A MATTER OF FINANCE
As Loughborough laid his early plans for work in the British Mission he was not without knowledge of the financial situation of the General Conference as it related to this work. He knew of the request of the General Conference to the American membership for $100,000, that it was not only to be used for operating a British Mission, but to include the expansion of missions in all the "Queens dominions." These monies they planned to raise by January 1880.
In January 1879, after Loughborough's departure from America, the General Conference informed the membership that "the time to raise the one hundred thousand dollars is extended to January 1, 1882," and that this amount was now to be raised in eight quarterly payments of $12,500 per quarter during 1880 and 1881.1 Although there had been plans for more workers to join Loughborough and Ings, and for a publishing house in Britain at the earliest possible time, these were now to wait for an indeterminent period. The General Conference Committee informed the membership:
While our publishing houses at Oakland, Cal., Battle Creek, Mich., and Bale, Switzerland, are embarrassed, no more should be established. When these shall be above want, and friends shall be raised up in Great Britain sufficient to support the publishing work without help from America, then our people here should rally to the work of planting a house of publication in England.
And further, while there is so great need of relieving the cause in Oakland, Cal., our people on the Pacific coast should consider it their first duty to meet the wants of the cause at their headquarters, and the mission to Great Britain should be second.2
While the plans now were to clear debts on the existing publishing houses during 1879 the General Conference Committee promised the membership that they would
. . . see that the mission is sustained.
When our publishing houses and the houses of worship at Battle Creek and Oakland shall be free from debt, then we will send Elder L. help to push the work in the countries aforementioned. Then it will be time to publish in Great Britain. . . . As means may be needed for the mission to Great Britain we shall call for help.3
That financial backing was needed if the British Mission was to succeed was obvious and the Mission was not entirely without supporters from America. We learn that in September l878, during the California Conference campmeetings, pledges were taken for opening up a mission in Great Britain, to the amount of $4,000,4 but this is the only record available indicating how pledging went in respect to the $100,000 appeal made by James White. Obviously many more pledges would have been made and honored, but there is no indication that the $100,000 goal ever became a reality in the time given.
Over the years to follow appeals were made and certain basic needs of the British Mission were met, and there is good indication that more than $100,000 was donated over the next decade to assist in the British Mission and in the countries of the Empire. However, money saving measures were always being taken by the superintendents to the detriment of the cause.
Lack of Mission Self-Support
Ings' assessment of conditions in England had led him to write to White in 1878 that it might be "quite a while" before a British Mission would be self-supporting.5 A general financial report, submitted to the Church headquarters in Battle Creek, covering the first year's work in England indicated:
Expenses of tent and hall meetings, $129.80; $72.05 was donated. To February 11, l880 rent and expenses at Ravenswood $117.39. Rent and donations received toward this, $166.67. With regular weekly offerings will have slight balance. Cost of tent and fixtures, $611.41; of this $l5l.69 was donated. Expense of mailing "Signs" and other reading matter, $l49.93; of this $115.14 is paid. Very little has been done toward the support of the missionaries except a few donations of provisions.6
Of the $1008.53 in expenditures $505.55 was donated, paid in rent or obtained in sales of reading matter. Of this amount $400 had been contributed in England by interested parties.7 The balance of $502.98 would have been met from the General Conference Mission Fund, as would also the salaries of the workers. This lack of Mission self support, expected perhaps in the first year, unfortunately continued throughout the decade to follow. As late as 1887 we have Haskell writing:
We cannot see how the cause can be self-sustaining in England at the present time, if ever, unless it be through the especial donations of its friends; and it will require no little outlay of means to place the work where it will begin to bring back returns.8
As interest in the young Church began to grow the membership would consist of the poorer, uneducated classes who would find it difficult to support the new Church financially in its administration and outreach. Consequently the Mission was made very dependent on the membership in America for far longer than perhaps the leaders had anticipated. Certainly in this respect little was to happen of any great significance that would change the course of the Mission for at least another two decades.
The Church Advancing Ahead of Capability
At the time the British Mission was established in 1879 the leadership in America was concerned that they would try to do more than was possible with the means at their disposal, and consequently hinder the work already begun:
Mistakes are liable to be made, and possibly may have been made already, in reaching out too far before we are prepared to do our work thoroughly. The first and most important work is to get these three leading missions thoroughly established, not merely in one town in each of these countries, but with separate churches here and there in each. The branches thus formed may support and strengthen each other, while uniting to sustain the important interests where our publishing work may be located. When these missions are firmly fixed, it will be time to establish others in distant countries. We firmly believe we can in this way work more successfully and economically than to reach out too far before we are prepared to hold what we have already started.9
But how does one choose between holding the ground taken and advancing? With the commencement of the British Mission the General Conference had "reached a point of much interest and perplexity" and decided to press forward:
Our General Conference, in considering these matters tried to weigh them well, and while determined to do nothing rashly, nor lavish money unnecessarily, yet they mean to forward the work with ever increasing momentum till the end shall come. God's work cannot stop; it must not stop; it will not stop. Victory is before it. We must increase the efficiency of our missions.10
However, finances were often kept too much to a minimum for much effective work within the British Mission.
All individual workers in Britain made pleas to the American membership at some time, in one way or another. Loughborough, who had suffered much in his work as a result of low financing for his activities, informed the American membership that he not only needed their prayers for the work in Britain but also hoped "you will contribute of your substance to maintain the mission."11 John noticed that from time to time the Review receipted monies sent in for the British Mission, but recognized the amounts were little compared with how much the givers could have given, unlike the "fidelity" of a servant girl in England who gave a tenth of her fifty cents a week income. He cajoled: "Why should those who get large wages be less willing to do the same?"12 Even Wilcox could not refrain from asking for help when he saw many openings for the truth, indicating that it takes more than faith, it takes "means."13
When White arrived in Europe in 1885 the financial situation of the Church was grave. She shared the fact, "Our treasury now is, I might say, about empty. In many places we have a very close financial pressure." She indicated that the church leaders had "been working to the utmost of our ability to establish missions in different places."14 They had established missions and built meeting houses in America and had voted in November 1884 to open up a mission in Australia, to begin in May 1885, and which would "require quite a large sum of money." However, even for this, the means was not forthcoming.15
Money Spent on Few Projects
Often it had been left to one or two men to decide where the available monies were put, and this was often to "large efforts." Workers in "one field," we assume America, were so organizing the work as to incur large expenses and so prevent other important fields, "fields which would warrent the outlay," from being entered.16 White believed strongly that no man should "fix his eyes on his own sphere of labor, and think it is of greater importance than all others." She saw that the missionary fields should receive equal interest, for "the field is the world."17 Later she confided to leaders in Europe that what was being done was not God's way of operation, and she did not see Him looking with favor on this state of things. "His great heart of infinite love is not all concentrated on certain localities to multiply agencies for the salvation of men in one place, while other places are left in destitution."18
Failure of the Church's Membership
White encouraged all to so labor as to make the cause self-sustaining, and teach the people to rely upon themselves.19 She advised members in Europe that they "exercise economy in building and furnishing your homes, and in eating and dressing. Souls are to be saved." White believed that not all the workers in Europe, nor at home in America, understood the value of money. They did not see the necessity of "strict economy" because the lesson of "frugality is not learned early in life, it is difficult to weave into one's experience the self-denying, self-sacrificing part of religion."20
Perhaps more importantly she believed the young church had been entrusted with special truths, but had done little to proclaim them. She shared with Swedish believers:
The Lord is soon to come, and the message of warning is to go forth to all nations, tongues, and people. While God's cause is calling for means and laborers, what are those doing who live under the full light of the present truth?21
She considered that they needed "the baptism of tbe Holy Spirit of God such as the disciples had on the day of Pentecost," in order to "discern not only the things that are nigh, but fields that are afar off." She believed that when the membership saw as God sees, "they will plan and devise, and work altogether more disinterestedly, and have a deep realization of the fact that the field for the gospel work is the world."22
Among her "American brethren" White saw that which "pains our hearts." There was much self-indulgence in the Church, and self-denial was not practiced. Money was being spent for unnecessary things, resulting in the limiting of donations "which should be applied to the great enterprise of building up the kingdom of Christ in our world." The "treasury of God" was being "robbed" in the withholding of tithes and offerings.23
White believed that for the greater portion of the Church's membership they had lost their first love, and consequently they were responsible for the situation currently being faced:
The Churches everywhere in our Conferences are losing their power and favor with God because they feel no burden for souls who have not the knowledge of the truth.24
She saw "fields that have never been entered," and that "the torch of truth" must be carried to these "dark" places of the earth, but the needs were not being seen:25
If those who profess the truth would live nearer to God, their senses would not be so confused with the things of this world that they would not discern the wants of the cause for this time.26
She wondered how those who believed the truth and prayed the Lord's prayer, "Thy kingdom come," could "sit at ease in your homes without helping to carry the torch of truth to others." She did not mince words even when speaking to the Mission workers at the 1885 European Council:
How can you lift up your hands before God and ask his blessing upon yourselves and your families when you are doing so little to bless others? The living and the dead are to be judged according to the deeds done in the body. What are you doing to show that you are the light of the world.27
White believed that the workers in the cause should set a good example to the membership "by wise management and earnest labor" and do all they could to "gather enough to pay their own expenses."28 She saw a need for missionary workers to learn to economize, for even if the reservoir is fed with "abundant and living springs" it will fail to supply the demand "if there are leakages which drain off the supply."29
Many young workers were entering the missionary field and, although "enlisting all their ardor and zeal in the work," were being left to themselves without direction as to how to work. Such inexperienced men did not know how to economize and were keeping the cause "weighed down with debt." These young workers were not prepared to work "slowly and surely, under the advice of those more experienced in the work." They had big ideas, when "a more humble manner of working" would have shown as good results. They also needed to know how to care for their own home expenses:
They should place their families where they can be cared for with as little expense as possible . . . those who have not educated themselves to live within their means will surely have to do this now or engage in some other employment. Their habits must be frugal. They must not expend money for things that are not absolutely necessary. Economy must be the rule of every laborer. If he has not economical habits he must learn the lesson at once. All must learn how to keep accounts. Some neglect this work as nonessential; but this is wrong. All expenses should be accurately stated. This is something that many of our workers will have to learn.30
White believed there were "some who are doing very little, and others who have as yet done nothing" in the support of the Church's mission to the world even though God had entrusted them with means.31 Consequently she suggested that those at the European Council "present our empty treasury to God in living faith and ask Him to supply our needs." She was concerned personally about the problem:
I have lain awake night after night until I have gotten into an almost sleepless condition since I have been here, turning over in my mind how we can reach these men, and I am in just as much perplexity as when I commenced. I can see no other way but that we must pray. The Lord has gold and silver, and the cattle upon a thousand hills are His. And while we rely upon Him and do the very best we can, He will send help to advance His cause.32
In her special burden for the British Mission she wrote the American membership:
The work in England is yet in its infancy . . . Means are needed to extend the work. We must pray in faith that God will move upon men who have the means to use it to extend his work on earth.33
In another appeal she declared "the missions in Europe need help," and specifically cited the British Mission and London "with its five million inhabitants; but no real workers there," and other "large cities of England, which need many missionaries."34 She had sufficient faith in the American membership to believe that "the treasury, now empty, may be supplied with the necessary funds to extend the work."35
Although she set the wants of Europe before the membership during her two year stay in Europe she expected only "some" to feel the burden, others would do nothing, even though they could do much, because they were "asleep, asleep on the very verge of eternity."36 However she saw no reason for not expanding the work of the Church. She believed if the new movement had the truth, the work in these countries must enlarge:
New fields will be continually opening, and the church must extent her efforts by entering these fields. The message must go, notwithstanding the hard times. We must make special efforts in this direction now, while the angels are holding the four winds. Soon the time to labor will be past.37
However by the time of her return to America eighteen months later she still saw "the outlook is not the most encouraging," for the Church was still concentrating on building many institutions. In certain American localities, "building is added to building, house to house, and land to land," and with the Church opening many missions they were finding it financially difficult to sustain them because of limited means. During 1887 she appealed for finances to advance the cause in Europe and in all the world, indicating that "every dollar and every dime that we can spare is needed now, to aid in carrying the message of truth to other lands."38 As she left England she encouraged the leaders: "Our brethren in America must have the matter kept before them that men and means are needed for Europe, and for regions beyond."39
In October 1886 Butler, the General Conference president, had cause to remind the American membership of "the needs of our missions and their pecuniary condition." During the past two years special efforts had been made to improve the efficiency of "the Central European and the Scandinavian" Missions and Butler explained that "quite a large amount" had been spent in expanding the publishing house in Basel, Switzerland, and that in Christiana, Norway. These two houses had been made efficient and been well equiped with machinery to enable the production of papers in various languages other than English. Some of the Church's most valued workers had also been sent to assist the work in these two Missions. All this, Butler revealed, "has taken a large amount of means." What was more, these two Missions "have largely overdrawn their accounts" with the Review to the order of "some $15,000 or more." Butler encouraged the membership to "send in your means for the cause needs it, and needs it now." By the end of November these two Missions were $30,000 in debt to the Review office due to the purchase of land, the erection of buildings, and for machinery necessary for the publishing work. Butler believed that in the long run they would recover this amount through the sale of literature to all the countries around them, but made the appeal in order that the "large edges" that have been made will be paid, for "the work must not be hindered."40
At the 1886 General Conference meetings the General Conference treasurer's report indicated that the Church world headquarters in America had only $5,429.07 on hand at 1885 year end, and during the year to November 1886 the amount received from all sources had been $13,080.95, making a total of $18,510.02. The salaries for ministers operating directly under the General Conference care amounted to $13,596.01, leaving them with cash on hand at November 1886 to the amount of $4,566.48.41
Following the General Conference meetings Butler declared that not every need of the world field had been met by the decisions of the session, but "we have tried to plan and provide help, for many fields where urgent wants exist, to the best of our ability." When the financial picture was painted, however, the announcement did not seem so promising. Butler wrote, "Great events are before us. We are on the verge of a great crisis. We must all open our hearts with great liberality," and the need for funds was again stressed. It was emphasized that the committee that cared for foreign mission needs depended for its funds on the "tithe of a tithe" from the State Conferences. Often these funds did not arrive in a regular manner, and as a result the work was hindered. The local state Conferences were requested that these funds be submitted to the General Conference on a strictly quarterly basis so that foreign mission work not be held back.42 However, even on-time payments would not meet the present financial crisis in the world-wide extending of the Church's mission. Although the General Conference in Session had recognized the "providence of God" in opening the way for the establishing of the foreign missions "in Central Europe, Norway, England, and Australia," and in setting up the publishing houses in Basel and Christiana, they now had to admit that "the means already raised have already been exhausted, and a large debt contracted." If the work was to continue in these fields "more means are immediately needed to carry forward the Lord's work in these missions."43 Even meeting this need would not be the end of the crisis, for besides meeting these continuing needs in the three established Missions of Europe, they now had to appeal to the American membership for additional financial support in the opening up of further new fields where "the Macedonian call has for years been coming," South Africa, South America, British Honduras, and other fields. The General Conference session had just voted to do this, and already recommended that ministers, colporteurs, and canvassers go to these places and open up the work. The session delegates had had very strong feelings that if they did not respond to these requests with "speed" and "vigor" there was a "danger of the curse of Meroz being placed upon us."44
The Church was especially anxious to open up South Africa, a "new missionary enterprise of great importance." They were anxious to evangelize the "more than a million English-speaking people settled there," and the large number of "Protestant Hollanders" who were also believers in the Bible.45 They had "no funds whatever" for this purpose, even though they had already appointed Boyd and Robinson and families, with colporteur help from Jacob Sturman as canvasser, and others to work with those of Dutch language.
In addition British Guiana, with some Sabbath-keepers, was to have the missionary services of G. G. Rupert and a canvasser. From this country Rupert would also visit other English settlements in the West Indies. A laborer was also to be sent to British Honduras where others had embraced the Church beliefs. All these countries had been settled by English-speaking people.46
However the situation became even more serious with the revelation that the International Tract and Missionary Society also was "wholly destitute of funds to prosecute its work in every part of the world." For several months the Society had found difficulty in supplying the tons of literature needed in the missionary work in many countries, because they had "been greatly crippled for want of funds." They were presently in great need of money to carry forward the work of "furnishing reading matter in places where for the want of men and means the living preacher at present cannot go, and where an interest has already been awakened."47 The Church was most certainly "on the verge of a great crisis,"48 coming at a time when the greatest demands were for world-wide expansion.
The leadership of the Church displayed a positive belief that these urgent needs would be met, but only if the membership rallied to their support. Again, over $100,000 was needed for "the present Conference year" 1887, "in addition to the pledges already made." The urgent need was for $50,000 of this sum to be raised "within the next sixty days," by the beginning of 1887. Butler felt that the amount could be obtained "if our people will rally to the work with real enthusiasm." The amount needed would represent an average of "a little over two dollars each." Appeals would be made through the Review in several articles, and members would be encouraged to make liberal Christmas donations. The year before, Christmas donations had amounted to $18,000 in cash. The Sabbaths of 18 and 25 December 1886 and 1 January 1887 were to be set aside as days of fasting and prayer, in harmony with God's command in Joel 1:14,15, no doubt believing "the day of the Lord is at hand,"49 Perhaps verse 16 also should have been included as being more appropriate: "Look, is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea joy and gladness from the house of our God."
Some immediate provisions were made to assist the new foreign Missions. The Sabbath-school Association resolved to be responsible in raising money for meeting the expense of establishing the South African Mission, and for supporting it through 1887.50
Naturally these financial needs had an effect on the British Mission, who were to be kept on an even tighter rein than before, with no unapproved outlay of funds, whatever that would mean, at a time of necessary reorganizing of the Mission program. That the Church was not in a position to accept the offer to purchase the Mill Yard, London, complex from the Seventh Day Baptists must have been a great disappointment to Haskell.51
A committee was appointed to consider the wants of the foreign Missions, with the emphasis on "the relation the Review office should sustain to them, in a financial point of view." The Review also was finding the financial burden in supporting these established Missions difficult to bear.52
Despite the problem and difficult issues addressed at this 1886 General Conference, at its close Butler was able to write:
We can truely say, we never attended a conference where more important issues were considered, where more thrilling subjects were discussed, where we needed to provide for greater necessities, or where more extensive plans were laid. Never was the cause in greater need of help, both means and men: never were openings for labor more plentiful than now. Never were we more perplexed to find suitable persons to fill these openings, and sufficient means to carry on the work. The Macedonian cry, "Come over and help us," is extended to us from every direction, from almost every country, every State, every county.
In this conference the feeling of our heart's greatest solicitude have been heavily drawn upon in trying to determine how to meet these living wants, these crying needs of the hour.53
1General Conference Committee, "Mission to Great Britain," RH, 30 January 1879, p.36.
4Loughborough, RP, p.46.
5Ings to White, 23 July 1878, "Letter from England," RH, 5 September 1878, p.87.
6Loughborough, "Southampton, England: Financial Report," RH, 29 January 1880, p.76.
7Loughborough, RP, p.321.
8"A Word from England," RH, 2 August 1887, pp.489,490.
9General Conference Committee, "Our Foreign Missions," RH, 11 December 1879, p.189.
11"The British Mission," RH, 24 April 1883, p.269.
12"England," RH, 2 January 1883, p.12.
13"England," RH, 9 December 1884, p.780.
14White, Talk, MS 14, 20 September 1885.
15Butler, "Shall the Australian Mission be Established or Abandoned?," RH 27 January 1885, p.56.
16White, "To Our Missionary Workers," RH, 8 December 1885, p.755.
17"A Missionary Appeal," RH, 15 December 1885, pp.769,770. This is a reference to Jesus' parable of the tares. See Matt. 13:38.
18White to Brethren in Europe, Letter 15, 6 August 1887.
19White, "To Our Missionary Workers," RH, 8 December 1885, p.755.
20White, "The Swiss Conference and the European Council," RH 3 November 1885,p.674.
21White, "The Conference in Sweden," RH, 5 October 1886, p.610.
22White to Brethren in Europe, Letter 15, 6 August l887.
24White, "A Missionary Appeal," RH, 15 December 1885, pp.769,770.
26White, "Notes of Travel," RH, 6 October 1885, p.610.
27"The Swiss Conference and the European Council," RH, 3 November 1885, p.674.
28White, "To Our Missionary Workers," RH, 8 December 1885, p.755.
31"The Swiss Conference and the European Council," RH, 3 November 1885, p.674; cf HS, pp.172,173.
32White, Talk, MS 14, 20 September 1885.
33"Notes of Travel," RH, 6 October 1885, pp,609,6l0.
34White, "A Missionary Appeal," RH, 15 December 1885, p.769,770.
35"The Swiss Conference and the European Council," RH, 3 November 1885, p.674.
36White to Brethren in Europe, Letter 15, 6 August 1887.
37ibid., see also "The Swiss Conference and the European Council," RH, 3 November 1885, p.674; HS, pp.172,173.
38"Our Missions in Europe," RH, 6 December 1887, p.753.
39 White to Brethren in Europe, Letter 15, 6 August 1887.
40Butler, "Our Missions and Their Wants," RH, 5 October 1886, p.616; "Important Plans and Issues Contemplated by the General Conference," 7 December 1886, p.760.
41General Conference Committee, "General Conference Proceedings," RH, 14 December 1886, p.762.
43General Conference Committee, "General Conference Proceedings," RH, 14 December 1886, p.778.
44ibid. In the Song of Deborah and Barak celebrating Israel's conquest over Jabin King of Canaan, the inhabitants of Meroz were cursed for not coming to the aid of Israel in their hour of need. See Judges 5:23.
45Butler, "Important Plans and Issues Contemplated by the General Conference," RH, 7 December 1886, p.760.
47General Conference Committee, "General Conference Proceedings," RH, 14 December 1886, p.778.
48Butler, "Important Plans and Issues Contemplated by the General Conference," RH, 7 December 1886, pp.760,761.
49ibid., General Conference Committee, "General Conference Proceedings," 14 December 1886, p.778.
51White to Haskell, Letter 50, 1 September 1887.
53Butler, "Important Plans and Issues Contemplated by the General Conference," RH, 14 December 1886, p.763.