Ellen G. White Writings

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Ellen White: Woman of Vision, Page 383

Chapter 26—The General Conference Session of 1901: Time for Change!

On Tuesday morning, April 2, 1901, an atmosphere of excitement and apprehension prevailed as workers and church members began to assemble in the Battle Creek Tabernacle. This would be the largest General Conference session yet held. Ellen White would be there, and it would be the first session she had attended in 10 years. The 267 delegates represented a church of 75,000 members, four fifths of whom resided in the United States.

For some years there had been a growing recognition that the church had outgrown its organization. The basic structure of church organization with its local conferences bound together in a General Conference had remained unchanged from 1863 to 1901.

There were two recognized organizational levels—the local conference and the General Conference. When the General Conference was organized 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 the denomination's church school in Battle Creek in 1872, and the 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, the International Tract Society, the National Religious Liberty Association, and a foreign mission board.

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 a diversified and growing denominational work with multiplied business

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