Ellen G. White Writings

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Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905 (vol. 5), Page 198

Chapter 15—The Crisis Over Financial Policies

(A Prelude to the General Conference Session of 1903)

During the decade that Ellen White was in Australia, the expansion of Seventh-day Adventist denominational institutions was phenomenal but financially irresponsible. Little restraint was exercised on the interlocking boards at the Battle Creek headquarters. As college debts increased, money was borrowed from the Review and Herald. The Review itself was heavily in debt but much trusted, and many Adventists chose to use it as their investment institution. [Savings passbooks, very similar to those used by banks, were printed by the review and herald and were furnished to Seventh-day Adventist investors. See DF 193c.] Dr. Kellogg pushed ahead in opening new sanitariums across the land, mostly on borrowed money. This created debts that he and his associates persuaded the General Conference Association, also a trusted investment institution among Seventh-day Adventists, to assume. The presidents of the General Conference (Elder O. A. Olsen from 1888 to 1897, and Elder G. A. Irwin from 1897 to 1901) seemed powerless to stem the tide. Each was surrounded by shrewd and much-trusted businessmen who were in sympathy with liberal financial policies that allowed seemingly unrestrained plunging into debt.

Elder Olsen was a deeply spiritual, highly respected man. Even though Ellen White recognized his weaknesses, she favored his reelection to the office of president of the General Conference in 1895 for a two-year term. She was later to write that in financial matters “he had not the courage to say, ‘I cannot betray sacred trusts.’ Instead, he linked himself with wrongdoers and thus made

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