Ellen G. White Writings

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Messenger of the Lord, Page 214

church’s top leaders, including A. G. Daniells, General Conference president, and W. W. Prescott, editor of the Review, should lead the way in public evangelism! She wrote sharply to both men in 1910 after she believed that her counsel in 1909 had produced only a token response: “I am charged with a message to you both that you need to humble your hearts before God. Neither Elder Prescott nor Elder Daniells is prepared to direct the work of the General Conference, for in some things they have dishonored the Lord God of Israel.... Some things were clearly opened before me during the last meeting I attended in Washington, D. C.... The work in the cities has not yet been carried forward as it should be.... Had the president of the General Conference been thoroughly aroused, he might have seen the situation. But he has not understood the message that God has given.... I can no longer hold my peace.” 50Letter 58, 1910, cited in Bio., vol. 6, p. 225; Manuscript Releases 6:73-77; Manuscript Releases 10:362-364.

Prescott made plans for evangelistic work but a combination of family tragedies overwhelmed him. His health suffered seriously. As time went on, new responsibilities in editorial work eventually occupied his time. 51Valentine, The Shaping of Adventism, pp. 197-214.

Daniells had some difficulty in arranging his leadership responsibilities. During these months, Ellen White wrote him: “Redeem the lost time of the past nine years by going ahead now with the work in our cities, and the Lord will bless and sustain you.” 52Letter 68, 1910, cited in Bio., vol. 6, p. 229; pp. 219-230; Manuscript Releases 19:123, 124.

This constant urging on the president of the General Conference and others resulted in an explosion of Adventist city evangelism in the years that followed. 53Schwarz, Light Bearers, pp. 336-341.

Setting the Tone on Race Relations

As with many other major denominational issues, Ellen White was foremost in charting the moral dimensions involved in race relations as well as in suggesting pragmatic approaches to resolving problems during difficult times. Richard Schwarz wrote that it “took an earnest admonition from Ellen White to jolt Adventists into realizing their duty to share their faith with Afro-Americans.” 54Schwarz, Ibid., p. 235.

Prior to leaving for Australia, at the 1891 General Conference session in Battle Creek, Mrs. White made her first major public appeal for evangelistic work among American Blacks. 55For consistency, in this volume we refer to African-Americans as Blacks, even as we refer to Caucasians as Whites. In his illuminating 1970 book on Adventist race relations, Ron Graybill discussed the various terms that designate the two major races in the United States: “Ellen White generally used the term ‘colored’ in reference to those of African descent, but also ‘black’ and ‘Negro.’ Sometimes she even referred to them as the ‘Southern race’ or the ‘Southern people,’ just as she used ‘Southern work’ and ‘Southern field’ for ‘the work for the colored people’ in the South.” E. G. White and Church Race Relations (Washington, D. C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1970), p. 11. Understanding the growing restrictions being applied to Blacks throughout the southern states, she recognized that she was plunging into an explosive topic, “but I do not mean to live a coward or die a coward.” 56The Southern Work (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1966), p. 10.

She pointed out that “the black man’s name is written in the book of life beside the white man’s.... Birth, station, nationality, or color cannot elevate or degrade men.” Further, those who “slight a brother because of his color are slighting Christ.”

Then she turned to the church’s neglect, acknowledging with regret that “we have not made a greater effort for the salvation of souls among the colored people.” She recognized that she was referring to “perplexing questions,” that both White and Black Adventists were needed to educate millions who had been “downtrodden” for so long, and that church workers in the South “must not carry things to extremes and run into fanaticism on this question.” 57Manuscript Releases 10:12-18.

One of the first to sense the challenge was James Edson White, Ellen White’s son. 58Schwarz, Light Bearers, p. 236. Creative, energetic, a trained printer and songwriter, Edson joined with Will Palmer in producing The Gospel Primer, which they used (1) to raise funds, (2) to teach illiterates how to read, and (3) to teach Bible truths in simple language.

Knowing that they would not be welcome among Southern Whites, especially if they lived with Blacks, they had a river steamboat built (named the Morning Star), which for several years became their housing, printing plant, and chapel. This concerted effort to help fulfill the goals of Ellen White’s 1891 appeal moved forward with little support from denominational sources. But Edson’s

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