Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 18 (1903)


Ms 123, 1903

The Battle Creek College Debt


October 8, 1903 [typed]

This manuscript is published in entirety in SpM 325-327.

Brethren Magan and Sutherland and their associates have wrestled with many difficulties in connection with the educational work at Battle Creek and Berrien Springs. But few have understood how heavy have been the financial burdens and how great have been the perplexities brought to these brethren by the removal of the school from Battle Creek to Berrien Springs. Much was involved in the transfer and in the constant effort made to build up an educational institution, the work of which would be in accordance with the exalted principles underlying Christian education. 18LtMs, Ms 123, 1903, par. 1

In harmony with the instruction given by the Lord, our brethren have devoted themselves to the task of beginning anew and of introducing into their model school only those books and methods of teaching that they thought would help the students to form symmetrical characters and to become useful workers in the cause. They desired that their school should be approved of by God for the excellence of its work and for the exalted standard that it maintained. Their effort was at first largely experimental—an attempt to answer the question, “How shall our training schools for Christian workers be established and carried on?” 18LtMs, Ms 123, 1903, par. 2

In this pioneer effort our brethren advanced, not inch by inch, but in sweeping strides, in the right direction. Some tried to discourage them; others criticized and condemned; but God blessed their efforts. 18LtMs, Ms 123, 1903, par. 3

Not the least discouraging feature of this pioneer work was the question of finances. A heavy debt rested on the old Battle Creek College property. Those in charge of the institution at the time the school work was removed to Berrien Springs were not responsible for incurring this debt. The buildings and grounds were worth considerably more than the debts; and if the property could have been sold for its full value, there would have remained, after the payment of all debts, a good sum to be used in providing the necessary facilities at Berrien Springs. 18LtMs, Ms 123, 1903, par. 4

Those who had conducted the affairs of the College in past years, and who were to some extent responsible for the debts on the institution, should at this time have come forward and nobly said: “We are responsible for these debts; and we will take upon ourselves a large part of the burden of raising means with which to pay them. We will not leave this burden resting altogether upon those who are establishing the school in a place where the surroundings are more favorable for training our young people.” By an effort to share the burden of these heavy obligations, those who had been largely responsible in creating them would have been acting in harmony with the first four as well as the last six commandments. 18LtMs, Ms 123, 1903, par. 5

When the book Christ’s Object Lessons was given for the relief of the schools, all who were connected with Battle Creek College worked very hard to carry out the Lord’s plan for reducing the indebtedness on our educational institutions. They hoped that they might be able so to lessen the debt on their own school, that they could feel free to leave Battle Creek and to reopen the College in some place where they could follow out the Lord’s instruction in regard to Christian education. 18LtMs, Ms 123, 1903, par. 6

About the time of the General Conference in 1901, the way opened for the sale of the Battle Creek College property; and the understanding was that the buildings and grounds would be used for the American Medical Missionary College. Our brethren left Battle Creek and established Emmanuel Missionary College at Berrien Springs. They secured a beautiful tract of land in the country and began small. There they have labored untiringly for the upbuilding of an educational institution that would be an honor to God and His cause. They have striven to get things in order so that they could receive and properly care for the students who came. Faithfully they have endeavored to train the youth to be laborers together with God and to depend upon Him for wisdom and guidance. Through their efforts, many young men and young women have been imbued with a love for souls and have been prepared to give to the world the message of warning that is to be proclaimed before Christ’s second advent. 18LtMs, Ms 123, 1903, par. 7

From the light given me by the Lord, I know that the teachers connected with the Berrien Springs school walked out by faith, depending wholly on God’s promises. They have made mistakes, it is true; but they have not allowed these mistakes to stop their work; instead, they have turned their mistakes into victories, by learning wisdom from their errors, and by avoiding them thereafter. The Lord helped them, gave them courage, and increased their faith. 18LtMs, Ms 123, 1903, par. 8

All this was not done without severe trials. The heavy debt on the Battle Creek College property has been a burden to Brethren Magan and Sutherland, and they have labored very hard to reduce this. The strength of both men has been severely taxed. At one time Brother Magan, worn by the burdens he was carrying, suffered a severe attack of typhoid fever, and for a time his life was despaired of. He had given himself no periods of rest. This was not after the Lord’s order; the life and health of His servants is precious in His sight. 18LtMs, Ms 123, 1903, par. 9

While attending the General Conference at Oakland, the Lord instructed me that Brethren Sutherland and Magan should be relieved from some of the financial burdens they were carrying. They have used much of their time and strength in the effort to decrease and, if possible, wipe out the heavy indebtedness on the Battle Creek College—a debt for the creating of which others were responsible. Those who were more directly responsible should labor to relieve their brethren at Berrien Springs of this burden. They should place themselves in the position of these pioneers who were under constant pressure to pay obligations they had not incurred—pioneers who had by faith left Battle Creek and who now are building up a school that God can approve. Too long the burden has rested on our brethren at Berrien Springs. They have kept their gracious intentions in view, devoting themselves to the task of clearing the old College property from debt. How pleasing to God it would be for all our people to share in lifting the obligations of the old Battle Creek College! 18LtMs, Ms 123, 1903, par. 10

In the councils of our brethren it was arranged that the Battle Creek College debt be paid from the proceeds of the Missionary Acre Fund. It was thought that our people throughout America who had land could set apart a small portion of it for the Lord and send the proceeds to the general treasury to be applied in the payment of the College debts and the clearing of the property for the use of the American Medical Missionary College. It was suggested that those who had no land to use might give of their earnings. Those who kept chickens could contribute from the profits received from this source. Our brethren felt sure that if our people everywhere would give liberally of the fruit of their toil, a large sum could be raised and the debt be canceled. 18LtMs, Ms 123, 1903, par. 11

Recently some have questioned the propriety of sending in means for the Missionary Acre Fund, and consequently scarcely anything is now being received for the payment of the College debt. This is not as it should be. Let all our brethren and sisters understand that the purchase of the Battle Creek College property, for the use of the Medical Missionary College, was approved of God, and that the Missionary Acre Fund plan of raising means for this purpose is a good enterprise. Those who will help in this way will be blessed. 18LtMs, Ms 123, 1903, par. 12

Some have thought that the sale of Object Lessons should meet the demands; but it will not, in the purchase of this property for the Medical College. Brethren Magan and Sutherland have worked with earnestness to carry out the Lord’s plan to cancel the debts on our schools. At the Oakland Conference I tried to point out the fact that these brethren worked untiringly, and that the past must not be repeated. 18LtMs, Ms 123, 1903, par. 13

Brother Magan nearly lost his life in the struggle to free the schools from debt. Their talents are needed in the Lord’s work. They should be provided with proper facilities at Berrien Springs. On account of the scarcity of funds, they have been obliged to move very slowly. 18LtMs, Ms 123, 1903, par. 14