Archive for October, 2006


Organizational Restructuring

October 31, 2006

At the moment there is quite a lot of discussion about restructuring the SDA church. Sherman Cox II has two posts on his Adventist Pulpit blog. The first points readers to two articles by Harold Lee on the Adventist Review website: Church Structure in 2025 and Proposals for Structural Change. (Lee’s first article is reprinted in edited–shortened–form on the Re-Inventing the Adventist Wheel blog here.) Cox’s second post points to the website of the GC Commission on Ministries, Services, and Structures. The commission was set up following an action of the GC Annual Council on October 11, 2005 and held its first meeting on April 11, 2006. The commission’s website has a number of interesting documents available, including one by George Knight entitled Organized for Mission: The Development of Seventh-day Adventist Organizational Structures. Other good sources on the historical development of the SDA Church’s organizational structure include:

For a succinct overview of how the GC administration sees the SDA Church’s structure and governance, see this press-release created for the 2005 session.

For a radical reinvention of the Adventist Church (essentially a congregationalist approach) see Mission Catalyst’s website and blog. Blog the Future has a number of posts commenting on Mission Catalyst, church growth, and church organization and administration issues. Unfortunately it’s not currently being updated.

It will be interesting to see the outcomes of these meetings–will the SDA Church actually manage to make the necessary structural and organizational changes necessary if we are to efficiently work and survive in the 21st Century?

Change is never easy and likely to be quite painful. Even the SDA Church;’s early formation as a denomination faced serious opposition:

In 1844, the Millerite George Storrs expressed the position of many when he stated that “no church can be organized by man’s invention but that it becomes Babylon the moment it is organized.” (The Midnight Cry, February 15, 1844, 238.)


Richard Moko

October 30, 2006

Richard MokoRichard Moko was a Xhosa who was the first Black ordained SDA minister in South Africa. Unfortunately, very little is known about his life and work–and some of what little information there is–is conflcting. He may have been a minister in the Congregational Church previously. Moko was baptised in the Kimberley in 1895 and granted a licence to preach in 1897. He worked mainly in the Eastern Cape at King William Town, East London, and various rural areas. He wrote the first tract that the SDA church in South Africa published—in 1895—in an African language (Xhosa).

There is a good article by Keith Tankard about one of Moko’s experiences as an evangelist online: Richard Moko: The Very Strange Case of an African Missionary.

The only other online information that I’m aware of is a copy of Moko’s entry in the SDA Encyclopedia which has been made available through the online Dictionary of African Christian Biography project here.

I scanned the above picture from the June 15, 1971 edition of the Trans-Africa Divison Outlook –apologies for its poor quality–I have not been able to find an original copy of the photo. Strangely enough, the article itself: “Journey into Yesterday: Our History–8″ by Jean Cripps, p5-8; contains no information on Moko at all–despite the presence of his picture! A group picture taken c. 1907 of SDA Church workers in South Africa includes Moko. The picture is published February 15, 1971 edition of the Trans-Africa Divison Outlook across pages 6&7 in the article: “Napoleonic Wars Enrich Africa: Our History–4″ by Jean Cripps, p5-8; but again no mention is made of Moko in the text.

J. B. Cooks “Richard Moko—First Indigenous Minister of our Church in South Africa”; (A 2 page paper available from the Adventist Heritage Centre at Helderberg College.) contains some information, though I’m not convinced of the correctness of much of its content.


Bradford’s More Than A Prophet

October 27, 2006

Graeme Bradford’s latest book More Than A Prophet has caused quite a stir. The Ellen G. White Estate itself has taken the unprecedented step of issuing a notice about its “strong concerns” regarding the book.

Bradford has replied to their statement here. (I’m grateful to the Adventist History blog for the heads-up regarding Bradford’s reply.

I confess that I have not yet read Bradford’s book yet, though I appreciated his two previous books: Prophets are Human and People Are Human. (Prophets are Human was in fact, one of the assigned readings for the Ministry and Message of Ellen G. White class that I taught this year.)

In the area of Ellen White studies I’d also like to recommend:

Alden Thompson‘s book: Escape From the Flames: how Ellen White grew from fear to joy and helped me do it also. (Pacific Press, 2005)

David Hamstra has an interview with Thompson about his book on his now inactive blog apokalupto.

George Knight’s four books: Reading Ellen White; Meeting Ellen White; Walking With Ellen White, & Ellen White’s World.

There was a conference held in the US last year: the Ellen White Summit 2005 & the audio & video recordings are available for download. Particularly worth listening too is the final Q&A session.


Sources for Adventist History #1

October 26, 2006

Thought I’d post some of my favourite sources for Adventist History that are available on the web. Some are well known, some are more obscure. I’d appreciate any suggestions from readers.

Adventist Archives: Contains online issues of Adventist Heritage magazine (no longer being published unfortunately; note too that 16:3 is not available, 16:2 is incorrectly linked in its place); Isaac Wellcome’s History of the Second Advent Message; and the Millerite periodcal The Midnight Cry (Vol. 1–1842); and other sources. Some files are in .pdf, others as Deja Vu files.

The Jenks Memorial Collection at Aurora University (Aurora was started by the Advent Christian Church, also a denomination arising out of the Millerites.) is the premier repository for information on William Miller. However, it does not (unfortunately) have a lot of material available online. They do however have pictures of some of their collection of Prophecy Charts which make interesting viewing.

A short illustrated article on Millerite art can be found here. It is hosted by Cornerstone Magazine.

Historical Documents on Command (H-DOC) is a great collection of documents hosted by Oakwood College. It is particularly focussed on Black Adventist History.

The Willard Library has a large online collection of historical photos of that Adventist stronghold–Battle Creek.

The GC Archives has a magnificent & ever-expanding collection of materials available online. It is fantastic that they have lead the way in this area, making historical documents available to researchers like myself in the more far-flung parts of the globe!

The Journal of Pacific Adventist History has some of its issues available online here. The quality of articles in quite variable, but it is a valuable resource on the history of the SDA Church in the South Pacific.

A brief survey article by Kathy Mandusic McDonnell on the Medicine of Jacksonian America makes interesting reading.


The Israel Dammon Trial

October 24, 2006

Recently Wayne commented:
“I have been scratching around and have come across references to the Israel Dammon trial, and his connection to Ellen Harmon and James White. We did not cover this in the class I did in EG White some years ago, and am wondering what to make of it?”

Well I confess that I didn’t cover this topic in either of the classes I taught in this area this year: (SDA History & Heritage & Ministry & Message of Ellen G. White). I certainly don’t feel that I glossed over any difficult areas–I covered everything from racism in the SDA Church to Ellen White & masturbation–but you simply can’t fit every single thing in a course & the Israel Dammon trial was one thing that I did leave out.

For those who haven’t heard, information about this incident was uncovered by an ex-Adventist–Bruce Weaver, & was ultimately published in the now defunct Adventist Currents, 3:1, 1988. (If anyone has access to a complete set of these magazines , let me know, I’d love to turn them into .pdfs and make them available online, they were a response to a very important period of SDA history: the Glacier View meeting & aftermath, & have some interesting information not available elesewhere.) Weaver’s story is available on the web in a number of places, including (a non-official website).

A parallel account–and apparently an earlier one (though Weaver says that he wrote his in 1986-87)–was published in Spectrum 17:5 (1987). Spectrum published two articles: a reprint of the original account from the Piscataquis Farmer (Dover, Maine) March 7, 1845, (See here for information on the paper’s history & publication.) and a commentary and discussion by 5 SDA historians: Jonathan Butler, Ronald Graybill, Frederick Hoyt, and Rennie Schoepflin. According to Spectrum’s account, the document (the Piscataquis Farmer article) was discovered by Frederick Hoyt in about 1984, however he did not share his find until 1987.

The SDA Church’s official response (via the EGW Estate) can be found here. They make the very valid point that “none of the witnesses in the record of Israel Dammon’s trial allege any fanatical activity by 17-year-old Ellen Harmon.”

It should also be noted that Ellen White does make brief mention of some of the events in Spiritual Gifts, Vol. 2, pp. 40-42. (Available online here.) Much has been made by some concerning differences between White’s account & the Piscataquis Farmer article. See here. Judge for yourself how important many of these “contradictions” are. (Such accounts always seem to assume that the Piscataquis Farmer‘s account is 100% accurate.)

Contemporary historians generally recognize that at least part of the early Adventist Church was heavily involved in what we could call “enthusiastic religion”, and that the Dammon incident should be seen in that light.

Arthur Patrick has a helpful article: “Early Adventist Worship, Ellen White and the Holy Spirit: Preliminary Historical Perspectives” published online on the At Issue website.

Spectrum has published a review entitled “The Shouting Ellen White“, a review by A. Gregory Schneider of Ann Taves’ book: Fits, Trances, and Visions: Experiencing Religion and Explaining Experience from Wesley to James (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999); which is helpful if you don’t have access to Taves’ book itself.

Spectrum also published an article by Frederick Hoyt: “‘We Lifted Up Our Voices Like a Trumpet’: Millerites in Portland, Maine” 17:5 (1987), p15-22; which gives some helpful background.

Another useful article–though only available online through JSTOR (most colleges & universities will have access) is Jonathan M. Butler, “Prophecy, Gender, and Culture: Ellen Gould Harmon (White) and the Roots of Seventh-Day Adventism.” Religion and American Culture 1:1 (1991): 3-29.

A final interesting reference on enthusiastic religion generally (focussing on Western New York) is Saints, Sinners and Reformers: The Burned-Over District Re-Visited by John H. Martin.

Gregory A. Schneider concludes his aforementioned review with the following words:
“Adventists informed by critical historical study of their community are as much a part of the making of Adventism as those who would demonize such study. They may use their broader, deeper knowledge of the Adventist story to help form a spirit in self and community that is in turn broader, deeper, and, we may hope, less defensive. Less defensive because our critical knowledge, if acquired and used in faith, lets us understand that our Adventist community is but one of those “earthen vessels” into which our Savior is pouring grace and favor for the world’s salvation.”

To Schneider’s statement I’d add two more quotes:
“When studying certain phases of history, particularly with reference to our movement, some fear that our faith might be weakened. Some fear that an intensive study of certain records and documents might change our viewpoint of the truth. Some are being discouraged to study too closely certain chapters of history lest they discover disquieting facts. But if truth cannot stand the test of historical research, then it is not truth. Our cause has nothing to hide, and nothing ought to be hidden from our cause. There must be a loyal and complete study of all available material.” Daniel Walther, “How Shall We Study History?” Ministry August 1939, 12.

and finally:
“In reviewing our past history…I can say, Praise God! As I see what the Lord has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as our leader. We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has lead us and his teaching in our past history.” Ellen G. White, Life Sketches, 196.

History IS important!


Adventism in Africa: Varieties in a Religious Movement

October 23, 2006

I am excited to be a part of a book project on Adventism in Africa. The book is to be co-edited by Stefan Hoschele of Friedensau Adventist University and Nehemiah Nyaundi of the University of Eastern Africa, Baraton. It will be part of the Adventistica series published by the Archives of Adventist History, Friedensau, with Peter Lang Publishers. The project has a homepage with more information. We are also collaborating to assemble a comprehensive database on Adventism in Africa which will be available online. If you are aware of significant works–particularly unpublished theses and other papers–that could be included, please let me know.

Stefan Hoschele has a book available on the historical development of Adventist missions: From the End of the World to the Ends of the Earth: The Development of Seventh-Day Adventist Missiology,
(Nurnberg: Verlag fur Theologie und Religionswissenschaft, 2004).

I have not seen a copy yet, but I hope to get my hands on one soon. You can order a copy from Stefan:


Speed Dating?

October 20, 2006

It’s a little off the main thrust of this blog but I was intrigued by the concept & figured it merited a mention.

A group called SoulConnexion in the UK is offering “speed dating” for prospective members:

“SoulConnexion is a new and wonderful opportunity to meet with people from ten differing Christian churches in the Swindon area to explore whether a relationship with one of them might suit you.
Ten different church communities each express their Christianity in ten different ways.
Why not give all of them the once over?
Their differences can make a difference to your life!”

I have no idea if there’s an SDA church in Swindon, but I’m pretty sure that even if there was, they wouldn’t be participating. After all, we’re the remnant–not just an alternative!

The whole idea raises the issue of what would induce someone to visit a church in the first place–Exactly how great a role does the pastor play in the first place?

If you were a pastor involved in a similar event, what would you say or do in your five minutes?

The event takes place today; it will be interesting to see what the outcome is–and if SoulConnexion lets us know!
Thank to the Religion Blog Digest for the heads-up.


Bacchiocchi’s Sabbath to Sunday

October 17, 2006

I came across an interesting blog posting at xcg–a blog that deals with the “theology, churches, and culture that grew out of Herbert W. Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God”. In a post entitled “Bacchiochi’s Gregorian Controversy” some interesting data is given regarding the veracity of some of Bacchiochi’s claims about his doctoral study & subsequent book: From Sabbath to Sunday. Now I’m not interested in getting into an arguement about the veracity of Bacchiocchi’s research itself, rather I’m interested in the claims he makes about his education, books, and research. A letter sent by the Secretary General of the Pontifical Gregorian University to the Most Reverend James A. Murray, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan; is quoted as saying:

Dr. Bacchiocchi did indeed graduate with a doctoral degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and was the first non-Catholic to do so. However, other claims he makes do not match those in our records. Those include:

1. He did not receive a summa from the Gregorian as he maintains.
2. He did not receive the Pope’s Gold Medal (this is presented each year in a public ceremony to only a handful of students who have achieved the highest quality of work in their dissertations).
3. He was not allowed to publish his dissertation in whole. Due to extensive problems with the text, he was only allowed to publish one chapter of his work and this only after extensive revision. The publication of one chapter signifies the minimum requirement to receive the doctoral degree at the Gregorian. His publicity and web site indicate that the whole dissertation has been published in book form with surrounding claims about its quality as a Gregorian publication. He has also used the official signature of the Gregorian University Press on the cover page of a book published by Biblical Perspectives.
4. At one time an imprimatur was claimed by Dr. Bacchiocchi, though we understand he later said this had been rescinded. As you know, this does not happen, nor does the Church find a need to give an imprimatur to non-Catholics who write on a variety of topics.

If this is in fact correct, then it seems that Bacchiocci has a problem.


New Editor at the Adventist Review

October 15, 2006

Well it looks like there’s a new editor at the Adventist Review. Bill Knott was elected editor at the recently held 2006 Annual Council. You can read the Adventist Review‘s official press release here. Read an interview with Knott and further information surrounding the the election at the Adventist Today website.

Apparently, Knott’s election was not without controversy (he was elected 170-69, a far from unanimous verdict!)–read Andy Nash’s thoughts at Spectrum magazine on this event: Opportunity Lost: Why Adams Should Have Been Review Editor“. (Thanks to Spectrum Blog for the heads-up.) The controversy arises because only one name–Knott’s–was brought before the Annual Council when 6 months previously at the Spring Council meeting Knot’s name was returned to the nominating committee and it was specifically requested that Roy Adams be considered for the position. Such a situation is typical of SDA Church procedure at the highest of levels–only a single name is ever brought forward to be voted on for positions such as President. While other names are considered by the nominating committee, the church itself as represented by the delegates–only ever sees one name. Thus the power of the delegates themselves is substantially reduced and that of the nominating committee enhanced greatly (Note that in this case it was the Adventist Review Publishing Board that made the recommendation.). Similarly, there is a general lack of openness about procedures and names considered for such positions–thus making independent media such as Spectrum and Adventist Today of crucial importance.

Turns out that Knott is an historian (yaaay!!)–according to the aforementioned press release he wrote his PhD thesis on “the career of early Adventist reformer and missionary Hannah More.”

Having (I confess) never heard of More, I did a little research. The first Hannah More I came across was a Hannah More (1745-1833)–obviously too early to be the correct one. Still, she is an interesting individual; take a moment to read about her achivements here.

Th next Hannah More I came across appears to be the right one. The entire story is a little unclear–this should encourage Knott to publish his dissertation (it was only awarded this year). In summary then:

From Rex Riches PhD Thesis, “Establishing the British Mission of the Seventh-day Adventist Church 1863-1887″ published online at the excellent British Union Conference Historical Archive (every Union Conference should follow their lead!) comes the following quote: “Early in 1864 two Christian missionaries, Hannah More, an American, and Alexander Dickson, an Australian, indicated that they had become “whole hearted Seventh-day Adventists” through the reading of Seventh-day Adventist literature while serving as missionaries in Africa. More had briefly met [Stephen] Haskell in 1862, and when she left for Africa in 1863 she made a request for the Church to send literature and a missionary. More and Dickson appear to have remained in Africa unofficially representing the Seventh-day Adventist Church, perhaps as the first self-supporting missionaries of the church. Through More’s influence, literature was sent to “every missionary station on [the] African shore” and to William Muller at The Orphan Asylum, Bristol, England. Unfortunately, due to sickness, More returned home to America for treatment at Battle Creek with the intention of continuing her work on recovery. However, she died in 1868 and another missionary opportunity was aborted.”

From a paper entitled “200 Years of Sabbath-keeping in Australia” presented by Bruce Dean at the Friends of the Sabbath Conference held in Sydney, 5–8 July 1996–and available as a .pdf on the Servants’ News website (and available in .html on the Giving and Sharing website) comes a little more information: “Before 1885 the sole voice [promoting the seventh-day Sabbath] was Alexander Dickson who had earlier left Melbourne with Miss Hannah More, an American missionary teacher who had toiled in Sierra Leone. During her holidays in America she was given a copy of Pastor James Andrew’s [sic: Note that James Andrew's should read John Andrews'.] History of the Sabbath and other literature. She shared it with Alexander Dickson.” In 1864 she wrote to the Adventist Review and Sabbath Herald: “Thank God I now see clearly that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord my God and am keeping it according to the commandment. Mr. Dickson also is keeping it. I do not know of any others on the coast who keep the seventh day. Your people may now consider that you have a wholehearted Seventh-Day [sic] Adventist here, waiting with you for that blessed appearing of Him whom we love and adore and purpose to worship evermore.”

More information comes from the writings of Ellen G. White, who wrote letters to More after she had returned to America. More’s situation forms the basis for two of White’s “testimonies” including:”The Case of Hannah More” in Volume 1, and “Neglect of Hannah More” in Volume 2 (p140-145). More is also mentioned in Volume 3 (p407-408). After her return from Africa, it seems More had travelled to Battle Creek, MI (via Australia). She had not found any work or assistance amongst the SDAs there and had subsequently found employment with the Thompson family in Leelenaw County. Shortly after this More died and White castigates the Battle Creek SDAs, saying: “Our brethren at Battle Creek and in this vicinity could have made more than a welcome home for Jesus, in the person of this godly woman….She died a martyr to the selfishness and covetoussness of professed commandment keepers.” (Testimonies Vol. 1 p674.)

A children’s paper called Temkit (available in .pdf) has published More’s story as: “Inasmuch as ye did it Not! The Hannah More Story“.

More then, appears to be a key figure in SDA history–being one of the earliest missionaries (albeit self-supporting and affiliated with a non-SDA group) to Africa. She will be added to my 2007 SDA History & Heritage course.

Despite the controversy surrounding Knott’s appointment I’m grateful for it pointing me to Hannah More. Having an historian in charge of the Adventist Review can’t be a bad thing!



October 13, 2006

Recently I came across information on a Pennsylvanian Millerite named Peter E. Armstrong. Unlike the majority of Millerites, following the Great Disappointment of October 22, 1844, Armstrong’s faith remained unshaken.

Peter ArmstrongArmstrong took literally Isaiah’s command, “in the wilderness prepare ye the way of the Lord” and preached that such preparation must include:

  • a divine communism of believers united in their faith;
  • a perfect theocracy on earth where God’s rule was ultimate;
  • and, construction of a physical temple.

Armstrong believed his vocation was to undertake and lead such preparation by establishing a new city, pure from past sins, a sacred place where true believers could “join themselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant”, live according to divine law under the direction of an inspired leader, build a Temple, and enter into eternal life without seeing death.

In 1850, Armstrong and a small group of followers established a community outside the town of Laporte in the Endless Mountains of Sullivan County, Pennsylvania. In honor of the great heavenly event that he predicted would occur on that very site, Armstrong called this place Celestia. A town plan was laid out in squares with lots measuring 20 by 100 feet, and it was reported that over 300 of these lots had been sold at $10 apiece by 1853. By 1860, the Christian utopia of Celestia was spread over 600 acres. The small but thriving village included a machine shop, a meeting house, sawmill, and store, which members owned communally. Celestia was primarily a self-sufficient farming community with some income derived from sales of wool and maple products, sales of lots, profits from the store, and contributions from nonresident believers. By 1860, the community was established—if not flourishing.

To make their purpose plain to all, Armstrong deeded four square miles of Celestia to “Almighty God and to his heirs in Jesus Messiah for their proper use and…forever.” Then they waited for signs of Christ’s return to earth.

They didn’t have to wait long. To the residents of Celestia and other millennialist Christians across the nation, the opening guns of the Civil War in 1860 were a sure sign of Christ’s Second Coming. Armstrong forbade the young men of the community from registering for the draft and the residents of Celestia continued their private mission of devotion, prayer, and watchful waiting, but still Christ did not appear. After one of the believers received a draft notice to report to the Union Army, President Lincoln was persuaded to exempt all members of the community from military service. Armstrong also petitioned the State House of Representatives for official recognition that those in Celestia who remained faithful were “peaceable aliens and wilderness exiles from the rest of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania”.

“Believers should not waste their time and efforts fixing dates,” Armstrong wrote in The Day Star of Zion, a newspaper he published in Celestia, “Rather, Christ’s command was to prepare him a house and watch in readiness for His return.”

By deeding the land to God, Peter Armstrong assumed it would be considered sacred land and not subject to property taxes. This view was not shared by the County authorities, and around 1876 payment of back taxes was demanded. When Armstrong’s followers were unable to come up with the funds the land was sold. Armstrong’s son purchased the property, but the spirit and faith of the community began to dissipate. Celestia had also been disturbed by the arrival of families whose interests were less spiritual than secular. Some apparently sought draft exemption, or an escape from normal society, or to live fairly easily at community expense. In order to protect believers at Celestia from such newcomers, Armstrong had established a village called Glen Sharon one mile south of Sonestown in 1872. Here aspiring Celestians could resolve any doubts and show themselves fully fit to be citizens of the sacred city. despite this, Celestia seems to have declined in numbers and faith. There was a brief revival of enthusiasm at Celestia in 1880, but this energy soon dissipated. Armstrong himself spent increasingly less time there and was clearly unable to transform his original vision into reality. When Peter Armstrong died at Celestia on June 20, 1887, aged 69, the community had already disintegrated, though a few believers lingered for several years.Celestia Historical Marker

Abandoned and forgotten, it became a ghost town. Over the years, homes collapsed and fields returned to forest as nature quietly reclaimed the celestial city.

Sullivan County Historical Society Article

Museumnet Article

Celestia Historical Marker Information

Philadelphia Newspaper Article


ASDAH: The Association of SDA Historians

October 11, 2006

Newsflash: There is an association for SDA Historians!

Question: Why have you never heard of it?

Answer: Because they do not have a website & apparently make little or no attempt at advertising their existence.

FYI: The President of ASDAH is Dr Ciro Sepulveda ASDAH has a conference (their tri-annual meeting) next year at Oakwood College, April 19-22, 2007. The theme is “Adventism, Change and identity.” Proposals are invited in all areas of history: Adventist, African, European, Latin American etc. You can submit proposals to Dr Nigel Barham I hope to attend & present a paper–if my employer can come up with some funding!


Another Adventist History Blog

October 10, 2006

Hobbes’ Place is not alone in blogging on Adventist History! A google search last night brought me to: So far there are only 3 posts & the last post is a couple of months old, but it is good to know I am not alone. Keep up the good work whoever you are!


More Forgotten Heralds: Early Adventist Women Ministers

October 1, 2006

Ellen Lane (?-1889). According to Michael Bernoi, Lane is thought to be the first woman to have received a ministerial license–being licensed to preach by the Michigan Conference in 1868. In 1878, she was granted a license by the General Conference (GC). She was known as an excellent preacher (said to have been more popular than her husband!) and evangelist, and was skilled in pastoral work. However, Samuel Koranteng-Pipim in his article “Early Adventist History and the Ministry of Women: A Closer Look at Recent Reinterpretations of Adventist History, Part 1” published in the conservative journal, Adventists Affirm states that “The Michigan Conference did not license Ellen Lane in 1868, as claimed. The minutes show that the licentiates that year were ‘Wm. C. Gage, James G. Sterling, and Uriah Smith’. Though she was indeed licensed in 1878, as the chapter [in Bernoi] states, she was actually first licensed in 1875. Further, she was not the first woman licentiate among Seventh-day Adventists, a distinction that apparently belongs to Sarah A. H. Lindsey.”

Sarah A. Lindsey (1843-1912). Sarah worked in western NY & Pennsylvania as an evangelist with her husband John. She received a ministerial license in 1871.

Margaret CaroMargaret Caro (1848-1938) was an Australian dentist and bible-worker. She held ministerial credentials and worked in Australia and New Zealand. Ellen White met her in Australia and in 1893 wrote in a letter to Jennie Inggs:
“I am greatly attached to her. She holds her diploma as dentist and her credentials as a minister. She speaks to the church when there is no minister, so you see she is a very capable woman.” (Letter 33, 1893.)

Sarepta Myendra Irish HenrySarepta Myendra Irish Henry (1839-1900). Intensely interested in temperance, she became the national evangelist for the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union. Following a severe illness, she recovered at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. While there she accepted SDA teachings and, late in 1896, joined the church.
Henry was the founder of Women’s Ministry in the SDA Church. In 1898, the question of ministerial license was discussed at the GC: “Several remarked that it was their judgment that she should receive a ministerial license, which would be more in keeping with her line of work. A motion prevailed to grant her such recognition form the General Conference.” (General Conference Committee Minutes, March 30, 1898.)

Hetty and Stephen HaskellHetty Hurd Haskell (1857-1919). In 1884, Hetty Hurd attended an SDA camp-meeting in California and was converted. That year she gave up her teaching position and began 34 years of service as a teacher, bible-worker, and missionary for the SDA Church. Holding a ministerial license, she was known as a powerful preacher. Hurd was called to train workers in England (1887-1892), South Africa (1892-1897), and Australia. While working in Australia, she met Stephen N. Haskell. They were married in 1897. After returning to the US, they published the Bible Training School magazine to assist them in their work of educating workers for God.

Helen Stanton Williams (1868-1940). Stanton studied at Battle Creek College and took employment in 1887 as a Bible worker for the Michigan Conference. For two years Stanton taught worked in Grand Rapids and Saginaw, before moving to Indianapolis. She married Eugene Williams in 1890. She was a popular preacher and evangelist and was issued a ministerial license in 1897. In 1908 she travelled with her husband and two sons to South Africa. Her husband was elected president of the Cape Colony Conference and Helen was active in evangelism. In 1910 Eugene died. Helen continued to work in South Africa as a minister for four years—pastoring a church and working as an evangelist.

Lulu Russell Wightman (dates unknown). Lulu Russell Wightman was the most successful minister in New York state for more than a decade. Her ministry began when she was licensed as a minister in 1897 and continued even after she left New York State to engage in religious liberty work in Kansas and Missouri in 1908. The results from Wightman’s ministry rank her not only as the most outstanding evangelist in New York during her time, but among the most successful within the Adventist Church for any time period. SDA churches in Hornellsville, Gas Springs, Wallace, Silver Creek, Geneva, Angola, Gorham, Fredonia, Avoca, Rushville, Canandaigua, and Penn Yan in New York state were all established by Lulu Wightman.
In 1897, Pastor S. M. Cobb, wrote to the New York Conference president in reference to Lulu Wightman:
“She has accomplished more the last two years than any minister in this state…I am…in favor of giving license to Sr. Lulu Wightman to preach, and if Bro. W is a man of ability and works with his wife and promises to make a successful laborer, I am in favor of giving him license also.”
In 1901 the New York Conference president sent this note to John Wightman, Lulu’s husband: “Enclosed find a small token of appreciation from the Conference Committee for your work in assisting your wife.” Lulu Wightman was the licensed minister, and the conference sent money to her husband in appreciation for his assistance to her!
Her husband John Wightman was ordained in 1905, two years after he had been licensed. Lulu Wightman had been New York’s most effective minister for nine years, but was never ordained.
In 1910 the president of the Central Union Conference, B. T. Russell, circulated a 16-page pamphlet against his sister and brother-in-law, the Wightmans, stating that they opposed the church structure. As a result the Wightmans were dropped from church employment.

Lorena Florence (Flora) PlummerLorena Florence (Flora) Plummer (1862-1945). In 1897 Plummer was elected Secretary of the Iowa Conference. For a time in 1900, she was acting Conference President. In 1913 she was called to head the SS Department at the GC, a position she held until her retirement in 1936.

Anna Knight

Anna Knight (1874-1972). Knight attended Battle Creek College, graduating as a nurse. In 1898 she went to Jasper County, Mississippi where she worked in temperance and established a school for blacks. In 1901 she travelled to India as a missionary, serving for six years. She returned home to the US, and in 1913 became the Home Missionary Secretary for the Southeastern Union Conference. Six years later she was placed in charge of the Home Missionary Department. She held this position until her retirement in 1945.

Josephine Benton, Called by God, Smithsburg: Blackberry Hill, 1990.

Michael Bernoi, “Nineteenth century Women in Adventist Ministry Against the Backdrop of the Times,” in Women in Ministry, Nancy Vhymeister (ed.), Berrien Springs: Andrews University Press, 1998, 211-233.

Bert Haloviak, “A Place at the Table: Women and the Early Years,” in The Welcome Table, Patricia A. Habada and Rebecca Frost Brillhart (eds.), Langley Park: TEAMPress, 1995.

Bert Haloviak, Route to the Ordination of Women in the Seventh-day Adventist Church: Two Paths, 1985.

Samuel Koranteng-Pipim, “Early Adventist History and the Ministry of Women: A Closer Look at Recent Reinterpretations of Adventist History, Part 1Adventists Affirm

Kit Watts, “Ellen White’s Contemporaries: Significant Women in the Early Church,” in A Woman’s Place: Seventh-day Adventist Women in Church and Society, Rosa Taylor Banks (ed.), Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 1992, 41-74.


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