Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 15 (1900)

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Lt 155, 1900

General Conference Committee

St. Helena, California

December 4, 1900

Portions of this letter are published in Ev 145; 5Bio 45.

To the General Conference Committee

Dear Brethren:

As the General Conference [session] draws near, my mind is burdened with perplexity regarding the time and the place of this important assembly. There are many objectionable features to the plan of holding the General Conference in Battle Creek in the months of February and March. I have had a great dread of the many difficulties to be met with in the holding of the conference at the time and place first suggested, and I plead with Elder Irwin to advocate the holding of the meeting in a more favorable place. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 1

It is not conducive to physical or spiritual health for our conferences to be held where large numbers of people must be gathered into rooms having but little fresh air and heated by stoves, steam coils, or furnaces. It is not wise to bring together in midwinter a large number of people to a place which, in order to be comfortable, must be artificially heated. The heated atmosphere, with limited ventilation, has a tendency to lessen vitality. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 2

It has been presented to me that in consequence of attending large gatherings held in a cold climate, many people after sitting in over-heated rooms, have gone forth into the cold air to take severe colds, and some by sleeping in cold beds have contracted colds from which they have never recovered. The holding of our meetings in highly heated rooms is a great evil. In cool climates, it would be better to wear more clothing and have less heated air. When accustomed to this, the people would not be so unfavorably affected by an abundance of fresh air, which is essential to health. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 3

As regards myself, you know that I am seriously affected by the impure air which gathers in assemblies where there is not good ventilation. Several times I have suffered long and severe sickness from the effects of poisoning by the impure air in churches and meeting halls. And whenever I am forced to speak in a heated room, suffering and weakness is the penalty. For nine years I have lived in a mild climate, where are windows are kept open night and day, and where during most of the winter I only had a fire in my room mornings and evenings. For me to plan to travel to Battle Creek in the midst of the winter, in the close and heated cars, has seemed to me to be a dangerous undertaking. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 4

Another danger that attends our general assemblies is the tendency to overeating, and the lack of exercise. Many suffer from congestion of the brain. The brain is often disturbed because there is something the matter with the stomach. And those who have gathered from long distances to study God’s providences and to decide important questions are not always in condition of mind to render righteous judgment. Temperance in eating and abundance of exercise are essential for the delegates attending our conferences, that they may have clear, vigorous minds for the consideration of the solemn and important subjects brought forward for consideration. But how difficult it will be to arrange for outdoor exercise that will give the needed vigor if the meeting is held in the month of February, in the cold climate of Michigan. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 5

From the light given me, we should plan to hold our conferences where we can breathe the pure air of heaven, in the sight of the beauties of nature. When those who attend our conferences eat temperately, exercise regularly, and breathe freely God’s pure air, they will find that their souls will be uplifted, their deliberations will be surcharged with the Holy Spirit, and their decisions will be one hundredfold more valuable than decisions made with brains congested as the result of continuous work with too much food, too little exercise, and too little of God’s pure air. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 6

Another reason why I have dreaded to have the General Conference held in Battle Creek, was the large number of voices there, saying, This is the only right way; walk ye in my footsteps. The holding of the conference in the midst of a large community of Sabbathkeepers, many of whom have served self and neglected duty until their spiritual senses are dulled, is of itself a great danger to the meeting. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 7

Many who have been blind to the necessities of the Lord’s work in distant lands, and who have been laboring to divert the work into wrong channels, have forgotten that there is a ladder of shining brightness reaching from heaven to earth, and that angels are always ascending and descending this ladder, while God is over all. Many who should have been earnestly seeking to obtain heavenly wisdom have felt themselves to be efficient. Some have lorded it over God’s heritage, and have entered councils and committee meetings clothed with their own righteousness. They would not be instructed, and like Jehu they drove furiously. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 8

Those who assemble to transact the sacred work of the General Conference should ever realize that the Lord’s work must be done with a deep sense of what it involves. They must prepare themselves for the solemn service. They must cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord. They must guard themselves from weakening influences. They must be in a condition where the Holy Spirit can direct their minds and impress their hearts. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 9

The work of the Lord must not be done in a haphazard manner. Unsanctified words and exhibitions of temper should never be heard or seen in our conference gatherings. These should ever be regarded as sacred. But sometimes the assemblies of God’s people have been treated with a commonness which has been an offense to God and has robbed the sacred work of its holiness and purify. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 10

With these things before my mind, I have dreaded to attend the next General Conference in Battle Creek; and aside from the question of my attendance, I have dreaded to have the meeting convene there. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 11

I have thought that the climate of Oakland would be much more favorable to the conference. I have thought that the influence that would surround the delegates there would not be so strong to deaden spirituality and to confuse the mind. But I have not wished that my wishes or my judgment should control in this matter, contrary to the interests and best judgment of our brethren. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 12

Since it has been proposed that the conference be held in Oakland, I have received word from several of our brethren in Europe that the additional time and expense required to go to Oakland will make it impossible for them to attend. This is a serious matter. It is also estimated that the travelling expenses of delegates will be increased over five thousand dollars. This is also a serious matter. And it is said that many of our brethren dread to come to the Pacific Coast in February on account of the colds so often contracted because of the change of climate. It is a matter of primary importance that the health of our brethren should be carefully guarded. In the light of all these things, I have thought that you might need to reconsider the location and time of the General Conference. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 13

During the last few weeks I have been passing through an experience that leads me to believe that it will be my duty to go East in the spring, that I may bear my testimony in Battle Creek and some other places. It is impressed upon my mind that if the conference is held in another place, much of the work that I should do at the meeting would have to be repeated at Battle Creek. And I have some assurance that the Lord will sustain me in attending some general meetings in the Eastern States. This is a work which until very recently I have thought I should not be called to do. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 14

Some matters are clearly presented to me which I do not fully understand, but I know that I have a testimony to bear to our people East of the Rocky Mountains. Over and over again, these words are in my mind, “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” [Luke 24:47.] From this I understand that I have a work to do, beginning at Battle Creek. And if my work is to commence at Battle Creek, it may be best that the conference be held in that place. This I am convinced is the meaning of the light given me. And with this intimation of duty, I will lay aside all fears regarding myself, and prepare for the work. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 15

As regards the time of the conference, you will see from what I have written that it is a matter of great importance that it be held later in the season. This will no doubt be a surprise and an inconvenience to many, and being held later, it will interfere with many local plans. But what is of so much importance to our cause as the proper holding of our General Conference? 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 16

For the meetings in future years we may make very different arrangements, but for this year we should arrange to have the meeting as much as four weeks later than the time appointed. A postponement of six weeks would bring us to a better time of the year, and would be preferable, if it does not interfere too much with the work of the field laborers. While some will be inconvenienced by the delay, some will be glad of the time for better preparation. I shall use the time diligently in the preparation of my books, which should be prepared for the printer before I leave for the conference. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 17

May the God of all grace guide you and give you wisdom, is my prayer. 15LtMs, Lt 155, 1900, par. 18