In late August and early September, a group of 40 White Estate Branch Office and Research Center directors, along with division Spirit of Prophecy coordinators from around the world, assembled in Battle Creek, Michigan, United States, for the launch of a nine-day Heritage Tour of Adventist pioneer places and history.
On August 26, Saturday (Sabbath) services were held in the replica of the 1857 Second Meeting House, the place where the name “Seventh-day Adventist” was chosen and the site at which the denomination was organized in 1863.
Ellen G. White Estate director Merlin Burt, a veteran of many tours, led a rousing sing-along of favorite pioneer songs while sharing meaningful stories that lifted the hearts of all in attendance. This was followed by a wonderful “Social Hour” — testimony service — conducted by General Conference vice president Audrey Andersson, who serves as the White Estate Board chair. White Estate associate director Dwain Esmond then shared a message based on 2 Chronicles 20:20. “Let us believe in God and His prophets,” Esmond said, “so that the work of God may continue to advance until Christ returns.”
After a visit to Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek, the resting place of Ellen White, her family, and other prominent figures in the early Advent movement, the group left Historic Adventist Village for several stops. These included the Mt. Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York, gravesite of Angeline and Mary Andrews, wife and daughter of John N. Andrews, the church’s first official missionary.
The Monday, August 28 sojourn took the group to Peterboro, New York, home to the American abolitionist movement and philanthropist Gerrit Smith, its biggest financial backer. Kevin Burton, director the Andrews University White Estate Branch Office, shared cutting-edge research on Millerite abolitionists, some of whom were Adventists, such as John “Domini” West, a former slave and early Adventist minister.
On August 29, the group visited the home of Joseph Bates, newly renovated thanks to the excellent ministry of Markus Kutschbach and the team at Adventist Heritage Ministries (AHM).
The tour then made its way to Maine, as Merlin Burt continued to present pioneer stories in his warm, inimitable style. After visiting Ellen White’s birthplace in Gorham, the tour visited the newfound gravesite of Levi Stockman, the Methodist minister whose ministry to a struggling teenage Ellen White helped her accept God’s love and forgiveness.
Thursday, August 31, saw the group raise its voice in song in the Washington, New Hampshire Seventh-day Adventist Church, home to early Sabbatarian Adventists. It was then on to West Wilton, New Hampshire, to see the boyhood home of Uriah Smith, the illustrious editor of what we know today as Adventist Review — and his sister, Annie, a brilliant young adult who served as a copy editor for the early Review.
By September 1, on a visit to the William Miller farm and chapel and Ascension Rock, the group was on a spiritual high. Burt’s discourses had moved even those who had been a part of previous tours. Along the way, Burt and the White Estate team led “Mobile Advisory Meetings” each day, discussing a range of issues critical to White Estate and AHM ministry around the globe. The tour ended on Saturday (Sabbath), September 2, with members of the group leading worship at the Roosevelt Seventh-day Adventist Church in Roosevelt, New York.
Burt’s message on the three angels’ messages punctuated a trip that none in attendance will ever forget. Nelson Simweemba, Spirit of Prophecy coordinator for the Southern Africa-Indian Ocean Division, summed it up. “God was with us on this tour!” he said. “What a life-changing experience we have had!”
About the Ellen G. White Estate
The mission of the Ellen G. White Estate is to circulate Ellen White’s writings, translate them, and provide resources for better understanding her life and ministry. The White Estate also has a responsibility for promoting Adventist history for the entire denomination.
The White Estate is based at the Seventh-day Adventist Church headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, United States, with 19 additional research centers and 4 branches around the world.