A previously unknown photograph of Adventist Church cofounder Ellen G. White has surfaced among the aging documents of an Adventist physician who died in California in 1966.
Ellen White as You’ve Never Seen Her
A previously unknown photo of the Adventist pioneer provides a rare glimpse into her everyday life.
By Andrew McChesney
A previously unknown photograph of Adventist Church cofounder Ellen G. White has surfaced among the aging documents of an Adventist physician who died in California in 1966.
The 1905 photo, which shows White walking outdoors with her son William and his wife, May, is the first new picture of White to turn up in decades, and its discovery is especially thrilling for White scholars because it provides a rare glimpse into her everyday life.
“I’ve never seen her in this way before,” said James R. Nix, director of the Ellen G. White Estate, a church institution that oversees White’s writings. “This particular photo is significant because it is candid,” Nix said. “You feel like you could step up to her and say, ‘It’s nice to see you.’?”
Only about 50 photos of White are known to exist, and most of them were taken in a studio or other formal setting.
In the 1905 photo White, 77, is seen walking near a pitched tent as she apparently attends the General Conference session in Takoma Park, Maryland, in May 1905.
White, wearing an Edwardian hat and floral scarf, clasps the arm of her son William (“Willie”) C. White, her chief editorial assistant and publishing manager. Clutched in her other hand is a large journal, the kind that she used to hand-write letters and sermons and that the White Estate now carefully stores in a fireproof vault. A slip of white paper can be seen sticking out of the corner of the journal. “In my imagination, she is heading to speak at a meeting, and this journal contains her notes,” Nix said.
Supporting the idea that White might have been walking to a speaking engagement is the pince-nez perched on her nose. White was known to wear eyeglasses for reading, so perhaps she put them on her nose on that chilly May day to read a speech. This is only the second known photo of White wearing glasses.
Why a Tent Stands Behind White
Tim L. Poirier, archivist at the White Estate who has researched the photo, initially thought that the other woman in the picture might be White’s nurse, Sara McEnterfer, who often accompanied White on travels away from California, where she lived at the time. But a comparison with other photos showed that the woman was White’s daughter-in-law May. Poirier also learned that the nurse had fallen ill before the General Conference session and that May White had made arrangements to leave her and William’s children with family members in California so the couple could journey east with Ellen White.
Poirier added: “The tents and grounds in the photo match what we know of the location of the session at the present location of Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland.”
The General Conference session was held in a large tent at the newly founded Washington Training College (now Washington Adventist University). The General Conference, the administrative body that oversees the Seventh-day Adventist Church, had only moved to the area from Battle Creek, Michigan, in late 1903. It was renting premises in nearby Washington, D.C., together with the Review and Herald Publishing Association, said Ronald D. Graybill, a retired Adventist historian.
Delegates lived in tents. Ellen White stayed in a bedroom and study in the newly built men’s dormitory, while her son and daughter-in-law shared a third room, Graybill said.
Years have passed since the previous discovery of an unknown White photo. Nix estimated that the last photo might have been found 50 to 60 years ago, saying the 1905 photo is the first new image in the 42 years that he has worked at the White Estate.
Origins of the Unknown Photo
The author of the 1905 photo is unclear. But a likely candidate is its original owner, Harriet “Hattie” Allee Trott, a 27-year-old widow who was working as a secretary at Review and Herald in 1905.
Trott, an avid photographer, later moved to California to work as registrar at the College of Medical Evangelists (now Loma Linda University), and she married graduate and physician Leslie Trott in 1921. It was among Leslie Trott’s papers that the lost photo was found.
Harriet Allee Trott died in 1958, eight years before her husband, who worked at the Adventist-operated White Memorial Medical Center, named in honor of Ellen White, in Los Angeles. The Trotts’ great-granddaughter, Jacqueline Leslie Trott-Bally of Los Angeles, stumbled across the White photo in a folder marked “Harriet Family Photos” while sorting through old papers, said Graybill, whom Trott-Bally contacted about the photo. She had already been working with Graybill to donate some of her great-grandfather’s papers to his alma mater, Loma Linda University.
Graybill, whose own research includes a slide presentation of all the known photos of White, immediately recognized White in the photo and realized the rarity of the find. “It is amazing to find an unknown photo at this late date,” he said.
The old photo measures only 3.5 inches by 3.5 inches (8.9 centimeters by 8.9 centimeters), but is remarkably sharp, Graybill said.“I was amazed at the clarity, I was amazed at the detail, and I was charmed by the hat,” he said. He said White wore a bonnet in the one other photo that shows her head covered.
Graybill alerted the White Estate about the new photo on October 1.
“My Favorite Picture of Ellen White”
The find raises hopes that other photos of White might surface. Nix, director of the White Estate, said people with long connections to the Adventist Church should check old family albums and boxes of pictures to see whether they might contain photos of White or other Adventist pioneers.
He said it is interesting to read stories about Adventist pioneers, but also seeing them, particularly in candid photos, helps people to better identify with them as real people. “Until I saw this picture, I mentally pictured Ellen White wearing only dark maroon or black in public following the death of her husband in 1881,” Nix said.
“Seeing her wearing a colored scarf around her neck, with reading glasses perched on her nose and notes in her hand for a talk she gave, has brought her to life for me in ways that no other picture of her ever has,” he said. “I have only been aware of this picture for a little more than a week, but it has already become my favorite picture of Ellen White.”
On Sabbath, January 11, 2014, thousands of Seventh-day Adventists from across the 166-square-mile eastern Caribbean island nation of Barbados worshipped at the Sir Garfield Sobers Sports Complex near Bridgetown.
From Exclusion to Inclusion
How a little island became a great witness
By Glenn O. Phillips
On Sabbath, January 11, 2014, thousands of Seventh-day Adventists from across the 166-square-mile eastern Caribbean island nation of Barbados worshipped at the Sir Garfield Sobers Sports Complex near Bridgetown. The newly elected East Caribbean Conference president, R. Danforth Francis preached on the theme “God Is Ready—Are You?” His constituency across the island nation included one in every 15 Barbadians, making Adventism one of the nation’s leading Christian faiths, with more than 18,442 believers worshipping in 57 congregations. Barbadian Adventists also participate in dynamic evangelistic programs, and operate numerous educational and health services in the country.
Barbadian Adventism has come a long way from its beginnings 130 years ago, when a copy of Signs of the Times was sent to Anna Alleyne from her sister in neighboring British Guiana (now Guyana). Anna immediately read the tract, accepted its teachings, and began to keep the Sabbath. She also shared it with her neighbors, some of whom also accepted the Advent message.
Back then, departing from the island’s established colonial religions was so difficult and risky that pioneer James R. Braithwaite was jailed and placed in a lunatic asylum for his witnessing activities. Braithwaite, a Caribbean immigrant baptized in the United States, returned to Barbados in the late 1880s with his newfound faith. He corresponded with Stephen A. Haskell, president of the New England Tract Society, held Bible readings among his people, and organized the first group of seven Sabbathkeepers on the island.
In Barbados’ highly conservative British colonial society, clergy of the leading Christian denominations characterized Adventism as “a modern-day cult” led by a female American prophet. They forbade their members to read Adventist literature and attend services. Their prohibitions triggered increasing curiosity. People from a wide cross section of socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds in the 1890s requested additional Adventist literature. American Adventist colporteurs distributed numerous copies of Uriah Smith’s Daniel and the Revelation and Ellen G. White’s Patriarchs and Prophets.
A Minister Arrives
On November 20, 1890, Dexter A. Ball became the first Adventist minister to arrive in Barbados. His first evangelistic effort in Bridgetown, mostly to wealthy merchant class residents, yielded 17 baptisms in 1891. Ball established his first congregation numbering 11 women and six men, including a physician. The health message, the observance of the Sabbath, and the soon second coming of Jesus Christ became the leading truths of the Adventist faith that attracted Barbadians of all walks of life to join this fledging group.
Particularly during the earlier decades, Barbadian societal practices that accepted many of the “popular vices” of the times worked at cross purposes with the teachings of Adventism, including Sabbath as an important workday, the consumption of unclean foods, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco use. Consequently, becoming an Adventist resulted in loss of employment, ostracism, and derogatory labels. Over the decades the acceptance of Adventism slowly and dramatically changed, passing through five distinct stages as it spread in Barbados: (1) early encounters, 1884-1901; (2) shaping of an Adventist identity, 1902-1944; (3) bold evangelistic initiatives, 1945-1965; (4) the acceptance phase, 1966-1991; and (5) growing and preserving the faith, 1992-2014.
The first permanent missionaries to arrive from the United States (1896) were Elam Van Duesen and his wife. They remained until 1901, erected the first church building, established a church school, and facilitated health clinics around Bridgetown. Church membership grew from 30 to almost 100. Among the converts were many upwardly mobile young men who held teaching positions, but were forced out of employment on becoming Adventists. Three became trailblazers in Adventist work at home and abroad. Charles J. B. Cave graduated from Dr. John Harvey Kellogg’s American Medical Missionary College in 1907, returned to Barbados, and operated his own sanitarium for almost 30 years, training Adventist young women to be nurses and midwives, as well as conducting health clinics for those of lower income. His name lives on in the church-operated Cave Memorial Clinic and Nursing Home.
Wilbert D. Forde and Lambert W. Browne made their mark for the church outside the boundaries of their tiny island country. Both Battle Creek College attendees, they became pioneering ministers in the United States and beyond. Browne joined D. C. Babcock in Africa in 1906, establishing the first church in Sierra Leone, while Forde pastored his first church in Chicago in 1910 and shepherded others around the United States for the next 40 years.
Back in Barbados, peculiar sentiments among the early Adventists engendered a squabble with their minister and resulted in a letter to Ellen White. These members insisted that all should remove their shoes before entering the church; also, that people could pray with their eyes open. Ellen White’s response was both compassionate and firm: “God does not lead any man to advocate such actions.”
Growth and Development
The center of Adventist growth and development was the “mother” congregation at King Street in Bridgetown, which helped to create a strong sense of Adventist values and identity in the face of continued opposition from more established faiths. By the end of World War II there were 1,675 baptized members worshipping in 10 organized churches. Barbadian Adventists became known as diligent Bible students and began to view themselves as uniquely qualified to witness to their neighbors and relatives.
Postwar years saw yeoman contributions from tireless lay leaders Wrensford Greaves and Christopher Greenidge. O. P. Reid was a leading soul winner as membership climbed to more than 3,000 in 24 churches and companies. B.G.O. French became principal of the church’s first secondary school in September 1953, as Adventist educational efforts for the first time won the applause of the Barbados government. By the close of 1965 the church’s membership had tripled in less than 20 years.
God has greatly honored the faithfulness of His little flock, once despised as a cult. Adventism has increased in numbers and stature, multiplying since the 1990s at an average rate of 7 percent per year. Church stalwarts admired for their contributions to Barbadian society include Ena K. Walters, director for 25 years (1957-1983) of Barbados’ Queen Elizabeth II Hospital; Bradley E. Niles, extramural tutor at the University of the West Indies in Barbados for more than 25 years (1979-2005); Emerson S. Graham, district magistrate in Barbados’ judicial system for eight years (1994-2002); and the Honorable Victor L. Johnson, member of parliament, minister of government, and ambassador.
Well-known Barbadian names in international Adventism include evangelist Kembleton Wiggins, and church and university administrators such as Michael S. Banfield, Carlyle Bayne, Danforth Francis, Trevor H. C. Baker, K. Eugene Forde, Sylvan A. Lashley. One island son, G. Ralph Thompson, holds the unique distinction as the Adventist Church’s longest-serving General Conference secretary, other than Uriah Smith.
In this 130th anniversary year, Barbadian Adventists still want to be ready for God to use them as He wills, to bless their country and to bless the world. n
Glenn O. Phillips, a historian, is a fourth-generation Barbadian Adventist.
Bill Knott has been the editor and executive publisher of the Adventist Review and Adventist World since 2007, previously serving as associate editor for nine years. Prior to joining the editorial team in 1997, Bill worked for 18 years as a pastor in congregations ranging in size from 7 to 2000 members in New England, New York, Michigan, and Washington State. He holds the M.Div. degree from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University (1983), and earned a Ph.D. in History from the George Washington University (2006). Bill is a Sabbath School teacher and elder in his Spencerville, Maryland congregation, and a frequent speaker at retreats, camp meetings, preaching seminars and young adult gatherings. He enjoys walking, reading, and travel. He and his wife, Deborah, a Senior Technology and Systems Specialist in Human Resources at the church’s world headquarters, have two sons: Evan, a pastor in the Chesapeake Conference now studying at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary; and Brady, now completing a doctor of physical therapy degree at Andrew University.
Gerald Klingbeil, associate editor
Gerald is a native of Germany. He brings with him many years of teaching and ministry experience in South Africa, Peru, Argentina, and the Philippines. He holds a doctoral degree in Ancient Near Eastern Studies from the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, and has served as Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at different Adventist Universities in Peru, Argentina and the Philippines. Before joining the Adventist Review staff, Gerald served as the dean of the Theological Seminary of the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies in the Philippines.
Gerald has a passion for research and Scripture and has published widely in academic and popular journals. His latest book focuses on the settlement period of Israel's history.
Gerald is married to Chantal, a gifted author, mother, and homemaker from South Africa, and has three daughters, Hannah, Sarah, and Jemima. Gerald and Chantal enjoy team-teaching. They co-authored the third quarter 2010 Adult Sabbath School study guide. Gerald will focus on biblical studies, archaeology, fundamental beliefs, Adventist heritage/history, and the Spirit of Prophecy.
Lael Caesar, associate editor
Whenever Lael Caesar summarizes his life he tells you three things: “my father is my hero; my family is my pride; and the service of God is my joy.”
Born in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana in South America, Caesar has served the Seventh-day Adventist Church in many areas including, district pastor, in the East Caribbean Union, and as a college professor. He holds a Ph.D in Hebrew from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has taught on many college and university campuses. He was voted teacher of the year once at Montemorelos University School of Theology in Mexico, and four times at Andrews University. His byline appears in scores of articles in many languages. His wonderful wife, Dr Lena Caesar, former chair of the Department of Speech Language Pathology and Audiology at Andrews University, is now a professor of the same discipline at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland. His son, Lloyd, and daughter, La Vonne, are both graduates of Andrews University.
Lael believes Jesus is coming back quickly and wants to share that splendored event with everybody.
Claude Richli, marketing director and associate publisher
Adams Claude Richli joined the Adventist Review and Adventist World staff in August 2007. His life and career span three continents: Africa, Europe, and North America. Born to missionary parents on the Island of Mauritius, off the coast of Africa, Claude grew up in France and Switzerland. He studied in France, Germany, England and the United States. He earned a Master of Divinity and a M.B.A. from Andrews University in Michigan. He has served as a pastor in Canada and Switzerland, departmental leader, and conference secretary and president of the Quebec Conference in Canada. In his last position, Claude was associate secretary of the East-Central Africa Division. Earlier in his career, he spent seven years as a sales and marketing executive in the high level advertising and signage industry in Montreal, Canada, and as a consultant on corporate identity in Toronto. Claude is married to Beate, a free-lance graphic designer from Germany. They have two children: Lara and Alessia. Claude likes bicycling and learning new languages.
Stephen Chavez, managing editor
Chavez joined the Adventist Review staff in 1994, after serving nearly 20 years in pastoral ministry in California and Nevada. Steve and his wife, Linda, have two grown children. Steve’s passion is practical Christianity, reflecting Christ’s character in both words and deeds. He serves seventh and eighth graders in Earliteen Sabbath School at Sligo Church in Takoma Park, Maryland, and also chairs the church board. A dedicated runner, Steve has completed more than four dozen marathons, and has competed in countless other races of shorter distances. In his spare time Steve enjoys reading, listening to music, and fixing things.
Carlos Medley, online editor
MedleyIn his current position, Carlos oversees the Adventist Review's Online edition, which is available on the Internet. He played a key role in moving the journal onto the Information Super Highway. Before arriving at the Adventist Review in 1986 when he joined the staff as news editor, Carlos worked for six years as a night police reporter for the South Bend Tribune newspaper in South Bend, Indiana. He has a B.B.A. from Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and an M.A. in religious communication from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Carlos and his wife, Denise, have two adult daughters. "I'm excited about the new opportunities to reach people through the Internet," Carlos says. "This will give the magazine a whole new audience."
Sandra Blackmer, assistant editor
Sandra joined the Adventist Review staff a little more than a year ago as an assistant editor and edits the weekly news pages. Prior to this she has worked as a copy editor for Pacific Press Publishing Association, communication director for the Michigan Conference, and editorial assistant for the Adult Sabbath School Quarterly (now known as the Adult Bible Study Guide). "I feel privileged to work with the news pages and be part of the Adventist Review team," said Sandra. "The articles provide glimpses of happenings throughout the North American Division and the world. They help readers feel part of a world church." Sandra's husband, Larry, is associate director of education for the North American Division. They have one grown daughter.
Kimberly Luste Maran, assistant editor
Assistant editor for the Adventist Review, Kimberly joined the staff on July 6, 1999. She coordinates the “Cutting Edge” edition, letters, and Give & Take. She is also part of the three-member team who produces KidsView. Prior to this, Kimberly served for two years as managing editor for the Columbia Union Visitor. In addition to regular editing and planning duties, her responsibilities included designing items for publication in the Visitor and other union projects, and conducting writer workshops. Kimberly has bachelor’s degrees in both English and Journalism from Columbia Union College; she received her master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2004. Kimberly and her husband are raising three young daughters. In regard to her work at the Review, Kimberly is “so thankful to be doing what I love with such incredible colleagues. God has richly blessed me and my goal is to serve Him through the written word to the best of my abilities.”
Wilona Karimabadi, editorial and marketing director, Kidsview
In January 2007, Wilona joined the Adventist Review and Adventist World staff full time as marketing and editorial director for KidsView, the Review's magazine for children. In this capacity, she works closely with Adventist schools throughout North America on a school subscription initiative that is steadily growing. In addition, she is also working to establish KidsView as a stand-alone publication available to anyone around the world. Wilona also works with online editor Carlos Medley on the Adventist Review Web site. She holds a B.A. in communication from La Sierra University in California, and a masters degree in writing from Johns Hopkins University. Before coming to the Review, she served as an assistant director of the Columbia Union Conference Communication Department. She is married to Hoosh, a marketing and sales executive, and together they are raising a daughter and son in Ellicott City, Maryland.
Merle Poirier , technology projects coordinator
Merle was born and raised in Washington, D.C. area. She has worked in various capacities at the General Conference. Beginning in the Health Ministries Department 16 years ago as a secretary, Merle taught herself graphic design, enabling her to transition into other office duties involving PowerPoint presentations, graphic design, and desktop publishing. She spent several years as editorial assistant and graphic designer for the Publishing Department before accepting a position with the Adventist Review.
Merle is one of a team of three who developed KidsView, the Adventist Review for children. She is the main designer of this publication. KidsView has won two prestigious awards for content and design since its beginning in 2002. Merle's husband, Tim, works as vice director of the Ellen G. White Estate and they enjoy their two daughters Ellen, and Lisa.
Rachel Child, project coordinator
Rachel joined the Adventist Review staff in 2004. She assists the editor/executive publisher with management direction, relationships with publishing partners, and financial administration, as well as coordinating the translation and distribution of the annual Week of Prayer readings throughout the world church.
Growing up in northern New York, Rachel attended Atlantic Union College in South Lancaster, Massachussetts, majoring in business administration. Shortly after marrying her college sweetheart, they moved to the Washington, D.C. area. She began working at the General Conference in 1977 in the treasury department, and has also worked in the youth, human resources, and chaplaincy ministries departments.
Rachel and her husband, George, have two adult sons, Ryan, and Brad.
Marvene Thorpe-Baptiste, editorial assistant
Marvene joined the Adventist Review team in September 2007. After obtaining a degree in elementary education from the University of the Southern Caribbean (formerly Caribbean Union College), she spent several years teaching in Adventist schools in Trinidad and Tobago. She then attended Howard University, pursuing an additional coursework in speech pathology. Having had the experience of working in Washington, DC’s Deed and Title arena prior to joining the Review, Marvene employs her unique abstracting and editing skills in the Adventist Review and Adventist World publications in manuscript tracking and obituaries. She is also responsible for ensuring the clean-copy production of written works by various authors and associate editors, as well as processing author honoraria. A member of Burnt Mills Church in Silver Spring, Maryland, she has been a notable soprano in the choir, often lending her voice for leads and solos. Marvene and husband, Valentine, live in Takoma Park, Maryland, and have four children.
Sharon Tennyson, assistant to the marketing director
Sharon Tennyson joined the Adventist Review and Adventist World staff in December 2011. Prior to that, she and her family were missionaries in Thailand for five years, teaching at Mission College in Singapore, now known as Asia-Pacific International University. Life on the campus was a wonderful opportunity for their family’s daughters, who are from China, to experience living in Asia. Working overseas for the church was a meaningful opportunity for Sharon, who was not raised Adventist but was baptized into the church as an adult. A graduate of the University of Colorado with a BA in Fine Arts and a BS in Recreation, she later became a certified public accountant. God has used Sharon in many ways.
She is married to Mack Tennyson, a special assistant to the treasurer as director for the Church’s SunPlus Accounting Software Project. They have five daughters ranging in age from 12 to 31. Their oldest has a MPH and works in Asheville, North Carolina, another also lives in Asheville and is a college student, works in Australia. The youngest two are students in Spencerville Adventist Academy in Maryland.
Judy Thomsen, correspondence editor
Judy joined the staff at the end of 2007 for specials projects and as correspondence editor. She also works with the many prayer requests that come every day. She is from Washington State and is a graduate of Walla Walla College. Judy has experience in a variety of positions--grade school teacher, church secretary, document secretary in the Trust Department (Northen California Conference), associate communication director (Southern New England Conference), and communication director for Adventist-laymen's Services and Industries in the NAD. "I feel blessed by my life as a pastor/curch administrator's wife. There is nothing like working for the Lord and the feel of the Adventist family. I am especially fortunate to be able to communicate with so many readers of Adventist Review and Adventist World. Your letters let us know you are reading--and what you and what you don't!"
Judy enjoys people, reading old books, playing the piano, walking and being with family. Her husband Hal is the assistant to the president of Adventist Risk Managment. They keep the airlines busy with trips to Tennessee and California for frequent visits with their three grown daughters and favorite little children, Isabel and Nicholas, and baby Victoria.
Jeffrey L. Dever, art director
Jeff received his BFA degree from Atlantic Union College in South Lancaster, Massachusetts in 1976. He is founding partner and creative director of Dever Designs, a graphic design studio, and its FreshArt illustration subsidiary in Laurel, Maryland. He served on the contract/adjunct faculty of the Maryland Institute College of Art for over twenty years, where he taught illustration and graphic design. He has also taught classes at Columbia Union College and Southern Adventist University.
Jeff’s wife, Kay Rosburg, is vice president and partner of Dever Designs. They have two college-age children, Kyle and Lindsay.