top To ancient SDA's ............ To "What's New?"
The letter as quoted in
"Through Crisis To Victory 1881 -1901"
A V Olsen (1966)
What became of Wagonner and Jones? a
This is the complete letter and the last page of the book.
(With apologies to those who live in the US).
There are some who might not realise the difference between the titles "president and "chairman". In the US the position is perceived as being close to that of "god" and it is very difficult to remove such a person from that office before his time has expired. A "president" has quite substantial "powers" and often believes that he has sole authority (usually acting for the "good" of the people because he is elected by them), and the world saw an example of this some years ago in the affair of President Nixon and "Watergate". However, a "chairman" is elected by the members of the board and can just as easily be "sacked" and a new one elected, therefore he is much more amenable to suggestions. For the benefit of those who may not know, a "prime minister" can be removed and a new one put in place at any time there are sufficient numbers in the party to do this by vote.
The difference is akin to a "dictator" versus a "prime minister;"
a "chief" versus an "elder;"
a "boss" versus a "leader;"
a "king" versus a "father".
It also helps to remember that Ellen White returned from exile in Australasia in 1901 and reluctantly attended the General Conference of that year. While she was there the change was made from "president" to "chairman". Remember her words?
8T.232.006 (Published in 1904)
"The division of the General Conference into District Union Conferences was God's arrangement. In the work of the Lord for these last days there should be no Jerusalem centers, no kingly power. And the work in the different countries is not to be bound by contracts to the work centering in Battle Creek, for this is not God's plan. Brethren are to counsel together, for we are just as much under the control of God in one part of His vineyard as in another. Brethren are to be one in heart and soul, even as Christ and the Father are one. Teach this, practice this, that we may be one with Christ in God, all working to build up one another.
"The kingly power formerly revealed in the General Conference at Battle Creek is not to be perpetuated. The publishing institution is not to be a kingdom of itself. It is essential that the principles that govern in General Conference affairs should be maintained in the management of the publishing work and the sanitarium work. One is not to think that the branch of the work with which he is connected is of vastly more importance than other branches.
The footnote statement at the end of the letter>
"Every member of the church has a voice in choosing officers of the church. The church chooses the officers of the state conferences. Delegates chosen by the state conferences choose the officers of the union conferences, and delegates chosen by the union conferences choose the officers of the General Conference. By this arrangement every conference, every institution, every church, and every individual, either directly or through representatives, has a voice in the election of the men who bear the chief responsibilities in the General Conference."
Individuals members choose the local church officers
[Delegates of?] the churches choose the officers of state conferences
Delegates chosen from the state conferences choose the officers of union conferences
Delegates of union conferences choose officers of General Conference
then surely, as it is written, "every conference... has a voice"
the members of the general conference should choose their leader?
Life Sketches 386.001
On the opening day of the  Conference, Mrs. White spoke further regarding these matters:
"Greater strength must be brought into the managing force of the Conference. . . . God has not put any kingly power in our ranks to control this or that branch of the work. The work has been greatly restricted by the efforts to control it in every line. Here is a vineyard presenting its barren places that have received no labor. And if one should start out to till these places in the name of the Lord, unless he should get the permission of the men in a little circle of authority he would receive no help. But God means that His workers shall have help. If a hundred should start out on a mission to these destitute fields, crying unto God, He would open the way before them. . . . If the work had not been so restricted, . . . it would have gone forward in its majesty. It would have gone in weakness at first, but the God of heaven lives; the great Overseer lives. . .
On to "Kingly Power" .............. Return to "Short History"
To ancient SDA's ............ To "What's New?"