Ellen G. White Writings

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Messenger of the Lord, Page 216

mighty work in this mission field within the borders of our own land.” 66Manuscript Releases 10:225.

3. Ellen White’s counsel during this appalling period in the history of the United States reflects more than human wisdom. Flexibility is a mark of wisdom when time and circumstances change. Living in Australia prevented her from reading the daily newspapers of that period. Yet, she saw clearly the implications of the new oppression of Blacks. Evangelistic work for Whites was in jeopardy if “wrong” moves in working for the Blacks were adversely interpreted by the Whites. And Blacks would be in greater jeopardy if unsympathetic Whites thought Blacks were stepping “outside” of their social sphere in responding to White evangelists. 67The experiences of Edson White became a living (and frightful) experiment in testing the White hostility toward “outsiders” who were urging the improvement of the Blacks. See Graybill, Ellen G. White and Church Race Relations, pp. 53-69. The larger picture that Ellen White always kept before the church was to honor God by steady progress in reaching honest seekers, White or Black, even though the pace, at times, slowed to allow for immediate circumstances. Her prediction that times would change certainly gave hope to those struggling during the dark night.

4. Ellen White’s instruction to the church, by counsel and example, paved the way for Adventists to work in the southern states when circumstances would change: (a) She believed in the equality of all races; (b) She clearly did not foster the prevailing belief on the part of many in her day that the Black race was genetically inferior. Often she would point out: “You will meet with deplorable ignorance. Why? Because the souls that were kept in bondage were taught to do exactly the will of those who call them their property, and held them as slaves.... Now, there are those who are intelligent. Many have had no chance who might have manifested decided ability if they had been blessed with opportunities such as their more favored brethren, the White people, have had.” 68Letter 80a, 1895, cited in Graybill, Ellen G. White and Church Race Relations, pp. 108, 109. In other words, remove the bondage and inevitable results of slavery, give Blacks the same opportunities as Whites, and so-called ignorance would vanish as a consequence.

Ellen White would have been better understood on race relations through the years if the totality of her statements had been studied in the context of their time. Adventist racial tensions would have been greatly reduced if her lucid principles had molded personal and organizational decisions. Otis B. Edwards, a long-time Black educator, may have said it best: “Perhaps the greatest stimulus to missionary efforts for the Negro came ... from Mrs. Ellen G. White.” 69“Origin and Development of the SDA Work Among Negroes in the Alabama-Mississippi Conference,” unpublished M. A. thesis, Andrews University, August 1942, p. 21.

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