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Ellen G. White: The Early Elmshaven Years: 1900-1905 (vol. 5)

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    The Call to Move the College

    But there were other burdens that Ellen White carried on her heart. These related to the institutions in Battle Creek—all three of them, the publishing house, the Sanitarium, and the college. The college occupied her attention midway in the meeting. At half past five on Friday morning, April 12, she dispatched one of her helpers to the Magan home. Percy T. Magan was the dean of Battle Creek College, serving with Prof. E. A. Sutherland, the president. The message to the dean was that Sister White wanted to see him.5BIO 92.1

    Within a few minutes he was talking with her. As reported by Magan, she asked him whether he remembered when he and Professor Sutherland had through correspondence discussed the moving of the college out of Battle Creek. “‘I told you at the time,’ she said, ‘not to do it. Now I am ready to tell you to do it. What we will do with the old plant I do not know. I think possibly we may be able to sell it to the sanitarium. I do not think even then that we will be able to realize enough to pay off anything on the principal. Perhaps we will get enough to pay its debts. We will have to go out single-handed—empty-handed. It is time to get out now, for great things will soon be happening in Battle Creek.’”—Founder's Golden Anniversary Bulletin, 21, quoted in Merlin L. Neff, For God and A Call to Medical Evangelism and Health Education, 70.5BIO 92.2

    At nine o'clock Magan gave his report on the relief book plan he was directing. Ellen White had dedicated her book Christ's Object Lessons to the financial relief of Seventh-day Adventist educational institutions. Thousands of dollars had been raised as church members sold the books to their neighbors and friends and turned over the proceeds for debt reduction. Ellen White was seated on the platform with other workers who were leading out in this particular meeting. As Magan closed his report, he referred to the testimonies that called for a country location for Seventh-day Adventist schools and proposed that consideration be given to moving Battle Creek College to “a more favorable locality” (The General Conference Bulletin, 1901, 212).5BIO 92.3

    Then Ellen White rose to speak. She made reference to the experience with Christ's Object Lessons and then challenged the audience with this declaration:5BIO 92.4

    The light that has been given me is that Battle Creek has not the best influence over the students in our school. There is altogether too congested a state of things. The school, although it will mean a fewer number of students, should be moved out of Battle Creek. Get an extensive tract of land, and there begin the work which I entreated should be commenced before our school was established here—to get out of the cities, to a place where the students would not see things to remark upon and criticize, where they would not see the wayward course of this one and that one, but would settle down to diligent study.—Ibid., 215.5BIO 92.5

    She then reviewed their experience in Australia in the establishment of the Avondale school at Cooranbong, and admonished:5BIO 93.1

    Our schools should be located away from the cities, on a large tract of land, so that the students will have opportunity to do manual work. They should have opportunity to learn lessons from the objects which Christ used in the inculcation of truth. He pointed to the birds, to the flowers, to the sower and the reaper. In schools of this kind not only are the minds of the students benefited, but their physical powers are strengthened. All portions of the body are exercised. The education of mind and body is equalized....5BIO 93.2

    God wants the school to be taken out of Battle Creek.... Some may be stirred about the transfer of the school from Battle Creek. But they need not be. This move is in accordance with God's design for the school before the institution was established. But men could not see how this could be done. There were so many who said that the school must be in Battle Creek. Now we say that it must be somewhere else.—Ibid., 215, 216. And then she urged:5BIO 93.3

    The best thing that can be done is to dispose of the school's building here as soon as possible. Begin at once to look for a place where the school can be conducted on right lines. God wants us to place our children where they will not see and hear that which they should not see or hear.—Ibid., 216.5BIO 93.4

    At this point the meeting adjourned to 11:00 A.M., which left just a short intermission. Much of the rest of the morning was devoted to a consideration of the release of the denomination's schools from their financial obligations through the sale of Christ's Object Lessons and to the moving of Battle Creek College.5BIO 93.5

    Elder A. T. Jones, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Educational Society, asked for the floor. He referred to the appeal that the college be moved out of Battle Creek. He called for the stockholders of the Educational Society present who favored carrying out the instruction that had been given, to rise to their feet. The report is that there was a hearty response and that when the negative vote was called for, no one responded.5BIO 94.1

    Then the delegates of the General Conference session were asked to vote and this was unanimous. Finally, a third expression was called for from the congregation generally. Rising to their feet, they gave a unanimous affirmation to the decision to move the college from Battle Creek. History was made that day at the General Conference session, and when the fall term of school took up, it was at Berrien Springs, Michigan. This was the second marked instance of a wholehearted and immediate response at the General Conference of 1901 to counsel given by the messenger of the Lord that called for sweeping changes.5BIO 94.2

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