Other actions taken brought an unexpected and complete change in the life of both James and Ellen White. When the nominating committee brought in its report, James's name headed the list, calling for him to be president of the General Conference.
By what reasoning could he accept this great responsibility? He had recently refused responsibilities because of his poor health. In the Review that carried the report of the General Conference, he presented his reactions to the sudden changes and challenges that this action would bring to them.
- He recognized the marked indication of providence."We now resign all to the will of God and the choice of His dear people" (RH, Aug. 25, 1874).
- Within the past year, in the providence of God, his health had improved greatly in body and mind. He had gained 25 pounds (nine kilograms). This, he said, was because of "the practice of continued cheerfulness and courage in God, and by ignoring Satan's dark schemes to discourage and dishearten me."
Then, turning more particularly to the interests in California with which he had been so closely linked, he explained:
The General Conference has approved of what steps we have taken in establishing the press upon the Pacific, and take the responsibilities as well as the liabilities off our hands. They send Elder Butler to the California camp meeting to counsel with that conference as to the proper steps to be taken to advance the cause on the Pacific. . . . We shall ever cherish the tenderestregard for our dear people on the Pacific Coast. . . . But for the present wemust heed the calls of those who have greater claims upon us (ibid.).
- The greater responsibilities: Now, with others to share James's special interest in the California workóthe Signs of the Times, a publishing house in the West, and evangelismóJames would turn his attention to the needs of the church as a whole:
- the development of the denominational school
- the Health Institute
- the need of workers in new fields at home and overseas
- the organization of the General Conference Tract and Missionary Society
- the publication of literature in other languages continuing the preparation and publishing of Ellen's writings
Accepting this challenge of leadership meant drastic changes in their own plans and lifestyle. Battle Creek would now be their base of operations. But with his usual zeal James made no delay in shaping up his plans and adapting his schedules.