economy can pull through. But it is absolutely unprepared for any draft to be made on it. Finances are the closest here that I have known them to be. ST December 19, 1878, par. 6

In regard to hard times, in addition to ordinary hard times they have just had the greatest crash in the stock market that California ever knew. This of course unsettles all California. ST December 19, 1878, par. 7

“Many in our church are out of employment, and the most are scarcely making expenses. In four months there is $2,000 due from the church to the bank. They might as well try to fly as to think of paying it.” ST December 19, 1878, par. 8

To the foregoing, Mrs. W. responds in the following stirring words: ST December 19, 1878, par. 9

Dear Son,

We received your letter in reference to the Oakland church. I am glad you wrote us in regard to the situation of things there. I am sure the building of the meeting-house in Oakland was none too soon. These were willing hearts among the believers who were poor. They made great sacrifices in order to raise means to invest in the Oakland church. Their zeal and self-sacrifice shall not be in vain. ST December 19, 1878, par. 10

“That meeting-house shall not be sold. The building of the house was of God. I hope our brethren and sisters will not murmur as did the children of Israel when brought up facing the Red sea, the Egyptians behind them and impassable mountains shutting them in. It was at this crisis the Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the children of Israel, that they go forward.’ As they obeyed, the Red sea parted before them and they went through it in the path God had prepared for them. ST December 19, 1878, par. 11

“We say to you in Oakland, believe and do all you can, and you will see the salvation of God. Let all murmurings and questioning doubts cease. Let your complaints be turned to prayer and faith and works. I say that house shall not be sold. I will first sell my house on the corner of Castro and Eleventh streets, and put every dollar of the avails into the church to clear it of debt. Sell our houses? yes, yes indeed, rather than the house that has been dedicated to God. ST December 19, 1878, par. 12

“Wait, work, and pray. We will exert our influence and do what we can. Every foot of room in that house will be needed yet. Oakland is a missionary field, and always will be. The truth will prevail in Oakland. It may take time, but it will take hold of hearts there. Believe, work, hope, and pray. Cling to God with all your might. ST December 19, 1878, par. 13

“Let all in the office and in the church at Oakland show a still greater spirit of self-sacrifice than they have manifested, and God will work with your efforts. Lift the burdens willingly, and we will not let the matter rest till we see you free from embarrassment. Help shall come. If we cannot sell our property, we will use our influence to interest others to do all they can. Sell that church? Never, never. I tell you many prayers were offered while it was being erected. You will come out all right. ST December 19, 1878, par. 14

“Be not faithless, but believing. There are those who have money upon the Pacific coast; let them come up to the help of the Lord and make their offerings to God. Some in California have shown that they had greater confidence in unbelievers than in those whom God has honored by connecting them with his cause. ST December 19, 1878, par. 15

“These have trusted their money to men of no principle, while the cause of God was wading heavily for the want of means. If any appeal is made to them, they respond by presenting their narrow ideas and selfish views. Too much money, they say, has been expended in buildings and in facilities for the spread of the truth. They are afraid that they shall lose their money if entrusted to the treasury of God, but the Lord has shown his displeasure at their course in suffering losses to occur. They have not saving faith; money is their god. The Lord has entrusted to them means, to use in the advancement of his cause, but their covetous spirit grasps it and will not let it go back to him to whom it belongs. ST December 19, 1878, par. 16

“Sister Rowland has made most earnest efforts to help when and where she could. May the Lord open ways before her that she may be able to dispose of her property and invest a portion of it in the cause of God. At the greatest inconvenience to herself, she mortgaged her property and raised two thousand dollars to help in the SIGNS office when it was most needed. This noble act on her part is an expression of her confidence in the work and cause of God. She will not lose her reward. If others would show similar commendable zeal and faith, the cause of truth would not be embarrassed as it now is. ST December 19, 1878, par. 17

“We hope those who have means trusted out to strangers will see that God's cause may be benefited by its use. It was placed in their hands by the Lord, to test them and prove them, to see if they will render back to the Master his own when he shall call for it. Means were given them, not to hoard or to use for themselves. Those who are murmuring and complaining at the outlay of means in the Publishing House and in the meeting-house, had better be at work to act their part, lest they shall be found wanting by acting the part of Meroz. God gave commandment, ‘Curse ye Meroz, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof, because they came not up to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord, against the mighty.’ ST December 19, 1878, par. 18

“Let not your offerings to advance the cause of God be stinted. If there is any stint and meagre arrangements and inferior works to be seen and felt anywhere, let it be in your own houses and your own dress, and not in the house of God or in the facilities which are needed to push forward the work of God.” ST December 19, 1878, par. 19

Our house of worship at Oakland, dedicated to the worship of God by a people who fear him and keep his commandments, be sold to a people who trample that law beneath their feet? Never! No! Never! ST December 19, 1878, par. 20

We need just such a house at that important post at present. In the near future a larger one will be demanded. Its location is excellent. ST December 19, 1878, par. 21

The future growth of the cause in such a city as Oakland depends very much upon a central, commodious and neat house of worship, such as now exists in that city. ST December 19, 1878, par. 22