James White's last year was a time of mellowing for him, but not always at an even pace. He sensed that he must lay off the burdens of leadership. His sometimes erratic movements and statements, and the light given to Ellen in vision, as well as her own judgment, indicated clearly that the time had come. And he really tried.
Before the General Conference session of 1880, James sent in his resignation of every office except in connection with the publishing work. At the session new people were elected for these positions.
Now James and Ellen turned their thoughts to the future. On Sunday, December 19, they moved into a house between the city of Battle Creek and Goguac Lake to spend the time in writing articles and books.
Moving more in a pastoral role, James White frequently spoke in the tabernacle. He was still editor of the Review and Herald, and this kept the way open for him to speak to the church each week in reports and editorials.
But plans for the winter's work were rudely broken on New Year's Day. Going by sleigh to a vesper meeting in the tabernacle, Ellen fell, tearing loose the ligaments in one ankle. For more than four months she was on crutches and was quite miserable, her pen largely laid aside.