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Ellen G. White: The Early Years: 1827-1862 (vol. 1)

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    Adopting a Denominational Name

    A Brother Bracket stood to his feet and spoke:1BIO 422.2

    I now move that we adopt a name, as we must have a name if we are to organize so as to hold property legally.—Ibid.

    Cautiously the conference moved into this highly sensitive area. Brother Poole feared that to adopt a general name would hurt them as a people. J. B. Frisbie was opposed to a sectarian name but saw the need for some uniformity of the terms by which the body of Sabbathkeepers would be known. Moses Hull thought that the churches in various places might be known as “the church worshiping on the seventh day in such and such places.” James White stated that he did not see how they could get along without some name, and they could not hold property without a name. The law was specific on that point. He could not see that this would be going into Babylon. M. E. Cornell was articulate in expressing his feelings:1BIO 422.3

    The commandments of God and the faith of Jesus is a distinguishing feature between us and the other denominations.... It looks to me too that the gifts of the church are lost sight of, and are not held in so important a light as they should be, if we give way to so much fear of our becoming Babylon merely by adopting a name. There is confusion in the names already chosen; and if something is not done here, churches will go on choosing different names still. A general name will bring us into unity and not confusion.—Ibid.1BIO 422.4

    T. J. Butler, speaking of the church, took the position that God who had framed and devised this building declared it to be “the church of God,” and he said, “If God has named us as parents have a right to name their children, does it not denote a lack of modesty to try to slip out and take no name, or another?”1BIO 422.5

    The discussion continued in earnest terms through the morning hours till eleven o'clock, when a recess seemed in order. The minutes of the discussion after lunch read:1BIO 423.1

    The question again brought before the meeting, “Shall we adopt some name?” Some who had previously been averse to such a step here signified their change of opinion, and their readiness to cooperate with their brethren in this course.—Ibid.1BIO 423.2

    Brother Sperry was willing to lay his prejudices on the altar, believing that God would give wisdom. Stephen Belden, employed in the Review office, expressed his feeling that going without a name would be like publishing books without titles, or sending out a paper without a heading.1BIO 423.3

    James White then took the floor and apologized for some of the brethren who seemed to be afraid of a name. The Review reported some of his comments:1BIO 423.4

    He had been in the same position once. In times past when we were comparatively few, he did not see the necessity of any such steps. But now large bodies of intelligent brethren are being raised up, and without some regulation of this kind will be thrown into confusion.1BIO 423.5

    He then gave a review of the past, mentioning the opposition which had been manifested by some all the way along, first against publishing a paper, then against issuing pamphlets, then against having an office, then against the sale of publications, then against church order, then against having a power press. It had been hard to bring the minds of some of the brethren to the necessity of these things; but they had all been essential to the prosperity of the cause.—Ibid.1BIO 423.6

    The motion to adopt a name was finally put before the delegates, and it carried. The record states, “None dissented, though a few declined to vote.” Turning again to the minutes, we find the story of the outcome, which gave birth to the name by which the Sabbathkeeping Adventists would be known.1BIO 423.7

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