Ellen G. White Writings

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Advent Pioneers Biographical Sketches and Pictures, Page 12

STEPHEN N. HASKELL

Picture:

FATHER OF HOME MISSIONARY WORK
April 22, 1833 - February 9, 1922

Stephen N. Haskell was a convert of Joseph Bates and an Adventist preacher named William Saxby. He was a soap manufacturer and a soap salesman by trade. But in time he exchanged his soap routes for the missionary preacher’s circuit.

When he began to preach about 1853, he had no financial support except what he could earn in his business. There were few preachers among the Sabbath-keeping Adventists, so Haskell with his original mind began to train lay members for witnessing. In 1869 he began the tract and missionary work. He was the first to organize tract societies. In 1882, he pioneered an academy in South Lancaster which was destined to become Atlantic Union College. This was the third Seventh-day Adventist school, being antedated only by Battle Creek College and Healdsburg College.

Haskell was a good organizer and administrator. He served for years as a conference president. In fact, at one time he served as president of the New England and California conferences simultaneously.

In 1885, Stephen Haskell became a foreign missionary, helping to open the work in Australia and New Zealand. His influence was especially strong in the Australian publishing work.

As a General Conference minister, he made the first trip undertaken by an Adventist official around the world. That was in 1888 and 1889. He was a careful Bible student and an excellent teacher. To him goes the credit for the concept of Bible readings so popular among Seventh-day Adventist laymen and ministers. He died in 1922, his head topped with the glory of many years and his life graced with many benevolences.

A Story About Stephen N. Haskell

W. C. White tells the following story about Stephen Haskell’s experience in introducing the Bible reading idea to Seventh-day Adventists:

“During the camp meetings which I attended with my mother, Ellen White, during the autumn of 1879 and the spring of 1880, Sister White said to our ministers, regarding camp meeting work, that there ought to be less preaching and more teaching. It was some time before this made any serious impression upon Elder Haskell’s mind, but in the spring of 1880, at the Hanford camp meeting, Mother repeated this in such an emphatic way that Elder Haskell was thoroughly aroused, and after thinking the matter over, he invited me (W. C. White) one morning to go with him in the grain field nearby for a season of prayer. He said he could not quite understand what Sister White meant, and we talked the matter over and then prayed about it. Finally he said he would try it and see what he could do, and one forenoon meeting in the big tent he started in, asking questions on leading features of our faith and asking the brethren to look up the texts that he cited, and read them.

“When the meeting had proceeded this way for perhaps half an hour, it began to rain, and when it came time for the meeting to close it was raining exceedingly hard and no one desired to leave the tent. So Elder Haskell extended his Bible studies until the meeting had continued nearly two hours. The people seemed delighted with the instruction and with the method in which it was given, and they asked that other studies be conducted in the same manner, and thus as far as I know, the Bible reading work in which Elder Haskell led out and others enthusiastically joined in, was begun.” - The Ministry, December 1948, p.21.

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