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

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    Chapter 30—(1861) The Struggle for Church Organization Continues

    Without church organization, without appointed responsible leaders, without a creed, the rather loose-knit church was growing more and more unwieldy. Ministers and laymen who had met in Battle Creek in late September, 1860, in response to an invitation signed by four leading brethren and couched in the form of an announcement, set about to form a legal organization to hold the assets and manage the affairs of the publishing work. Out of the meeting came plans for a publishing association—but it could not organize legally until the legislature of the State of Michigan had formulated laws under which they could incorporate. Organizing the publishing work called for the choice of the name Seventh-day Adventists. The action of choosing a name set the field buzzing with the cry that the church was going into Babylon.1BIO 445.1

    On May 3, 1861, the Seventh-day Adventist Publishing Association was incorporated in harmony with laws newly formulated by the Michigan legislature, and on May 23, in Battle Creek, bylaws governing the operation of the corporation were adopted. Officers for the association were chosen as follows: President, James White Vice President, G. W. Amadon Secretary, E. S. Walker Treasurer, Uriah Smith Auditor, J. N. Loughborough1BIO 445.2

    James White was elected editor of the Review and Herald, and G. W. Amadon, editor of the Youth's Instructor.—The Review and Herald, May 28, 1861.1BIO 445.3

    At the conference in Battle Creek, April 26-29, 1861, the need of a new and more adequate building to house the publishing interests was discussed, and initial steps were taken to provide it and get the building under way. Before the meeting closed, attention turned to “a more complete organization of the church.” James White pleaded with his brethren in the ministry “to take hold of this work.” J. H. Waggoner said that even before he came to the conference he had “resolved so to do.” A motion made by Moses Hull called upon the ministers present to prepare an address to the church on the subject of church organization (Ibid., April 30, 1861).1BIO 446.1

    Little wonder that in her letter to Lucinda Hall, Ellen White had occasion for rejoicing. There was another point discussed and an action taken at this conference worthy of notice—a point quite apropos in the light of the speedy acquisition and wholehearted acceptance of a minister who proved to be given to levity:1BIO 446.2

    Whereas, In our opinion, remarks calculated to excite mirthfulness tend to grieve the Holy Spirit from our midst, and thus deprive us of the guidance of heaven in our deliberations, therefore1BIO 446.3

    Resolved, That we consider it a breach of order to indulge in such remarks, and we request the chairman to call to order any who may use them.1BIO 446.4

    And whereas, In view of the solemn time in which we are living, the holy, solemn message we profess, the importance of using “sound speech” and “words that shall administer grace to the hearers,” and in view of the fact that God's Word condemns in the most unequivocal terms the use of trifling thoughts and words, even declaring that for “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment,” therefore1BIO 446.5

    Resolved, 1. That this conference assembled, both preachers and lay members, covenant together to put away from us, whether in preaching or in social relations, all lightness and trifling. 2. That we recommend to our brethren scattered abroad to pursue a similar course, and rid themselves of this blighting sin which drives the Spirit of God from the hearts of His people.—Ibid.1BIO 446.6

    The accomplishments of this conference might be noted as step two in the struggle for full church organization. Many expressed words of appreciation, such as, “I am thankful for what I have seen and heard and felt during this meeting.”—Ibid.1BIO 447.1

    Uriah Smith, quite free from emotion, in his report of the conference, declared:1BIO 447.2

    God's signal blessing rested down, and at times the house resounded with shouts of praise and thanksgiving. The efforts that were made for freedom, for a bursting of the fetters with which the enemy would fain bind God's people, and for a consolidation of union between hearts which he had long been trying to estrange from each other, together with their results, were indeed encouraging.—Ibid.1BIO 447.3

    But what brought particular joy to Smith, and in fact to everyone else, was expressed thus:1BIO 447.4

    But most of all had we occasion to rejoice that freedom of spirit seemed to be returning to Brother White, and that he was enabled to testify that hope was again beginning to beam on his pathway. This was occasioned by the work which he saw being done for his brethren; and the happy change in him will be fully effected when the work necessary to be done by and for them is fully accomplished.—Ibid.1BIO 447.5

    Coming back to the spirit of the conference, Smith declared:1BIO 447.6

    The business meetings were characterized by promptness of action, and the utmost unanimity of sentiment, no dissenting vote being offered on a single question. The same Spirit that reigned through the other exercises of the conference seemed to pervade these meetings also, as may be seen by some of the resolutions offered. If the results and influence of this meeting do not prove as beneficial as those of any heretofore held in this place, our experience thus far has failed to qualify us to judge in this respect.—Ibid.

    Unfortunately, when reports of the conference were given in detail in the Review, not all saw it that way, as we shall soon note.1BIO 447.7

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