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  • CHAPTER 8

    ELLEN WHITE AND THE BRITISH MISSION

    1885

    The official request for the services of White in Europe was made by the Second European Council of Seventh-day Adventist Missions in 1884 and was for her "to visit the different fields in Europe." Initially White did not want to accede to the request and when she did she believed her stay would be about nine months, possibly until May l886. However, requests and circumstances dictated she remain for two years from her arrival in Liverpool, England, on 18 August l885 until her departure from the same port on 3 August 1887. It was only at the conclusion of the Third European Council in Basel, Switzerland, in 1885, that a request was officially made that she stay longer in Europe and visit with the personnel and members of all three developing young Missions, namely Central Europe, Great Britain, and Scandinavia. It would later be said that "the advent movement in Europe would never have been the same if it had not been for her visit."1

    White was to visit England three times. She did not at any time visit Ireland, Scotland, or Wales. The first visit was while on the passenger shipping route to Continental Europe when she spent sixteen days in England, from 18 August to 2 September 1885, completing a tour of the established work of the British Mission. This visit was to be her first experience in a foreign country. Her second visit was for eight days and coincided with the Fourth European Council held in Grimsby from 27 September to 4 October l886. Her third, and last visit, was en route from the European continent to America at the time of her return home. At this visit she stayed 36 days, 29 June to 3 August 1887. A total of three months was therefore spent on British soil, in England. Although she had intended, and tentatively planned, to spend more time conducting public meetings in England during 1886 and 1887 these plans never materialized. She did, however, spend additional time with British Mission workers at the times of the Third, Fourth, and Fifth European Councils of Seventh-day Adventist Missions of 1885-1887 in Switzerland, England, and Norway. At these meetings she had opportunity to listen to and discuss reports from the British Mission, and to visit and counsel generally and personally. Perhaps her one-on-one conversations resulting from her general observations were the most profitable aspect of her visit.

    During her stay in Europe it is evident that White sought to call ministers and people to a deeper, spiritual, conservative, Christian, Seventh-day Adventist lifestyle, and encouraged a greater commitment to the mission of the Church.2

    The Trauma of the Invitation

    The request for the services of White in Europe came through the Second European Council of Seventh-day Adventist Missions held in Basel, Switzerland, 28 May - 1 June 1884. Butler, General Conference president at the time, was visiting Europe and served as chairman of that Council.

    Earlier, the General Conference meetings of 1883 had suggested that W. C. White, son of White and the Church's expert in publishing needs, visit Europe in connection with the planned new printing facilities for Switzerland.3 In May 1884 Whitney wrote W. C. White indicating again the need for a man of experience to give advice both in the planning and building of the new four-story, stone publishing house. Although W. C. White was only 30 years old at the time Whitney hoped that he could come soon "and render the valuable assistance which you are capable of giving in the work here."4 When eventually he did come W. C. White would also render invaluable advice in regard to the planning of the publishing and printing work in the British Mission.5

    In the end the 1884 European Council took official action on W. C. White's visit. The request also included a visit from White herself, believing that she could accomplish more for the Europeans in person than by her writings, which were not then available in European languages:

    Whereas, Experience has taught us that the personal labors of our dear Sr. White are invaluable to the cause in accomplishing what her writings alone cannot accomplish; and-
    Whereas, Our European brethren feel the greater need of these for having never been favored with them, and have a strong desire to see and hear Sr. White; therefore --
    6. Resolved, That we extend to Sr. White a hearty and urgent invitation to visit the different fields in Europe as soon as practicable.6

    A further resolution gave opportunity for White to accompany her son to Europe:

    Whereas, the publishing work in Europe has in its growth reached a point where it calls for the labors of those of special experience in the work of printing; therefore --
    7. Resolved, that it is the sense of this meeting that Bro. W. C. White should soon come to Europe to render that assistance in the publishing work that his experience qualifies him to bestow.7

    The European Missionary Council request was passed to the General Conference officers well in advance of the October and November 1884 General Conference meetings in America. In the meanwhile Whitney wrote to W. C. White now expressing his need for help in "finishing and furnishing" the new printing facilities.8

    On the first day of the General Conference the newly organized Swiss Conference was received into the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. At the time a verbal request was made for W. C. White "to take charge of the finishing and furnishing" of the publishing house, and for White, "that the cause here may share the benefits of her labors and of the precious light and instruction which the Lord so graciously grants us through his servant."9

    Both Butler and Haskell spoke of "the desirability of a visit to Europe in the near future" by the Whites and recommended approval of the request. Apparently both Whites indicated that "they stood ready to go whenever God should indicate by unmistakable providences that such was their duty."10 The simple recorded recommendation was: "That W. C. White go to Europe when the proper time arrives, and assist in the publishing work."11 No official action seems to have been taken in respect to White's visit. She would have to make a decision personally, based on the request of the European Council.

    Although the request had come through the European Council it seems to have been presented by the Central European Mission, with the intent that the Whites visit Switzerland and the countries of the Swiss Conference only. No mention was made of Britain or of Scandinavia, even though representatives of these two missions were present at the European Council and added their votes to the request.

    Encouraging White to Come

    By now one expressed need for White's visit has emerged. Mrs Witney indicates that a French preacher in Illinois had sent pamphlets and tracts against the seventh-day Sabbath and "the visions" of White, to be translated into French by various preachers throughout France. She believed "it will be in the order of the Lord for Sister White to come here."12 Her husband agreed, "it will certainly be in the order of providence for Sister White to come herself at this time, that our brethren may have opportunity for personal acquaintance with her work to judge how false and mean those attacks upon her character are."13 Obviously there was a concern for the young church members over this matter.

    Although White's visit to Central Europe came twenty years after the beginning of the Church's work on that continent she had already displayed a special interest in the European Missions throughout those years. Many of her letters bear witness to her interest in the success of the Missions in Europe. The Whites had supported Andrews by Christian counsel, encouragement, and often by personal financial contributions to his cause. In 1876 they had given $l00 to the purchase of printing facilities and as an encouragement to others to give also.14 On another occasion White herself had donated "a nice silk dress" given her as a gift and the $50 realised was sent to Andrews.15 Although she was to visit an unknown continent, she was familiar with the work and no stranger to the workers of the Mission there and of the many problems they had to confront.

    It took White more than eight months to decide that "unmistakable providences" were pointing her toward Europe. In the meanwhile W. C. White also waited. As White was later to write, her trip to Europe had been "long contemplated" and she had looked forward to it "with anything but pleasure." A study of her daily schedules shows that she was worn out and "suffered great mental weariness and physical debility" from her writing, preaching, and the annual round of campmeeting appointments in America during 1884.16 She had three years earlier lost her husband in death and she was now 57 years old. Although she had no enthusiasm for a trip to Europe she felt she could make an appeal for finances for the Swiss publishing house over the Christmas of 1884, suggesting that members forgo giving presents to one another and instead give gifts for this specific cause placing them first on their Christmas trees.17 Later White was to tell Review readers that she "prayed for months" that God would "make my path so plain that I would know that I was making no mistake." She wanted to know that she was "in the path of duty18´┐Żand that the trip would be "in accordance with the will of God." She felt, said her son, "that she ought not to venture on so important and expensive a journey" without that knowledge.19

    In February l885 White informed her son W. C. White that she was not planning to make the trip across the American plains and on to Europe, but would be "very glad to have Mrs Mary White and little Miss White as our guests" while he responded to the request of the European field. She indicated that she had prayed to God "to show me my duty in regard to going to Europe but get no positive light" and believed "I cannot consent to go without it."20

    There were a number of reasons why White had her doubts. First, she saw no real reason why she should go and spend time in Europe while believing that her efforts there would not be of enough value to warrent paying for the trip.21 Second, she dreaded the "proposed journey across the plains" from California to the East, for the twenty-fourth time, and in the heat of summer.22 Thirdly, as reported by her son, "she dreads the voyage on the water."23 Fourth, her health had not improved. Even when she decided to make the journey east she reported that she was still "in a feeble condition of health" and had passed many "a sleepless night."24 Fifth, to her the trip "seemed almost presumptuous."25 Perhaps a sixth reason was given later to the workers in Europe when she reported, "I was almost afraid to come to this country, because I heard so many say that the different nationalities were peculiar, and had to be reached in a certain way."26 All were natural concerns of any human being, especially for one who in the 1880s was considered an old person, and a woman at that. But W. C. White encouraged his mother. She later wrote:

    He bade me look to the past, when, under the most forbidding circumstances, I had moved out in faith according to the best light I had, and the Lord had strengthened and supported. I did so, and decided to act on the judgment of the General Conference, and start on the journey, trusting in God.27

    She began to prepare for the trip on the basis of her confidence in "the judgment of the brethren" and perhaps because of her established belief that the Church was "invested" with "special authority and power which no one can be justified in disregarding and despising."28

    On 6 June W. C. White wrote Whitney that his mother had now consented to travel east, still hoping for some sign as she did so. He explained that if she went to Europe "she cannot be depended upon for such hard labor and to bear such care as she has done in the past." He was urging her to go because "I think that the trip can be made to some degree a rest to her."29 Whitney agreed,30´┐Żand Mrs Whitney believed that the party would enjoy the climate and surroundings at the Mission, especially the view of the Jura Mountains.31

    White wrote later that her faith was even now put to the test:

    As the appointed time for us to go drew near, my faith was severely tested. I so much desired someone of experience upon whom I could rely for counsel and encouragement. My courage was gone, and I longed for human help, one who had a firm hold from above, and whose faith would stimulate mine. By day and by night my prayers ascended to heaven that I might know the will of God and have perfect submission to it. Still my way was not made clear; I had no special evidence that I was in the path of duty or that my prayers had been heard.32

    On Monday 6 July 1885 White travelled from her home in Healdsburg, California, to Oakland, where the publishing house was situated, and where on Sabbath ll July 1885, while speaking, she decided "that I could cross the plains once more."33

    Her diary entries for this week away from home show a complete change in her thinking as she moved from doubt and a semblance of depression to certainty and contentment. She boarded the train en route for Michigan 13 July recording, "when I had taken my seat in the cars, moving not by sight but by faith, then came the peace which I have experienced so often in the fulfillment of my duty" and "the assurance came that I was moving in accord with the will of God."34 As she traveled toward Boston Harbor readers of the Review were informed of her intentions.35

    On the Sabbath 8 August 1885 White set sail from Boston for Europe, by way of Liverpool, England, aboard the S.S.Cephalonia, "said to be one of the most comfortable steamers on the Atlantic."36 The party had boarded on the Friday before sunset37´┐Żhoping to be settled before the Sabbath and "we accomplished this nearly."38

    A party of relatives, friends, and other mission workers sailed with White. Earlier she had told her son that she would not consent to go to Europe without his wife Mary going also.39 Consequently the party consisted of White, W. C. White, Mary Kelsey White, and their first child Ella, just three years old. Sara McEnterfer went as assistant to White. Also with them were Anna Rasmussen and Bertha Stein on their way to work in Norway, and the two sons of Bourdeau, Arthur and Jesse, who were to join their father.40

    The party was accomodated in "very pleasant, roomy state-rooms well furnished and well located" despite the low priced tickets.41 White found her cabin, which she shared with McEnterfer, "large and commodious." She confided in her diary: "The Lord seems very near and I feel peaceful and restful." But she was obviously still afraid: "I am of good courage and should accident or harm or death come to me here I have made my peace with God."42

    During the crossing, despite the bad weather at times, she suffered with less sea-sickness than expected43´┐Żand actually wrote "over 100 pages of important matter."44 On arrival at Liverpool her health was better than when she began, and this was for her "abundant evidence that I was in the path of duty." The crossing had taken nearly eleven days because of "much fog" and in the last part of the journey caused the ship to run slow. She arrived in Liverpool 18 August 188545´┐Żbut she had not yet arrived at her final destination. She must spend sixteen days in England before taking the twenty-four hour train and boat ride from London to Basel, Switzerland.46 How long it would be her "duty" to stay she did not know, "but just as long as it seems to be duty to stay I will do this cheerfully."47 She was just in time to attend the Swiss Conference meetings and the Third European Council.

    First Visit To England

    When White and her party first set foot on English soil they were met by Drew, Wilcox, and 0'Niel and were taken to the "comfortable" home of Drew. Here they united in a "season of thanksgiving to God for his preserving care during the journey." The very next morning, Wednesday 19 August, the party took the train to Grimsby accompanied by both Wilcox and Drew.48

    After arrival at Grimsby, "the headquarters of our publishing work in England," they found old friends in "Bro. Alfred and Sis. Inez Mason" of Woodland, California, Lane and wife, and Thayer. With these "dear American friends" to welcome her White felt at home and planned to spend a few days at the Mission house and office. These facilities she found "convenient, well lighted, and pleasantly located."49 Wilcox announced her arrival in Present Truth, introducing her as "that eminant servant of God," the one with whom his readers were acquainted "through her writings."50

    White had now travelled over seven thousand miles and "my health is better now than when I started." She was able to look back on her trip "with surprise and a feeling of gratitude for the strength I have received."51 If earlier she had had doubts concerning her coming to Europe her attitude had changed and there was no longer a question as to whether she was in the path of duty.

    Obviously a schedule of activities had been planned for White during her two week stay with the Mission, and she would visit "among the churches and organized companies of Sabbath-keepers in England."52 Lane had "returned home" to Grimsby from his Riseley evangelistic tent series in order "to aid in and enjoy the meetings there and at Ulceby."53

    Great Grimsby and Ulceby

    Thursday, the day following their arrival, they took a look at Grimsby and went to the beach, but finding it cold and windy they were glad to get back to the house. W. C. White's initial reaction to Grimsby, other than that it was a place of 30,000 inhabitants and "the greatest fishing port in England," was to see it as "a strange place from which to issue our paper." At the same time he was glad that "over 9000 copies" of Present Truth were being sent out from the office every month.54 White herself saw it as "a very large place" but not able to call itself a city "because it had no grand cathedral."55

    Friday White worked writing ten pages of the account of her journey thus far.56 In the evening she was invited to speak in Temperance Hall, Grimsby, on the subject of "Christian Temperance." The meeting place was secured free of charge and large bills were printed and distributed. Due to prior engagements the "majority" of the members of the temperance society were prevented from attending. The evening was "rainy in the extreme" but some 200 persons turned out,57´┐Ża "small audience" in the view of W. C. White.58

    Speaking on "Temperance in the Home" White presented the thought that "it is necessary to commence the work of instruction in self-denial and temperance in chi1dhood." She tried to impress upon parents their "accountability to God" and "the importance of their laying the foundation of firm principles in their children" and in this way "building a barrier around them against future temptations." This idea, she thought, "seemed new to the people," but they gave her "respectful attention" and applauded at the end.59 Lane subsequently promoted her "as a speaker, few excel her, and she is one of the ablist lady speakers to be found in the United States."60

    On Sabbath 22 August White met with "the little company" of Sabbath-keepers in the morning worship at Grimsby. The room was full and some spilled out into the hallway. Thirty-five were present including ten from Hull and Ulceby, John from Wales, and Sheppard from Southampton.61

    Her own personal feelings at the time are the only record we have of the event:

    I have ever felt great solemnity in addressing large audiences, and have tried to place myself wholly under the guidance of the Saviour. But I felt even more solemn, if possible, in standing before this small company, who, in the face of obstacles, of reproach and losses, had stepped aside from the multitude who were making void the law of God, and had turned their feet into the way of his commandments.62

    She spoke again for thirty minutes in the afternoon following a Sabbath School. After her testimony others followed and while listening to them she realized "how similar is the experience of the followers of Christ in England and America."63

    The members of the church met with her again on Sunday morning 23 August when she spoke on Rev. 3:15, "I know thy works." In the evening she addressed a public meeting at the Town Hall, "the largest audience room in the place" and the "finest." There was standing room only for this "densely crowded audience" estimated to be "fully twelve hundred." They 1istened to her speak on the love of God as displayed in nature and in the giving of Jesus, under the title "Seek First the Kingdom of God." She sought "to present the precious things of God in such a way as to draw their minds from earth to heaven."64 The fifty voice Grimsby United Temperance Prize Choir65´┐Żvolunteered its services and "did justice to the English love of music" by singing seven times. Again White was impressed by her audience of "intelligent, noble looking" people. After paying for lighting expenses the surplus of the two pounds eight shillings collection was donated to the Grimsby Community Hospital.66

    The next day, Monday 24 August, the party visited Ulceby and the "little company of Sabbath-keepers" raised up by John. White's evening message to these believers was to search the Scriptures "to ascertain what is truth." She further indicated that "the only safe course is to follow the light God permits to shine, lest by neglect it becomes darkness." Her understanding of their situation as Sabbath-keepers was observed in her recognition of the fact that "the acceptance of truth ever involves a cross." One lady made her decision to join the church as a result of the discourse. ´┐ŻTuesday 25 August they caught the 9 A.M. train back to Grimsby.67

    Riseley Tent Meeting

    Leaving Grimsby on Wednesday 26 August White, Lane, and others departed to visit Riseley where Lane and Durland had been holding tent meetings for four weeks. She visited the evangelistic site, where that evening she spoke in the tent. Every one of the 300 seats was taken and many were forced to stand. It was estimated she spoke to "fully three hundred and fifty." Here, as in other places, she was impressed with the people, who "listened as if spellbound." Her heart was "especially drawn out for this people" who "seemed to drink every word." Lane reported her as speaking with "most excellent freedom, and the discourse made a deep impression, and has resulted in much good." Many requested that she be encouraged to return and speak several times. She would have liked to have spent longer with the meetings but the next day, Thursday 27 August, "took car for London."68

    London

    Arriving in London in the rain, White was in time to take the noon meal with Henry Kellogg, former printing plant manager in Battle Creek, and her son who had gone on before her to carry out publishing house business in connection with the Swiss and Norwegian publishing faci1ities. The two men spent about a week in London as earlier planned, visiting leading book houses to learn something of the book business management in England.69 Perhaps here in London plans began to formulate, at least in the mind of W. C. White, for the improvement of the publishing and printing work of the British Mission that began to take shape in 1886 and 1887.

    In London White spent some time with Jones, minister of the Seventh Day Baptist Church and publisher of the Sabbath Memorial, who accompanied the party to the British museum, explaining things of interest. White would have been pleased to have spent more time than the two hours she did among "these interesting relics" but she had appointments at Southampton.70

    Southampton

    More than six years earlier Ings had promised White a place in his home in Southampton, "if it can be in the providence of the Lord" that she visit that city. Ings had been "inclined to believe" that she would receive a good hearing as her writings had a good circulation there and were respected.71

    On Friday evening 28 August, the day of her arrival, she spoke to the church and twice again on Sabbath 29 August, "about fifty of our people" being present. Sunday 30 August found her sick with "a hard cold" which had begun in Grimsby and developed in London, and which her son believed was brought on by the dampness of the climate and the draughts of wind which were impossible to escape on European trains. She had "hoarseness and fever" and was hardly able to sit up. However, she attempted to take a ride out to visit the city. White was impressed with the old town and its suburban villages. She wrote of the old city wall and of the gated towers, all of which seemed not to be impaired by age. However, it appeared she would not be in a position to speak that night due to continuing sickness. The party "spent much of the afternoon in prayer" because Durland had rented a large hall and invitations had gone out, so she "decided to do my part" so as not to hurt the church's influence. She rode to the hall, seating 1,000 people, stood on her feet to address about 600 people present and "the Lord gave me strength as he had many times before under similar circumstances." The cold symptoms disappeared and "I spoke for more than an hour with perfect freedom." W. C. White added, "with more force than at any other time in England."72 Her talk consisted of comments from 11 Pet. 1:1-11 on the marks of fruitful growth in the Christian, that "by constantly adding grace to grace we may go straight forward in the Christian course."73

    Monday 31 August she and her company returned to London where they joined up with Kellogg and W. C. White. She remained there for two days writing up her sermon for the Hampshire Independent before proceeding, on Wednesday 2 September to Switzerland, arriving in Basel Thursday 3 September.74 On 10-14 September she would attend the Swiss Conference meetings followed by the meetings of the Third European Council 15-28 September.75

    During the sixteen days in England White had been able to talk with every Mission worker in the field and to observe, however briefly, the work in each entered area of the country. Besides the reports and letters of past years she now had a good working knowledge from first hand observation. This knowledge would allow her to enter into future discussions and planning at the Councils she would attend, and give some advice to workers personally.

    The Third European Council of Seventh-day Adventist Missions

    White enjoyed the countryside on her journey from London to Dover, but not the rough crossing of the English Channel. In Calais they took a through train to Basel, arriving the next morning at 6.00 A.M., 3 September 1885. She wrote, "here we are in Europe at last." She had reached her intended destination.76

    On arrival in Basel she was met by Whitney and by R. F. Andrews, who had gone on ahead of her.77 She and her party were immediately taken to view the new Mission building that housed the new publishing house, Mission offices, and living quarters. The building, White believed, was "in keeping with the importance of the message that is being sent out from it." The press equipment had now been purchased and installed by Kellogg.78 She and her party were to live on the third floor, she next to her son and family, in "a beautiful house, roomy and well situated."79

    White was in Europe at the request of this Swiss Conference. It was the first such conference to have been organized in Europe and consisted of ten churches with 224 members, one ordained pastor, and seven credentialed missionaries. Although called "Swiss" it did in fact include the scattered membership in France, Italy, Germany, and Romania. The meetings of this Swiss Conference commenced Thursday 10 September and were attended by nearly 200 "intelligent, noble-looking" people.80 The five days of meetings consisted of reports of labor, the manner of that labor, and the possibilities of extending the work of the Church into new fields.81 White spoke for the first time on Friday afternoon after a number of reports from the different countries had been given. She was quick to recognize that "there is a great work yet to be accomplished in all the fields from which we have heard reports."82 She spoke through interpreters into French and German, which "was rather embarrassing at first" but "proved far less taxing" than she anticipated.83 She gave much practical counsel at this time and through the remaining three days, stressing the importance of visitation in the homes of interested people and the effect of preaching on the hearers.84 The Council ended Monday 14 September with White encouraging them to exercise unity in the work of the Conference.85

    When the party arrived from the British Mission 15 September, after a journey of 15 hours, they too were taken to the Les Signes Des Temps bureau where already were gathered "quite a company" of ministers and colporteurs in a general council.86 If White had been in attendance at most of these meetings of the Central European Mission she had now been able to obtain, again at first hand, report of the work, problems, and possibilities in that Mission to add to the information obtained from her days in the British Mission. Therefore, by the time the Third European Missionary Council began she was ready to be a part of it. The meeting had been called, primarily and generally, "for the consideration of the cause of present truth in the various countries of Europe."87

    The main purpose would be to receive reports from the various Missions, lay plans to labor more effectively each year, and endeavor to draw nearer to God. Later this Council would be considered one of great importance to the work of the Church in foreign missions. W. C. White saw it as a mini General Conference.88

    The Council commenced that Tuesday at 11 A.M. and continued through until Monday 28 September, a total of fourteen days. The meetings had been planned to last for one week, 15-22 September,89´┐Żbut as work got under way the time was extended to two full weeks. Thirty-three delegates were present from the three Missions; 20 from Central Europe, seven from Britain, and six from Scandinavia, representing Ireland, England, Wales, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, France, Germany, North and South Italy, and Romania. There were also three official representatives from America. The group was small enough to accomplish much serious work, although there were also a large number of Swiss members who stayed on for these meetings, at least for part of the time.90

    Although it is not the intention of the writer to recount details of this Council, except as it relates to the British Mission, it should be remembered that much of what took place at the Council was applicable to all three Missions and thus eventually found to have a bearing on the work of the British Mission and its worker force. The British Mission contingent consisted of R. F. Andrews, John, Lane and Mrs Lane, Wilcox, and Jennie Thayer. It would appear that all British Mission workers were present except Durland, who no doubt was asked to remain behind in England to care for Mission emergencies and round off the Riseley tent meeting interests.91

    The meetings were conducted in the publishing house chapel and the delegates drew up their own order of meetings. Besides the regular business matters each day at 10.30 A.M. and 2.30 P.M. they found time for a prayer gathering at 5.30 A.M., a Bible class at 9.00 A.M. on subjects "so much agitated" in the theological world, and a class to teach workers how to give Bible studies. Lane assisted with this. There was a class for canvassers and a class to teach the English language. A devotional Bible study conducted by Lane at 6.30 P.M. was often followed by a sermon. The day ended about 9.00 P.M. A Question Box was set up to encourage practical questions on matters of concern. These were all answered and then discussed.92

    Both R. F. Andrews and Lane were appointed to a committee on business arrangements for the meetings. R. F. Andrews was also on the committee nominating individuals for ministerial licences and credentials. Lane joined the Executive Committee to lay general plans for the managment of the European Mission printing office which W. C. White had come to set up. Wilcox sat on a committee of five to decide on publications to be translated and published in different languages.93

    Early in the Council each Mission shared information concerning its work, making known its plans and needs. After each worker gave his report discussions resulted in certain resolutions. The report for the British Mission came on Wednesday and Thursday 16,17 September. Lane presented the facts in regard to the "British Mission," as obviously it had now truly become since entering Wales and Ireland on an official basis. Lane first presented his report at the third meeting on Wednesday 16 September in the afternoon, continuing next day Thursday 17 September, at the 10.30 A.M. meeting, followed by Wilcox and Andrews giving their report, and in the afternoon John and Drew.94

    As briefly recorded in the proceedings, Lane outlined Drew's ship work in Liverpool during the previous eleven months, with 301,000 pages of sales for $750, with 2,216 vessels visited. There were three other colporteurs employed "a portion of the time," with 2,543 families visited. The Present Truth office had, in eleven months, sent out 74,800 copies to persons whose names had been taken from directories. Tithes received amounted to $388.98. He also mentioned the eight week tent meeting of that summer with nine persons keeping the Sabbath.95 He spoke also of the expense of halls, and the purchase of a new tent.96

    Wilcox simply reported that he had spent most of his time in the office, taking care of the Grimsby church, and had assisted John with meetings. He considered ladies to make the best colporteurs. Postage rates in Britain were high, with the amount spent to send out Present Truth being sufficient to support "several colporteurs." There were presently 514 regular subscribers in England, 300 in America, but 77,800 copies were sent to names taken from directories. The health publications had been sent to nearly all the British possessions as well as Russia and the islands of the sea.

    R. F. Andrews' report of work in Northern Ireland revealed difficulties in presenting the church beliefs in that country. These were "arising from caste, and the unwillingness on the part of the better class people to attend open-air meetings and meetings held in halls." However, a number were reported to be "interested and convinced of the truth."97

    John enthused over open-air meetings as "one of the best means of getting the truth before the people in England." He went on to recommend that such meetings be held wherever people tended to gather together from different parts of a town and county. In this way "a knowledge of the truth can be rapidly spread all over the kingdom." Continuing his report at the 10.30 A.M. meeting 20 September John, who had gone to Wales "by the advice of the General Conference Committee," indicated that he had been holding three open-air meetings every week and "the interest has been good, and the attendance large." At this meeting John requested publications in the Welsh language, there being 400,000 people in Wales not understanding English.98

    Drew also spoke, adding "some very interesting facts" to Lane's report regarding his ship work in Liverpool and how the beliefs of the Church are going to different parts of the world. He spoke of other ports in England where similar work should be carried out.99

    White was the speaker for the morning meditations which began at 5.30 A.M. each day. These were always of a practical nature and followed by prayers and testimonies from those in attendance.´┐Ż These discourses "were the means of imparting much precious instruction concerning the practical work of those who were here convened."100 She seems to have drawn her material for those talks from her observations of the previous days. White was more often than not present at the business meetings and listened to reports and discussions. Often in these times of constructive planning sessions for the new and varied fields there would be divergent opinions, sometimes strongly expressed. It is not difficult to understand why she spoke on such subjects as she did; unity, love and forbearance, a willingness to learn, courage, perseverance in the ministry, and how to work in new fields, always in the context of practical godliness of life and behavior.101 White recognized that she had some hard but necessary things to say at times:

    All through this meeting we have striven for harmony and unity, and I think that there is now a better state of things. All accept the words I speak, although at times they are very close and pointed.102

    These morning meditations and her contributions to discussion in business sessions made a strong impression on those who attended the Council. Perhaps D. T. Bourdeau spoke for everyone:

    How interesting and wonderful it was to hear Sr. White correctly delineate the peculiarities of different fields she had seen only as the Lord had shown them to her, and show how they should be met; to hear her describe case after case of persons she had never seen with her natural vision, and either point out their errors or show important relations they sustained to the cause, and how they should connect with it to better serve its interests!

    As I had a fair chance to test the matter, having been on the ground, and knowing that no one had informed Sr. White of these things, while serving as interpreter, I could not help exclaiming, "It is enough. I want no further evidence of its genuineness."103

    After White's personal testimony on Tuesday 22 September104 the Council delegation began to suggest that the meetings be extended. They were finding the Bible studies and instruction in colporteur work beneficial, and White's talks "of great value" to them.´┐Ż The Council consequently voted to extend the meetings for another week.105 They also officially expressed their appreciation for the counsel of White on Wednesday 22 September and pledged to "practically carry out its instructions." At the 8.00 P.M. meeting of Sunday 27 September the delegates

    Resolved, That we express our gratitude to God for the labor and counsel of Sister E. G. White and her son, Elder W. C. White, at these meetings; that we invite them to visit Scandinavia, Great Britain, and other fields, and to remain sufficiently long in Europe to do the work Providence has assigned them.106

    Although not everything that was discussed and voted at the Council affected the British Mission, much did. Central Europe was concerned about compulsory school attendance and military service, and White gave counsel on these matters at this time, although it would not be considered for a decade or two by the Church in Britain.107 The Council also discussed the lack of funds, as it related to the cost of the new publishing complex in Basel. White recalled certain similar experiences in the early days of the Church, and revealed that the treasury of the Church was "about empty"108´┐Żand many places experience "close financial pressure," including the foreign mission treasury.109

    Early in the Council special attention was given to the circulation of the Church's literature. The reports from the three Missions were somewhat disheartening. In the previous year the Scandinavians had sales of $1,033, and Britain reported $550. The Central European Mission reported sales of $1,010, due to the fact that to that date they had produced no books in German and French. The reasons given for these poor results was that the peoples of Europe were not used to purchasing books and magazines from door-to-door salesmen and these literature salesmen felt that they should be supported by salaries which was the practice of leading evangelical societies.110 White encouraged the leaders to have faith in their success despite the difficulties. The book selling work in Europe would succeed, she said. In fact it would succeed everywhere the Church used the method:

    God will soon do great things for us if we lie humble and believing at His feet. . . . More than one thousand will soon be converted in one day, most of whom will trace their first convictions to the reading of our publications.111

    As a result of these Council discussions on colporteur work, ministers were requested to encourage and educate young persons to become successful canvassers and colporteurs by training them and placing them to work in conjunction with public meetings. In this way they could become qualified. It was also voted that an "institute of three or four weeks duration" be held in Grimsby "this coming winter to give training for canvassers and colporters."112

    Some suggestions made at the European Council for the consideration of the British Mission included an idea for reaching "the travelling public" through the use of "distributers" at "watering-places" and on ocean steamers. W. C. White introduced the idea because it was being put to good use in America. These "cases containing a supply of publications" were placed in stations, hotels, and public places, or wherever people visited while travelling. A motion was made and voted to request the International Tract and Missionary Society to furnish distributors, to be placed on the trans Atlantic steamers leaving Liverpool.113 The British Mission Board was requested to prepare a large number of leaflets "on the fundamental principles of our faith" for distribution. It was recommended that the Present Truth now "be published semi-monthly."114

    The Council also turned its attention to the varied methods in public evangelism. Naturally the varied circumstances and differing customs in the countries represented had a bearing on the discussion but attention was given to the British Mission delegates who had found that halls fit for their public meetings were hard to find and expensive. Their tent at Riseley had been a success and presently 100 tent meetings were in progress in America. What were the possibilities of tent use in Europe and Scandinavia?115 The discussion on the pros and cons of tent use produced some pointed remarks and almost two days were given to this discussion. On one occasion White was asked to comment and she informed them that "according to the light the Lord had given" her "tents could be used to good advantage in some places, and if conducted properly would result in great good."116 She believed tent meetings to be one of the very best ways to conduct religious services. At the close of the discussions the Council recommended the purchase of a second tent for England and one each for Switzerland, Sweden, France, and Germany. A request also went to the General Conference for them to finance a further tent for Italy.117

    White took opportunity to speak with a number of delegates in private or in small groups, in regard to their personal work and ideas. These were usually an attempt to solve certain organisational problems or of a spiritual nature. One has only to read White's 24 pages of notes sent to Butler as a report of the Council to realise that these interviews were daily ones.118 Some will be refered to below.

    On the evening of Friday 25 September a meeting was planned just for the ministers. The down-to-earth discussions of the past days had raised several sore spots as cherished positions held by some had failed to gain approval. John was one of these individuals. But despite this meeting and the Sabbath, a day of fasting and prayer, it seems that it was not until Sunday morning that John "surrendered his ideas and set notions."119 In her last Sabbath morning talk of the Council, 26 September, White chose as her text Col. 1:24-29, Paul's reminder that ministers have committed to the proclamation of the gospel in order to be able to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. White believed that to this end all were to labor. Although she again spoke through three interpreters into German, French, and Danish it did not appear to trouble her and she actually felt that "my message is having a better impression than on the minds of my American brethren and sisters."120 In the afternoon she spoke on Zech. 3:1-7 comparing the situation of the people of God with that of the priest Joshua standing before the angel in filthy clothes and needing the intervention of Jesus Christ.121

    On Monday, 28 September at 4.30 P.M. the Council delegation took action to record White's talks verbatim for posterity, together with "a sketch of her visits to the missions."122 Eventually the record was extended to cover the history of the foreign missions of the Seventh-day Adventists up to 1886 in a 294 large-page pamphlet form under the title Historical Sketches of the Foreign Missions of the Seventh-day Adventists, and printed in Basel in 1886.123

    The newly appointed European Council Executive Committee for the ensuing year included Lane as Secretary. The British Mission Board was to consist of Lane, Wilcox, and R. F. Andrews. The Council voted to conduct their next session at Grimsby, England, in 1886.124 White spoke again on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings 29, 30 September after which she recorded in her diary, "Our meetings have ended. Our brethren are returning to their homes. We part with tender feelings."125

    Some Mission workers did not return home immediately. Drew stayed for some days before returning to England and on Friday 2 October he personally visited with White, discussing matters relative to the conmencment of work in London. White wrote of the conversation:

    After much prayer, it is thought best to have select colporteurs to commence labor in that field in a quiet way and see what can be done with our publications.126

    However, serious work in London was not to commence until 1887. White would not return to England until one year later, at the time of the Fourth European Council of Seventh-day Adventist Missions held in Grimsby, September 1886.


    1L. H. Christian, The Fruitage of Spiritual Gifts, (Washington D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1947), p.161. Christian served as President of the European and Northern European Divisions of the Church 1920-1936.

    2Three recent works cover the details of White's visits to Europe 1885-1887. They are Delafield, D. A., Ellen G. White in Europe, (Washington D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1975.); White, Arthur L., Ellen G. White, 6 vols. biography, (Washington D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1981-1986.), vol.3 The Lonely Years, 1876-1891; Symposium Papers, Ellen G. White and Europe, Bracknell, England: Pierre Winandy, Coordinator, Ellen G. White S. D. A. Research Centre, Newbold College, 1987. The latter is perhaps the most useful.

    3Central European Mission, "General Conference Proceedings," RH, 11 November 1884, p.713.

    4B. L. Whitney to W. C. White, 6 May 1884.

    5Wilcox, HS, p.88.

    6"The Council of 1884," HS, p.113.

    7ibid.

    8B. L. Whitney to W. C. White, 5 October 1884.

    9Central European Committee, "General Conference Committee," RH , 11 November 1884, p.713.

    10ibid.

    11General Conference Committee, "General Conference Proceedings," RH, 18 November 1884, p.728.

    12E. H. Whitney to W. C. White, 25 May 1885.

    13B. L. Whitney, ["Your son Buel"] to G. I. Butler, 25 May 1885.

    14RH, 30 March 1876, p.97.

    15White, MS 14, "Talk Before the European Council," 20 September 1885.

    16White, "Notes of Travel," RH, 15 September l885, p.577; "Notes of Travel," HS, p.159.

    17White, "Christmas Is Coming," RH, 9 December 1884, p.770.

    18ibid.

    19W. C. White to B. L. Whitney, 6 June l885.

    20White to William and Mary White, Letter 30, 16 February 1885.

    21W. C. White to B. L. Whitney, 6 June 1885.

    22White, MS 16, 1885; "Notes of Travel," RH, 15 September 1885, p.577; HS p.159.

    23W. C. White to B. L. Whitney, 6 June 1885.

    24White, Diary, MS 16a, 7,9 July 1885.

    25"Notes of Travel," RH, 15 September 1885, p.577; HS, p.159.

    26"Unity Among Different Nationalities," HS, p.137.

    27"Notes on Travel," RH, 15 September 1885, p.577; HS. p.159.

    28W. C. White to B. L. Whitney, 6 June 1885; White, TC, l3:4l7.

    29W. C. White to B. L. Whitney, 6 June 1885.

    30B. L. Whitney to W. C. White, l0 July 1885.

    31E. H. Whitney to W. C. White, 3 July 1885.

    32"Notes of Travel," RH, 15 September 1885, p.577; HS, p.159.

    33White, Dairy, MS 16, 7-13 July l885.

    34ibid.; HS, p.160; White, Diary, MS 16, 7-13 July 1885.

    35Announcement, RH, 21 July 1885, p.464; "On the Way to Europe," 11 August 1885 p.512.

    36White, "Notes of Travel," RH, 15 September 1885, p.578; HS, p.161.

    37ibid.; White, LS p.28.

    38White Diary, MS 16a, 7 July - 24 September 1885.

    39White to William and Mary White, Letter 30, 16 February l885.

    40Editor, "On the Way to Europe," RH, 11 August 1885, p.512.

    41ibid.; White, "Notes of Travels," 15 September 1885, p.578; HS, p.161.

    42White, Diary, MS 16a, 7-9 July 1885.

    43ibid., "Notes of Travel," RH, 15 September 1885, p.578; HS, p.161; Dairy, MS 16a, 7-9 July 1885.

    44HS, p.161.

    45White, "Notes of Tour," RH, 15 September 1885, p.578; LS, p.281; HS, pp.161,162. The RH article gives the date of arrival as 13 August 1885, an obvious misprint. A sea crossing commencing on 8 August and ending on the 13 August would have taken only six days instead of eleven days as indicated. LS gives the arrival date at Liverpool as 19 August 1885 which must also be a mistake. Lane writes in "A Profitable Visit," PT, September 1885, p.272, and in "England," RH, 22 September 1885, p.604 of White arriving in Grimsby the next day after their arrival in Liverpool as 19 August. HS has the date correct in White's own account of her travels.

    46White to Dr. Gibbs, Letter 22, 5 September 1885; "Notes of Travel," RH, 15 September 1885, p.578.

    47White to Willie White, Letter 37, 23 November 1885.

    48White, "Notes of Travel," RH, 15 September 1885, p.578; HS, p.161; LS, p.281. Some details of White's visits in England may be found in Dunton, Hugh I., "Ellen G. White in England," WES, pp.48-84.

    49White, "Notes of Travel," RH 15 September l885, p.578; 6 October 1885, pp.609,610; HS, p.162; Diary, MS 16a, 7-9 July 1885.

    50"General European Council," PT, September 1885, p.272.

    51White, "Notes on Travel," RH, 15 September 1885, p.578; HS, p.162.

    52White, "Notes of Travel," RH, 6 October 1885, p.609; HS, p.162.

    53Lane, "England," RH, 22 September l885, p.604.

    54W. C. White to J. H. Waggoner, "The Work in Europe," RH, 18 September 1885.

    55White to Dr. Gibbs, Letter 22, 5 September 1885.

    56White, Diary, MS 16a, 7-9 July 1885.

    57Lane, "A Profitable Visit," PT, September 1885, p.272.

    58W. C. White to J. H. Waggoner, 18 September 1885; "The Work in Europe," ST, 22 October 1885, p.634.

    59Diary, MS 16a, 7-9 July 1885; White "Notes of Travel," RH, 6 October l885, p.609; HS p.162.

    60"A Profitable Visit," PT, September 1885, p.272.

    61ibid.; White, "Notes of Travel," RH, 6 October 1885, p.609.

    62White, "Notes of Travel," RH, 6 Oct 1885, p.609; HS, p.162.

    63ibid.

    64A copy of White's sermon was printed in the Grimsby News 25 August l885, and was reprinted in RH, 27 October l885, pp,657,658.

    65This choir had won the second prize at the London Crystal Palace Competitive Musical Entertainment the previous year. PT, September 1885, p.272.

    66Lane, "A Profitable Visit," PT, September 1885, p.272; White, MS 16a, 1885; "Notes of Travel," RH, 6 October, p.609; HS, p.162,163.

    67White, "Notes of Travel," RH, 6 October 1885, p.609; HS, p.163. W. C. White refers to White speaking at Ulceby on Tuesday evening but this was his mistake probably due to his not being there personally. See "The Work in Europe," ST, 22 October 1885, p.634; White, Diary, MS 16a, 7-9 July 1885.

    68Lane, "England," RH, 22 September 1885, p.604; White, "Notes of Travel," 6 October l885, pp.609,610; "Notes of Travel," HS, p.163; to Dr. Gibbs, Letter 22, 5 September 1885; W. C. White, "The Work in Europe," ST, 22 October 1885, p.634.

    69White, "Notes of Travel," HS, p.166; Diary, MS 16a, 7-9 July 1885; White to B. L. Whitney, 6 June 1885.

    70White, "Notes of Travel," RH, 6 October l885, p.609; HS, p.163; Diary, MS 16a, 7-9 July 1885.

    71Ings to White, 4 March 1879.

    72The talk was reported in the Hampshire Independent of 5 September 1885 and reprinted in RH, 1 December 1885, p.737,738 under title "The Precious Promise."

    73White, "Notes of Travel," RH, 6 October 1885, pp.609,610; HS, pp.163,164; White to Dr. Gibbs, Letter 22, 5 September 1885; W. C. White to J. H. Waggoner, 18 September 1885, "The Work in Europe," 22 October 1885, p.634. White wrote of the "Roman" walls of Southampton as being "built over nine hundred years ago." Obviously the Romans built there much earlier than 1000AD. The Norman walls date back to 1175-1200.

    74White to Dr. Gibbs, Letter 22, 5 September 1885.

    75White, "Notes of Travel," RH, 6 October 1885, p.610; 13 October 1885, p.625; "The Swiss Conference and the European Council," 3 November l885, p.673; HS, p.164.

    76White to Dr. Gibbs, Letter 22, 5 September 1885; LS, p.281.

    77White, Diary, MS 16a, 7 July - 24 September 1885.

    78White, "Notes of Travel," RH, 13 October 1885, p. 625; Diary, MS 16a, 7 July - 24 September 1885.

    [79White to Dr. Gibbs, Letter 22, 5 September 1885; LS, pp.281,282.

    80White, "The Swiss Conference and the European Council," RH, 3 November 1885, p.673; LS, p.283; SDAE, art., "Switzerland."

    81White, Dairy, MS 24, 18-26 September, 1885.

    82White, "Practical Address-The Work in New Fields," HS, p.147.

    83White, "Notes of Travel," HS, p.173.

    84White, "Practical Address," HS, p.148.

    85HS, pp.147-173; Delafield, EGWE, pp.57-65; White, "The Swiss Conference and the European Council," RH, 3 November 1885 p.673.

    86Thayer, "European Council," PT, 3 November 1885, pp.193,194.

    87Wilcox, "General European Council," PT, September 1885, p.272.

    88W. C. White, "European Council of Seventh-day Adventist Missions," ST, 5 November 1885, p.666.

    89Wilcox, "General European Council," PT, September 1885, p.272; SDAYB, 1886, pp.92-98.

    90White, "The Swiss Conference and the European Council," RH, 3 November 1885, p.673; Thayer, "European Council," PT, 3 November 1885, pp.293,294.

    91European Council Committee, "European Council of Seventh-day Adventist Missions," RH, 3 November 1885, p.682; White, "Notes of Travel," HS, p.173; SDAYB, 1886, p.92.

    92Thayer, "European Council," PT, 3 November 1885, pp.293,294; White, "Swiss Conference and the European Council," RH, 3 November 1885, p.673; European Council Committee, "European Council of Seventh-day Adventist Missions," RH, 3 November 1885, pp.682-685; W. C. White, "European Council of Seventh-day Adventist Missions," ST, 5 November 1885, pp.666,667; SDAYB, 1886, pp.92,93. These sources provide much of the material available concerning this Council.

    93"European Council of Seventh-day Adventist Missions," RH, 3 November 1885, p.682; SDAYB, 1886, p.92.

    94ibid. p.683; SDAYB, 1886, pp.93,94.

    95European Council Committee, "European Council of Seventh-day Adventist Missions," RH, 3 November 1885, p.682,683.

    96SDAYB, 1886, p.94.

    97ibid.; European Council Committee, "European Council of Seventh-day Adventist Missions," RH, 3 November 1885, p.682; W. C. White, "European Council of Seventh-day Adventist Missions," ST, 5 November 1885, p.666.

    98ibid.; "European Council," RH, 3 November 1885, p.683.

    99ibid., p.683; SDAYB, 1886, p.94.

    100Thayer, "European Council," PT, 3 November 1885, p.293; Wilcox, "The Council of 1885," HS, p.118.

    101These talks can be seen in White, "Practical Addresses," HS, pp.124-158; LS, p.284.

    102White, Diary, MS 20, 25-27 September 1885.

    103"The Council at Bale, Suisse," RH, 10 November 1885, p.700.

    104"Practical Addresses," HS, pp.130-133.

    105White to George Butler, Letter 23, 1 October 1885.

    106"European Council of Seventh-day Adventist Missions," RH, 3 November 1885 p.684; SDAYB, 1886, p.96. See also Thayer, "European Council," PT, 3 November 1885, p.294; W. C. White, "European Council," ST, 5 November 1885, p.667.

    107For discussed topics see "European Council," RH, 3 November 1885, p.682-685; HS, pp.216-218; cf White, Testimony Treasures, 2: 180-185.

    108White, Talk, MS 14, 20 September 1885. For further discussion of this subject see Chapter 12.

    109White, Talk, MS. 19, 21 September 1885.

    110LS, pp.284,285.

    111D. T. Bourdeau, "The Council at Bale, Suisse," RH, 10 November 1885, p.700. It would take the Seventh-day Adventist Church 100 years before they saw the world-wide fulfillment of this prediction.

    112European Council Committee, "European Council," RH, 3 November l885, p.684; SDAYB, 1886, p.98.

    113SDAYB, 1886, p.97; European Council Committee, "European Council," RH, 3 November l885, p.684.

    114ibid.

    115ibid.

    116White to George Butler, Letter 23, 1 October 1885.

    117Wilcox, "The Council of 1885," HS, p.ll7; "Tent Labor and Colporteur Work," pp.272-275; SDAYB, 1886, p.95.

    118White to George Butler, Letter 23, 1 October l885; Sermon, MS 11, 28 October 1885.

    119White, Diary, MS 20, 25-27 September l885; Diary, MS 24, 18-26 September 1885.

    120White to George Butler, Letter 23, 1 October 1885.

    121W. C. White, "European Council," ST, 5 November 1885, p.667.

    122European Council Committee, "European Council," RH, 3 November 1885, p. 685; SDAYB, 1886, p.98.

    123A reproduction of the book can be obtained from Leaves of Autumn Books, P.0. Box 440, Payson, Arizona 85541.

    124ibid.; Thayer, "European Council," PT, 3 November 1885, p.294; W. C. White, "European Council of Seventh-day Adventist Missions," ST, 5 November 1885, p.667.

    125MS 24, 1885.

    126Diary, MS 25, 6-14 October 1885.

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