A Prayer for Ellen White and for Us

At 3:40 pm, Thursday, July 16, 2015, a small crowd of people gathered on the steps of Ellen White’s Elmshaven home in St. Helena, California to pause for a moment of silence and then prayer in honor of the co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church who died at that hour one hundred years ago in that house.

Jim Pedersen, president of the Northern California Conference, offered a moving prayer. He acknowledged the sacredness of the place, because angels visited Mrs. White there. He gave thanks for her and her guidance to the community. Then he asked for forgiveness for the times when we have ignored her advice, for when we have put her words above the Bible, for when we have used her words to judge other people.

The Centennial Legacy Conference, of which the prayer was a part, began at noon with a keynote address by Eric Anderson, director of the Walter C. Utt Center for Adventist History. Anderson spoke of Mrs. White as an “unknown eminence” in the Napa Valley, “a famous nobody,” suggesting that a rebuilt grist mill and the empty place where Robert Louis Stevenson briefly lived generate more public interest in the Valley.

Then he made the case that “you don’t have to be a Seventh-day Adventist to be interested in Ellen G. White.” Smithsonian magazine’s ranking of Mrs. White as one of the 100 most significant Americans of all time was his first reason that she deserves attention.

His second reason was the book published by Oxford University Press, a scholarly study entitled Ellen Harmon White: American Prophet, that neither debunked her or defended her. The goal of the book was simply to understand her, to put her into historical context, he said.

Suggesting that Adventists like this attention that Mrs. White has received, he said that it also makes us nervous because we cannot control it. Once someone belongs to the ages as was said of Abraham Lincoln when he died, his associates can no longer control his story.

Anderson had more reasons for the significance of Mrs. White and why the same educated and curious general audience that visits Angel Island, Sutter’s Fort, or Bale Mill should visit Elmshaven. Calling attention to the St. Helena Hospital just up the road, he spoke of the ideas and health institutions that she started that now span the world. Then he noted the educational institutions she started and mentioned Pacific Union College also nearby.

Ellen White’s achievements and life are distinctly American he asserted, citing Alexis de Tocqueville observations about the America of Ellen White’s day. He said she fit the pattern described by de Tocqueville. “She traveled widely, wrote tirelessly, and promoted impossible dreams, including founding colleges, building hospitals, and sending missionaries. In a decorous and motherly way, she also challenged deeply rooted ideas about the role of women. With no direct affiliation with the feminist movements of her day, she was prepared to preach to large crowds, rebuke patriarchs among her followers, and hold men and women to the same moral standards.”

The conference continues on Friday with presentations by George Knight, Elissa Kido, James Nix, and James and Cheryl Peters. On Sabbath David Trim and Ted Wilson will speak.

Bonnie Dwyer is Editor of Spectrum Magazine.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/6978

So who is giving the eulogy? How long must we be kept grieving for the truth my aunt lived? Why exonerate so many wakadoodle beliefs about her, most of which she saw and patently denied while alive?

Trust The BEing!


egw was remarkable, no question…prophets just don’t come around every day…


I would love to have attended this conference, but the next best thing is that it is available on Livestream.com (Once you have signed up/logged in, search for “PUC church” and you will find the EGW centennial presentations listed, beginning with tonight’s presentation).


Is the much larger Adventist population outside the U.S. remembering her anniversary? According to the comments from overseas, she is not revered in the same manner and considered a U.S. historical figure. The rest of world Adventists no longer look to the U.S. church as we discovered at San Antonio.

Maybe, as Kenn wrote, we should let her RIP and not keep reprinting the 19th century beliefs that make no sense 150 years later. The most quoted book, which she never wrote: “Mrs. White Says.”


Elmshaven is a most lovely Victorian home,
worth a visit, regardless of its significance for SDA’s.

Ellen, an indefatigable worker, prolific writer,
constant traveller, and inveterate public speaker,
deserved a lovely home in her old age.

The docent, on my visit there pointed out
a water tank tower, so that there would be
sufficient water pressure for
a flush toilet – one of the first in the Bay Area.
Ellen also had her own full time dress maker-
a lovely horse drawn carriage complete with driver
–more,power to her!
In her era, women were second class citizens, undervalued,
and with subtle discriminations against them.
Her lovely home is a symbol of her life’s success,
in the face of innumerable obstacles, griefs and hardships!

On this centennial of her death, can we imagine
her reaction, if like the legendary Rip Van Winkle,
she would awaken out of a century of slumber,
to a NEW AGE,

She would be absolutely aghast, when we
imformed her that in 2015,
Christ had not yet come!.

She had often proclaimed that Christ
would only come when God was "vindicated"
before “the universe”.

To chronicle what “the universe” had witnessed
since her death, we would show her newsreel footage.

We would show her the raw footage,
not the sanitized versions suitable for the
family news hour.
She would cringe at the horrific genocides
– the Armenian, Stalins’s Gulag, the Holocaiust,
the Cambodian Pot Pol, the Ruandan, the Bosnian.
The World Wsr One atrocities – poison gas, trench warfare,
would horrify her – even more so the events of
World War Two-- the London Blitz, Hiroshima,

The famines, earthquakes, tsunamis,
civil wars, ISIS atrocities would numb her.

She would be utterly dismayed at the incapabability
of “the universe” to come to a suitable arbitration
in the “great controversy”, in the face of such
seemingly incontrovertible evidence as to Satn’s infamy".

She would no doubt agree that the price tag,
for the delay in Christ’s coming,
exacted in mankind’s MISERY.
was getting prohibitively EXPENSIVE.

Confronted by these harsh truths,
would Ellen conceed that
"the universe’s" seeming inability to grasp
even the most horrific events as evidence of
Satan’s infamy,
and God’s seeming inability to convince
his own Angels of His Goodness
after SIX THOUSAND years,
makes EGW’s Great Controversy doctrine
no longer persuasively tenable?


I for one, do not so think. In fact, I think that it validates the basic premise of the Great Controversy… that the God who lovingly created creatures with the ability to refuse to love him was and is loving enough to allow all to make their own decisions as to whether they will recognize God and His Way or Satan and his way as the God whom we choose as our own.

We can be thankful that we have an infinitely patient God who will wait for the last person to be born before he closes the Controversy for eternity.


Consulting with (supposed) spirits of the dead is a practice frowned upon in Christianity yet many Adventists hold the equivalent of a seance to consult with the spirit of EGW. The woman has been dead for 100 years. Let her rest in peace. If it were possible to bring her back from the dead, I am sure she would be stunned at how things have turned out and amused at how her words are twisted to justify varying positions. No doubt she would revise some of her positions, even as she did during her lifetime.


I am intrigued by the heading of the essay. While I know it is not meant to suggest Adventists would condone or practice “prayer for the dead”, it certainly triggered a line of thought.


You love to broadcast the fact that you’re distantly related to her, but you don’t appear to accept her gift of prophecy. If I were related to her, and thought she was a false prophet, I would be embarrassed to admit the relation.


I find this statement puzzling. Is God going to sterilize mankind, so that at some point, babies will cease to be born?

It is not her gift that I am embarrassed about, but the inappropriate way it has been exonerated, most often to shame others and to claim a special exemption as a church body, both of which are clearly contrary to the Word and Spirit of God.

Trust The Being.


[quote=“Bille, post:7, topic:8983”]
I for one, do not so think. In fact, I think that it validates the basic premise of the Great Controversy… that the God who lovingly created creatures with the ability to refuse to love him was and is loving enough to allow all to make their own decisions as to whether they will recognize God and His Way or Satan and his way as the God whom we choose as our own.[/quote]

I agree. God has so much patience that He’ll try to save as many as He can before He comes.

I have often heard that God is trying to save as many as he can before he comes, or a similar idea. Based on the math, each generation he waits, he is losing more people that he is saving. That assumes that there are roughly 2 billion Christians out of 7 billion inhabitants. It also assumes that you need to be Christian or Adventist to be saved, which is what the original statement assumes.

If God wants to maximize the percentage of people in heaven, he should come right now. If he wants to maximize the number of people in heaven, he should wait as long as possible - as long as there is still one person on earth that will come to Christ.

If this is the case, why would God tarry a little longer? Doesn’t seem to be an optimal outcome.


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I agree that the SOP has been misused many times, but most of the criticism here on Spectrum is of the nature of unbelief. It is often denied that she had the gift of prophecy, and it is claimed that she contradicted Scripture. I don’t believe those criticisms are valid.


“Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement.” -Testimonies For The Church Vol. 5 page 214


In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit -Ephesians 1:13


The truth of the matter is that one need not qualify their redemption to God by some other person, especially an eighteen-century post-cross prophet.

Trust God.


All I can say is that I do believe that He is in control and knows when is the time He needs to come. I don’t even know what will happen 10 minutes from now.

I see your point but it’s beyond my simple understanding as to why He tarries.

You call that a contradiction? The term “seal” is used in more than one way, and these are complimentary, not contradictory.

I assume you’ve read what Ellen White has to say about it. I can’t remember all the references, but there are several reasons: He is “longsuffering,” not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. II Pet. 3:9; also, the church is not ready. I believe it’s less united than ever, and something has to give. He cannot pour out His Spirit on a disjointed, fractured church. I believe it will be The Shaking that finally unites what’s left of the church when it (the shaking) reaches its climax. Those are the two main reasons that I can think of off the top of my head.

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