Ellen G. White Writings

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Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905 (vol. 5), Page 71

levels—the local conference and the General Conference. And when the delegates were seated for the conference of 1901 it was on the basis of local conferences within a General Conference; they are so listed in the daily Bulletin. Of the forty-five local conferences, thirty-one were within the United States.

Michigan, with its 7,122 members, was the largest State conference; California was second, with 4,485. The smallest was South Australia, with 193 members. At the time of the organization of the General Conference in 1863, the church had one institution—a publishing house at Battle Creek. But the work of the denomination soon expanded. The health work began with the establishment of a sanitarium in 1866. Educational work was started with the opening of Battle Creek College in 1874. Other publishing houses were added, and sanitariums and schools were opened.

As work in different lines developed, associations were formed to foster the interests. There were the International Medical Missionary and Benevolent Association; the International Sabbath School Association; and the International Tract Society, which fostered “home missionary” interests. Certain issues in the United States led the church into the religious-liberty field. From this activity the National Religious Liberty Association was organized. To aid in the development of a foreign mission program, a foreign mission board was set up, with headquarters in New York City.

These were all autonomous organizations represented by independent corporations, operated by Seventh-day Adventists but not integral parts of the General Conference organization. The various branches of the work were not thought of or directed as departments of the General Conference, but as independent entities.

As the institutional interests in Battle Creek grew, businessmen were drawn in to head them, and a strong center developed. A General Conference Executive Committee, beginning with three members in 1863, some twenty years later was increased to five. Its work was “to carry out the plans of the body, and to direct the affairs of the denomination in all parts of the world when the conference is not in session.”—Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, 1889, p. 4.

In 1887 the Committee was increased to seven, and in 1889 it was enlarged to nine. There it stood for four years until 1893, when it was

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