Ellen G. White (1827-1915) is undoubtedly the most influential Seventh-day Adventist to have ever lived. Her prophetic guidance informed the formation and later development of the church. After her death on July 16, 1915, White’s writings continued to “provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction.”
Centennial of Ellen White’s Prophetic Legacy
Celebrating the message sent through the prophet
By Alberto R. Timm
Ellen G. White (1827-1915) is undoubtedly the most influential Seventh-day Adventist to have ever lived. Her prophetic guidance informed the formation and later development of the church. After her death on July 16, 1915, White’s writings continued to “provide for the church comfort, guidance, instruction, and correction.”1 Today she is one of the most translated female writers in the entire history of literature, and “the most translated American author of either gender.”2
The centennial of her death is approaching, and many people are asking what the church is planning to do in 2015 in regard to her prophetic legacy. This article highlights a few endeavors at the global, regional, and local levels. All such efforts are aimed at strengthening our confidence in and commitment to God’s prophetic guidance in these last days of human history.
The focus of next year’s activities is not so much about Ellen White herself as on the blessings that her writings have brought to our church corporately—and to us individually—for more than 100 years. We want to emphasize more the messages than the messenger.
Many significant publications, releases, and projects are being planned and developed for the benefit of the worldwide church. Already published are the 1,465-page The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia (2013)3 and the 986-page Ellen G. White Letters and Manuscripts With Annotations, Volume 1: 1845-1859 (2014).4 Publications by Ellen White are now available online in more than 50 languages (egwwritings.org).
The main Ellen G. White Estate Web site (ellenwhite.org) hosts the document “The Ellen G. White Estate Announces Plans for 2015 Centennial Commemoration of Ellen White’s Life and Ministry.”5 This document mentions, for example, the plan to publish online, in 2015, all of White’s letters and manuscripts, as well as some of the most significant correspondence she received from other church members and leaders.
At the 2015 General Conference session in San Antonio, Texas, a special centennial commemoration program will take place on July 10, the last Friday evening of that assembly. Also, a major academic symposium, “The Gift of Prophecy in Scripture and History,” will occur at Andrews University on October 15-18, 2015, with representatives from different parts of the world.
Our church is an international denomination with a presence in more than 200 countries of the world, each with its own needs and challenges. Sensitive to the condition of their own territories, several of the church’s organizational divisions, unions, and local conferences/missions are developing specific plans for 2015 to promote Ellen White’s writings more effectively within their local fields.
For a low price, some divisions are planning to distribute either the 10-volume “Connecting With Jesus” set (see www.connectingwithjesus.org) or a new set of White’s books. Several fields are working with their respective publishing houses to translate and publish specific Ellen White titles not yet available in their own languages. In various places of the world, audio versions of her books are being made accessible for illiterate populations.
Many Adventist universities and colleges around the globe are planning special events for 2015. Those events may include academic symposiums, Weeks of Prayer, roundtable discussions, student contests, dramatizations, etc. Held in academic settings, such events are aimed to engage as many faculty members and students as possible. The main purpose is to strengthen the Adventist identity of a new generation.
A few divisions decided to promote the establishment of Ellen G. White mini-centers at local Adventist schools and churches in their territory.6 Even with most of
Ellen White’s writings now available online, the mini-
centers can still provide an excellent opportunity for
people to come together to study the Bible, to study the writings of Ellen G. White, and to research local Adventist history. As a result, those places become actual centers
of Adventist culture.
Closer to Home
Several supportive strategies and plans for 2015 are being developed at various levels of the church’s organizational structure. But for them to become truly effective they should make a positive impact on our local churches, our families, and our own lives. The crucial question is: What could be done at the local level to make 2015 a real blessing for all of us?
There are many things that our local churches can do. For example, the preaching calendar could include some sermons and perhaps even a Week of Prayer on the nature and purpose of the gift of prophecy. Youth programs could feature some dramatizations of specific aspects of White’s life and ministry. If the church has an active Ellen G. White mini-center, it could promote seminars on the Spirit of Prophecy, followed by roundtable discussions.
Creative ideas can also be implemented within the home circle. I once met an Adventist couple who, after giving many toys and other presents to their children, decided to build a personal Ellen White library for each family member. At evening family worships they read and discussed together the content of a specific book, everyone with his or her own copy that could be marked. This may be a good model to follow in 2015!
Regardless of what will take place at our local churches and homes, we should develop a personal plan for 2015 that includes reading and studying of the Bible and the writings of Ellen White. Some may even decide to combine them into a single reading plan.
Whatever the plan might be, we feel it’s important to set apart a daily devotional time. As somebody once said: “Not to have time for God means to live a time-wasted life.”
And as we approach 2015 we should avoid the extremes of venerating Ellen White or simply ignoring her. We should always remember that her writings are not an end in themselves, but rather a valuable resource to bring us closer to Christ and His Word.
1 Seventh-day Adventist Church Manual, 18th ed. (Silver Spring, Md.: General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 2010), p. 162.
2 Arthur L. White, “Ellen G. White?: A Brief Biography,” in www.whiteestate.org/about/egwbio.asp#who.
3 The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 2013).
4 The Ellen G. White Letters and Manuscripts With Annotations, Volume 1: 1845-1859 (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 2014).
5 See http://whiteestate.org/estate/2015plans.asp.
6 More details about the Ellen G. White Mini-Center Project are available at www.whiteestate.org.
Alberto R. Timm is an associate director of the Ellen G. White Estate.