Exiting the General Conference Presidency—Part 1

In this two-part article, Dr. Gilbert Valentine explores the particular circumstances surrounding the exit from office of General Conference presidents Daniells and Butler, and then surveys the circumstances involved in the exit of the other occupants of the office of GC president since it was established in 1863. Originally published in 2019 to give historical context as the next General Conference session approached, it is republished here as the twice-delayed 2022 session finally is imminent.  

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/11785

this is such a fascinating reveal about the Daniells and Butler presidencies…it’s obvious that the politics of egw’s place in our church has been with us from the beginning, even when she was alive…it’s also obvious that the position of GC presidency has been a big deal from the get go…

to me, the situation we’re seeing with TW is most closely aligned with the Butler presidency…the whole push to preserve male-only ordination at any cost has been misguided from the start, and has involved a lot of miscalculation, even though the goal to stay faithful and true has been a good one…what’s becoming clear is that everything in conservative adventism isn’t necessarily good, and everything in progressive adventism isn’t necessarily bad…but a presidency predicated on an all or nothing conservative approach can’t really be responsive to these nuances…

now, in the aftermath of the pandemic, there seems to be a somewhat graceful opportunity for an exit, and TW should probably take advantage of it…he can be remembered well if he leaves now…if he stayed, and continued he’s war against where the church is obviously heading on WO, it likely won’t end well for him…and i don’t think anyone is interested in the acrimony and drama that could result…


Dr. Valentine’s historical analysis of the GC presidencies is immensely helpful, provided all the upcoming GC session delegates get to read it. Is that even possible? Leadership theory in general abhors top-down control; when dogma is involved, the fear of inclusion and listening rather than proclaiming, becomes overwhelming. As Dr. Valentine has shown, careful historical review can prevent us from making the same mistakes over and over again. What a gift to all of us!!


Very interesting! Well researched. I think the next GC President should be a woman, of course. :grimacing: Isn’t going to happen though I guess…

I remember Dr Valentine when he was Dean for the boys dorm at Longburn College (North New Zealand). My boyfriend and I were not allowed to hold hands.


This is seems to me that EGW should have made this a quiet private matter. These comments certainly destroyed either his ministry, family or marriage. Was he given an opportunity to refute these charges as false? Not after EGW destroyed this Pastor with her irrefutable testimony. Did she love her neighbor as herself? I wonder if she would have enjoyed an attack on her integrity from one of her former office workers changing her with massive, purposely hidden from the public–plagiarism?


Thank you for the very interesting article Dr. Valentine. In addition to learning about the “flavor” of these two General Conference presidencies, I was fascinated to read that “in 1854, Ellen White had intervened in this very same dispute over which law Galatians referred to. On that occasion, she had declared that the Moral Law interpretation was wrong.” I’m intrigued that later, she wrote ““The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). In this scripture, the Holy Spirit through the apostle is speaking especially of the moral law.” 1 SM 234.5. E. White goes on to indicate that because Adventist leaders rejected insights about Galatians 3 presented by Jones and Waggoner , “The light that is to lighten the whole earth with its glory was resisted, and by the action of our own brethren has been in a great degree kept away from the world.”1 SM 234.5-6.

I have no problem with E. White giving the matter further consideration and changing her mind about Galatians 3 versus the moral law - in fact I find it highly commendable she would admit she was mistaken and say so. In reading E. White’s February 18, 1887 letter to Jones and Waggoner, she says she was “shown” J. H. Waggoner’s “position in regard to the law was incorrect.” I have no problem interpreting this as someone showing E. White information that lead her to believe, at that time, that Waggoner’s position was incorrect. Yet Footnote 25 in your article states “Smith and Butler recalled that Ellen White had written her letter to Joseph Waggoner on the basis of a vision asserting that Waggoner had been wrong in his hermeneutics.” Do you happen to know what the incorrect hermeneutics were that were addressed in the vision, or is this something that hasn’t been discovered to date?

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