First Denominational School | Ellen G. White Estate

First Denominational School

January 1869 - March 1873

No one was more aware of the need for qualified men in the ministry of the denomination than James White. He recognized that the important work of the third angel's message required a special type of education. As the work expanded, the need for training schools became urgent.

In early April 1872 James and Ellen White called the Battle Creek church together to give serious study to establishing a school there. It was decided that a to commence the school on Monday, the third of June next. A place was provided, and teacher engaged.

George Butler, the new president of the General Conference, quickly joined in support of the school idea.

So on June 3, 1872, the school opened with twelve scholars, and Brother G. H. Bell as the teacher. At midterm there were 25 regular students, but between 40 and 50 attended the grammar class, which was held in the evenings for the convenience of Review employees. The "school" met temporarily in rooms in the newly constructed Review and Herald third building.

About a year later, having spent a number of months promoting the work of evangelism and attending camp meetings in California, the Whites returned to Battle Creek to attend the eleventh annual meeting of the General Conference. In his opening address James emphasized the needs of the school. James's vision reached far beyond the immediate need of the school in Battle Creek. He launched into a presentation of the church's position in fulfilling prophecy, and then the responsibilities that devolve on the church in advocating a message far beyond the limitations of the English language. This called for publishing in other languages, and also for a school in which, among other things, ministers could be trained to work in the languages of Europe.

Little wonder that when the conference got down to business one of the first actions read:

Resolved, That we regard it as the imperative duty of S. D. Adventists to take immediate steps for the formation of an educational society, and the establishment of a denominational school (RH, Mar. 18, 1873).