Archive for the ‘Adventism’ Category


Irene Morgan

November 6, 2006

The story of Irene Morgan has been told before—most comprehensively for an Adventist audience here. However, it is good to remind ourselves periodically of our history.

To summarize:
“Eleven years before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama, a young woman named Irene Morgan rejected that same demand on an interstate bus headed to Maryland from Gloucester, Virginia. Recovering from surgery and already sitting far in the back, she defied the driver’s order to surrender her seat to a white couple. Like Parks, Morgan was arrested and jailed. But her action caught the attention of lawyers from the NAACP, led by Thurgood Marshall, and in two years her case reached the Supreme Court.
Though the lawyers fervently believed that Jim Crow – the curious pseudonym for racial segregation – was unjust, they recognized the practice was still the law of the land, upheld by the 1896 Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson. Instead of seeking a judgment on humanitarian grounds or the equal protection provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment, they made the seemingly arcane argument that segregation in interstate travel violated the Constitution’s Interstate Commerce Clause.
On June 3, 1946, that strategy paid off. In Irene Morgan v. Virginia, the court ruled that segregation in interstate travel was indeed unconstitutional as “an undue burden on commerce.” But though that the decision was now law, the southern states refused to enforce it, and Jim Crow continued as the way of life in the South. Yet there were those determined to do something about it.”

Extract taken from:

Interestingly this account—and most others—leaves out the fact that Irene Morgan was a Seventh-day Adventist.
Other accounts:
Washington Post article
A compendium of newspaper accounts
Wikipedia entry
You Don’t Have to Ride Jim Crow! documentary website.

Presidential Citizens Medal website

You can read a copy of the US Supreme Court’s decision here.

Listen to Bayard Rustin sing “You don’t Have to Ride Jim Crow” here. Rustin co-wrote the song with George Houser. The song refers to Irene Morgan’s win in court on June 3, 1946, as the impetus for the first Freedom Ride in April 1947.

Known as the Journey of Reconciliation, riders engaged in direct protest by intentionally violating the segregated seating patterns on Southern buses and trains. Along the way, they were beaten, arrested and fined. Further information on the Freedom Ride can be found here & here.

Irene Morgan changed the world. Let us not forget one Seventh-day Adventist woman who sat down (!) for what she believed in.

The Association of Adventist Women has chosen its Adventist Women of the Year for 2006. You can read about the awardees–women who also changed their world–here.


The Afrikaanse Konferensie

November 1, 2006

On December 8, 1968, 425 delegates met for a Special Business Session of the Transvaal Conference. Before the session had ended approximately fifty delegates (including five ministers) had walked out, and in protest at the policies of the Transvaal Conference, resolved to establish a new conference—provisionally named the Suid-Afrikaanse Konferensie. The group did not consider themselves as schismatic, but wanted to remain within the established church structure. On the 15th of December, the group held another meeting and over 200 attended. At this meeting the group took the name Afrikaanse Konferensie van Sewendedag-Adventiste.
In an open letter to the leadership of the Transvaal Conference, the group stated:
“The history of our organization has not been a happy one in this country. The ‘Dutch’ have been continually regarded as inferior and not capable of handling their own affairs. The Afrikaners…have had to be content with crumbs falling from the master’s table.”
In response the SDA Church suspended a number of ministers while others resigned. A number of church members were placed under censure.
Despite denying that Afrikaner church members were in any way ignored or discriminated against, the Transvaal Conference and the South African Union Conference recommended in 1968 that Helderberg College be “as bilingual as possible” and add an Afrikaans-speaking theology lecturer to its staff. They also launched an extensive translation, production, and distribution of Afrikaans literature—including the production of the Trans-African Outlook in Afrikaans.
It is somewhat ironic that the church refused to officially recognise or create an Afrikaans-speaking conference when there were already numerous conferences established along racial/ethnic lines. Edwin de Kock (Helderberg College teacher) pointed this out in an undated manuscript:
“We and the Bantu, Coloured and Indian Believers are one in Christ, however do we have the same congregations and conferences?”
Kock also pointed out that separate conferences along language lines were established in Europe in the 1880’s (Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and German), and that in 1901 the small Swiss Conference was also divided into German and French-speaking conferences.
In May 1969, the new Conference was formally registered with the South African government. For many this was only an interim measure until the orthodox SDA Church made changes.
At least one SDA congregation transferred its allegiance—the Krugersdorp SDA Church. Many groups were started in other areas, and by April 1969, there were 15 groups meeting in various locations.
The Afrikaanse Konferensie also undertook additional evangelistic efforts (and were very strongly opposed by the orthodox SDA church!).
At the end of 1970, the group reported a membership of almost 1,000.
However, by 1972, a crisis was apparent—the Afrikaanse Konferensie was severely in debt and losing members. Antonio Pantalone attributes this to 3 factors:

  1. A dramatic loss of membership,
  2. Excessive spending,
  3. Misappropriation of funds by some leaders.

It seems that many members of the Afrikaanse Konferensie still considered themselves loyal SDAs. They believed that their actions would result in dialogue with the orthodox SDA church and the breakaway group would soon be incorporated back into the existing church structure. When this did not happen, many returned anyway.
The Afrikaanse Konferensie had big plans—a school, a college, a medical clinic etc. They built a large meeting hall in Bapsfontein, a home for the aged was opened at Cottesloe in Johannesburg, another near Belfast in the Transvaal, and a third in the town of Springs. An aerotorium (inflatable evangelistic tent) was bought for R5500 along with a large truck to transport it. When numbers were reduced the group could not even pay their phone bills.
While the exact situation is unclear there were financial irregularities amongst some of the group’s leaders. This resulted in external audits and eventually a court case.
From this, the Afrikaanse Konferensie was unable to recover. In 1973 Pr von Horsten and a small group applied for re-admittance to the SDA church. Following the group’s complete collapse, six pastors were again employed by the orthodox SDA church. Karl Birkenstock and a small group of followers chose not to return to the church.

It is relevant to note that in 2006, many of the issues that prompted the formation of the Afrikaanse Konferensie have not been solved; and that similar proposals for independent, separate, or minority conferences have been proposed as a result of the ongoing merger/realignment of local conferences in South Africa.

Reference: Antonio Pantalone, “A Missiological Evaluation of the Afrikaanse Konferensie (1968-1974) and its Significance for the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in South Africa.” DTh, University of Durban-Westville, 1999.


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!


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.


Forgotten Heralds: Millerite Women Who Preached

September 21, 2006

More women than men participated in nineteenth-century religious life. Therefore, women began to take on important roles in that religious life: missionary, teacher, evangelist etc. Phoebe PalmerOne well-known example is Phoebe Palmer—a revivalist preacher in the Methodist tradition. She preached at over 300 camp meetings and revivals in the United States, Canada and the British Isles. For more information on Palmer, see the Wikipedia entry. Some of her works can be found online: The Way of Holiness and Faith and its Effects.

Phoebe Palmer

Adventist women began preaching during the Millerite Movement. One of the earliest known was Lucy Maria Hersey Stoddard, born in Worcester, MT in 1824. She accepted Miller’s teachings in 1842 and was impressed that God wanted her to proclaim the gospel. She quit her job as a teacher to preach full-time. Her ministry was very successful—Isaac Wellcome pointed out that:

“Elder Jonas Wendell and many other ministers now proclaiming the gospel state that their conversion to the truth was through her preaching. This should encourage others, whom the Lord calls, not to refrain because they are females.” (Isaac Wellcome, History of the Second Advent Message, 156.)

Stoddard was associated with Sarah J. Paine Higgins–the first female preacher in Massachusetts; unfortunately, very little is known about her life.

Olive Maria Rice was a Millerite preacher in the State of New York, of whom it was said: “This devoted sister is still laboring in this State [New York]. She lectured recently at Batavia, and Pine Hill…and Attica….The effect is good, wherever she goes.” (The Midnight Cry, October 19, 1843, 73.)

Two other Millerite women preachers were Emily C. Clemons and Corinda S. Minor. Together they also edited the Millerite periodical The Advent Message to the Daughters of Zion and wrote numerous articles for that journal as well as another Millerite periodical, the Advent Herald.

Abigail MusseyAbigail Mussey encountered Millerite teachings during the 1830s. However she did most of her preaching after 1844. She gave insight into some of the difficulties she faced in her ministry when she wrote in her autobiography:

“Preachers that oppose female laborers can shut up their houses, and refuse to give out their appointments; but they can’t shut up the private houses or school-houses, and the cannot hinder others room giving out appointments; so there is no danger of shut doors or the way being hedged up….Doors opened, and I moved on, with sword in hand and the gospel armor on, with loving all and fearing none. I knew in whom I believed, in whom trusted, and who had sent me out. My mission was from heaven, not from man. My faith stood not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (Life Sketches and Experience, 163-164.)

Mussey was known as “The Yankee woman preacher”, and spent most of her time in Massachusetts. She is known to have spent a large part of her ministry preaching to the Black community. She preached at Black churches in Clarence and Clements in 1861, and also in the Bay Shore area. She later reflected, “I felt to praise God that he called me to preach free salvation to rich and poor, bond and free, black and white, male and female, old and young, high and low, and none has any right to say, ‘Stop!’ or hedge up the way.” (Life Sketches and Experience, 1865, 63.)

In Lauretta Elysian Armstrong Fassett’s biography, her husband wrote:

“The spirit of the Lord was with her; and there came to me, though as opposed as herself to women’s taking the place as teacher or preacher in public, the scripture: ‘On my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my spirit; and they shall prophecy [sic].’ (Acts 2:18) This kept me from ever hindering, or placing the least thing in the way of hr duty, fearing I might grieve the Holy Spirit, by which she was divinely aided in reaching the hearts of her hearers with the words of life as they fell from her devoted lips. (O. R. Fassett, The Biography of Mrs L. E. Fassett, A Devoted Christian, 26-27.)


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.

Carole Rayburn, “‘Women Heralds of the Advent Near’,” Adventist Heritage 17:2 (1996), 11-21.

Isaac Wellcome, History of the Second Advent Message, Boston: Advent Christian Publication Society, 1874.



The Beginning of Regional Conferences in the US III

September 5, 2006

In October 1928, W. H. Green—the Colored Secretary of the General Conference (GC)—died. His position was not filled immediately as many Black ministers felt that “the only way to improve the work among Negroes of the country is to organize colored conferences, whereby the colored people may handle their own money, employ their own workers and so develop administrative ability and all cultural lines of work…to organize Negro conferences that would function in exactly the same relation to the General Conference as white conferences.” (Quoted in Jacob Justiss Angels in Ebony p46.)

After discussion, the GC appointed a commission of eleven Whites and five Blacks to study the issue. J. K. Humphrey had been one of the Black ministers calling for Black Conferences and was one of those appointed to the commission. Humphrey later accused the White members of the committee of meeting separately and asking the Black members of the committee to rubber-stamp their decision that Black Conferences were not appropriate. Humphrey later left the SDA Church and formed the United Sabbath Day Adventist Church.

J. K. Humphrey

By 1944 however, the situation had changed—the Black membership of the church had grown considerably and Black members were better educated and more confident than in the past. This lead a group of Black SDA laity to form the National Association for the Advancement of World-wide Work Among Colored Seventh-day Adventists on October 16, 1943. The group was chaired by Joseph T. Dodson, other members included Eva B. Dykes—one of the first Black American woman to receive a PhD, while the Corresponding Secretary was Valarie Justiss—the second SDA Black woman to receive a PhD.

Eva B Dykes

Eva B. Dykes

The group met on at least two occasions with J. L. McElheney—GC President. They presented a petition entitled Shall the Four Freedoms Function Among SDAs? to the GC leadership in Washington DC. (The document takes it’s name from the State of the Union address given by Franklin D. Roosevelt on January 6, 1941. The four freedoms were:
1. Freedom of speech and expression
2. Freedom of every person to worship God in his own way
3. Freedom from want
4. Freedom from fear (See Wikipedia entry. See a copy of the speech.)
The group was not requesting the formation of Black conferences but rather recommending an end to racial discrimination in all SDA institutions. Graham states that the group also “asked for a full accounting of the money that Black people were contributing to the denomination and requested that their Black leaders be treated with courtesy.” (Ricardo B. Graham, “Black Seventh-day Adventists and Racial Reconciliation” in Perspectives: Black Seventh-Day Adventists Face the Twenty-first Century Calvin B. Rock ed. Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 1996, 136)

Racial discrimination was rife at SDA institutions and the Four Freedoms document did not hesitate to point out specific cases:
· “The Washington Sanitarium refuses to admit colored people.”
· “Colored girls are denied admittance to the Washington sanitarium School of Nurses and some other schools open to the whites.”
· It was the policy of Emmanuel Missionary College to seat Black students at the rear during chapel services.
· “There are no Negroes so far as we know on staffs of Adventist institutions.”
· “There is not even one General Conference office filled by a colored person.”
· “There is no colored editor, circulation manager, and business manager of the only Adventist periodical devoted exclusively to the interest of the 13,000,000 colored people in the United States.”
The document draws frequent contrast between SDA practice in these areas and the practices of secular or other religious organizations. These include:
“Since white and colored eat without friction daily in the cafeterias of the Library of Congress, Union Station, National Art Gallery, Interior Department, and other government buildings, it is illegal to segregate the Secretary of the Colored department for his meals.” (All quotes from Shall the Four Freedoms Function Among SDAs?

One of the impetuses for the petition was the tragic case of Lucy Byard. Byard was a light-skinned Black SDA from Brooklyn who was admitted to the SDA owned and operated Washington Sanitarium and hospital based on her appearance. When her true racial identity was discovered from her admittance forms, Byard was wheeled into a hallway without examination or treatment, while a place in another hospital was sought for her. She was eventually taken to Freedman’s Hospital where she died shortly after of pneumonia. While it is impossible to ascertain, it is often stated that her condition—at the very least—worsened due to the time spent in the drafty hallway of Washington Sanitarium.

McElheney introduced the topic of Regional Conferences to the GC Committee’s Spring Council held April 8-19, 1944, in Chicago. Following some debate (Of the 22 speakers on record, 17 spoke in favour, 3 against, and 2 asked questions of clarity. See Delbert W. Baker “Regional Conferences: 50 Years of Progress” Adventist Review November 2, 1995, p11.) a resolution was passed:
“WHEREAS, The present development of the work among the colored people in North America has resulted, under the signal blessing of God, in the establishment of some 233 churches with some 17,000 members: and WHEREAS, It appears that a different plan of organization for our colored membership would bring further great advance in soul-winning endeavours; therefore WE RECOMMEND, That in unions where the colored constituency is considered by the union conference committee to be sufficiently large, and where the financial income and territory warrant, colored conferences be organized.” (Quoted in Baker, “Regional Conferences” p14.)

From 1945 to 1947, seven Black Conferences were formed: Allegheny, Lake Region, and Northeastern (1945), South Atlantic and South Central (1946), and Central States and Southwest Region (1947). In 1967 Allegheny divided into the Allegheny East and Allegheny West, while the South Atlantic divided into the South Atlantic and Southeastern Conferences in 1981. Regional Conferences were not formed in the two westernmost districts: Pacific and North Pacific Union Conferences. Work amongst the Black population in these areas was coordinated by a Regional Affairs Office. (Baker, “Regional Conferences”, p14.)

It should be noted that there has been some recent agitation amongst Black SDAs in these western Union Conferences regarding the formation of a Black Conference. (See articles in Adventist Today.)


Delbert W. Baker “Delbert W. Baker Regional Conferences: 50 Years of ProgressAdventist Review November 2, 1995, p11-15.

Ricardo B. Graham, “Black Seventh-day Adventists and Racial Reconciliation” in Perspectives: Black Seventh-Day Adventists Face the Twenty-first Century Calvin B. Rock ed. Hagerstown: Review and Herald, 1996, 136)

Jacob Justiss Angels in Ebony chapter entitled “Regional Conferences”. Available as part of the Telling the Story Anthology (Part 2, p37-48)

Shall the Four Freedoms Function Among SDAs?


The Beginning of Regional Conferences in the US II

August 26, 2006

Between 1877 and 1890, the question of how to relate to Southern prejudices regarding separate churches etc. for black SDAs was debated by SDA leaders—the 1887 GC minutes describe “animated discussion” over race. Some argued that discrimination was morally repugnant, stating, “if the people of the South do not want to mingle in a congregation with the colored, let them stay away.” (General Conference Bulletin 27 November, 1887, 2-3.) Others were pragmatic and urged the GC not to arouse unnecessary prejudice” but to preach “the truth to all who come, leaving the spirit of God to obliterate the color line in the hearts of those who may be converted by the truth. (General Conference Bulletin 27 November, 1887, 3.)
All members agreed that there was no biblical or theological basis for racism.

EJ Waggoner proposed the following resolution which was carried:
“WHEREAS, The Bible says that there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond, but that all are one in Christ Jesus, therefore,
Resolved, That it is the decided opinion of this Conference, that when the colored of the south accept the Third Angel’s Message, they should be received into the church on an equality with white members, no distinction whatever being made between the two races in church relations.” (General Conference Bulletin 27 November, 1887, 3.)

Kinney made an important contribution to the debate in 1889 during the Southern Conference camp meeting in Nashville, Tennessee. R. M. Kilgore had suggested that black attendance at the camp meeting was to blame for the low turn-out of white’s. He suggested therefore, that future meetings be segregated along racial lines. In response, Kinney made some recommendations, stating, “It is probable that my ideas may be a little different from what has been expressed by some…In the first place, a separation of the colored people from the white people is great sacrifice upon our part: we lose the blessing of learning the truth—I have reference especially to general meetings….It would be a great sacrifice upon the apart of my people to miss the information that these general meetings would give them; and another thing, it seems to me that a separation in the general meetings would have a tendency to destroy the unity of the Third Angel’s Message. Now, then this question to me is one of great embarrassment and humiliation, not only to me, but to my people also.” (Quoted in Utzinger, “The Third Angel’s Message for My People,” 30-31.)

Kinney continued: “I am glad to state that the third angel’s Message has the power in it to eliminate or remove this race prejudice upon the part of those who get hold of the truth.” At the same time he reasoned:
“The third Angel’s Message will enable us to remove that obstacle. The color line question is an obstacle; in other words, the very presence of the colored people in church relation and in our general meetings is an obstacle, a barrier that hinders the progress of the Third Angel’s Message from reaching many of the white people. (Quoted in Utzinger, “The Third Angel’s Message for My People,” 31.)

Kinney presented twelve propositions, number 4 bluntly stated, “Where the two races cannot meet without limitation in the church, it is better to separate.” Later he stated, “I would say in this connection that in my judgment a separate meeting for the colored people to be held in connection with the general meetings, or a clear-cut distinction, by having them occupy the back seats etc., would not meet with as much favor from my people as a total separation.” (C. M. Kinney’s Statement on the Concept of Regional Conferences October 2, 1889.)

The concept of separate Black conferences was apparently first suggested by Kinney when confronted by efforts to segregate him and his members at a camp meeting on the day of his ordination. He advocated Black conferences as a way to work more effectively among Blacks and to help ease the racial tensions in the church. These Black conferences would, “bear the same relation to the General Conference that White conferences do.”

The bottom-line is: Conferences divided along racial lines were always a second-best solution–they were never presented as the ideal or best solution to the SDA Church’s racial problems.

C. M. Kinney’s Statement on Regional Conferences 1889

Utzinger, J. Michael. “The Third Angel’s Message for My People: Charles M. Kinney and the Founding of the Seventh-Day Adventist Missions among Southern African Americans 1889-1895.” Fides et Historia 30, no. 1 (1998): 26-40.


William Miller

August 21, 2006

I have recently begun editing at Wikipedia. I totally rewrote and expanded the article on William Miller (which still needs some more work). While doing so I discovered that a photograph of Miller has recently been discovered.

William Miller Daguerrotype

This is very exciting because up until now, no photograph of Miller has been known- all illustrations of Miller have been artistic renditions. The photograph is poor in quality and I have asked the finder if it is possible to obtain a better quality picture. The photograph was found in the New York Public Library and it is a Daguerrotype dated to 1845.

SDAs trace their roots back to William Miller and his Millerite followers, being part of a group that re-interpreted the failed prophecy of October 22, 1844.


The Beginning of Regional Conferences in the US

August 7, 2006

The first SDA minister to enter the South was Elbert B. Lane. He travelled to Tennessee in 1871. Lane held his first outreach in a railway station house: “the white people occupying one room and the colored the other.” (The Advent Review & Herald of the Sabbath, May 2, 1871, 158.)

Elbert B. Lane

Elbert B. Lane

In The Advent Review & Herald of the Sabbath of September 26, 1871, under the heading, “The South,” Lane reprted:

“I had not long left the Ohio river before I saw what I had often read of and seen pictured, that is, the large plantation with its mansion and many negro huts or cabins, sometimes built of brick, but usually of boards or logs. They are small, one story buildings, often without windows or ventilation, except by means of the door. These buildings are now rented to the negroes who are in the employ of the planter. They receive low wages, ranging from five to ten dollars per month. The condition of this unfortunate race is truly lamentable.”

Lane continued:

“This is in many respects an unfavorable field in which to labor, owing principally to the feelings of dislike which the people bear toward the North. This however gradually gives way. My first congregations there were very small, perhaps ten or twelve, while my last were between two and three hundred.…I felt a deep interest in the work there, though I labored under some embarrassment. I could not get the people to come and listen to me till after I had been there some little time, and was obliged to leave them before I should after the interest was aroused. I baptized five before I left the State, and felt assured that my labors there would result in much good for the cause. As near as I could ascertain a few had decided to obey the truth, besides those baptized.”

The first SDA Church to be established in the south was at Edgefield Junction, Tennessee. It was founded by Lane who responded to an appeal by a R. K. McCune who had received SDA literature & requested that the Church send a minister.

Edgefield Junction-- Allison Family

Edgefield Junction Church members–the Allison family.

The photo comes from a page documenting the history of the South Central Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

In 1877 R. M. Kilgore was sent by the General Conference to the South—Texas. He spent 8 years working there. He faced threats of lynching and once his tent was burned. He was called as president of the Illinois conference in 1885. In 1888 he returned to the South when placed in charge of District No. 2—all the southern states east of the Mississippi. At the time there were 5 ordained white ministers and no black. There were about 500 white church members and 50 black. In 1889, the General Conference heard a report from the Southern Field that pointed out some difficulties workers were facing:

“Considering the peculiar sentiment and prejudices existing in the South…[and] the difficulty of reaching both whites and blacks in one public meeting…” (General Conference Bulletin Vol. 3, 1889, 26.)

In Charles M. Kinney accepted the Adventist message in Reno, Nevada, as a result of the preaching of John Loughborough and Ellen White. A colporteur, then preacher and evangelist, Kinney was ordained by Kilgore in 1889, becoming the only ordained black minister in the denomination.

R. M. Kinney

Charles M. Kinney (The photo is also from the aforementioned History of the South Central Conference.)

In an 1885 issue of the Review and Herald, Kinney wrote: “I earnestly ask the prayers of all who wish to see the truth brought ‘before many peoples…,’ that I may have strength, physical, mental, and spiritual, to do what I can for the Colored people.”


Pre-Apartheid Discrimination & Separation?

July 6, 2006

Well its been a while since I posted–much longer than anticipated. Excuses? I have plenty–I was sick, it’s been hectic at work–setting & marking exams etc & a myriad of others. Ultimately though it doesn’t matter because as Ryan Bell accurately points out in a post on his Intersections blog: “I just entered a busy period of life, got sick, and just generally didn’t feel like writing. Which got me to thinking…this blog doesn’t own me. I own it! I can choose not to write if I want to! So, if you’ve been checking and haven’t noticed anything for a few days, I do apologize. Now, let’s get back to it!”

Back to it then.

In my previous post I began a discussion of the racially divided SDA church in South Africa, pointing out that the SDA church has since its earliest stages been divided along racial lines. Unlike some of those vocal voices in the current debate on separate conferences here in South Africa I do not accept this as evidence that this is the way it should be! Yes it is indeed accurate to state that the SDA church’s separation began well before the official beginning of apartheid in 1948–what should also be recognized is that racial discrimination in South Africa generally did not begin with Apartheid (which in Afrikaans means “apart-ness” or “separateness,”) itself.
“The term Apartheid was introduced during the 1948 election campaign by DF Malan’s Herenigde Nasionale Party (HNP – ‘Reunited National Party’). But racial segregation had been in force for many decades in South Africa. In hindsight, there is something of an inevitability in the way the country developed its extreme policies. When the Union of South Africa was formed on 31 May 1910, Afrikaner Nationalists were given a relatively free hand to reorganise the country’s franchise according to existing standards of the now-incorporated Boer republics, the Zuid Afrikaansche Repulick (ZAR – South African Republic or Transvaal) and Orange Free State. Non-Whites in the Cape Colony had some representation, but this would prove to be short-lived.”

So in summary then, both racial separation & discrimination in the SDA church and in South Africa generally began well before 1948.

It is not therefore a legitimate argument to base the proposed continuation of racially divided conferences–“minority status” or otherwise–around.

NOTE: For those of you out of the “loop,” here in South Africa it has been proposed that following the amalgamation of most conferences that an application be made to the General Conference (GC–the governing body of the SDA church: to set up (resurrect?) separate White conferences with “minority” status.


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