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THE thirtieth session of the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference was held at Battle Creek, Michigan over a four and one-half week period from January 27 through March 6, 1893. A Ministerial Institute occupied the first three weeks.
This General Conference Session, with its special Ministerial Institute, was removed only five years from the controversial 1888 Session in Minneapolis. That earlier session was noteworthy for the strong emphasis on righteousness by faith by two of its presenters— A T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner. Their messages (unfortunately not recorded or published) were highly praised by the Lord’s Messenger, Ellen G. White.
Also unfortunately, there was stubborn resistance on the part of some leaders to that emphasis. The servant of the Lord made it clear that God wanted to, and had started to, pour out the Latter Rain upon His people. In 1896, three years after this present GC Session, Ellen White wrote that the light of the loud cry that was to have lightened the whole earth was resisted and rejected by us in 1888. See Selected Messages, book 1, 234–235.
These troubling events still weighed heavily on the minds of many of the presenters at this present session. Several of them made reference to their concerns.
“Now when I think that for four years we have been in the time of the latter rain, and that God has wanted to pour out his Spirit that these gifts might be restored, that his work might go with power; and that he wishes us to join gladly in the work and cooperate with him with the whole heart, it occurs to me that we have been the hands that have been holding on and the feet that wouldn’t go; and rather than tear the whole body to pieces the body has waited.
“So we are told that we are years behind; and if some of the hands had not held on, and some of the feet had not refused to go, so that the body could not move without tearing it to pieces, the body would have gone right along these four years. But rather than tear out a limb and leave it by the wayside— that means you and me— and so this four years’ course be marked all the way by these parts of the body scattered along over the course,—rather than do that, the Lord in great mercy has let the body wait, so that we should not be torn out and be left by the wayside. But the body is going on now; and I say, Let every hand, and every foot, and every member be ready to go, that the body be not torn asunder. That is what the Lord wants to do, and he is going to do it now: and he has warned us and told us of it for four years.” W. W. Prescott, “The Promise of the Holy Spirit.”
The major presenters were as follows:
1. J. H. Durland, two presentations on “Fellowship with Christ,” and a Sabbath Sermon.
2. S. N. Haskell, five lessons on “The Study of the Bible,” and six on “Missions and Missionary Work.”
3. A T. Jones, twenty-four presentations on “The Third Angel’s Message.”
4. J. N. Loughborough, five lessons on “The Study of the Testimonies.”
5. O. A Olsen, three presentations on “The Ministry.”
6. W. W. Prescott, twelve presentations on “The Promise of the Holy Spirit.”
7. R. C. Porter, six presentations on “The Mind of Christ.”
8. R. A Underwood, six lessons on “The Recognition of Christ’s Ownership and Our Redemption.”
Included are two special communications from Ellen White in Australia, and a letter from E. J. Waggoner from his post in London, England. There are a number of other special reports.
We will be blessed, and encouraged as we study the messages of these faithful leaders of bygone days. These leaders are of our past, but their messages are even more relevant today as we search our lives and hearts for anything and everything that lies between us and that long looked-for latter rain and the finishing of God’s work in our hearts and the world at large.