- White, Ellen G.
- ( 182 7-1915 )cofounder of Seventh-day Adventist ChurchEllen Gould Harmon White was born on November 26, 1827, at Gorham, Maine. She was raised as a Methodist, and in 1842 had a conversion experience and joined the church. At just that time, enthusiasm was sweeping the country over William Miller's predictions about Christ's imminent return. Ellen's family identified with the movement, were disfellowshipped by the Methodists, and then had to suffer through the Great Disappointment when the predictions were not fulfilled.Ellen was one of those who rallied the discouraged Adventists. She told audiences that Christ had indeed returned in 1844, but had immediately moved into the heavenly sanctuary, which he was now cleansing. As soon as that task was completed, he would appear visibly.Ellen soon met James White (1821-81), and they married in 1846. From their encounter with Seventh-day Baptists, they introduced Sabbatarianism to the Adventist community. For the next two decades, Adventism would remain a very fluid movement. White influenced the process with her advocacy of Sabbath worship and then her emergence as a visionary and prophetess. The periodical her husband founded became her mouthpiece, and she wrote many pamphlets and books. In 1851, the couple moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, which became the center of the movement coalescing around Ellen White.The Seventh-day Adventist Church was formally organized in 1863. As the leader of the church for 50 years, she wrote 25 books and some 200 shorter works. She was revered as a biblical interpreter and a prophet/visionary. Her prophetic works are still considered authoritative within the church, though opinion differs as to how they should be used. She imparted her missionary zeal to the church, which carried it into more than 200 countries as the 21st century began.White died on July 16, 1915 at St. Helena, California.A controversy surfaced in the late 1970s, when the Adventist scholar Ronald L. Numbers wrote a book suggesting purely mundane explanations for the supposed supernatural experiences that underlay the prophecies. A number of books subsequently appeared defending White.Further reading:■ Francis D. Nichol, Ellen G. White and Her Critics (Takoma Park, Md.: Review & Herald Publishing, 1951)■ Ronald L. Numbers, Prophetess of Health: A Study of Ellen G. White (New York: Harper & Row, 1976, rev. ed., Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1992)■ Ellen G. White, Early Writings of Ellen G. White (1882; reprint, Washington, D.C.: Review & Herald Publishing 1945)■ ----, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan (1911; reprint, Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Publishing, 1950)■ ----, Life Sketches of Ellen G. White. (1915, reprint, Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Publishing, 1943).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.